21 DECEMBER 1867, Page 17



Sin Pcrtury FRANCIS came into contact, friendly or hostile, with many great men, and took a part in great events. A proof, stronger

at least than can be advanced on behalf of any other claimant, con- nects his name with that strange literary mystery, the authorship of the Letters of Junius. These are his best claims to remembrance.

Claims, indeed, of a far higher kind he might have had. He missed them, not because his powers were deficient, but because they were distorted by great and almost inconsistent obliquities of temper and judgment. His temper, fierce and malignant to a degree never exceeded, did not permit him to rise out of the region of personal animosities. On the other hand, his judgment seems to have been incapable of descending to the practical aspects of the questions with which it had to deal. But his life, though in one sense it was a failure, well deserves to have a permanent memorial. This is furnished by the two volumes before us, which are so complete and so carefully executed that they will take rank at once as a standard work.

The portion of the life actually finished by Mr. Parkes does not extend beyond the middle of the first volume, but he may be regarded as having been, in a sense, the author of the whole, which would probably never have been written but for his enthusiasm in collecting the materials. It would be ungracious to criticize the fragment which he has left, but we can hardly regret that the task of completing the work has fallen into hands so able as those of Mr. Merivale.

Francis was born at Dublin in 1740. His father was a clergy- man, a scholar of some repute, whose translation of Horace is not yet altogether obsolete ; a cultivated and not unkindly man, but worldly, self-seeeking, and wholly unspiritual ; personally pure in life, but not disdaining company which even then it must have been reckoned unseemly for a clergyman to frequent. In his thirteenth year young Francis was entered at St. Paul's School. Within a year he reached the highest form, where we find his name standing next to that of Henry Sampson Woodfall, his senior both in age and school standing by nearly two years. At the age of sixteen he was Captain of the School. He had acquired considerable scholarship and, we are surprised to hear, a" singularly fine, legible, and facile handwriting," an accomplish- ment which the school probably now disdains to impart. He did not seek or could not obtain an exhibition to one of the Universities, a remarkable fact, considering his early pro- ficiency, and passed at once to a clerkship in the office of the Secretary of State. His first important employment was the post of private secretary to the Earl of Kinnoul, who was sent in 1760 on an embassy to Portugal. He appears to have composed as well as written the despatches of his chief. Besides these, he sent home a number of private letters, which have been fortunately preserved, and which display a vigour of style surprising in a youth who had barely completed his twentieth year. Junius himself, and it is impossible to speak of Francis without thinking of Junius, hardly surpassed the energetic vituperation of the following :—

" The King is a beggar; his troops beggars ; the nobility utter beggars; but no term is poor enough to express the utter beggary of the Plebs. Let it suffice to say that half a moidore would purchase every crime which even a Portuguese could commit."

And again,—

"The character which I gave you of this nation, in my last, was per- haps too harsh; to speak more favourably of them, I ought to say that their abject slavery, ignorance, and beggary are their misfortunes ; that pride, sloth, perverse obstinacy, ingratitude, cowardice, and revenge

• Memoirs of 8ir Philip Francis, S.C.B. With Correspondence and Journals. Com- menced by the late Joseph Parkes, Esq. Completed and edited by Herman Merivale, MA. 2 vols. London : Longmans. 1867. are the foibles of the Portuguese. As to more abominable vices, such as treachery, murder, assassination, em., they are only unlucky in having a hundred times the natural propensity to them that any other can boast of."

From Portugal Francis returned to his clerkship, which he held for the next eleven years. How he occupied himself during this period is the great question of his life. That ho was a laborious official, that he was a diligent and careful student, we know. So much the records of the War Office and his own MSS. testify.

Mr. Parkes believed him also to have been from 1763 to 1772 an incessant contributor to the Press, discovering his hand under the disguise of more than twenty signatures, of which " Junius" is the

most famous. On the other hand, a writer in the current number of Fraser's Magazine thinks that " there is nothing that can be called proof of his having written for the newspapers at all prior to his departure for India," and declares, in particular, that " there is an utter disagreement and disparity between Junius and Francis, in character, position, age, habits, modes of thought, opinions, interests, connections, tone, taste, language, genius, and capacity." It is impossible to discuss the question within our present limits. Some points the writer in Fraser has clearly over-stated. It may have been impossible for auy man, occupied as Francis was, to have written all that Mr. Parkes attributes to him ; but it is idle to speak of the man who occupied his leisure with making laborious analyses of Bacon and Locke and translating Dion Cassius and Tacitus as a roysterer, spending on vulgar pleasures all the time that he could spare from his office. Nor is due weight given to the evidence of Francis' habitual disloyalty to his friends which is fur- nished by the Autobiography. On other points the writer in Fraser argues very powerfully. Our own belief in the claims of Francis to the authorship of Junius has been very much shaken by what he advances. We can only give one instance. Every one must have been struck by the argument which Lord Macaulay draws from the evident acquaintance of Junius with the Luttrell family. But see bow quietly it is disposed of. "Lord Macaulay asserts that Francis ' was born and passed the first ten years of this life within a walk of Luttrellstown.' .IIe was born in Dublin, and quitted Ireland for ever in his fifth or sixth year." An argument is not, of course, materially weakened by the destruction of any part which is not a link ; but yet there are few who will not be impressed by this total disappearance of a very striking coincidence.

In March, 1772, Francis resigned his clerkship in the War Office, from which his intimate friend, D'Oyly, had retired two months before. The affair is involved in the mystery which sur- rounds so much of Francis's life. There is nothing to show that Lord Barrington, the chief of the office, behaved otherwise than with civility. "My Lord Barrington," says Francis, in a private letter of the time, " was so good as to make me the offer [of D'Oyly's place] with many obliging and friendly expressions." Yet there are reasons for thinking that an animosity, which it took many years to abate, was aroused by the occurrence. "Next to the Duke of Grafton, I verily believe that the blackest heart in the kingdom belongs to Lord Barrington." This is the comment which Nemesis, which seems to have been one of the aliases of Junius, passes on the affair.

In the July following his resignation Francis left England on a Continental tour, which was prolonged till the end of the next year. The question of his pecuniary means is even more perplex- ing than the similar difficulty which has puzzled the biographers • of Burke. His father subsisted on a pension which was helped out by occasional presents from his son. He had married a portionless wife. His official income had never reached 4001. Yet we find him able to leave his family (he had five children) comfortably settled in England, while he was himself enjoying the expensive luxury of the grand tour. He grumbles, it is true, about money. He complains, for instance, that at Spa, " what an Englishman would call a good lodging at Bath is not to be had under a guinea a day." Yet he seems always to have had at his command as much as he wanted to spend. On his return to England he found that his old patron, Calcraft, was dead, leaving him 1,0001., and a far more valuable legacy, the nomination to the borough of Wareham. The form of this latter bequest is curious enough. "In the event of a vacancy at Wareham, I desire Mr. William (the executor) to go down and choose Mr. Francis." As it happened, Wareham had to be otherwise represented. In June, 1778, occurred the strangest of the many strange incidents in Francis's career. The ex-clerk was appointed to be a member of the new Council of India, with a salary of 10,0001. a year.

Journals and letters tell in copious detail the story of the seven years (1774-81) which Francis spent in India, and furnish a nar- rative of the highest interest. At no time does the man appear at once to so much and to so little advantage. He kept unimpaired the energy and industry which had distinguished him in Europe, and that unassisted by the relaxation and change without which Indian officials cannot now exist. Though keenly anxious to make money, he was superior to corruption. Above all, he heartily desired to do his best for India. At the same time, his views of policy were broad and statesmanlike. He saw the necessity of many changes, —of some which were soon to be effected, of others which we are even now hardly prepared to accept. He was probably express- ing the opinion of many of his contemporaries when he denounced the evil results of the mercantile character still retained by the Company. But he was certainly in advance of his age when he declared that India must be governed in the name of the Ring, and that it was idle to attempt to govern it without native aid. But it is evident that he was from the very first in a thoroughly false position, and that his difficulties were aggravated by the incurable defects of his temper. He was sent out not to advise, or even to check the Governor-General, but to thwart him. A thoroughly unselfish man, of unfailing tact and good-humour, might have contrived at once to satisfy his employers and to serve India. These were not among the good qualities of Francis. With him prepossessions of opinion at once degenerated into per- sonal animosities. The Council Chamber at Calcutta became the ...scene of a party warfare fierce beyond all precedent, in which was concentrated all the bitterness that is diffused throughout a great :assembly, which was unsoftened by the humaner influences of Eng- lish life, and was wholly unchecked by a public opinion without. And Francis was supported by colleagues whom he soon learnt to despise or distrust, and had to contend with a man as determined as himself, who had the vast advantage of being in possession of the executive power. During the first period of his term of office, when he could command a majority in the Council, Francis could probably do little more than bring about a dead-lock. When he had lost this advantage he could only record his unvarying oppo- sition to every measure proposed in a series of bitterly written minutes. The enemies of Francis were amply avenged by the pain of this impotent wrath. In 1780 a fierce quarrel took place, in the matter of certain promises of support which Hastings conceived Francis to have made and not to have kept. The Governor's expressions were taken as a personal affront, and the famous duel took place. A few months afterwards Francis left India.

Meanwhile, we have been catching glimpses of a private life that was not too decorous. India, then as now, exaggerated the dis- sipations and vices of English society. The gaming-table was Francis's favourite relaxation. From Barwell, his constant antagonist at the council-table, he won 20,0001. at whist. The magnitude of the transaction seems to have scandalized even the contemporaries of Fox. " For God's sake," writes a friend to him, "since you have incurred the censures of the world, keep the money to console you in your affliction !" A still less credit- able episode in his career was his intrigue with Madame Grand. The reader will find the narrative of the affair curious, if not .edifying. The most remarkable feature in it is that Francis was accompanied to the rendezvous by some high Calcutta officials, Mr. Shore, afterwards Lord Teigumouth, among them. These gentlemen waited outside the compound, and ultimately res- cued their friend from the hands of the husband's servants. -Madame Grand afterwards became the wife of Talleyrand.

Francis was little more than forty when he left India, but his career as a statesman was practically closed. His money—he had .saved 3,0001. a year—enabled him to obtain a seat in Parliament. He was not altogether unsuccessful, for he satisfied such a judge as Windham, but it was only on rare occasions that he could command the attention of the House. And the thing which most of all he must have coveted he could not obtain. It was decided more than once by large majorities that he should not be included among the managers of the impeachment of Warren Hastings. Once indeed it seemed possible, at least to himself, that he might reach the highest object of his ambition. In 1806 the Whigs were in power, and the Governor-Generalship of India was vacant. Fox incurred the lasting enmity of Francis by refusing, most judiciously, as every one will think, to appoint him to the post. Notwithstanding this disappointment and the domestic troubles which overtook him, Francis's later years were not unhappy. His cultivated taste gave him great opportunities of enjoyment, and he appears to have attained a decided success in society. He died in 1818. Mr. Merivale does not, perhaps, say too much when he thus writes, " Eugland may have had many a worthier son than he ; ' but few who have rendered more durable service, and never one who loved her better."

In conclusion, we can heartily recommend these volumes. They are a treasury of interesting and valuable information, and give us a picture that has been most skilfully and judiciously put together, not only of the man, but of his times.