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LETTERS OF JUNIUS.
DEDICATION TO THE
I dedicate to you a collection of letters, written by one or slaves. The certainty of forfeiting their own rights, of yourselves, for the common benefit of us all. They | when they sacrifice those of the nation, is no check to a would never have grown to this size without your con- brutal, degenerate mind. Without insisting upon the extinued encouragement and applause. To me they origin-travagant concession made to Harry the Eighth, there ally owe nothing but a healthy, sanguine constitution. are instances, in the history of other countries, of a Under your care they have thriven: to you they are in-formal, deliberate surrender of the public liberty into debted for whatsoever strength or beauty they possess. the hands of the sovereign. If England does not share When kings and ministers are forgotten, when the force the same fate, it is because we have better resources and direction of personal satire is no longer understood, . than in the virtue of either house of parliament. and when measures are only felt in their remotest con- I said, that the liberty of the press is the palladium of sequences; this book will, I believe, be found to contain your rights, and that the right of the juries to return principles worthy to be transmitted to posterity. When a general verdict, is pa t of your constitution. To preyou leave the unimpaired hereditary freehold to your serve the whole system, you must correct your legislacbildren, you do but half your duty. Both liberty and ture. With regard to any influence of the constituent property are precarious, unless the possessors have sense over the conduct of the representative, there is little difand spirit enough to defend them. This is not the lan-ference between a seat in parliament for seven years and guage of vanity. If I am a vain man, my gratification a seat for life. The prospect of your resentment is too lies within a narrow circle. I am the sole depository of remote; and, although the last session of a 8 my own secret, and it shall perish with me.
parliament be usually employed in courting the favor of If an honest, and, I may truly affirm, a laborious zeall the people;
the people; consider, that at this rate, your representafor the public service, bas given me any weight in your tives bave six years for offense, and but one for atoneesteem, let me exhort and conjure you, never to suffer ment. A death-bed repentance seldom reaches to restituan invasion of your political constitution, howe tion. If you reflect, that in the changes of administration minute the instance may appear, to pass by, without a which have marked and disgraced the present reign, determined persevering resistance. One precedent although your warmest patriots have, in their turn, been creates another. They soon accumulate, and constitute invested with the lawful and unlawful authority of the law. What yesterday was fact, to-day is doctrine. Ex- crown, and though other reliefs or improvements have amples are supposed to justify the most dangerous meas-been held forth to the people, yet that no one man in ures, and where they do not suit exactly, the defect is office has ever promoted or encouraged a bill for shortensupplied by analogy. Be assured, that the laws, which ing the duration of parliaments, but that whoever was protect us in our civil rights, grow out of the constitu- minister) the opposition to this measure, ever since the tion, and they must fall or flourish with it. This is not septennial act passed, has been constant and uniform tbe cause of faction, or of party, or of any individual, on the part of government--you cannot but conclude, but the common interest of every man in Britain. without the possibility of a doubt, that long parliaments Although the king should continue to support his pres- are the foundation of the undue influence of the crown. ent system of Government, the period is not very dis- This infiuence answers every purpose of arbitrary power tant at which you will have the means of redress in to the crown, with an expense and oppression to the peoyour own power; it may be nearer, perhaps, than any of ple, which would be unnecessary in an arbitrary governus expect; and I would warn you to be prepared for it. inent. The best of oureministers find it the easiest and The king may possibly be advised to dissolve the present most compendious mode of conducting the king's affairs; parliament a year or two before it expires of course, and and all ministers have a general interest in adhering to a precipitate a new election, in hopes of taking the nation system, which, of itself, is sufficient to support them in by surprise. If such a measure be in agitation. this very office, without any assistance from personal virtue, popucaution may defeat or prevent it.
larity, labor, abilities, or experience. It promises every Iean not doubt that you will unanimously assert the gratification to avarice and ambition, and secures imfreedom of election, and vindicate your exclusive right punity. These are truths unquestionable: if they make to choose your representatives. But other questions no impression, it is because they are too vulgar and notohave been started, on which your determination should rious. But the inattention or indifference of tte nation be equally clear and unanimous. Let it be impressed has continued too long. You are roused at last to a sense upon your minds, let it be instilled into your children, of your danger: the remedy will soon be in your power. that the liberty of the press is the palladium of all the If Junius lives, you shall often be reminded of it. If,
, pontical, and religious rights of an Englishman: when the opportunity presents itself, you neglect to do and that the right of juries to return a general verdict, your duty to yourselves and to posterity, to God and to in all cases whatsoever, is an essential part of our con your country, I shall have one consolation left, in comstitution, not to be controlled or limited by the judges, mon with the meanest and basest of mankind: Civil Winor in any shape questionable by the legislature. The erty may still last the life of
JUNIUS. power of king, lords, and commons, is not an arbitrary power:* they are the trustees, not the owners, of the The positive denial of an arbitrary power being vested estate. The fee-simple is in us: they cannot alienate, in the legislature, is not, in fact, a new doctrine. When they cannot waste. When we say that the legislature is the earl of Lindsay, in the year 1675, brought in a bill into sui preme, we mean, that it is the highest power known to the house of lords, "To prevent the dangers which might the constitution; that it is the highest, in comparison arise from persons disaffected to government," by which with the other subordinate powers, established by the an oath and penalty was to be imposed upon the memlaws. In this sense, the word supreme is relative, not bers of both houses; it was affirmed, in a protest, signed absolute. The power of the legislature is limited, not by twenty-three lay peers, (my lords the bishops were not only by the general rules or natural justice, and the wel accustomed to protest,) That the privilege of sitting fare of the community, but by the forms and principles and voting in parliament was an honor they had by birth, of our particular constitution. If this doctrine be not and a right so inherent in them, and inseparable from true, we must admit that kings, lords, and commons, have them, that nothing could take it away, but what, by the no rule to direct their resolutions, but merely their law of the land, must withal take away their lives, and own will and pleasure: they might unite the legislative corrupt their blood." These noble peers, whose names and executive power in the same hands, and dissolve the are a reproach to their posterity, have, in this instance, constitution by an act of parliament. But I am per solemnly denied the power of parliament to alter the consuaded you will not leave it to tbe choice of seven hun stitution. Under a particular proposition, they have dred persons, notoriously corrupted by the crown, asserted a general truth, in which every man in England whether seven millions of their equals shall be free men is concerned.
The encouragement given to a multitude of spurious, of a most ingenius foreigner) both minister and magigmangled publications of the Letters of Junius," per-trate are compelled in almost every instance to choose suades me, that a complete edition, corrected and in- / between his duty and his reputation. A dilemma of this proved by the author, will be favorably received. The kind perpetually before him, will not, indeed, work a printer will readily acquit me of any view to my own acle on his heart, but it will assuredly operate, in some profit. I undertake this troublesome task merely to degree, upon his conduct. At all events, these are not serve a man who bas deserved well of me and of the pul times to admit of any relaxation in the little discipline lic; and who, on my account, has been exposed to an ex we have left. pensive, tyrannical prosecution. For these reasons, I 1 But it is alleged, that the licentiousness of the press is give to Mr Henry Sampson Woodfall, and to him alone, carried beyond all bounds of decency and truth; that our my right, interest, and properts, in these letters, as fully excellent ministers are continually exposed to the publio and completely, to all intents and purposes, as an author hatred or derision; that in prosecutions for libels of govcan possibly convey his property in his own works to ernment, juries are partial to the popular side: and that another.
in the most flagrant cases, a verdict cannot be obtained This edition contains all tbe letters of Junius, Philo for the king. If the premises were admitted, I should Junius, and of Sir William Draper and Mr. Horne to Ju-deny the conclusion. It is not true that the temper of nius, with their respective dates, and according to the the times has in general an undue intluence over the conorder in which they appeared in the Public Advertiser | duct of juries: on the contrary, many signal instances The auxiliary part of Philo Junius was indispensably may be produced of verdicts returned for the king, when necessary to defend or explain particular passages in Ju the inclinations of the people led strongly to an undis nius, in answer to plausible objections, but the subordi- tinguished opposition to government. Witness the cases nate character is never guilty of the indecorum of prais- of Mr Wilkes and Mr. Almon. In the late prosecution ing his principal. The fraud was innocent, and I always of the printers of my address to a great personage, the intended to explain it The notes will be found not only juries were never fairly dealt with. Lord chief justice neeful but necessary. References to facts not generally Mansfield, conscious that the paper in question contained known or allusions to the current report or opinion of the no treasonable or libellous matter, and that the severest day, are, in a little time, unintelligible: yet the reader parts of it, however painful to the king or otfensive to will not find himself overloaded with explanations: I was his servants, were strictly true, would fain bave restrictnot born to be a commentator, even upon my own worksed the jury to the finding of special facts, which, as to
It remains to say a few words upon the liberty of the I guilty or not guilty, were merely indifferent. This parpress. The daring spirit by which these letters are sup ticular motive, combined with his general purpose to
posed to be distinguished, seems to require that some contract the power of juries, will account for the charge • tbing serious should be said in their defense. I am no he delivered in Woodfall's trial. He told the jury in 80
lawyer by profession, nor do I pretend to be more deeply many words, that they had nothing to determine, except read than every English gentleman should be, in the laws the fact of printing and publishing, and whether or no of his country. If, therefore, the principles I maintain the blanks or inuendoes were properly filled up in the are truly constitutional, I shall not think myself answer-information: but that, whether the defendant had comed, though I should be convicted of a mistake in terms, mitted a crime or not, was no matter of consideration to or misapplying the language of the law. I speak to the twelve men, who yet, upon their oaths, were to proplain understanding of the people, and appeal to their nounce their peer guilty or not guilty. When we hear honest, liberal construction of me.
such nonsense delivered from the bench, and find it supGood men, to whom alone I address myself, appear to ported by a labored trein of sophistry, which a plain unme to consut their piety as little as their judgment and derstanding is unable to follow, and which an unlearned experience, when they admit the great and essential ad- jury, however it may shock their reason, cannot be supvantages accruing to society from the freedom of the posod qualified to refute, can it be wondered that they press, yet indulge themselves in peevish or passionate should return a verdict perplexed, absurd, or imperfect? exclamations against the abuses of it Betraying an un- Lord Mansfield has not yet explained to the world, why reasonable expectation of benefits, pure and entire from be accepted of a verdict which the court afterwards set any human institution, they, in effect, arraign the good-aside as illegal; and which, as it took no notice of the inness of Providence, and confess that they are dissatisfied uendoes, did not even correspond with his own charge. with the common lor of humanity. In the present in- If he had known his own duty, he should have sent the stance, they really create to their own minds, or greatly jury back. I speak advisedly, and am well assured, that exaggerate the evil they complain of The laws of Engano lawyer of character, in Westminster-hall, will contraland provide as effectually as any human laws can do for dict me. To show the falsehood of lord Mansfield's docthe protection of the subject, in his reputation, as well as trine, it is not necessary to enter into the merits of the in his person and property. If the characters of private paper which produced the trial. lf every line of it were men are insulted or injured, a double remedy is opened treason, his charge to the jury would still be false, ab to them by action and indictment: if, through indolence, surd, illegal, and unconstitutional. If I stated the merits false shame, or indifference, they will not appeal to the of my letter to the king, I should imitate lord Mansfield, laws of their country, they fail in their duty to society, and travel* out of the record. When law and reason and are unjust to themselves: if, from an unwarrantable speak plainly, we do not want authority to direct our undistrust of the integrity of juries, they would wish to ob-derstandings. Yet, for the honor of the profession, I am tain justice by any mode of proceeding more summary content to oppose one lawyer to another; especially when tban a trial by their peers, I do not scruple to affirm, that it happens that the king's attorney-general has virtually they are in effect, greater enemies to themselves than to disclaimed the doctrine by which the chief justice meant the libeller they prosecute.
to ensure success to the prosecution. The opinion of the With regard to strictures upon the characters of men in plaintiff's counsel (however it may otherwise be insignifioffice, and the measures of government, the case is a little cant) is weighty in the scale of the defendant. My lord different. A considerable latitude must be allowed in the discussion of public affairs,or the liherty of the press will *The following quotation from a speech delivered by be of no benefit to society. As the indulgence of private lord Chatham, on the 11th of December, 1770, is taken with malice and personal slander should be checked and resist exactness. The reader will find it curious in itself, and ed by every legal means, so a constant examination into very fit to be inserted here. "My lords, the verdict given the characters and conduct of ministers and magistrates in Woodfall's trial was, guilty of printing and publishing * should be equally promoted and encouraged. They who only;' upon which tw motions were made in court; one,
conceive that our newspapers are no restraint upon bad in arrestof judgment, by the defendant's counsel, groundmen, or impediment to the execution of bad measures, ed upon the ambiguity of the verdict; the other, by the know nothing of this country. In that state of abandon- counsel for the crown, for a rule upon the defendant, to edi servility and prostitution, to which the undue influence sbow cause why the verdict should not be entered up to of the crown bas reduced the other branches of the leg cording to the les al import of the words. On both mojslature, our ministers and magistrates have, in reality, I tions a rule was granted; and soon after the matter was little punisbment to fear, and few difficulties to contend | argued before the court of king's bench. The noble with heyond the censure of the press, and the spirit of judge, when he delivered the opinion of the court upon resistance which it excited among the people. While the verdict, went regularly through the whole of the prothis censorial power is maintained, (to speak in the words 'ceedings at Nisi Prius, as well the evidence that had been
chief justice de Grey, who filed the information ex
are sufficient to determine a plain matter of fact, they officio, is directly with me. If he had concurred in lord are not qualified to comprehend the meaning, or to judge Mansfield's doctrine, the trial must have been a very short
of the tendency of a seditious libel. In answer to this one. The facts were either admitted by Woodfall's coun- I objection (which, if well founded, would prove nothing sel, or easily proved to the satisfaction of the jury: but
as to the strict right of returning a general verdict I Mr. de Grey, far from thinking he should acquit himself
might safely deny the truth of this assertion, Englistot his duty, by barely proving the facts, entered largely, I men, of that rank from which juries are usually taken, and confess, not without ability, into the demerits of
are not so illiterate as (to serve a particular purpose) they the paper, which he called a seditious libel. He dwelt but are now represented : or, admitting the fact, let & special e paper, waren ne cuchinh lam dinstalard Mane are now
repre lightly upon those points which (according to lord Mang
jury be summoned in all cases of difficulty and impor
n dimoon field) were the only matter of consideration to the jury.
1 tance, and the objection is removed. But the truth is The criminal intent, the libellous matter, the pernicious
that if a paper, supposed to be a libel upon government, tendency of the paper itself, were the topics on which he
be so obscurely worded, that twelve common men cannot principally insisted, and of which, for more than an hour,
possibly see the seditious meaning and tendency of it, it he tortured his faculties to convince the jury. If he
is in effect no libel. It cannot intiame the minds of the agreed in opinion with lord Mansfield, his discourse was
people, nor alienate their affections from government: impertinent ridiculous't and unreasonable. But under
for they no more understand what it means, tban it standing the law as I do, what he said was at least con
Con- I were published in a language unknown to them. sistent, and to the purpose.
1 Upon the whole matter, it appears, to my understanding. If any honest man should still be inclined to leave the, clear. beyond a doubt, that, if, in any future prosecution construction of libels to the court, I would entreat him for a seditious libel, the jury should bring in a verdict of to consider what a dreadful complication of hardships he acquittal, not warranted by the evidence, it will be owing imposes upon his fellow subjects. In the first place, the to the false and absurd doctrines laid down by lord Mans prosecution commences by information of an officer of field. Disgusted at the odious artifices made use of by the crown, not by the regular constitutional mode of in- the judge to mislead and perplex them, guarded against dictment before a grand jury. As the fact is usually ad- his sophistry, and convinced of the falsehood of his mitted, or, in general can easily be proved, the office of sertions, they may, perhaps, determine to thwart bis de the petty jury is nugatory: the court then judges of the testable purpose, and defeat him at any rate. To bim at nature and extent of the offense, and determines, ad- least, they will do substantial justice. Whereas, if the arbitrium. the quantum of the punishment, from a small whole charge laid in the information be fairly and houfine to a heavy one, to repeated whipping, to pillory, and estly submitted to the jury, there is no reason whatsoever unlimited imprisonment. Cutting off ears and noses to presume that twelve men, upon their oaths, will not might still be inflicted by a resolute judge: but I will be decide impartially between the king and the defendant. candid enough to suppose that penalties, so apparently The numerous instances, in our state trials, of verdicts shocking to humanity, would not be hazarded in these recovered for the king, sufficiently refute the false and times. In all other criminal prosecutions the jury de- scandalous imputations thrown, by the abettors of lord cides upon the fact and the crime in one word, and the Mansfield, upon the integrity of juries. But, even admitcourt pronounces a certain sentence which is the sen- ting the supposition, that, in times of universal discoutence of the law, not of the judge. If lord Mansfield's tent, arising from the notorious mal-administration of doctrine be received, the jury must either find a verdict public affairs, a seditious writer should escape punisb of acquittal, contrary to evidence, which, I can conceive, ment, it makes notbing against my general argument. If might be done by very conscientious men, rather than juries are fallible, to what other tribunal shall we appeal? trust a fellow-creature to lord Mansfield's mercy; or they if juries cannot safely be trusted, shall we unite the must leave to the court two offices, never but in this in- offices of judge and jury, so wisely divided by the constistance united, of finding guilty, and awarding punish- tution, and trust implicitly to !ord Monsfield? Are the ment.
judges of the court of king's bench more likely to be up"But,"says this honest lord chief justic9,"if the paperl biassed and impartial than twelve yeomen, burgesses, or be not criminal, the defendant (though found guilty by gentlemen, taken indifferently from the country at large? his peers) is in no danger, for he may move the court in Or, in short, sball there be no decision, until we have inarrest of judgment." True, my good lord; but who is to stituted a tribunal from which no possible abuse or indetermine upon the motion? Is not the court still to de convenience whatsoever can arise? If I am not grossly cide, whether judgment shall be entered up or not? and mistaken, these questions carry a decisive answer alons is not the defendant this way as effectually deprived of with them. judgment by his peers, as if he were tried in a court of Having cleared the freedom of the press from a recivil law, or in the chambers of the inquisition? It is | straint equally unnecessary and illegal, I return to the you, my lord, who then try the crime, not the jury As use which has been made of it in the present publication. to the probable effect of the motion in arrest of judg National reflections, I confess, are not justified in ment, I shall only observe, that no reasonable man would theory, nor upon any general principles. To know how be so eager to possess himself of the invidious power of well they are deserved, and how justly they have been inflicting punishment, if he were not predetermined to applied, we must have the evidence of facts before us. make use of it.
We must be conversant with the Scots in private life, and Again, we are told that judge and jury have a distinct observe their principles of acting to us and to each office; that the jury is to find the fact, and the judge to other; the characteristic prudence, the selfish nationdeliver the law. “De jure respondent judices, (le facto ality, the indefatigable smile, the persevering assiduity, jurati." The dictum is true, though not in the sense the everlasting profession of a discreet and moderate re given to it by lord Mansfield. The jury are undoubtedly sentment. If the instance were not too important for an to determine the fact; that is, whether the defeudant did experiment, it might not be amiss to con fide a little in or did not commit the crime charged against him. The their integrity. Without any abstract reasoning upon judro pronounces the sentence annexed by lew to that causes and etfects, we shall soon be convinced, by exfact so found; and if, in the course of the trial, any ques-perience, that the Scots, transplanted from their own tion of law arises, both the counsel and the jur/ must, of country, are always a distinct and separate body from the necessity, appeal to the judge, and leave it to his decision. people who receive them. In othersettlements, they only An exception, or plea in bar, may be allowed by the love themselves: in England they cordially love themcourt: but, when issue is joined, and the jury have re selves, and as cordially bate their neighbors. For the re ceived their charge, it is not possible, in the nature of mainder of their good qualities I must appeal to the things, for them to separate the law from the fact, unless reader's observation, unless he will accept of my lord they think proper to return a special verdict.
Barrington's authority in a letter to the late lord Mai It has also been alleged, that, although a commo
combe, published by Mr. Lee: he expresses himself with given, as his own charge to the jury. This proceeding a truth and accuracy not very common in his lordship's would have been very proper, had a notion been made on
lucubrations. " And Cockburn, like most of his country. either side for a new trial; because either a verdict given
men, is as abject to those above him, as he is insolent to contrary to evidence, or an improper charge by the jud
those below him." I am far from meaning to impeach at Nisi Prius, is held to be a sufficient ground for grant
the articles of the union If the true spirit of those artiing a new trial. But when & motion is made in arrest of
cles were religiously adhered to, we should not see such judgment, or for establishing the verdict, by entering it
a multitude of Scotch commoners in the lower house, as up according to the legal import of the words, it must be representatives of English boroughs, while not a single on the ground of something appearing on the face of the
Scotch borough is ever represented by an Englishman: record; and the court, in considering whether the verdict
we should not see English peerages given to Scotch shall be established or not, are so confined to the record,
ladies, or to the elder sons of Scotch peers, and the numthat they cannot take any notice of anything that does
ber of sixteen doubled and trebled by a scandalous eve not appear on the face of it: in the legal varase, they sion of the act of union. If it should ever be thought ad cannot travel out of the record. The noble judge did
visable to dissolve an act, the violation or observance of travel out of the record; and I affirm, that his discourse
which is invariably directed by the advantage and inter was irregular, extrajudicial, and unprecedented. His ap
est of the Scots, I shall say very sincerely, with Sir Er parent motive for doing what he knew to be wrong, was
ward Coke,* " When poor England stood alone, and bad that he might have an opportunity of telling the public not the access of another kingdom, and yet had inore and extrajudicially, that the other three judges concurred in the doctrine laid down in his charge."
* Parliamentary History, voi ui, p. 4o.