Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/384

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and solemnly counselled their Sovereign not to employ foreigners in his magazines. At Marlborough's suggestion they urged the King to insist that the youngest English general should take precedence of the oldest general in the service of the States General. It was, they said, derogatory to the dignity of the Crown, that an officer who held a commission from His Majesty should ever be commanded by an officer who held a similar commission from a republic. To this advice, evidently dictated by an ignoble malevolence to Holland, William, who troubled himself little about votes of the Upper House which were not backed by the Lower, returned, as might have been expected, a very short and dry answer.[356]

While the inquiry into the conduct of the war was pending, the Commons resumed the consideration of an important subject which had occupied much of their attention in the preceding year. The Bill for the Regulation of Trials in cases of High Treason was again brought in, but was strongly opposed by the official men, both Whigs and Tories. Somers, now Attorney General, strongly recommended delay. That the law, as it stood, was open to grave objections, was not denied; but it was contended that the proposed reform would, at that moment, produce more harm than good. Nobody would assert that, under the existing government, the lives of innocent subjects were in any danger. Nobody would deny that the government itself was in great danger. Was it the part of wise men to increase the perils of that which was already in serious peril for the purpose of giving new security to that which was already perfectly secure? Those who held this language were twitted with their inconsistency, and asked why they had not ventured to oppose the bill in the preceding session. They answered very plausibly that the events which had taken place during the recess had taught an important lesson to all who were capable of learning. The country had been threatened at once with invasion and insurrection. No rational man doubted that many traitors had made preparations for joining the French, and had collected