1832 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Gerard Hamilton

John Taylor Esq., in Records of my Life (1832) 1:190-92.



The story relating to Mr. Gerard Hamilton, generally styled single-speech Hamilton, and the Duke of Richmond, though well known may be repeated in this place. It seems that Mr. Hamilton had called on Mr. Sampson Woodfall, who in the confidence of friendship had shown him a letter from Junius, which Mr. Woodfall said was to appear in The Public Advertiser next day. Mr. Hamilton called on the Duke of Richmond the following morning, and relying on what Mr. Woodfall had said, informed his grace that there was a letter from Junius in The Public Advertiser of that day, repeating as much as he recollected of its contents. As soon as Mr. Hamilton left his grace, the duke sent immediately for The Public Advertiser, but by some accident the letter was not published, and instead of it there was an apology from the printer for being obliged to postpone it to the following day. This circumstance naturally induced the duke to suspect Hamilton to be Junius, and hence the report gained ground that he was really the author. Hamilton, however, resolutely denied that he had any concern in the letters; and in order to avert what he affected to consider a degrading imputation, he even spoke of them as literary compositions of little value.

Another circumstance which tended to diffuse the suspicion that Hamilton was the author occurred at Brooks's club. The subject of conversation turned on Junius's letters, in one of the rooms at that celebrated resort of the opposition wits, and Charles Fox, whose voice was shrill and piercing, spoke very lightly of them. The adjoining room was open, and whoever was there might easily hear all that passed in the other. It happened that Hamilton was the only person in the adjoining room during this conversation, and it was therefore probable he had heard what passed. Hamilton and Fox had previously been upon very friendly terms, but it was observed that from that day he behaved towards Fox with great coolness, and sometimes seemed purposely to avoid him. This fact, coupled with what happened at the Duke of Richmond's, induced many of the members of Brooks's club to believe that Hamilton was really Junius. I learned this story from my friend Joe Richardson, who was a member of the club. Perhaps among all the persons to whom the reputation of Junius has been attributed, no coincidence of events has brought the suspicion so near to any individual as to Hamilton.