[Sir Philip Francis, putative author of the celebrated ‘Letters of Junius’.] Autograph Letter Signed to the oriental scholar Thomas Maurice, offering support and information for his ‘plan’ [for 'Indian Antiquities'?].

Sir Philip Francis (1740-1818), putative author of the celebrated political tracts ‘The Letters of Junius' (1769-1772) [Thomas Maurice (1754-1824), oriental scholar]
Sir Philip Francis
Publication details: 
'Isleworth twenty fourth June / 1791'.
SKU: 25624

As John Cannon writes in Francis’s entry in the Oxford DNB, ‘The authorship of the Junius letters has been the subject of innumerable publications of various merit’, with the case for Francis, first proposed by John Taylor in 1816, ‘far the most probable’. The present item is of double interest: handwriting analysis has played a significant part in a number of publications, e.g. ‘The handwriting of Junius professionally investigated by Charles Chabot, expert; with preface and collateral evidence, by the Hon. Edward Twisleton’ (London, 1871). Hastings had spent much of the 1770s on the Supreme Council of Bengal, clashing (and fighting a duel with) Warren Hastings, and the subject of the letter is presumably Maurice’s projected ‘Indian Antiquities’ (7 vols, 1793-1800). 1p, foolscap 8vo. On recto of first leaf of bifolium, franked in customary fashion on reverse of second leaf, with seal in red wax and four postmarks, ‘Isleworth twenty fourth June / 1791 / Revd. Mr. Maurice / Woodford / Essex’, with ‘Free / P: Francis.’ at bottom left. In fair condition, lightly aged, with 5cm vertical closed tear at head and traces of mount to blank area at head of reverse of second leaf. Folded for postage in the usual way. Signed ‘P : Francis :’. He has ‘taken up the three Receipts at Elmsly’, and will endeavour to promote Maurice’s subscription as far as he can. ‘The historical part of Holwells Tracts I believe is Exact, & may be depended on. The rest is doubtful; - certainly beyond my Knowledge.’ He has ‘no Books that give any Account of the Raja of Berar’, and suggests that Maurice consults ‘a Tract of Mr. Orme’s, called historical Fragments, printed for Nourse in 1782’. He ends by observing that ‘Mr. Broughton Rouse has lately published a Treatise on the Tenure of landed Property in Bengal’, which he believes Maurice ‘would find very instructive on that Subject, if it comes within your plan’. See Image.