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often take the form of a syllogism, though usually with the omission of one of the terms; and we never find him betrayed into that careless diffusion of style so common with those who are ignorant of the principles of logic. In this respect, the writings of Junius will amply repay the closest study and analysis. Let the young orator enter completely into the scope and design of the author. Let him watch the under-current of his thoughts and feelings. Let him observe how perfectly every thing coincides to produce the desired impression—the statement of principles and the reference to facts, the shadings of thought and the colorings of imagery. Let him take one of the more striking passages, and remark the dexterous preparation by which each of its several parts is so shaped that the leading thoughts come forward to the best advantage; clear in all their relations, standing boldly out, unencumbered by secondary ideas, and thus fitted to strike the mind with full and undivided force. Such a study of Junius will prepare the young reader to enter into the Logic of Thought. It will lead to the formation of a severe intellectual taste, which is the best guard against the dangers of hasty composition, and the still greater dangers of extemporaneous speaking. Such speaking can not be dispensed with. On the contrary, it is becoming more and more essential to the success of public men in every department of life. It is, therefore, of the highest importance for the student in oratory to be familiar with models which shall preserve the purity of his style, and aid him in the formation of those intellectual habits without which there can be neither clearness, nor force, nor continuity of thought in extemporaneous speaking. One of our most eloquent advocates, the late William Wirt, whose early training was of a different kind, remarked, in an address delivered not long before his death, that here lay the chief deficiency of our public speakers—that the want of severe intellectual discipline was the great want of American orators.
There is also another lesson to be learned from Junius, viz., the art of throwing away unnecessary ideas. A large proportion of the thoughts which rise to the mind in first considering a subject, are not really essential to its clear and full development. No one ever felt this more strongly than Junius. He had studied in the school of the classics; he had caught the spirit of the Grecian oratory; and he knew that the first element of its power was a rigid scrutiny of the ideas to be brought forward, and a stern rejection of every form of thought, however plausible or attractive, which was not clearly indispensable to the attainment of his object. He learned, too, in the same school, another lesson of equal importance, in relation to the ideas selected for use. He saw how much could be done to abridge their statement, and set aside the necessity of qualifying terms and clauses, by such an arrangement of the leading thoughts that each should throw light upon the other, and all unite in one full, determinate impression. Our language is, indeed, poorly fitted for such purposes. It is a weak and imperfect instrument compared with others, whose varied inflections and numerous illative particles afford the readiest means of graceful transition, and of binding ideas together in close-compacted masses. Such as it is, however, Junius has used it to the utmost advantage. In his best passages, there is a fine compression of thought, arising from the skillful disposition of his materials, which it is far more easy to admire than to imitate. Not an idea is excluded which could promote his object. It is all there, but in the narrowest compass. The stroke is a single one, because nothing more is needed ; and it takes its full effect, because there is nothing in the way to weaken the force of the blow. He has thus given us some of the best specimens in our language of that “ rich economy of expression," which was so much studied by the great writers of antiquity.
There is only one more characteristic of Junius which will here be noticed. It is the wonderful power he possessed of insinuating ideas into the mind without giving them a formal or direct expression. Voltaire is the only writer who ever enjoyed this power in an equal degree, and he used it chiefly in his hours of gayety and sport. Junius used it for the most serious purposes of his life. He made it the instrument of torturing his victims. It is a curious inquiry why this species of indirect attack is so peculiarly painful to persons of education and refinement. The question is not why they suffer more than others from contempt and ridicule, but why sarcasm, irony, and the other forms of attack by insinuation, have such extraordinary power to distress their feelings. Perhaps the reason is, that such persons are peculiarly qualified to understand and appreciate these forms of ingenious derision. The ignorant and vulgar have no power to comprehend them, and are therefore beyond their reach. But it is otherwise with men of cultivated minds. It is impossible for such men not to admire the efforts of genius; and when they find these efforts turned against themselves, and see all the force of a subtle intellect employed in thus dexterously insinuating suspicion or covering them with ridicule, whatever may be their consciousness of innocence, they can not but feel deeply. Coarse invective and reproachful language would be a relief to the mind. Any one can cry“ fool,” “ liar," or “scoundrel.” But to sketch a picture in which real traits of character are so ingeniously distorted that every one will recognize the likeness and apply the name, requires no ordinary force of genius; and it is not wonderful that men of the firmest spirit shrink from such an assailant. We have seen how Lord Mansfield “suffered" under inflictions of this kind from Lord Chatham, till he could endure them no longer, and abruptly fled the contest. In addition to this, he who is thus assailed knows that the talent which he feels so keenly will be perfectly understood by others, and that attacks of this kind diffuse their influence, like a subtle poison, throughout the whole republic of letters. They will be read, he is aware, not only by that large class who dwell with malicious delight on the pages of detraction, but by multitudes whose good opinion he prizes most highly-in whose minds all that is dear to him in reputation will be mingled with images of ridicule and contempt, which can not fail to be remembered for their ingenuity, how much soever they may be condemned for their spirit. For these and perhaps other reasons, this covert mode of attack has always been the most potent engine of wounding the feelings and destroying character. Junius had not only the requisite talent and bitterness to wield this engine with terrible effect, but he stood on a vantage ground in using it, such as no other writer ever enjoyed. He had means of secret information, which men have labored in vain to trace out or conceive of. His searching eye penetrated equally into the retired circles of domestic life, the cabinets of ministers, and the closet of the King." Persons of the highest rank and most callous feelings were filled with alarm when they found their darkest intrigues laid open, their most hidden motives detected, their duplicity and tergiversation exposed to view, and even their private vices blazoned before the eyes of the public. Nor did Junius, on these points, very scrupulously confine himself to the truth. He gave currency to some of the basest slanders of the day, which he could not but know were unfounded, in order to blacken the char
? The following is a curious instance. About two years after these Letters were commenced, Garrick learned confidentially from Woodfall that it was doubtful whether Junius would continue to write much longer. He flew instantly with the news to Mr. Ramus, one of the royal pages, who bastened with it to the King, then residing at Richmond. Within two days, Garrick received, through Woodfall, the following note from Junius :
“ I am very exactly informed of your impertinent inquiries, and of the information you so busily sent to Richmond, and with what triumph and exultation it was received. I knew every particular of it the next day. Now, mark me, vagabond! keep to your pantomimes, or be assured you shall bear of it. Meddle no more, thou busy informer! It is in my power to make you curse the hour in which you dared to interfere with
JUNIUS." Miss Seward states, in her Letters, that on the evening after the receipt of this note, Garrick, for once in his life, played badly.
acter of his opponents. He stood, in the mean time, unassailable himself, wrapped, like Æneas at the court of Dido, in the cloud around him, affording no opportunity for others to retort his accusations, to examine his past conduct, or to scan his present motives. With all these advantages, he toiled as few men ever toiled, to gain that exquisite finish of style, that perfect union of elegance and strength, which could alone express the refined bitterness of his feelings. He seemed to exult in gathering up the blunted weapons of attack thrown aside by others, and giving them a keener edge and a finer polish. “Ample justice," says he to one whom he assailed, " has been done by abler pens than mine to the separate merits of your life and character. Let it be my humble office to collect the scattered sweets, till their united vir. tue tortures the sense.” In the success of these labors he felt the proud consciousness that he was speaking to other generations besides his own, and declared concerning one of his victims, “ I would pursue him through life, and try the last exertion of my abilities to preserve the perishable infamy of his name, and make it immortal."
This reliance of Junius on his extraordinary powers of composition, naturally leads us to consider his style. We might pronounce it perfect, if it were only free from a slight appearance of labor, and were as easy and idiomatic as it is strong, pointed, and brilliant. But it seems hardly possible to unite all these qualities in the highest degree. Where strength and compactness are carried to their utmost limit, there will almost of necessity be something rigid and unbending. A man in plate armor can not move with the freedom and lightness of an athlete. But Junius, on the whole, has been wonderfully successful in overcoming these difficulties. His sentences have generally an easy flow, with a dignified and varied rhythmus, and a harmonious cadence. Clear in their construction, they grow in strength as they advance, and come off at the close always with liveliness, and often with a sudden, stinging force. He is peculiarly happy in the choice of words. It has been said of Shakspeare, that one might as well attempt to push a brick out of its place in a well-constructed wall, as to alter a single expression. In his finest passages, the same is true of Junius. He gives you the exact word, he brings out the most delicate shadings of thought, he throws it upon the mind with elastic force, and you say, “What is written is written !" There are, indeed, instances of bad grammar and inaccurate expression, but these may be ascribed, in most cases, to the difficulty and danger of his correcting
Still, there is reason to believe that he was not an author by profession. Certain words and forms of construction seem plainly to show, that he had never been trained to the minuter points of authorship. And, perhaps, for this very reason, he was a better writer. He could think of nothing but how to express his ideas with the utmost vividness and force. Hence he gave them a frank and fearless utterance, which, modified by a taste like his, has imparted to his best passages a perfection of style which is never reached by mere mechanical labor. Among other things, Junius understood better than most writers where the true strength of language lies, viz., in the nouns and verbs. He is, therefore, sparing in the use of qualifying expressions. He relies mainly for effect on the frame-work of thought. In the filling out of his ideas, where qualifying terms must of course be employed, he
3 How much Junius relied for success on the perfection of his statement, may be learned from the following fact. When he had hastily thrown off a letter containing a number of coarse and unguarded expressions, of which he was afterward ashamed, he coolly requested Woodfall to say in a subsequent number, “We have some reason to suspect, that the last letter signed Junius in this paper was not written by the real Junius, though the observation escaped us at the time!" There is nothing equal to this in all the annals of literature, unless it be Cicero's famous letter to Lucceius, in which he asks the historiau to lie a little in his favor in recording the events of his consulship, for the sake of making him a greater man !
• Voltaire somewhere remarks, that the adjective is the greatest enemy of the substantive, though they agree together in gender, number, and case.
rarely uses intensives. His adverbs and adjectives are nearly all descriptive, and are designed to shade or to color the leading thoughts with increased exactness, and thus set them before the mind in bolder relief or with more graphic effect. He employs contrast also, with much success, to heighten the impression. No one has shown greater skill in crushing discordant thoughts together in a single mass, and giving them, by their juxtaposition, a new and startling force. Hardly any one but Demosthenes has made so happy a use of antithesis. His only fault is, that he now and then allows it to run away with his judgment, and to sink into epigram. The imagery of Junius is uncommonly brilliant. It was the source of much of his power. He showed admirable dexterity in working his bold and burning metaphors into the very texture of his style. He was also equally happy in the use of plainer images, drawn from the ordinary concerns of life, and intended not so much to adorn, as to illustrate and enforce. A few instances of each will show his wide and easy command of figurative language. In warning his countrymen against a readiness to be satisfied with some temporary gain, at the expense of great and permanent interests, he says, “In the shipwreck of the state, trifles float and are preserved, while every thing solid and valuable sinks to the bottom and is lost forever.” Speaking of the numerous writers in favor of the ministry, he says, “ They pile up reluctant quarto upon solid folio, as if their labors, because they are gigantic, could contend with truth and heaven." Again, " The very sunshine you live in is a prelude to your dissolution: when you are ripe, you shall be plucked.” Exhorting the King no longer to give importance to Wilkes by making him the object of royal persecution, he says, “The gentle breath of peace would leave him on the surface neglected and unremoved. It is only the tempest that lifts him from his place.” And again, in a higher strain, “The rays of royal indignation collected upon him, served only to illuminate and could not consume.” The last instance of this kind which will now be cited, has been already referred to on a preceding page, as perhaps suggested by a classical allusion of Lord Chatham. If so, it is a beautiful example of the way in which one man of genius often improves upon another. Many have pronounced it the finest metaphor in our language. Speaking of the King's sacrifice of honor in not instantly resenting the seizure of the Falkland Islands, he says, "A clear, unblemished character comprehends not only the integrity that will not offer, but the spirit that will not submit to an injury; and whether it belongs to an individual or to a community, it is the foundation of peace, of independence, and of safety. Private credit is wealth ; public honor is security. The feather that adorns the royal bird supports his flight. Strip him of his plumage, and you fix him to the earth.” Such are some of the characteristics of the style of Junius, which made Mr. Mathias, author of the Pursuits of Literature, rank him among the English classics, in the place assigned to Livy and Tacitus among the ancients.
Reference has already been made to the violent passions of Junius, and his want of candor toward most of his opponents. Still it will be seen, from the following sentiments contained in a private letter, that in his cooler moments he had just and elevated views concerning the design of political discussions. He is speaking of an argument he had just stated in favor of rotten boroughs, and goes on to say, “The man who fairly and completely answers this argument, shall have my thanks and my applause. My heart is already with him. I am ready to be converted. I admire his morality, and would gladly subscribe to the articles of his faith. Grateful as I am to the Good BEING, whose bounty has imparted to me this reasoning intellect, whatever it is, I hold myself proportionably indebted to him, whose enlightened understanding communicates another ray of knowledge to mine. But neither should
6 Referring to the story of the giants' tearing up mountains, and piling Pelion upon Ossa, in their contest with the gods.
I think the most exalted faculties of the human mind a gift worthy of the divinity, nor any assistance in the improvement of them a subject of gratitude to my fellowcreatures, if I were not satisfied that really to inform the understanding, corrects and enlarges the heart.” “Si sic omnia!" Would that all were thus ! Happy were it for the character of Junius as a man, if he had always been guided as a writer by such views and feelings !
Who was Junius ? Volumes have been written to answer this question, and it remains still undecided. At the end of eighty years of inquiry and discussion, after the claims of nearly twenty persons have been examined and set aside, only two names remain before the public as candidates for this distinction. They are Sir Philip Francis, and Lord George Sackville, afterward Lord George Germain. In favor and against each of these, there is circumstantial evidence of considerable weight. Neither of them has left any specimens of style which are equal in elegance and force to the more finished productions of Junius. Lord George Sackville, however, is far inferior in this respect. He was never a practical writer; and it seems impossible to believe, that the mind which expressed itself in the compositions he has left us, could ever have been raised by any excitement of emotion or fervor of effort, into a capacity to produce the Letters of Junius. Sir Philip Francis was confessedly a far more able writer. He had studied composition from early life. He was diligent in his attendance on Parliament; and he reported some of Lord Chatham's speeches with uncommon elegance and force. If we must choose between the two-if there is no other name to be brought forward, and this seems hardly possible—the weight of evidence is certainly in his favor. Mr. Macaulay has summed it up with his usual ability in the following terms : “ Was he the author of the Letters of Junius ? Our own firm belief is, that he
The external evidence is, we think, such as would support a verdict in a civil, nay, in a criminal proceeding. The handwriting of Junius is the very peculiar handwriting of Francis, slightly disguised. As to the position, pursuits, and connections of Junius, the following are the most important facts which can be considered as clearly proved : First, that he was acquainted with the technical forms of the Secretary of State's office; secondly, that he was intimately acquainted with the business of the War office; thirdly, that he, during the year 1770, attended debates in the House of Lords, and took notes of speeches, particularly of the speeches of Lord Chatham; fourthly, that he bitterly resented the appointment of Mr. Chamier to the place of deputy Secretary at War ; fifthly, that he was bound by some strong tie to the first Lord Holland. Now Francis passed some years in the Secretary of State's office. He was subsequently chief clerk of the War office. He repeatedly mentioned that he had himself, in 1770, heard speeches of Lord Chatham ; and some of those speeches were actually printed from his notes. He resigned his clerkship at the War office from resentment at the appointment of Mr. Chamier. It was by Lord Holland that he was first introduced into the public service. Now, here are five' marks, all of which ought to be found in Junius. They are all five found in Francis. We do not believe that more than two of them can be found in any other person whatever. If this argument does not settle the question, there is an end of all reasoning on circumstantial evidence.
“ The internal evidence seems to us to point the same way. The style of Francis bears a strong resemblance to that of Junius ; nor are we disposed to admit, what is generally taken for granted, that the acknowledged compositions of Francis are very decidedly inferior to the anonymous letters. The argument from inferiority, at all events, is one which may be urged with at least equal force against every claim
6 It has been shown in the London Athenæum, that the recent attempts to make the younger Lyt. tleton Junius, and also a Scottish surgeon named Maclain, are entire failures.