A correspondent asks; ‘"Was Woodfall brought to trial for publishing the letter of Junius
to the King
?"’ Certainly he was. He had two trials, the verdict in the first having been set aside, and a new one ordered.
The trial is one of the most celebrated in the whole history of English law. Its results were of momentous importance to the liberty of the press in Great Britain
It led, eventually, to Fox
's bill, brought forward and passed into a law twenty-two years after, viz: in 1791.
By this law, in all prosecutions for libel, the jury are made judges of the law as well as the fact which before they were not. The following account of this famous trial is taken from Woodfall's Junius,
American edition, Philadelphia
, 1836, note to page 168, 1st volume.
(The letter to the King
was published 19th December, 1769.)
"Yesterday morning, (June 13th, 1770,) about nine o'clock, came on, before Lord Mansfield, in the Court of King's Bench
, at Gundhall, the trial of Mr. Woodfall
, the original printer of Junius
' letter in the Public Advertiser
of December 19. Only seven of the special jury attended, viz: William Bond
, foreman; Peter Cazalet
, Alexander Peter Allen
, Frederick Commerell
, Herman Meyer
, John Thomas
and Barrington Buggin
Upon which the following five were taken out of the Dox, viz: William Hannard
, Paul Verges, William Sibley
, William Willett
, and William Davis
The trial was opened by Mr. Wallis
swore he bought the paper of Mr. Woodfall
's publishing servant, whom he named.
proved that the duty for the advertisements and stamps was paid by Mr. Woodfall
, and a clerk of Sir John Fielding
proved, by a receipt from Mr. Woodfall
, his concern in and for the paper.
‘"The publication and direction of the paper by Mr. Woodfall
being thus proved, Lord Mansfield delivered his charge to the jury."’ [The charge of Lord Mansfield is too long for insertion.
The substance or it was, that the jury had only to consider two points; whether the defendant published the paper in question, and what was the sense and meaning of it. Although the indictment charged that the paper was a false, scandalous, and malicious document, and although this alleged charge or of it formed the sole ground of prosecution, he told the jury that was not a matter for their consideration.
alone were to determine that matter.
They were only to find the fact of publication, and thereupon to render a verdict of guilty or not guilty, according to the evidence.
If the paper really contained no breach of law, it might afterwards be moved in arrest of judgment.]
‘"Between eleven and twelve the jury with drew; at four the Court
adjourned, and at nine the jury waited on Lord Mansfield at his house, in Bloomsbury Square, with their verdict, which was guilty of printing and publishing only."’
This verdict completely upset the scheme of Lord Mansfield to get the matter entirely into the hands of the Court
It gave rise to two distinct motions; one by the counsel for the defendant in arrest of judgment, on the ground of the ambiguous character of the verdict; the other by the counsel for the Crown, to compel the defendant to shew cause why the verdict should not be entered up according to the legal import of the words.
The case having been argued, the Court
decided that a new trial should be granted.
When it came on, the Attorney General
observed to the Chief Justice
that he had not the original newspaper by which he could prove the publication.--Lord Mansfield briefly replied, "that is not my fault, Mr. Attorney
," and thus terminated the trial.
It appears that the foreman of the jury, on the first trial, had put the paper into his pocket, and had afterwards destroyed it.--The trial cost Woodfall, from first to last about £120, ($600.) Almon
, who was also prosecuted, says it cost him
£400; a statement altogether improbable, since he only sold a magazine, which he did not print, having the obnoxious letter in it. This charge of Lord Mansfield to the jury produced a profound sensation throughout the kingdom.
The nation believed its liberties threatened by the Court of King's Bench
, and because thoroughly alarmed.
The press took it up, and Junius
, under his own signature, and under others, and various other anonymous writers, appealed vehemently to the people.
Petitions and remonstrances poured in from nearly every county south of the Tweed.
The nation, in fact, seemed on the verge of rebellion.
Lord Mansfield laid his charge upon the table of the House of Lords, as if to challenge discussion.
The great judge, Lord Camden, instantly accepted the challenge, and put six interrogatories to Lord Mansfield by way of opening the debate, which were of a character so direct and so searching, that the latter declined answering them, and thus fairly backed out. In the House of Commons, the great lawyer, Sear-grant Glynn
, offered a resolution appointing a committee to inquire into the ‘"administration of criminal justice and the proceedings of the judges in Westminster Hall, particularly in cases relating to the liberty of the press, and the constitutional power and duties of juries,"’ This resolution produced a
furious debate, in which Fox
, than in his year, took the side of the Ministry, and Burks
that of the people.
Singularly enough, Fox
was, twenty years after, the very man who settled the whole matter on the popular side, by his bill for regulating the law in cases of trial for libel.
's resolution was voted down.
The hearing of the arguments upon the motion in arrest of judgment and the motion to compel the defendant to show cause why the verdict should not be entered up according to the legal import of the words, came on in the Court of King's Bench
on the 20th November, 1770. Lord Mansfield delivering the opinion of the Court
instead of confining himself to the face of the record, went over the whole case as it was tried at Nisi Prius
, reciting the evidence and his own charge to the jury.--Lord Chatham, in the House of Lords, denounced the conduct of the Chief Justice
in this particular as "irregular, extrajudicial and unprecedented." If, he said, a motion had been made for a new trial because of a verdict contrary to evidence, or of an improper charge by the Judge
at Nisi Prius
, the proceeding might have been proper enough. --But when a motion is made in arrest of judgment, or for establishing the verdict by entering it up according to the legal import of the words, it must be on the ground of something appearing on the face or the record; and in that case, the judge is not allowed to travel out of the record.
, in his preface to his own edition of his Letters, denounced Lord Mansfield with great bitterness, both for his charge on the first trial, and for this manner of delivering the opinion of the Court
In a note he says he heard Lord Chatham deliver this speech, and makes an extract from it. Two other speeches of Lord Chatham are quoted from by Junius
. At that day there were no regular reporters, and it was difficult to get access to either House
In 1793, some person undertook to publish the Parliamentary Debates
, the author of ‘"Junius Identified,"’ says Sir Philip Francis
, furnished these same speeches of Lord Chatham, the parts quoted by Junius
being identified with Sir Philip's report.
Lord Macaulay, from this correspondence, held it certain that Francis was Junius
. Unfortunately, a subsequent writer bethought himself of the very simple expedient of settling the question by examining the newspapers of the day, and there he found all these speeches of Lord Chatham reported, the parts quoted by both Junius
and Francis being found, word for word, in the paper.
Doubtless, both Junius
and Francis got them from that quarter.--The debates in which they occurred were very long, and it is certain that Francis, who held a very laborious clerkship in the War Office, could never have had time to report them.
If Henry Sampson Woodfall
ever suspected Sir Philip Francis
of being Junius
, it is very certain that he never told his suspicions to any one, even to his own son. The edition which goes by the name of Woodfall's Junius
was not published by Henry Sampson Woodfall
, but by his son. It first appeared in 1812, several years after the death of Henry Sampson Woodfall
. The younger Woodfall placed all the papers at the disposal of Dr. Good
, who wrote the Preliminary Essay
Then, for the first time, were published the private letters to Woodfall, signed C., the letters to Wilkes
, and the letters under other signatures published in the Public Advertiser
were then first known to be by Junius
. At the time of this publication, nobody suspected Sir Philip Francis
. Immediately after (in 1813) Taylor
published a book to prove that Junius
was Dr. Francis
, the father of Sir Philip. In 1816 he published his "Junius
Identified" for the first time, designating Sir Philip himself as the author.--This book exhausted the subject.
Nothing new has been added by the writers who have since taken up the subject, and their name is legion.
We have read them all, we believe, of any note, and by none of them has even hinted that Woodfall suspected Sir Philip Francis
, or that any body else did until the appearance of Taylor
Good, writing under the eye of Woodfall's own son, an essay for his own edition, enumerates upwards of thirty candidates, but does not once mention Sir Philip, or so much as allude to him. A man named Wade
published an edition of the letters about ten years ago. He takes it for granted that Francis was the author, but produces no new argument.
Francis, when seventy-four years old, married a young woman of two and twenty.
To this lady, still living, Lord Campbell wrote a letter requesting her to give all the information in her power.
Her answer is a curiosity in its way. It is evident that she herself was convinced, and that Francis was extremely desirous to be thought the author; but she candidly acknowledges that he never told her that he was. The claims of Francis have been settled beyond resurrection by a writer in the British AthenŒum.
Nobody in England
, at this day, believes he was the author.
The editor of the Greenville
correspondence, who is Librarian at Stowe
, has written an essay upon this subject, in which he endeavors to show that Lord Temple was the author of these letters.
Our attention was directed to this essay by a gentleman of this city, who told us he thought the probabilities much greater in favor of Lord Temple than of any other person whatever.
Upon reading the essay, we fully concurred with him. Lord Temple was the brother of George Greenville
, and the brother-in-law of Lord Chatham. Among the papers of Lord Chatham was found a letter of Junius
, (private.)--Among the papers of George Greenville
three private letters of Junius
Lord Temple was a member of Lord Chatham's Administration; had been Secretary of State
for many years, had managed the affairs of the War Office during Lord Chatham's illness, and was thus intimately acquainted with all the details of both offices.
He was exceedingly factious, a friend of Wilkes
, and the man who furnished him with money to hold out against the crown.
He was a man of bitter resentments, and hated Lord Bate, who overthrew the Chatham
Ministry, Lord Barrington, the Duke
, the Duke
, all of whom had deserted and betrayed the Ministry of Lord Chatham. He detested Col. Suttrell
as the opponent of Wilkes
, and Lord Jenham because he was the father of Suttrell. Lord Mansfield, also, was the subject of bitter hatred, and his aversion to George III, amounted to detestation.
The author of the essay in question says he has determined not to believe any man the author of Junius
upon any proof short of mathematical.
That is our determination; yet it does not prevent us from agreeing with him, that Lord Temple is the most probable person yet named.