[Sir] Philip Francis (1740-1818)


Life
b. Dublin; s. of Rev. Philip Francis (q.v.) and Elizabeth [née Rowe]; ed. St. Paul’s with Henry Sampson Woodfall, later publisher of the Letters of Junius (1768-73), which Francis is believed to have written; appt. clerk in office of secretary of state, 1756; afterwards sec. to Gen. Edward Bligh, 1758, and then to Lord Kinnoul in Portugal, 1760; acted as amanuensis to William Pitt [1st Earl of Chatham], 1761-62; he copied correspondence of Egremont and Bedford’s first clerk at war office, 1762-72; contrib. to the press under var. pseuds.; retired on disagreement with Viscount Barrington, but became one of four members of the Supreme Council of India (councillors of the Governor General) under Lord North, 1774, on Barrington’s recommendation; travelled to India, arriving at Calcutta on 19 Oct. 1774 ; took a dislike to Hastings and his administration; sided with Nuncomar in his accusations against Hastings but did not save him from execution, and later suppressed Numcomar’s letter of appeal which represented an indictment of Hastings;
 
quarrelled with Clavering, another member of the Council; wounded in a duel with Hastings, 17 Aug. 1780, and left India with large fortune, 1780; he was elected MP for the Isle of Wight, 1784; elected MP Bletchingley, 1790; in a letter to Burke, he called the account of Marie Antoinette’s treatment at the hands of the sans culottes in Reflections upon the Revolution in France (1790) “pure foppery” (Burke, Corr. VI, pp.85-87); elected MP Appleby, 1802; assisted Burke and Sheridan in the impeachment of Warren Hastings, preparing charges against him relating to corruption in the case of Nand Kumar (otherwise Nuncomar); fnd. Society of Friends of the People, 1793; made a speech on India, 5 April 1805; failed to be appointed Viceroy [of India] at death of Cornwallis, and quarrelled with Fox in consequence; became a personal friend of the Prince Regent; awarded KCB; re-elected for Appleby, 1806, but retired from parliament, 1807; married, for the second time, to a Miss Emma Watkins, 1814; he was identified as Junius by John Taylor in 1813 (Discovery of Junius, 1813) and Junius Identified (1816); . RR CAB ODNB JMC DIB DIW OCEL OCIL

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Works
Junius Affair, The Identity of Junius with a Distinguished Living Character Established [by John Taylor] (1st, Taylor & Hessey 1816), engrv. port. of Sir Philip Francis, vii, 366pp., Demy 8vo, an anonymously published attempt to identify the author of the Junius letters by the publisher of Keats and other Romantics. [Eric Stevens, Cat. 166]. NOTE also that James Wilmot (d.1808) was another alleged author of the Junius Letters, as propounded in Mrs. Olivia Serres, The Life of the Author of the Junius Letters, The Rev. James Wilmot DD (1813) [ODNB]. NOTE Bibl., Beata Francis and Eliza Keary, eds., The Francis Letters (1901) [see Keary, RX].

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Commentary
Edmund Burke: on Sir Philip Francis in a hint that he knows who Junius was: ‘I decline Controversy with you; because I feel myself overmatched in a competition with such talent as yours.’ (Quoted in O’Brien, Edmund Burke: The Great Melody, Sinclair Stevenson 1992 p.411.)

Edmund Burke, Thoughts on the Present Discontents (1770): ‘They contend that, no adequate provocation has been given for so spreading a discontent; our affairs having been conducted throughout with remarkable temper and consummate wisdom. The wicked injury of some libellers [viz., the author of Letters of Junius which had started in the previous year], joined to the intrigues of a few disappointed politicians, have, in their opinion, been able to produce this unnatural ferment in the nation.  [] If a few puny libellers, acting under the a knot of factious politicians, without virtue, parts, or character (such they are constantly represented by these gentlemen) are sufficient to excite this disturbance, very perverse must be the disposition of that people, amongst whom such a disturbance can be excited by such means.’ (Routledge “Univesal Library” Edition, p.5] Note also that Junius, and Dr. Johnson, supported Wilkes in his trial in Middlesex - Wilkes being the editor of The North Briton (1760- ) who published a supposed libel on George III as pamphlet No. 45. (See ibid., p.64, ftn.)

Edmund Burke: Francis told Burke that ‘the opinion of the world [about Marie Antoinette’s virtue] is not lately, but had been many years decided’. (See Tom Furniss, ‘Stripping the Queen: Edmund Burke’s Magic Lantern Show’, in Steven Blakemore, ed., Burke and the French Revolution: Bicentennial Essays, Georgia UP 1992, p.86; cited in Daphne Abernethy, ‘Edmund Burke and the Paradox of History’, MA Diss., UUC 1998, p.84.)

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Conor Cruise O’Brien, Edmund Burke, The Great Melody: A Commented Biography (London: Sinclair-Stevenson 1992): Francis was appointed a member (or councillor) on the East India Regulating Act of 1773. Burke early spots is qualities, ‘I find that this Mr Francis is entirely [in the] interests of Lord Clive. Everything contributes to the Greatness of this Man, [273] who whether Government or the Company prevails will go near to govern India’ (Corr. , II, 472). For all Burke’s tribute he had yet done little but hold minor government posts. O’Brien continues: ‘However, his pseudonymous writings, the Letters of Junius, were the talk of British political world. The Letters, a brilliant series of political polemics, appeared in the Public Advertiser between 21 Jan 1769 and 21 Jan 1772. they were mainly directed against the Duke of Grafton’s Administration from the point of view of a supporter of George Greville, and the political argument is on a high intellectual level. But Junius’s readers were less interested in political argument than in damaging personal allegations, couched in a tone of silky menace, which intersperse the argument and lend spice to it. Politicians read Junius with bated breath, in fear of what might be coming next. [...] The Letters are superbly written - some of the finest writers of the time, including Burke, are among those credited with the authorship. But the identity remained in dispute until, in 1962, Alvar Ellegaard [or Ellegård], on the basis of statistico-linguistic tests, established conclusively that Junius was Francis.’ [See extensive further extracts, attached.]

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References
Richard Ryan, Biographia Hibernica: Irish Worthies (1821), Vol. II, p.161-69, article on Sir Philip Francis, which quotes his own testimony to authorship of Junius.

Internet
There is a HistoryHome webpage authored by Marjorie Bloy and devoted to Sir Francis Philips, giving a full biographical account together with a close discussion of the Junius hypothesis and Philips’ dealings with Warren Hastings. Bloy who has a Paypal link for donations in support. Go to:
‘[...] On 21 January 1772 D’Oyly, Francis’s intimate friend, resigned his post at the war office. [Viscount] 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. [...]’

[...]

‘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 [Nuncomar] was hanged on 5 August.’

—See further, online.

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Dictionary of National Biography [ODNB] summarises arguments pro and contra ‘Franciscan theory’ of Junius authorship, case rests on acquaintance with war office material; lapses in correspondence during personal absences; and expert evidence of handwriting supported by Chabot and Netherclift, as well as political atttitude, and finally on his conduct when so challenged; against Franciscan theory is denial by Pitt and Woodfall, and almost incredible malignity of Junius towards some of Francis’s friends and benefactors. Note also that ODNB lists James Wilmot (d.1808) as alleged author of the Letters of Junius, he being uncle of Mrs. Olivia Serres, who put forth that claim in The Life of the Author of the Junius Letters, The Rev. James Wilmot, DD (1813), pretending in a pamphlet to prove her theory from the evidence of handwriting (1817).

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Justin McCarthy, gen. ed., Irish Literature (Washington: Catholic University of America 1904); long notice concerned with authorship of Junius Letters, a specimen of which is selected, commences by quoting Leslie Stephen, ‘whether Junius or not, a man of great ability and unflagging industry’, b. Dublin 1740, etc. Selects ‘Letter to Duke of Grafton’ (8 July 1769) [‘Whether you have talents to support you at a crisis of such difficulty and danger should long since have been considered ... Since the accession of our most gracious sovereing to the throne, we have seen a system of government which we might called be a reign of experiments’].

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Oxford Companion of English Literature, ed. Margaret Drabble (OUP: 1985); Alvar Ellegård, in Who was Junius? (1962), argues for Francis’s authorship on statistico-linguistic grounds. Saintsbury’s comment was that the evidence for Francis far outweighs all others in favour of possession of ‘that bad eminence’. He characterises the success of the letters in the context of the 18th century mania for period style in oratory; yet ‘they display some of the worst qualities of the human soul – arrogance, spite, jealousy [...] – in asmuch as their very denunciation of abuses is evidently but personal, or at best partisan.’ He compares him adversely with Burke, ‘the effect is not in the least marmorial as Burke’s. It has, on the contrary, two qualities of the usual imitation of marble - it is plaster and it is hollow. [...] a conventional exercise [done well but] not worth the doing’; ‘As a man of morals he has put talents great, of not consummate, at the service at best of party, at worst of self.’ Saintsbury calls him son of the translator of Horace. (Short History, 1922 ed. p.648). Justin McCarthy, Irish Literature (1904), gives extract from Letters of Junius (to the Duke of Grafton).

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British Library Cat. lists many titles relating to the Govt. of India and the impeachment of Warren Hastings; 15 others relating to the authorship of the Letters of Junius; also Warren Hastings and Philip Francis, etc., with a portrait (Univ. of Manchester, Hist. series, no. 56, 1929).

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