The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume X. The Age of Johnson.
§ 19. The Letter-Writers
A good instance of the letter-writers was James Scott, a preacher of repute. In 1766, he contributed a series of letters to The Public Advertiser, signed “Anti-Sejanus.” They were written in the interests of Lord Sandwich, and assailed, with much vehemence, the supposed secret intrigues of Bute. Scott used many other pseudonyms, and wrote so well that his later letters, which show Junius’s influence in their style, were republished separately. From a private letter written by him to Woodfall, we learn that he, too, was a member of a group who worked together. Another writer we can identify was John Horne, later known as John Horne Tooke and as the author of The Diversions of Purley. He began to send in correspondence to the newspapers about 1764; but his celebrity only began when he became an enthusiastic partisan of Wilkes in 1768. Under the pseudonym “Another Freeholder of Surrey,” he made a damaging attack on George Onslow, and, on being challenged, allowed the publication of his name. The legal prosecution which followed the acknowledgment of his identity, in the end, came to nothing, and Horne was able to continue his career as Wilkes’s chief lieutenant. But the cool unscrupulousness with which Wilkes used the agitation as a mere instrument for paying off his own debts and gratifying his own ambitions disgusted even so warm a supporter as Horne. A quarrel broke out between them in 1771 concerning the disposal of the funds raised to pay Wilkes’s debts by the society, The Supporters of the Bill of Rights, to which both belonged. Letter after letter from the two former friends appeared in The Public Advertiser. Horne, who, perhaps, had the better case, allowed himself to be drawn off into long petty recriminations on Wilkes’s private life. Indiscreet expressions of his own were brought up against him, and the popularity of Wilkes, in any case, made the attempt to undermine him impossible. Yet “parson Horne” had his triumph, too. The redoubtable Junius entered the controversy on Wilkes’s side; Horne retorted vigorously, and proved the most successful critic of the greater libeller’s productions. In truth, Junius’s letters owed much of their success to his victims’ inability to rebut his insinuations by giving the real facts in transactions which were necessarily secret. Horne’s record was clear; he had no dignity to lose; he could pin Junius down by a demand for proof. Yet, even allowing for these advantages, his skill in dissecting his adversary’s statements and his courage in defying the most formidable libeller of the day are much to his credit as a pamphleteer. Before long, Junius was glad to beat a retreat.