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Conceited Alarms Of Dennis

John Dennis, the dramatist, had a most extravagant and enthusiastic

opinion of his tragedy of Liberty Asserted. He imagined that there

were in it some strokes on the French nation so severe, that they would

never be forgiven; and that, in consequence, Louis XIV. would never make

peace with England unless the author was given up as a sacrifice to the

national resentment. Accordingly, when the congress for the negotiation

of the Peace of Utrecht was in contemplation, the terrified Dennis waited

on the Duke of Marlborough, who had formerly been his patron, to entreat

the intercession of his Grace with the plenipotentiaries, that they

should not consent to his surrender to France being made one of the

conditions of the treaty. The Duke gravely told the dramatist that he

was sorry to be unable to do this service, as he had no influence with

the Ministry of the day; but, he added, that he thought Dennis' case

not quite desperate, for, said his Grace, "I have taken no care to get

myself excepted in the articles of peace, and yet I cannot help thinking

that I have done the French almost as much damage as Mr. Dennis himself."

At another time, when Dennis was visiting at a gentleman's house on

the Sussex coast, and was walking on the beach, he saw a vessel, as he

imagined, sailing towards him. The self-important timidity of Dennis

saw in this incident a reason for the greatest alarm for himself, and

distrust of his friend. Supposing he was betrayed, he made the best

of his way to London, without even taking leave of his host, whom he

believed to have lent himself to a plot for delivering him up as a

captive to a French vessel sent on purpose to carry him off.

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