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The following book contains five Letters, on the au. thorship of Junius's Letters, which were addressed, four of them to gentlemen, whom the writer has the good fortune to number among his friends, CHARLES BUTLER, Esq., the Rev. Dr. MARTIN Davy, M. D., GodFREY HIGGINS, Esq., and SIR UVEDALE PRICE, with a fifth addressed to Sir JAMES MACKINTOSH, with whom he has not the honour of being acquainted. These five Letters were privately circulated among the friends and acquaintance of the Author, and sent to such strangers, as were known, or thought likely, to take an interest in the discussion of a question, which has for so many years exercised the understandings of intelligent and wise, the acuteness of ingenious and sagacious men, and the curiosity of the literary public. The Author had conceived that he should be able, by a strict process of reasoning, by extensive researches, by a wary examination into facts, by a diligent survey
of what had been written on some parts of the subject, and by uniform impartiality and candour, to throw some light on the question, and to furnish others with some safe and certain means of pursuing their enquiries to a successful termination. He had not miscalculated in this respect, if he may be allowed to judge from the numerous communications, which he has receive ed from persons, who are well qualified to give an opinion, from their acquaintance with the subject, and their powers of discrimination ; and the reader will find some proofs of this fact in the book itself. Emboldened by their “ words of encouragement,”
“ smiles of favour,” and “ acts of assistance,” he now lays before the public these compositions with many alterations and considerable additions. He trusts that the reader will discover in them the marks of a mind accustomed to investigate without prejudice, to refute without bitterness, and to decide without dogmatism; and, whatever criticisms his performance may receive from the public censors of literature, he will be ready to acknowledge any errours, which they may detect in his arguments, and to rectify any mistakes, which he may unintentionally have made in matters of fact.
The reader will perceive from the dates of the Letters that they were written at different times, as the Author found intervals of leisure amidst literary pursuits of a weightier and
different nature. This circumstance will account for several repetitions, which may be found in them, and for the same argument being supported by different facts and different reasoning in different parts of the book, which in other circumstances would have been methodised into one paragraph.
The general opinion of those, to whose perusal his papers have been submitted, is that he has completely succeeded in subverting the claims of Sir Philip Francis to the authorship of Junius's Letters, which the ingenuity of Mr. John Taylor had, in his book entitled The Identity of Junius with a Distinguished Living Character Established, apparently placed on a solid basis. A few weeks before the decease of Dr. John Mason Good, who
wastheeditor of Mr. Woodfall's edition of Junius's Letters, and the writer of the Preliminary Essay, which is contained in it, the Author received from the Doctor the following Note:
Guildford Street, Oct. 13, 1826. “ DEAR SIR,
Accept my thanks for your obliging copy of your first Letter on the subject of Junius and Sir Philip Francis. • Many years ago, as perhaps you may be aware,
I entered at full speed into this research, and beat the bush in
every direction. At that time, however, the claims of Sir Philip Francis had not been advanced, at least not before the public. But, had they been brought forward, the arguments, by which it is obvious they may be met, and many of which you have yourself ably handled, would, I think, have succeeded in putting him as completely out of the list as all the other competitors appear to be put, whose friends have undertaken to bring them forward.
“ The question is, nevertheless, one of great interest, as well on the score of national history, as of literary curiosity. Yet, like many other desiderata, I am afraid it is likely to lie beyond the fathoming of any line and plummet, that will be applied to it in our days.
“ I shall always be happy to hear of your success, and am, dear Sir, faithfully yours,
J. M. Good.” “ To E. H. Barker, Esq.”
The reader will observe, in the above Letter of Dr. J. M. G., his indirect acknowledgment of the authorship of the Preliminary Essay in Woodfall's edition of Junius, and therefore the contents of the Lettermerit preservation.
One or two friends of the Author are so satisfied with some single arguments against the claims of Sir Philip Francis, that they consider him to have taken on himself superfluous labour in accumulating proof on proof that the credit of these compositions does not belong to Sir Philip. The Author has told to them in reply that he perfectly agrees with them in thinking that there are some single arguments, which establish his case ; but diversity of minds requires variety of proofs — that argument, which will satisfy one judgment, will not satisfy another, and yet that other person may be convinced, if he be met on his own ground. The Author has cunningly called their attention to the story, which the learned and eloquent Sir Thomas Browne tells to us in his Religio Medici 1, 21. p. 56.:-" I remember a Doctor-in-phy“sick of Italy, who could not perfectly believe the im
mortality of the soul, because Galen seemed to make a doubt thereof. With another I was familiarly acquainted in France, a divine, and a man of singular
parts, that on the same point was so plunged and gra“ velled with three lines of Seneca,* that allour antidotes, “ drawn from both Scripture and Philosophy, could not “expel the poison of his error.”
When we are told, (as the Author was told by an intelligent Barrister, on March 28, 1827.) that Sir Vicary
*“ After death there is nothing, and death itself is nothing. Death is an unavoidable corruption of the body, and does not suffer the soul to inhabit it. We die entirely, and nothing of us remains.”