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CHAPTER I. "MORE, ALAS! THAN THE QUEEN'S LIFE!" "The Queen is pretty well," Swift wrote to Lord Peterborough on May 18, 1714, "at present, but the least disorder she has puts all in alarm." Swift goes on to tell his correspondent that "when it is over we act as if she were immortal; neither is it possible to persuade people to make any preparations against an evil day." Yet on the condition of Queen Anne's health depended to all appearance the... more...

"OPENS AMID ILL OMENS." The closest student of history would find it hard indeed to turn to the account of any other royal reign which opened under conditions so peculiar and so unpropitious as those which accompanied the succession of George the Fourth to the English throne. Even in the pages of Gibbon one might look in vain for the story of a reign thus singularly darkened in its earliest chapters. George the Fourth had hardly gone through the... more...

"SUPREME IRONIC PROCESSION." For six and forty years England had been ruled by German princes. One Elector of Hanover named George had been succeeded by another Elector of Hanover named George, and George the First and George the Second, George the father and George the son, resembled each other in being by nature German rather than English, and by inclination Electors of Hanover rather than Kings of England. Against each of them a Stuart prince... more...

AN EXILE IN LONDON The May sunlight streamed in through the window, making curious patterns of the curtains upon the carpet. Outside, the tide of life was flowing fast; the green leaves of the Park were already offering agreeable shade to early strollers; the noise of cabs and omnibuses had set in steadily for the day. Outside, Knightsbridge was awake and active; inside, sleep reigned with quiet. The room was one of the best bedrooms in Paulo's... more...

BOLINGBROKE ROUTED AGAIN. While "the King's friends" and the Patriots, otherwise the Court party and the country party, were speech-making and pamphleteering, one of the greatest English pamphleteers, who was also one of the masters of English fiction, passed quietly out of existence. On April 24, 1731, Daniel Defoe died. It does not belong to the business of this history to narrate the life or describe the works of Defoe. The book on which his... more...

CHAPTER I IN THE FIRCONE TAVERN In the dark main room of the Fircone Tavern the warm June air seemed to have lost all its delicacy, like a degraded angel. It was sodden through and through, as with the lees of wine; it was stained and shamed with the smells of hams and cheeses; it was thick and heavy as if with the breaths of all the rogues and all the vagabonds that had haunted the hostelry from its evil dawn. Such guttering lights and... more...