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from the plodding, dull routine of physical labor, and, thrusting great questions of conquest and defense, of justice and honor, before them, agitate them into thought. Conditions change; new ideas take the place of old ones, and a revolution in thought and action follows. But a war of ideas, starting from principles of peace, brings the enslaved again to the sword, and this crisis is termed a revolution,
Junius wrote at the dawn of the age of revolutions. The war of ideas was waged against priestcraft, and skepticism was the result. Voltaire had struck fable from history with the pen of criticisnt, and a scientific method here dawned upon history. Rousseau's democracy had entered the hearts of the down-trodden in France, and, a wandering exile, he had spread the contagion in England. George Berkeley, the Irish idealist, had just died, and the Scotch Thomas Reid arose with the weapon of common sense to test the metaphysician's ideas. Common Sense was, in the strictest sense, revolutionary, and, under the tyranny of king, lords, and commons, meant war. It was not a phrase without meaning, but a principle proclaimed, and it passed more readily into the understanding of the common people because conveyed in common speech. When Reid said, “I despise philosophy, and renounoe its guidance; let my soul dwell in common sense,” he illuminated all Britain and America. The philosophy of common sense entered the professor's chair, invaded the pulpit, and, having passed thence into the humblest cottage, soon took a higher rangemit went immediately up and knocked at the king's gate. It would be false to say it found admittance there. It was only because there had been a new world opened as an asylum for the oppressed of every land, that it did not sweep kings and monarchs from all the high places in Europe.
At this time, too, Mr. Pitt, the great commoner, the friend of common sense and English liberty, in his old age, war-worn and sick, had compromised with his vanity for a title. In his great fall from Pitt to Chatham, from the people to a peerage, he gained nothing but lost his good name. He exchanged worth for a bauble, and a noble respect for the contempt of nobles and the sorrows of the people. Mr. Pitt had departed, Lord Chatham was passing away; and in any assault by a trafficking ministry and corrupt legislature upon the people's rights, there was no one left to bend the bow at the gates.
To tax the colonies became the settled plan of king, ministers, and parliament. The tax was easily imposed, but could not be enforced. Freedom had long before been driven to America, and, in a line of direct descent, her blood had been transmitted from mother to son. The true sons of freedom now stood shoulder to shoulder, and, looking forward to independence, claimed to have rights as men, which king and lords would not concede to subjects. The Stamp Act was passed and repealed, and a Test Act substituted. England refused to compel the colonies to give up their money without their consent, but menaced them, and consoled herself with these words: “ The king in parliament hath full power to bind the colonies in all things whatsoever." Having surrendered the fact, she indulged in declamation, and the world laughed at her folly. Like a fretful and stupid mother demanding a favor of her son grown to manhood, and, being refused, persists in scolding and shaking the fist at him, as if he still wore a baby's frock.
At this juncture Junius wrote his LETTERS. The circumstances called him forth. He was a child of fate. He spoke to the greatest personages, assaulted the strongest power, and advocated the rights of man before the highest tribunal then acknowledged on earth. This he could not do openly, and what he said came as with the power of a hidden god. There is no evidence that Junius ever revealed himself. “I am the sole depository of my own secret, and it shall perish with me.” This he said and religiously kept. But his was the age which demanded it. He also said: “Whenever Junius appears, he must encounter a host of enemies." One hundred years have passed since he said this, but this “ host” is less to be feared now than when he wrote. No one now can injure him, and there are few who would assault his grave. It is time to unmask Junius, , and though still to be hated, I will reveal the enemy of kings and the friend of man. The reforms he advocated for England are partly accomplished, and the principles he taught, if not adopted there, have been established in America. He left no child to bear his name, but he was the father of a nation. The unimpaired inheritance was his thoughts and principles; these he transmitted, not alone to this nation, but to the world for the world was his country.
In the investigation of a subject so startling and novel, and especially when it leads to the criticism of a work which has found favor with the public, and now to be attributed to an author who has been publicly condemned, it becomes the critic to state clearly the plan of his argument, what he designs to do, and how he intends to do it. I therefore ask: Who was Junius? I answer: Thomas Paine. The object of this book is to prove this, and possibly to demonstrate it. To do this, I shall follow as closely as possible the order of events, giving parallels and coincidences in character, conduct, and composition of the masked and the open life.
I do not fear as to the proof of my proposition, but I shall aim higher, I shall try to demonstrate by the overwhelming weight of facts. Proof produces belief, demonstration knowledge. The innocent have been hanged on the evidence of proof, but a fact is established by demonstration. Demonstration follows proof, and knowledge follows belief; and ascending from the individual to mankind, we find the age of reason to succeed the age of faith. Science dwells in demonstration, and establishes principles from observed facts. Why may there not be a scientific criticism ? To arrive at this the writer must ascend to that eminence in feeling where the opposing prejudices of mankind can not reach him; he must rise above praise or censure, he must dwell alone in the light of reason, he must be a child of Truth. Vain, however, would it be to expect to find himself or a public devoid of prejudice. This is impossible, for prejudice is produced by strong conviction. It is a feeling which, like a magnet, points as the electric force directs. To counteract this force is to destroy the magnet. It is those who think deeply, and have investigated thoroughly, who have an enlightened
preiudice, and those who take upon authority what others tell them, who have a blind prejudice; but those who neither think nor investigate for themselves may truly be said to have no prejudice. My object is to convince the understanding and thereby build up a prejudice in favor of my proposition, which shall have a foundation of fact and argument, not to be removed, and to be but little disturbed. The world is my jury, they shall decide upon the facts. Lord Bacon gave the world a method, this method is also mine: LET FACTS REVEAL
THE INWARD TRUTH OF NATURE.