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THE EFFECTS OF WORDS. If words have all their possible extent of power, three effects arise in the mind of the hearer. The first is the sound; the second, the picture, or representation, of the thing signified by the sound; the third is the affection of the soul produced by one or by both of the foregoing. Compounded abstract words, of which we have been speaking (honor, justice, liberty, and the like), produce the first and the last of these effects, but not the second. Simple abstracts are used to signify some one simple idea, without much adverting to others which may chance to attend it; as blue, green, hot, cold, and the like: these are capable of affecting all three of the purposes of words; as the aggregate words, man, castle, horse, &c., are in a yet higher degree. But I am of opinion that the most general effect, even of these words, does not arise from their forming pictures of the several things they would represent in the imagination, because, on a very diligent examination of my own mind, and getting others to consider theirs, I do not find that once in twenty times any such picture is formed; and, when it is, there is most commonly a particular effort of the imagination for that purpose. But the aggregate words operate, as I said of the compound abstracts, not by presenting any image to the mind, but by having, from use, the same effect on being mentioned that their original has when it is seen. Suppose we were to read a passage to this effect: “The River Danube rises in a moist and mountainous soil in the heart of Germany, where, winding to and fro, it waters several principalities, until, turning into Austria, and leaving the walls of Vienna, it passes into Hungary: there, with a vast food, augmented by the Saave and the Drave, it quits Christendom; and, rolling through the barbarous countries which border on Tartary, it enters by many mouths into the Black Sea." In this description, many things are mentioned; as mountains, rivers, cities, the sea, &c. But let anybody examine himself, and see whether he has had impressed on his imagination any pictures of a river, mountain, watery soil, Germany, &c. Indeed, it is impossible, in the rapidity and quick succession of words in conversation, to have ideas both of the sound of the word and of the thing represented: besides, some words expressing real essences are so mixed with others of a general and nominal import, that it is impracticable to jump from sense to thought, from particulars to generals, from things to words, in such a manner as to answer the purposes of life; nor is it necessary that we should.
Author of a series of Letters, commencing Jan. 21, 1769. No compositions better illustrate the flexibility and power of the English language. For fierce invective and terrible sarcasm in elegant dress and appropriate ornament, “The Letters of Junius" are unsurpassed. They have been attributed, among others, to Burke and Sir Philip Francis; but the weight of evidence is in favor of the latter.
FROM THE DEDICATION TO THE ENGLISH NATION.
I DEDICATE to you a collection of Letters written by one of yourselves for the common benefit of us all. They would never have grown to this size without your continued encouragement and applause. To me they originally owe nothing but a healthy, sanguine constitution. Under your care, they have thriven: to you they are indebted for whatever strength or beauty they possess. When kings and ministers are forgotten, when the force and direction of personal satire is no longer understood, and when measures are only felt in their remotest consequences, this book will, I believe, be found to contain principles worthy to be transmitted to posterity. When you leave the unimpaired, hereditary freehold to your children, you do but half your duty. Both liberty and property are precarious unless the possessors have sense and spirit enough to defend them. This is not the language of vanity. If I am a vain man, my gratification lies within a narrow circle. I am the sole depositary of my own secret; and it shall perish with me.
I can not doubt that you will unanimously assert the freedom of election, and vindicate your exclusive right to choose your representatives; but other questions have been started on which your determination should be equally clear and unanimous. Let it be impressed upon your minds, let it be instilled into your children, that the liberty of the press is the palladium of all the civil, political, and religious rights of an Englishman; and that the right of juries to return a general verdict in all cases whatsoever is an essential part of our constitution, not to be controlled or limited by the judges, nor in any shape questionable by the legislature. The power of King, Lords, and Commons, is not an arbitrary power. They are the trustees, not the owners, of the estate. The feesimple is in us. They can not alienate; they can not waste. When we say that the legislature is supreme, we mean that it is the highest power known to the constitution; that it is the highest in comparison with the other subordinate powers established by the laws. In this sense, the word “supreme” is relative, not absolute. The power of the legislature is limited, not only by the general rules of natural justice and the welfare of the community, but by the forms and principles of our particular constitution. If this doctrine be not true, we must admit that King, Lords, and Commons have no rule to direct their resolutions but merely their own will and pleasure. They might unite the legislative and executive power in the same hands, and dissolve the constitution by an act of Parliament. But I am persuaded you will not leave it to the choice of seven hundred persons, notoriously corrupted by the crown, whether seven millions of their equals shall be freemen or slaves.
These are truths unquestionable. If they make no impression, it is because they are too vulgar and notorious. But the inattention or indifference of the nation has continued too long. You are roused at last to a sense of your danger. The remedy will soon be in your power. If Junius lives, you shall often be reminded of it. If, when the opportunity presents itself, you neg, lect to do your duty to yourselves and to posterity, to God and to your country, I shall have one consolation left in common with the meanest and basest of mankind, — civil liberty may still last the life of
TO HIS GRACE TIIE DUKE OF BEDFORD.
My Lord, – You are so little accustomed receive any marks of respect or esteem from the public, that if, in the following lines, a compliment, or expression of applause, should escape me, I fear you would consider it as a mockery of your
established character, and perhaps an insult to your understanding. You have nice feelings, my lord, if we may judge from your resentments. Cautious, therefore, of giving offense where you have so little deserved it, I shall leave the illustration of your virtues to other hands. Your friends have a privilege to play upon the easiness of your temper; or, possibly, they are better acquainted with your good qualities than I am. You have done good by stealth. The rest is upon record. You have still left ample room for speculation when panegyric is exhausted.
You are, indeed, a very considerable man. The highest rank, a splendid fortune, and a name glorious till it was yours, were sufficient to have supported you with meaner abilities than I think you possess. From the first, you derived a constitutional claim to respect; from the second, a natural extensive authority: the last created a partial expectation of hereditary virtues. The use you have made of these uncommon advantages might have been more honorable to yourself, but could not be more instructive to man
kind. We may trace it in the veneration of your country, the choice of your friends, and in the accomplishment of every sanguine hope which the public might have conceived from the illustrious name of Russell.
The eminence of your station gave you a commanding prospect of your duty. The road which led to honor was open to your view. You could not lose it by mistake; and you had no temptation to depart from it by design. Compare the natural dignity and importance of the richest peer of England, the noble independence which he might have maintained in Parliament, and the real interest and respect which he might have acquired, not only in Parliament, but through the whole kingdom, - compare these glorious distinctions with the ambition of holding a share in government, the emoluments of a place, the sale of a borough, or the purchase of a corporation; and, though you may not regret the virtues which create respect, you may see with anguish how much real importance and authority you have lost. Consider the character of an independent, virtuous Duke of Bedford ; imagine what he might be in this country; then reflect one moment upon what you are. If it be possible for me to withdraw my attention from the fact, I will tell you in theory what such a man might be.
Conscious of his own weight and importance, his conduct in Parliament would be directed by nothing but the constitutional duty of a peer. He would consider himself as a guardian of the laws. Willing to support the just measures of government, but determined to observe the conduct of the minister with suspicion, he would oppose the violence of faction with as much firmness as the encroachments of prerogative. He would be as little capable of bargaining with the minister for places for himself or his dependants as of descending to mix himself in the intrigues of opposition. Whenever an important question called for his opinion in Parliament, he would be heard by the most profligate minister with deference and respect. His authority would either sanctify or disgrace the measures of government. The people would look up to him as to their protector; and a virtuous prince would have one honest man in his dominions in whose integrity and judgment he might safely confide. If it should be the will of Providence to afflict him with a domestic misfortune, he would submit to the stroke with feeling, but not without dignity. He would consider the people as his children, and receive a generous, heartfelt consolation in the sympathizing tears and blessings of his country.
Your Grace may, probably, discover something more intelligible in the negative part of this illustrious character. The man I have described would never prostitute his dignity in Parliament by an indecent violence, either in opposing or defending a minister. He
would not at one moment rancorously persecute, at another basely cringe to, the favorite of his sovereign. After outraging the royal dignity with peremptory conditions little short of menace and hostility, he would never descend to the humility of soliciting an interview with the favorite, and of offering to recover at any price the honor of his friendship. Though deceived, perhaps, in his youth, he would not, through the course of a long life, have invariably chosen his friends from among the most profligate of mankind. His own honor would have forbidden him from mixing his private pleasures or conversation with jockeys, gamesters, blasphemers, gladiators, or buffoons. He would then have never felt, much less would he have submitted to, the humiliating, dishonest necessity of engaging in the interest and intrigues of his dependants, of supplying their vices, or, relieving their beggary, at the expense of his country. He would not have betrayed such ignorance or such contempt of the constitution as openly to avow in a court of justice the purchase and sale of a borough. He would not have thought it consistent with his rank in the state, or even with his personal importance, to be the little tyrant of a little corporation. He would never have been insulted with virtues which he had labored to extinguish, nor suffered the disgrace of a mortifying defeat which has made him ridiculous and contemptible even to the few by whom he was not detested. I reverence the afflictions of a good man; his sorrows are sacred : but how can we take part in the distresses of a man whom we can neither love nor esteem, or feel for a calamity of which he himself is insensible? Where was the father's heart, when he could look for or find an immediate consolation for the loss of an only son in consultations and bargains for a place at court, and even in the misery of balloting at the India House ?
ENCOMIUM ON LORD CHATHAM.
It seems I am a partisan of the great leader of the opposition. If the charge had been a reproach, it should have been better supported. I did not intend to make a public declaration of the respect I bear Lord Chatham. I well knew what unworthy conclusions would be drawn from it. But I am called upon to deliver my opinion; and surely it is not in the little censure of Mr. Horne to deter me from doing signal justice to a man, who, I confess, has grown upon my esteem. As for the common, sordid views of avarice, or any purpose of vulgar ambition, I question whether the applause of Junius would be of service to Lord Chatham. My vote will hardly recommend him to an increase of his pension, or to a seat in the cabinet: but if his ambition be upon a level with