The Letters of Junius: Philip Francis

Romney Sedgwick describes how, under the pen-name of Junius, Sir Philip Francis ‘threw his firebrands’ at King and Government during the years 1769-72.

Their excess was shocking’, Horace Walpole writes of the libels appearing in 1770:

and in nothing more condemnable than in the danger they brought on the liberty of the press, which it was difficult for its warmest friend to defend. It was in every man’s mouth that the evil was grown past sufferance. Every man trembled, expecting what almost every man was fearing, abuse.

The good name, the credit, the character of all, were at the mercy of anonymous malice and a mercenary printer... Scarce a jury would find the rankest satire libellous, and that indemnity encouraged the printers to go to the most envenomed and unwarrantable lengths, which he exemplified by ‘the embittered licentiousness of Junius’.

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