Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/327

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to Portsmouth.[275] It is not easy for us to form a notion of the difficulty which there then was in providing at short notice commodious shelter and skilful attendance for hundreds of maimed and lacerated men. At present every county, every large town, can boast of some spacious palace in which the poorest labourer who has fractured a limb may find an excellent bed, an able medical attendant, a careful nurse, medicines of the best quality, and nourishment such as an invalid requires. But there was not then, in the whole realm, a single infirmary supported by voluntary contribution. Even in the capital the only edifices open to the wounded were the two ancient hospitals of Saint Thomas and Saint Bartholomew. The Queen gave orders that in both these hospitals arrangements should be made at the public charge for the reception of patients from the fleet.[276] At the same time it was announced that a noble and lasting memorial of the gratitude which England felt for the courage and patriotism of her sailors would soon rise on a site eminently appropriate. Among the suburban residences of our kings, that which stood at Greenwich had long held a distinguished place. Charles the Second liked the situation, and determined to rebuild the house and to improve the gardens. Soon after his Restoration, he began to erect, on a spot almost washed by the Thames at high tide, a mansion of vast extent and cost. Behind the palace were planted long avenues of trees which, when William reigned, were scarcely more than saplings, but which have now covered with their massy shade the summer rambles of several generations. On the slope which has long been the scene of the holiday sports of the Londoners, were constructed flights of terraces, of which the vestiges may still be discerned. The Queen now publicly declared, in her husband's name, that the building commenced by Charles should be completed, and should be a retreat for seamen disabled in the service of their country.[277]

One of the happiest effects produced by the good news was the calming of the public mind. During about a month the