John Dennis (1657-1734)
From 18th Century Literary Anecdotes

Mr. DENNIS happened once to go to the play when a tragedy was acted in which the machinery of thunder was introduced, a new artificial method of producing which he had formerly communicated to the managers. Incensed by this circumstance, he cried out in a transport of resentment,

`That is my thunder, by G-d; the villains will play my thunder, but not my plays.'

Cibber, Lives, iv. 234.

Mr. Dennis wrote many letters and pamphlets for the administration of the Earl of Godolphin and the Duke of Marlborough, and never failed to lash the French with all the severity natural to him. When the peace (which the Whigs reckoned the most inglorious that ever was made) was about to be ratified, Mr. Dennis, who certainly over-rated his importance, took it into his imagination that when the terms of peace should be stipulated, some persons who had been most active against the French would be demanded by that nation as hostages; and he imagined himself of importance enough to be made choice of, but dreaded his being given up to the French as the greatest evil that could befall him. Under the influence of this strong delusion, he actually waited on the Duke of Marlborough, and begged his grace's interposition, that he might not be sacrificed to the French, for, says he, `I have always been their enemy.' To this strange request his grace gravely replied, `Do not fear, Mr. Dennis, you shall not be given up to the French: I have been a greater enemy to them than you, and you see I am not afraid of being sacrificed, nor am in the least disturbed.' Mr. Dennis upon this retired, well satisfied with his grace's answer, but there still remained upon his spirits a dread of his becoming a prey to some of the enemies of Great Britain.

Cibber, Lives, iv. 221-2.

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