Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/52

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


The outcry against those who were, with good reason, suspected of having invited the enemy to make a descent on our shores was vehement and general, and was swollen by many voices which had recently been loud in clamour against the government of William. The question had ceased to be a question between two dynasties, and had become a question between England and France. So strong was the national sentiment that nonjurors and Papists shared or affected to share it. Dryden, not long after the burning of Teignmouth, laid a play at the feet of Halifax, with a dedication eminently ingenious, artful, and eloquent. The dramatist congratulated his patron on having taken shelter in a calm haven from the storms of public life, and, with great force and beauty of diction, magnified the felicity of the statesman who exchanges the bustle of office and the fame of oratory for philosophic studies and domestic endearments. England could not complain that she was defrauded of the service to which she had a right. Even the severe discipline of ancient Rome permitted a soldier, after many campaigns, to claim his dismission; and Halifax had surely done enough for his country to be entitled to the same privilege. But the poet added that there was one case in which the Roman veteran, even after his discharge, was required to resume his shield and his pilum; and that one case was an invasion of the Gauls. That a writer who had purchased the smiles of James by apostasy, who had been driven in disgrace from the court of William, and who had a deeper interest in the restoration of the exiled House than any man who made letters his calling, should have used, whether sincerely or insincerely, such language as this, is a fact which may convince us that the determination never to be subjugated by foreigners was fixed in the hearts of the people.[1]

  1. Dedication of Arthur.