I am happy that you are using this web site and hope that you found it useful. Unfortunately, the cost of making this material freely available is increasing, so if you have found the site useful and would like to contribute towards its continuation, I would greatly appreciate it. Click the button to go to Paypal and make a donation.
This article was written by Leslie Stephen in 1889
Sir Philip Francis, reputed author of ‘Junius's Letters,’ was the only child of the Rev. Philip Francis by his wife, Elizabeth Rowe. He was born in Dublin on 22 October 1740. His mother died about 1744-5, and his father soon after removed to England, leaving the son at a school kept by a Mr. Roe in Dublin. About 1751-2 Francis came to England to be educated by his father. Among his fellow-pupils was the historian Gibbon. On 17 March 1753 Francis was entered at St. Paul's School, then flourishing under an able head-master, George Thicknesse. He became a good classical scholar. Henry Sampson Woodfall, afterwards the publisher of ‘Junius,’ was a schoolfellow. Francis was captain of the school in 1756, and left it in the same year to take a junior clerkship in the secretary of state's office. The appointment came from his father's patron, Henry Fox, afterwards the first Lord Holland. John Calcraft (1726-1772) was intimate both with Fox and the elder Francis, and Francis had many opportunities of seeing the leading statesmen of the day. He continued to educate himself, spent his savings on books, and became favourably known to Robert Wood, secretary of the treasury, a man of classical parts and a trusted subordinate of Pitt in the seven years' war. Through Wood's influence Francis was appointed secretary to General Edward Bligh, whom he accompanied in the expedition to Cherbourg and St. Cas in 1758. In January 1760 he was appointed, again on Wood's recommendation, secretary of Lord Kinnoul's embassy to Portugal. He found time to learn French, Portuguese, and Spanish, and to compile elaborate note-books containing many diplomatic documents, besides discharging his official duties. Upon the conclusion of Kinnoul's mission in November 1760, Francis returned to his clerkship and his studies. His note-books show careful study both of classical and modern authors. He compiled careful financial and statistical tables, and made elaborate notes upon English constitutional questions. Wood recommended him to Pitt, to whom he acted as amanuensis between January 1761 and May 1762, writing despatches occasionally in French and Latin. Pitt, according to Lady Francis, was struck by the youth's talents, but no preferment resulted.
In October 1761 Lord Egremont succeeded Pitt as secretary of state. Francis, who was in his department, tried, without success, to obtain the secretaryship to Hans Stanley's mission to Paris in 1761. He was acquainted with the course of later negotiations, and copied part of the correspondence between Egremont and the Duke of Bedford during the final negotiations for peace in the autumn of 1762. A remarkable reference is made to the relations between Egremont and Bedford at this time in the Junius letter of 29 Sept. 1769. Francis referred to his own employment on this occasion in a speech of 29 February 1792.
In 1761 he fell in love with Elizabeth Macrabie, then living with her parents at Fulham. She was an accomplished musician, and an attractive and sensible girl. She had no fortune, and the connection was disapproved by both families. They were both of age, however, and married at St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, 27 February 1762. A coolness resulted between Francis and his father, till in 1766 the father's illness brought about a reconciliation.
At the end of 1762 Welbore Ellis succeeded Charles Townshend as secretary-at-war. He appointed Francis, upon Wood's recommendation, first clerk at the war office, and directly afterwards appointed as his deputy Christopher d'Oyly, who became Francis's most intimate friend. From 1765 the secretary-at-war was Lord Barrington. Both Barrington and D'Oyly left the greatest part of the official correspondence to be drafted by Francis. From this point Francis's career involves disputed questions. His biographer, Joseph Parkes, attributes to him many anonymous writings upon evidence of varying cogency. Francis told his second wife that he ‘scarcely remembered when he did not write.’ He was only treading in his father's steps, although his official position made a public acknowledgment of his writings inexpedient. A letter signed ‘One of the People’ in the Public Ledger of 2 March 1763, dealing with a theatrical ‘O. P.’ riot, is claimed in his papers. In May 1766 Francis sent a long letter to the Duke of Richmond, then secretary of state, upon English trade with Portugal. The duke did not return it till 2 August, when he was leaving office. A strong hint had been given in a letter signed 'Tantum' in the Public Advertiser of 1 August, which may therefore be plausibly attributed to Francis. His interest in Portuguese questions may also justify Parkes's opinion that he wrote letters signed ‘Lusitanicus’ and one signed ‘Ulisippo’ in the same paper for 2 and 13 January and 3 March 1767. The statement is relevant only as showing that Francis was writing in the papers. Parkes also attributes to Francis two pamphlets in 1764. The first was published by John Almon in September as ‘A Letter to the “Public Advertiser.’ Part of it had appeared in that paper on 2 August under the signature ‘Candor,’ but Woodfall declined to publish the rest without having the author's name. On 29 November Almon published a longer ‘Enquiry into the doctrine: concerning Libels, Warrants, and the Seizure of Papers; in a Letter from the Father of Candor.’ These pamphlets, dealing with the Wilkes controversy, made some impression, went through several editions, and have been attributed to Dunning, Lord Temple, and others. Parkes attributes them to Francis upon internal evidence of little cogency, and also upon the evidence of a letter from ‘Candor’ to Woodfall, with a list of corrections, which is said to be ‘unquestionably’ in the handwriting of Francis (not the feigned hand of ‘Junius’). It may be added that ‘ Candor’ and the ‘Father of Candor’ speak pointedly of the practice in the secretary of state's office. Woodfall addresses his correspondent as ‘C.,’ the signature afterwards used by Junius. Parkes also attributes to Francis a pamphlet called ‘Irenarch’ (1774), which he considers to be a continuation of the ‘Candor’ pamphlets. It was really written by R. Heathcote, in whose name it was afterwards published. Besides this Parkes identifies Francis with ‘Anti-Sejanus,’ the writer of letters to the Public Advertiser in January 1765 and later, who is probably the ‘Anti-Sejanus Junior’ identified with Junius as author of one of the ‘Miscellaneous Letters’ in Woodfall's (1812) edition. ‘Anti-Sejanus’ was certainly James Scott, a clergyman patronised by Lord Sandwich, as was stated by a correspondent of the ‘Public Advertiser’ of 16 April 1770. Parkes again attributes to Francis a letter signed ‘A Friend to Public Credit’ in the ‘Public Advertiser’ of 28 June 1768, of which he found a copy among Francis's papers. He failed to observe that this is one of a series by the same writer, and that a later letter of 11 October 1768 is sharply attacked by ‘Brutus,’ and (19 October) ‘Atticus’ (two of the letters assigned both by Parkes and Woodfall to Junius). If Francis wrote it, he was not Junius. But it is as inconsistent with Francis's views at the time as with the views of Junius. The ‘Atticus’ letter in which it is assailed was specially praised by Calcraft, with whom Francis was then acting, in a letter to the elder Francis. A copy of the letter of 28 June was no doubt kept by Francis, because it professes to give details of an operation upon the funds contemplated by the government. These palpable blunders go far to destroy the authority of Parkes's identifications. The following period of Francis's career is remarkably illustrated by the autobiographical fragment, written not later than 1776, and published by Parkes and Merivale. His great patron was Calcraft. Francis says that he ‘concurred heartily’ in Calcraft's schemes, which offered his only ‘hope of advancement.’ Calcraft had been in close connection both with Chatham and with Chatham's brothers-in-law, Lord Temple and George Grenville, and kept upon terms with all these after the quarrel which separated them upon Chatham's acceptance of office in 1766. From the spring of 1767 Chatham's illness had caused his retirement from active participation in the government, and he finally resigned in October 1768. Calcraft's plan was to discredit the rump of Chatham's administration, to reconcile Chatham to the Grenville party, and to attack ministers by a combination, including the Rockinghams as well as the Grenvilles. This political combination succeeded so well that in the beginning of 1770, as Francis observes, victory seemed assured.
The great support of the opposition was the agitation on behalf of Wilkes, who returned to England at the beginning of 1768. His election for Middlesex, his expulsions and re-election, final exclusion, and other disputes arising out of these questions were the main topics of controversy from 1768 till 1772. Junius was undoubtedly the close (even if unknown) ally of the clique to which Calcraft and Francis belonged throughout the whole movement. The very questionable authenticity of the Miscellaneous Letters makes it impossible to speak confidently of the earlier attitude of Junius. We know, however, that on 2 January 1768 he wrote privately to Chatham, warning him, with expressions of ‘respect and veneration,’ of treachery on the part of his colleagues. Chatham soon discovered, says Francis ‘that he had been cajoled and deceived.’
During 1768 Junius also wrote three remarkable private letters to George Grenville. They claim the authorship of a letter called ‘the Grand Council,’ of the ‘Atticus’ of 19 October 1768, of letters signed ‘Lucius,’ of others in defence of Grenville and criticising the commission of trade, and of ‘almost everything that for two years past has attracted the attention of the public.’ The author, who signs himself ‘C.,’ expects to make himself known to Grenville when Grenville becomes a minister, and will then not be ‘a needy and troublesome dependent.’ During 1768 Junius (assuming him to have written the ‘Miscellaneous Letters,’ some of which are thus claimed) bitterly attacked the government, and especially the Duke of Grafton. If ‘C.’ be always his signature, he also attacked Wilkes at his first appearance, apparently because he first thought that ministers could be best assailed for want of energy, though he afterwards assails them for their arbitrary measures. He alludes disrespectfully to Chatham (‘Lucius’ 29 August and ‘Atticus’ 19 October), for Chatham's fame was still of use to ministers. He especially insists at length upon the dismissal of Amherst, which was regarded as a personal slight to Chatham, and therefore served to detach him from office.
The signature ‘Junius’ first appeared on 21 November 1768, when Grafton and Camden were attacked for their behaviour to Wilkes. The first Junius of the collected edition appeared 21 January 1769. It led to the sharp controversy with Sir William Draper, which made the letters famous. The signature was afterwards used by Junius for his most careful writings, though he used many others. Junius now appeared as the advocate of Wilkes during the contest produced by his expulsions, and assailed the Duke of Bedford, whose influence was now on the government side, with singular ferocity. He culminated with the famous letter to the king on 19 December 1769, which produced more sensation than any other letter.
At the beginning of 1770 Chatham came to the front with restored health. His
friends Camden and Granby retired; Yorke committed suicide from remorse after
taking Camden's place; Grafton himself resigned in January, and was succeeded
by North. While Junius carried on the attack in his letters, Francis endeavoured
to get Chatham's speeches diffused through the press. He claimed long afterwards,
in a private note in Belsham's ‘History’ (ed. 1805), to have reported
the speeches of Mansfield and Chatham on 9 January 1770, and ‘all Chatham's speeches on the Middlesex election,’ &c.,
in this year. On the publication
in the Parliamentary History in
1813 he claimed to have reported Chatham's speeches of 9 and 22 January and
of 22 November, the only fully reported speeches of this period. He stated
in pamphlets of 1811 that he had heard Chatham's speeches of January. The speeches
of January had appeared, as given for the first time by a ‘gentleman
of strong memory,’ in Almon's Anecdotes
of Chatham, 1792, to which Francis made other contributions. Notes taken
from a speech of Chatham's on 2 February 1770 are given from Francis's papers
in Parkes and Merivale. Francis's claim has at least a prima facie justification.
Taylor in his Junius
Identified pointed out a number of coincidences, some of them very remarkable,
between the reports of the January speeches, the writings of Junius both before
and after, and some of Francis's own writings. Dilke endeavoured to meet this
by stating that extracts from the speech of 9 January had appeared at the time
in the papers. The document to which Dilke apparently refers contains only
a few brief fragments, in different language and without the specific phrases.
He could find no report of the speech of 22 January which contains, besides
other coincidences, a sentence, quoted verbatim by Junius, in a private letter
to Wilkes (7 Sept. 1771). This proves that Junius had seen the report, which,
so far as we know, was still in Francis's desk. The nature of the brief and
disguised reports of the time makes it highly improbable that any other report
than that mentioned was published, and Almon's statement that he was the first
publisher seems to be justified.
When parliament met in November 1770, the opposition dwelt chiefly upon the Falkland Islands difficulty, and upon the conduct of Mansfield in the trials of Woodfall and others for publishing Junius's letter to the king. On 22 November Chatham delivered a great speech upon the Falkland Islands difficulty. Francis says in his autobiography (Parkes, i. 363) that he took it down from memory and had it published ‘in a few days.’ It appeared accordingly as an extra ‘North Briton’ on 1 December; it was reprinted in the Middlesex Journal, again in the ‘Museum’ by Almon, and was claimed by Francis in 1813.
A debate upon Mansfield followed on 5 December A report was published at the time in several papers. On 10 December Junius and Francis came into remarkable conjunction. On 21 November Junius had written privately to Woodfall, hoping for information to be used against Mansfield, whom he is resolved to ‘destroy.’ On 1 December Francis wrote a letter to Calcraft to be laid before Chatham, suggesting that Mansfield should be assailed by other methods, but not formally attacked in the house, where he was certain of a majority. Francis next got a hint of an argument against Mansfield from a friend at a tavern, reduced it to form, and sent it through Calcraft to Chatham. The paper, dated 9 December, is printed in the Chatham Correspondence. Three days later Francis was flattered by hearing Chatham adopt his very words, and the next day the speech ‘flamed in the newspapers and ran through the kingdom.’ Chatham spoke on 10 December, and the London Evening Post of the 11th reported that he had condemned Mansfield's conduct as ‘irregular, extrajudicial and unprecedented,’ the words used in Francis's private letter. Chatham's argument, however, was not given, and ‘Nerva’ in the Public Advertiser of 14 December showed that he had missed the point. On 17 December ‘Nerva’ was answered by ‘Phalaris,’ who restates Francis's argument with such verbal closeness that there can be no doubt that he was Francis, or had read Francis's confidential communication to Chatham. This letter, by omitting the three italicised words in ‘I affirm with Lord Chatham,’ became Chatham's speech in the report of the ‘Museum’ for January. In 1772 Junius cited this report in a note to the preface of the collected edition of his letters, and added ‘it is exactly taken.’ The ‘Phalaris’ letter, which was almost certainly by Francis, is included in the Miscellaneous Letters of Junius; and the probability that Junius was the author is increased by his guarantee of its accuracy, and by the fact that he was keenly anxious to attack Mansfield; that he was writing the letter of ‘Domitian’ at least, and private letters to Woodfall, and that, if he was not ‘Phalaris,’ he made no direct attempt to support Chatham's assault upon the common enemy. A violent scene took place later in the debate of 10 December, at which Francis states that he was present, and it is described in the ‘Museum,’ obviously by an eye-witness. It ended in the expulsion of all strangers. Junius's private letter to Woodfall of 31 January 1771 shows his extreme anxiety that the doors of the House of Lords might not be closed in the coming session. Francis, who attributes the closing to his publication of the 22 November speech, declares that the closure was fatal to the opposition.
Francis and Junius were equally interested in the Falkland Islands quarrel. Francis thought that a war would necessarily place Chatham in power, and in that case he says ‘I might have commanded anything.’ He speculated in the funds, and by the peaceful settlement of the dispute in 1771 lost £500. Calcraft told Chatham on 14 January 1771 that war ‘is more and more certain.’ Junius told Woodfall, 16 January 1771, that ‘every man in the administration looks upon war as inevitable.’ The ‘Domitian’ letter of 17 January argues the same point, and on 30 January Junius argues the case in a letter to which Johnson made a well-known reply. The remarks in this letter are curiously coincident with remarks from an unnamed correspondent, communicated to Chatham by Calcraft on 20 January.
The settlement of this question strengthened the ministry; and the opposition gradually declined and fell into discordant factions. Junius supported the city in the quarrel with the House of Commons. In the summer he again attacked Grafton, who in May 1771 accepted the privy seal; and was diverted by a sharp encounter with Horne, who was now quarrelling with Wilkes. He afterwards corresponded privately with Wilkes, suggesting means for pacifying the conflicting factions. The opposition grew daily weaker. At the end of 1771 Junius made his last assault upon Mansfield for bailing Eyre. The letter, composed with great labour, is said by Campbell and Charles Butler to prove that Junius was not a lawyer. Like the attack made by Francis, however, it turns upon a technical point, and Junius, like Francis, sent the proof-sheets of his letter to Chatham, asking him to co-operate in the House of Lords. The letter, which appeared 21 January 1772, with another to Lord Camden, was a complete failure, and Junius, under that name, wrote no more.
On 21 January 1772 D'Oyly, Francis's intimate friend, resigned his post at the war office. Barrington appointed Anthony Chamier in his place. Francis himself resigned in March. On 25 January Junius told Woodfall of Chamier's appointment, and announced his intention of ‘torturing’ Barrington, requesting Woodfall at the same time to be careful to keep it secret that Junius was the torturer. The intention was fulfilled in the letters under various signatures, presumably intended to suggest different authors, which appeared on 28 January and in the following months. They show Junius in his cruellest mood, and are in a vein of brutal pleasantry which, though it occurs in some of the other unacknowledged letters, is so unlike the more dignified style of Junius as to evade recognition. If Francis wrote them, they gave vent to the accumulated bile of an ambitious and arrogant subordinate against a dull and supercilious superior, whose politics he despised, who had turned out his dearest friend, and who had not yet had his fair share of abuse in Junius.
It is, however, remarkable that the facts, very partially known to us, do not fully explain Francis's wrath. The memoir in the ‘Mirror’ (1811), probably inspired by Francis, states that he resigned ‘in consequence of a difference with Viscount Barrington, by whom he thought himself injured.’ Yet in a private letter of 24 January 1772 Francis says that Barrington had offered D'Oyly's place to him, which he refused for ‘solid reasons.’ Barrington also wrote politely to Francis on 26 February requesting him to make his own statement of the cause of his resignation, and desiring to use Francis's own words. The matter ‘cannot remain a secret,’ he says. In fact, however, the secret has been kept; no explanation is given by Francis himself or elsewhere.
Francis's sixth child was born in this year; his father, who had long been hopelessly infirm, seems to have been partly dependent upon him. In losing his office, therefore, Francis would appear to have lost his chief means of support, while there were heavy claims upon him. He probably had some expectations through Calcraft's influence. He had been for some time thinking of an Indian appointment. He left England for a tour on the continent 7 July 1772, Calcraft promising to join him at Naples. Calcraft died 23 August He had left £1,000 to Francis by a codicil dated on the day of Francis's resignation, and an annuity of £200 payable to Mrs. Francis if she should survive her husband and be left without due provision. Francis was also to be elected for his borough, Wareham. In his autobiography Francis leaves a spiteful character of Calcraft, curiously resembling a reference in Junius's letter of 5 October 1771. Francis returned to England 14 December 1772, anxious and only comforted by the friendship of D'Oyly. He was summoned to Bath, where his father was rapidly sinking, and returned to London on 12 or 13 January The last letter from Junius to Woodfall had been dated 10 May 1772. A private note from Junius, taking a final leave of his publisher, is dated 19 January 1773.
The evidence for the identity of Francis and Junius may be now briefly summarised:
The chief arguments against Francis are that his authorship would imply an underhand malignity, which is not improbable in the author of Junius, whoever he may have been, and only too probable in Francis, whether he was or was not the author of Junius. It is also said that Woodfall, the printer of the letters, and Pitt stated that they knew Francis not to be the author. Both Pitt and Woodfall died, however, before the authorship had been publicly, if at all, attributed to Francis; and such second-hand reports are of little value. On the whole, it may be said that Taylor established a prima facie presumption, which has been considerably strengthened by the publication of Francis's papers, and which is turned into something like proof, unless the coincidences of handwriting stated by Chabot and Netherclift can be upset. Nor is there any real difficulty in the assumption. The personal indications thrown out by Junius in his private letters to Woodfall and Wilkes are so indefinite and so probably mere blinds, that no inference can be drawn from them
Francis made a short journey to the Hague two months after his father's death (5 March 1772). He there obtained permission from a M. de Pinto to translate his Essay on Circulation. The translation was published under the name of his cousin, Stephen Baggs. Lord North had just passed his ‘Regulating Act’ for India, under which the governor of Bengal was to become governor-general of India, and to be controlled by a council of four. Francis had been thinking of retiring to Pennsylvania, where he had purchased a thousand acres through his brother-in-law, Alexander Macrabie. Hearing that one of the places in the council was not filled, Francis applied to Barrington, who recommended him to North in ‘the handsomest and strongest letter imaginable,’ and on North's advice was approved by the king and named in the bill, his colleagues being Warren Hastings, the new governor-general, Clavering, Monson, and Barwell. The appointment of a retired clerk to a place of £10,000 a year has suggested the hypothesis that he was receiving hush-money as Junius. The post had already been refused by Burke and Cholwell at least, and was apparently going begging. For obvious reasons the Junius hypothesis is improbable, though no further explanation can be given. The vague gossip reported by Lady Francis and the family, and given in Wade's Junius, is inconsistent and incredible. After this Francis was on friendly terms with Barrington. He visited Clive, with whose son and widow he kept up an intimacy. After various difficulties with the court of directors, whose instructions to the new council were offensive to Francis, he finally sailed from Portsmouth 31 March 1774, leaving, it seems, a liberal allowance for his wife and her family.
Francis reached Calcutta 19 October 1774. He came strongly prejudiced against Hastings, although in 1787 he declared in the House of Commons that he and his colleagues had left England with the ‘highest opinion’ of Hastings. In any case Francis soon came to regard Hastings with sentiments resembling strongly the sentiments expressed towards Mansfield by Junius. In his earliest letters he denounced with great bitterness the corruption and rapacity which, as he declared, pervaded the whole Indian administration. Francis, Clavering, and Monson were the majority of the council, opposed by Hastings and Barwell. They reversed Hastings's policy and recalled his agents. Francis was singularly energetic. He had four secretaries, his private secretary being his brother-in-law, Macrabie, and sometimes dictated to them all at once. He kept up a large correspondence, and preserved his papers in the most businesslike method.
His quarrel with Hastings was soon embittered by the part which Francis took in the famous case of Nuncomar. On 11 March 1774 Francis received a visit from Nuncomar, who brought him a letter. Francis laid this before the council, declaring himself to be ignorant of its contents. It charged Hastings with corruption. In the interval between the committal and the execution of Nuncomar, Francis and his colleagues had some conflicts with the supreme court on questions arising out of the proceedings. On 31 July Nuncomar wrote a letter to Francis, entreating him to intercede for a respite. On 1 August Nuncomar's counsel, Farrer, proposed to Francis that the council should send to the court a letter covering a petition from Nuncomar and supporting his prayer for a respite. Francis approved, but as Clavering and Monson declined, the matter dropped, and Nuncomar's last chance disappeared. He was hanged on 5 August.
On the 14th Clavering presented to the council a petition received from Nuncomar on the 4th. This petition suggested that he was judicially murdered on account of his attack upon Hastings. Hastings proposed that the letter should be sent to the judges, upon whose character it reflected. Francis, however, stated that he considered it as ‘libellous’ and ‘wholly unsupported,’ and carried a motion that it should be burnt by the common hangman and the copy of it expunged from the proceedings of the council. He tried upon the impeachment of Impey to explain his conduct in suppressing this document as libellous, although he and his colleagues made similar insinuations both before and after the event in the minutes of the council. He asserted that if he had acted weakly it was from a desire to save Clavering from the vengeance of Hastings; while it has been argued that his real motive was to keep the charge against Hastings secret until it could be used to more effect. Francis's letters at the time seem to imply a very cautious reticence. The question is discussed in two pamphlets published in 1788, Answer of Philip Francis to the charge brought by Sir E. Impey (by Francis), and A Refutation of the Answer (by Impey). Francis had before long quarrelled with Clavering. His position became uncomfortable, and upon the death of Monson on 25 September 1776 he was reduced to impotence, Hastings having the casting vote. He had meanwhile won £20,000 at whist from Barwell, a sum reduced to £12,000 by subsequent losses. He then gave up play and invested his winnings. Although powerless in the council, he had hopes that Hastings would be superseded, and that he would be appointed to the vacant place. In June 1777 these hopes were dispelled upon Hastings's repudiation of his previous resignation and the decision of the supreme court in his favour. Clavering died on 30 August 1777. In the next month Francis wrote an elaborate letter to Lord North upon Indian affairs, separately printed in 1793. Wheler, sent out to succeed Hastings, arrived in Calcutta in November 1777, and generally acted with Francis as a member of council. They agreed in the following February to oppose ‘the pernicious measures’ of Hastings.
In 1778 Francis had an intrigue with the lovely wife, aged 16, of a Swiss officer in the East India Company's service, named Grand. In November Grand surprised Francis, who had entered Mme. Grand's room. An action was brought by Grand against Francis, who was sentenced to pay fifty thousand rupees damages by Impey (6 March 1779). Mme. Grand afterwards threw herself upon Francis's protection. She left India before him, and afterwards became the mistress, and in 1801 the wife, of Talleyrand.
In March 1779 Sir Eyre Coote succeeded Clavering as member of council and in command of the forces. Francis afterwards accused Hastings of buying Coote's support by large allowances, and says of Coote in November, in language suggesting Junius upon Barrington, ‘I never heard of so abandoned a scoundrel.’ The military difficulties now led to a truce with Hastings, in which Major Scott acted as negotiator. The political differences were compromised. Two of Francis's protégés were to be restored to the posts from which Hastings had removed them, and Francis undertook not to oppose Hastings in the management of the Mahratta war. Francis also joined with Hastings in opposing the pretensions of the supreme court under Impey. Francis and his new colleague Wheler were still on bad terms with Hastings. At last, in July 1780, Hastings accused Francis of breaking their agreement, and stated in an official minute that he had found Francis's private conduct to be ‘void of truth and honour.’ Francis's account was that his agreement referred only to the operations already begun and not to new movements intended by Hastings. A duel followed (17 August 1780), in which Francis was severely wounded. He recovered in a few days, but took little active part in business afterwards, finding that Wheler was not hearty in supporting him. He left India at the end of 1780, and, after a long delay at St. Helena, reached Dover on 19 October 1781. Francis is said to have made judicious suggestions for the government of India, and to have proposed the permanent settlement of Bengal, afterwards carried out by Lord Cornwallis; but is remembered almost solely by his antagonism to Hastings.
Francis had realised a fortune amounting to over £3,000 a year. He had been accused of parsimony, and, as part of this fortune was due to his gambling, his salary of £10,000 a year would enable him to make the rest without using the corruption imputed to many contemporary ‘nabobs.’ It has been suggested, but apparently without authority, that his appointment was clogged by the condition that he should pay part of his salary to a ‘rider’. He was so unpopular on his arrival in England that no one, it is said, except the king and Lord North, would speak to him when he first appeared at court. He seems to have contributed many anonymous papers to the press. Attacks upon the Indian administration in the Intrepid Magazine and A State of the British Authority in Bengal (1781) are attributed to him. He was also supposed to have inspired a book called Travels in Europe, Asia, and America, &c., published under the name of Macintosh. Francis solemnly denied the authorship; but he is shown to have paid Macintosh a sum of £1,000 at this time, besides ‘large advances’ to his cousin, Major Baggs, although he equally denied that Baggs was his agent. An edition of Junius, without the name of printer or publisher, appeared in 1783, and has been attributed to Francis by Parkes
In April 1784 Francis was returned to parliament for Yarmouth, Isle of Wight. He failed as a speaker, although he prepared and reported his speeches with great care. Wyndham and Dr. Parr praised them highly; but he was pompous, didactic, and wanting in fluency. He was a keen whig, and became intimate with all the assailants of Hastings. He had made Burke's acquaintance before sailing for India, and during his stay here they had had some correspondence. Francis gave Burke information and advice in preparing the charges against Hastings, and in April 1787 he was proposed as one of the managers of the impeachment, but rejected after some sharp debates. The managers, however, asked him in very complimentary terms to assist them, and he was most eager and regular in his attendance at the trial. His own statement of his share in preparing the impeachment and suggesting Burke's arguments is given by Merivale.
In 1790 Francis was returned for Bletchingley. When Burke was alienated from the whigs by his views of the French revolution, Francis remonstrated with him, criticising his sentimental defence of Marie Antoinette with great severity, while Burke treated his dissent with special respect. Their correspondence, however, seems to have dropped, though Francis always spoke respectfully of his old friend.
Francis was an early reformer, and one of the founders of the ‘Society of the Friends of the People,’ of whose original programme (1793) he was in great part the author. He also was a strong opponent of the slave trade. In 1798 he was defeated in an election for Tewkesbury, but continued his intimacy with the whigs, and protested against Fox's secession. He became very intimate with Lord Thanet, a radical reformer of the time, and was returned for Appleby in November 1802 by Thanet's influence. He had at this time many family losses, his daughter Harriet dying at Nice on 2 January 1803, another daughter, Elizabeth, on 14 July 1804, and his wife on 5 April 1806.
One of his last performances was an elaborate speech upon India, 5 April 1805. He hoped for the governor-generalship upon the death of Cornwallis (5 October 1805). In March 1806 he quarrelled with Fox for declining to promise him the appointment. The death of Pitt seemed to open the way, and at this period Francis was for some years on terms of close intimacy with the prince regent. Various accounts have been given of the negotiations which took place. The governor-generalship was clearly out of the question, and Francis is said to have declined the government of the Cape. He had finally to content himself with the honour of adding K.C.B. to his name. Francis was re-elected for Appleby in December 1806, but on the election of 1807 he retired from parliamentary life.
The intimacy with the prince regent gradually declined as the prince dropped the whigs. Francis adhered to his rigid whiggism. At the end of 1814 he married his second wife, Miss Emma Watkins, daughter of a Yorkshire clergyman, born, as she states, ten years after the last Junius letter, or in 1782. He had corresponded with her from 1806, and seems to have been an affectionate husband. His amanuensis in later years was Edward Dubois, who published a life of Francis in the Monthly Mirror for 1811. The publication of Taylor's Discovery of Junius in 1813 (in which Junius is supposed to be the elder Francis, assisted by his son), and of Junius Identified in 1816, put Francis in a difficult position. When the first was published, Francis wrote to the editor of the Monthly Magazine, who wrote to him on the subject: ‘Whether you will assist in giving currency to a silly, malignant falsehood is a question for your own consideration. To me it is a matter of perfect indifference.’ After the appearance of the second, he behaved equivocally. His first present to his wife on their marriage was a copy of Junius's Letters, and he left sealed up for her at his death a copy of Junius Identified. She states that he never claimed to be Junius, but gives statements on his authority as to the circumstances of writing the letters, which could hardly have been made without expressly claiming the authorship. He withdrew from Brooks's Club in order, as she thought, to avoid awkward questions, and repelled direct inquiries with his usual severity. The anecdotes of Lady Francis seem to establish this, although little reliance can be placed upon details.
Francis lived during his later years in St. James's Square, a place endeared to him, according to Lady Francis, because he had there acted as Chatham's amanuensis. He was known in society for his caustic humour, his intolerance of bores and long stories (which once led him to snub the prince regent), his real or affected penuriousness, and his old-fashioned gallantry to ladies. He suffered at the end from a painful disease, but retained his faculties to the last, and died quietly in his sleep 23 December 1818.
Francis had six children by his first wife: Sarah (b. 1763, died unmarried), Elizabeth (b. 1764, died unmarried 14 July 1804), Harriet (b. 1766, died unmarried 2 January 1803), Philip (b. 1768, married Eliza January, daughter of Godshall Johnson of Putney, and left issue), Mary (b. 1770, married 1792 Godshall Johnson of Putney, who died 1800), and Catherine (b. 1772, married George James Cholmondeley).
Francis, whether Junius or not, was a man of great ability and unflagging industry; arrogant and vindictive in the extreme; unscrupulous in gratifying his enmities by covert insinuations and false assertions, yet courageous in attacking great men; rigid and even pedantic in his adherence to a set of principles which had their generous side; really scornful of meanness and corruption in others; and certainly doing much to vindicate the power of public opinion, although from motives which were not free from selfishness and the narrowest personal ambition. There may have been two such men, whose careers closely coincided during Francis's most vigorous period; but it seems more probable that there was only one.
|Meet the web creator
These materials may be freely used for
non-commercial purposes in accordance with applicable statutory allowances
and distribution to students.
Last modified 12 January, 2016
|American Affairs 1760-83
|The Age of the French Wars 1792-1815
|Irish Affairs 1760-89
|Economic Affairs in the Age of Peel
|Primary sources index
|British Political Personalities
|British Foreign policy 1815-65