pseudonymous political writer

Junius was the pseudonym of a writer who contributed a series of letters to the London Public Advertiser (published by Harry Sampson Woodfall) from January 21, 1769 to January 21, 1772.

Quotes edit

Letters of Junius (1769-1772) edit

  • One precedent creates another. They soon accumulate and constitute law. What yesterday was fact, today is doctrine.
    • Dedication to the English Nation (added the collection of letters published in 1772)
  • The liberty of the press is the palladium of all the civil, political, and religious rights of an Englishman.
    • Dedication to the English Nation (added the collection of letters published in 1772)
  • The submission of free people to the executive authority of government, is no more than a compliance with laws which they themselves have enacted.
    • No. 1 (21 January 1769)
  • Loyalty, in the heart and understanding of an Englishman, is a rational attachment to the guardian of the laws.
    • No. 1 (21 January 1769)
  • I believe there is yet a spirit of resistance in this country, which will not submit to be oppressed; but I am sure there is a fund of good sense in this country, which cannot be deceived.
    • No. 16 (19 July 1769)
  • We owe it to our ancestors to preserve entire those rights, which they have delivered to our care: we owe it to our posterity, not to suffer their dearest inheritance to be destroyed.
    • No. 20 (8 August 1769)
  • When the constitution is openly invaded, when the first original right of the people, from which all laws derive their authority, is directly attacked, inferior grievances naturally lose their force, and are suffered to pass by without punishment or observation.
    • No. 30 (17 October 1769)
  • There is a moment of difficulty and danger at which flattery and falsehood can no longer deceive, and simplicity itself can no longer be misled.
    • No. 35 (19 December 1769)
    • This letter is of great significance in the history of freedom of the press. The publisher was prosecuted for seditious libel, and the jury brought a verdict of "guilty of printing and publishing only." After a second trial, the publisher was freed on payment of costs.
  • They [the Americans] equally detest the pageantry of a king, and the supercilious hypocrisy of a bishop.
    • No. 35 (19 December 1769)
  • It is not then from the alienated affections of Ireland or America, that you [George III] can reasonably look for assistance; still less from the people of England, who are actually contending for their rights, and in this great question, are parties against you. You are not however, destitute of every appearance of support: you have all the Jacobites, Non-jurors, Roman Catholics, and Tories of this country, and all Scotland, without exception. Considering from what family you are descended, the choice of your friends has been singularly directed; and truly, Sir, if you had not lost the Whig interest of England, I should admire your dexterity in turning the hearts of your enemies.
    • No. 35 (19 December 1769)
  • When once a man is determined to believe, the very absurdity of the doctrine confirms him in his faith.
    • No. 35 (19 December 1769)
  • There is a holy mistaken zeal in politics as well as in religion. By persuading others, we convince ourselves.
    • No. 35 (19 December 1769)
  • The people of England are loyal to the House of Hanover, not from a vain preference of one family to another, but from a conviction that the establishment of that family was necessary to the support of their civil and religious liberties. This, Sir, is a principle of allegiance equally solid and rational;—fit for Englishmen to adopt, and well worthy of your Majesty's encouragement. We cannot long be deluded by nominal distinctions. The name of Stuart, of itself, is only contemptible;—armed with the sovereign authority, their principles are formidable. The Prince, who imitates their conduct, should be warned by their example; and, while he plumes himself upon the security of his title to the crown, should remember that, as it was acquired by one revolution, it may be lost by another.
    • No. 35 (19 December 1769)
  • The least considerable man among us has an interest equal to the proudest nobleman, in the laws and constitution of his country, and is equally called upon to make a generous contribution in support of them — whether it be the heart to conceive, the understanding to direct, or the hand to execute.
    • No. 37 (19 March 1770)
  • We lament the mistakes of a good man, and do not begin to detest him until he affects to renounce his principles.
  • The injustice done to an individual is sometimes of service to the public. Facts are apt to alarm us more than the most dangerous principles.
  • I see through your whole life, one uniform plan to enlarge the power of the crown, at the expense of the liberty of the subject. To this object, your thoughts, words and actions have been constantly directed. In contempt or ignorance of the common law of England, you have made it your study to introduce into the court, where you preside, maxims of jurisprudence unknown to Englishmen. The Roman code, the law of nations, and the opinion of foreign civilians, are your perpetual theme;—but whoever heard you mention Magna Charta or the Bill of Rights with approbation or respect? By such treacherous arts, the noble simplicity and free spirit of our Saxon laws were first corrupted. The Norman conquest was not compleat, until Norman lawyers had introduced their laws, and reduced slavery to a system.—This one leading principle directs your interpretation of the laws, and accounts for your treatment of juries.
  • An honest man, like the true religion, appeals to the understanding, or modestly confides in the internal evidence of his conscience. The imposter employes force instead of argument, imposes silence where he cannot convince, and propagates his character by the sword.
  • The government of England is a government of law. We betray ourselves, we contradict the spirit of our laws, and we shake the whole system of English jurisprudence, whenever we entrust a discretionary power over the life, liberty, or fortune of the subject to any man, or set of men, whatsoever, upon a presumption that it will not be abused.
    • No. 46 (25 May 1771)
  • If individuals have no virtues, their vices may be of use to us.
    • No. 59 (5 October 1771)
  • The temple of fame is the shortest passage to riches and preferment.
    • No. 59 (5 October 1771)

Quotes about Junius edit

  • How comes this Junius to have broke through the cobwebs of the law, and to range uncontrolled, unpunished through the land? The myrmidons of the court have been long, and are still, pursuing him in vain. ... No sooner has he wounded one than he lays another dead at his feet. For my part, when I saw his attack upon the king, I own my blood ran cold. ... In short, after carrying away our royal eagle in his pounces, and dashing him against a rock, he has laid you prostrate. Kings, Lords, and Commons are but the sport of his fury. Were he a member of this House, what might not be expected from his knowledge, his firmness, and integrity? He would be easily known by his contempt of all danger, by his penetration, by his vigour. Nothing would escape his vigilance and activity. Bad ministers could conceal nothing from his sagacity; nor could promises or threats induce him to conceal any thing from the public.
    • Edmund Burke, speech in the House of Commons (27 November 1770), quoted in The Parliamentary History of England: Vol. XVI (Hansard, 1813), columns 1154–1155
  • He has sometimes sported with lucky malice; but to him that knows his company, it is not hard to be sarcastic in a mask. ... Junius burst into notice with a blaze of impudence which has rarely glared upon the world before, and drew the rabble after him as a monster makes a show. When he had once provided for his safety by impenetrable secrecy, he had nothing to combat but truth and justice, enemies whom he knows to be feeble in the dark. ... out of the reach of danger, he has been bold: out of the reach of shame, he has been confident. As a rhetorician, he has had the art of persuading when he seconded desire; as a reasoner, he has convinced those who had no doubt before; as a moralist, he has taught that virtue may disgrace; and as a patriot, he has gratified the mean by insults on the high. Finding sedition ascendant, he has been able to advance it; finding the nation combustible, he has been able to inflame.
    • Samuel Johnson, Thoughts on the late transactions respecting the Falkland's Islands (1771), quoted in The Works of Samuel Johnson, L.L.D.: Vol. IV (1825), pp. 315–316

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