Letters of Junius/Letter II
TO THE PRINTER OF THE PUBLIC ADVERTISER.
26. January. 1769.
THE kingdom swarms with such numbers of felonious robbers of private character and virtue, that no honest or good man is safe; especially as these cowardly, base assassins stab in the dark, without having the courage to sign their real names to their malevolent and wicked productions. A writer, who signs himself Junius, in the Public Advertiser of the 21st instant, opens the deplorable situation of his country in a very affecting manner; with a pompous parade of his candour and decency, he tells us, that we see dissensions in all parts of the empire, an universal spirit of distrust and dissatisfaction, and a total loss of respect towards us in the eyes of foreign powers. But this writer, with all his boasted candour, has not told us the real cause of the evils he so pathetically enumerates. I shall take the liberty to explain the cause for him. Junius, and such writers as himself, occasion all the mischief complained of, by falsely and maliciously traducing the best characters in the kingdom. For when our deluded people at home, and foreigners abroad, read the poisonous and inflammatory libels that are daily published with impunity, to vilify those who are any way distinguished by their good qualities and eminent virtues: when they find no notice taken of, or reply given to these slanderous tongues and pens, their conclusion is, that both the ministers and the nation have been fairly described; and they act accordingly. I think it therefore the duty of every good citizen to stand forth, and endeavour to undeceive the public, when the vilest arts are made use of to defame and blacken the brightest characters among us. An eminent author affirms it to be almost as criminal to hear a worthy man traduced, without attempting his justification, as to be the author of the calumny against him. For my own part, I think it a sort of misprision of treason against society. No man therefore who knows Lord Granby, can possibly hear so good and great a character most vilely abused, without a warm and just indignation against this Junius, this high priest of envy, malice, and all uncharitableness, who has endeavoured to sacrifice our beloved commander in chief at the altars of his horrid deities. Nor is the injury done to his Lordship alone, but to the whole nation, which may too soon feel the contempt, and consequently the attacks of our late enemies, if they can be induced to believe, that the person, on whom the safety of these kingdoms so much depends, is unequal to his high station, and destitute of those qualities which form a good general. One would have thought that his Lordship's services in the cause of his country, from the battle of Culloden to his most glorious conclusion of the late war, might have entitled him to common respect and decency at least; but this uncandid indecent writer has gone so far as to turn one of the most amiable men of the age into a stupid, unfeeling, and senseless being; possessed, indeed, of a personal courage, but void of those essential qualities which distinguish the commander from the common soldier.
A very long, uninterrupted, impartial, I will add, a most disinterested friendship with Lord Granby, gives me the right to affirm, that all Junius's assertions are false and scandalous. Lord Granby's courage, though of the brightest and most ardent kind, is among the lowest of his numerous good qualities; he was formed to excel in war by nature's liberality to his mind as well as person. Educated and instructed by his most noble father, and a most spirited as well as excellent scholar, the present bishop of Bangor, he was trained to the nicest sense of honour, and to the truest and noblest sort of pride, that of never doing or suffering a mean action. A sincere love and attachment to his King and country, and to their glory, first impelled him to the field, where he never gained aught but honour. He impaired, through his bounty, his own fortune; for his bounty, which this writer would in vain depreciate, is founded upon the noblest of the human affections, it flows from a heart melting to goodness from the most refined humanity. Can a man, who is described as unfeeling, and void of reflection, be constantly employed in seeking proper objects on whom to exercise those glorious virtues of compassion and generosity? The distressed officer, the soldier, the widow, the orphan, and a long list besides, know that vanity has no share in his frequent donations; he gives, because he feels their distresses. Nor has he ever been rapacious with one hand to be bountiful with the other; yet this uncandid Junius would insinuate, that the dignity of the commander in chief is depraved into the base office of a commission broker; that is, Lord Granby bargains for the sale of commissions; for it must have this meaning, if it has any at all. But where is the man living who can justly charge his Lordship with such mean practices? Why does not Junius produce him? Junius knows that he has no other means of wounding this hero, than from some missile weapon, shot from an obscure corner: He seeks, as all such defamatory writers do,
The last charge against Lord Granby is of a most serious and alarming nature indeed. Junius asserts, that the army is mouldering away for want of the direction of a man of common abilities and spirit. The present condition of the army gives the directest lie to his assertions. It was never upon a more respectable footing with regard to discipline, and all the essentials that can form good soldiers. Lord Ligonier delivered a firm and noble palladium of our safeties into Lord Granby's hands, who has kept it in the same good order in which he received it. The strictest care has been taken to fill up the vacant commissions, with such gentlemen as have the glory of their ancestors to support, as well as their own, and are doubly bound to the cause of their king and country, from motives of private property, as well as publick spirit. The adjutant-general, who has the immediate care of the troops after Lord Granby, is an officer that would do great honour in any service in Europe, for his correct arrangements, good sense and discernment upon all occasions, and for a punctuality and precision which give the most entire satisfaction to all who are obliged to consult him. The reviewing generals, who inspect the army twice a year, have been selected with the greatest care, and have answered the important trust reposed in them in the most laudable manner. Their reports of the condition of the army are much more to be credited than those of Junius, whom I do advise, to atone for his shameful aspersions, by asking pardon of Lord Granby and the whole kingdom, whom he has offended by his abominable scandals. In short, to turn Junius's own battery against him, I must assert, in his own words, "that he has given strong assertions without proof, declamation without argument, and violent censures without dignity or moderation."