19 APRIL 1963, Page 6

Letters of Junius The other day I bought on a

bookstall a couple of volumes of the Letters of Junius, and since then I have been browsing in them. Does anyone read them now? Probably not, yet they remain among our greatest works of polemic to set beside Swift's Conduct of the Allies or the Martin Marprelate Tracts. The tone of Junius (whether he was Sir Philip Francis or Hugh Boyd Esq., son of Alexander Macaulay Esq. of Glenville in the county of Antrim in Ireland, as the editor of my edition seems to think) has the directness and virility of conviction ex- pressed in strong prose. There is a mixture of good manners with moral disapproval in his remarks on Lord Mansfield which is infinitely refreshing. 'Considering the situation and abilities of Lord Mansfield, I do not scruple to affirm, with the most solemn appeal to God for my sincerity, that in my judgment he is the very worst and most dangerous man in the king- dom.' Compared with this the contemporary satire industry provides a mere twittering Of sparrows.