Little Folk's History of England - II.

Home Up Poems by Isa Duchess Agnes Songs of Consolation Poems: a Miscellany The Argosy (1866) Tales on the Parables Tales on The Parables Poetry Reviews Cotton Famine Round the Court Peggy Oglivie Esther West Fanny's Fortune A Heroine of Home Deepdale Vicarage Miscellanea Site Search Main Index


[Previous Page]


DURING the first twenty years of his reign, most of the public acts of Henry the Eighth were influenced by one man, Thomas Wolsey, who was the son of a butcher of Ipswich. At school he learnt so quickly that his father sent him to Oxford, where he was called the boy bachelor. He then became teacher in a grammar school, and the Marquis of Dorset, one of his pupils, gave him a living. From this he rose to be chaplain to Henry the Seventh, and a great favourite with his son; for he was as gay as he was clever.

When Henry the Eighth came to the throne, he speedily promoted his friend the chaplain.  Wolsey became a bishop, and then an archbishop.  Then the pope, seeing how powerful he was, made him a cardinal.  He had the income of a prince, and spent it like a prince.  He built Hampton Court Palace, and made it a present to the king.  He built a school at Ipswich, and founded the College of Christ Church at Oxford, endowed seven lectureships in the latter place, and encouraged learning everywhere.

One day the Duke of Buckingham was holding a basin for the king to wash his hands, when the cardinal passed by and dipped his fingers in the water.  The duke, in a rage, poured the water into the cardinal’s shoes.  The cardinal, angry in his turn, told the duke he would sit on his skirts for this.  Next day the duke came to court in a jerkin, or short coat, and when the king asked him what was the meaning of his wearing so uncourtier-like a dress, he replied, “The cardinal tells me he means to sit on my skirts, and if I have none they cannot be sat upon.”

Wolsey was not unwilling to have the queen divorced, if it pleased her royal husband; but he was very unwilling that he should marry Anne Boleyn, and went on his knees to Henry to prevent it.  This made the lady his bitter enemy.  He had also made an enemy of Queen Catherine.  He was one of the judges who tried her case, to say whether she ought to be divorced or no, the other being an Italian cardinal sent by the pope.  The judges would come to no decision, which made the king very angry with them, especially with Wolsey.

At last he was so angry that he dismissed him from the court, and sent him away to live at York.  Among his clergy and people there he lived nearly a year, and did a great deal of good, and was much beloved.  At last he was arrested, accused of high treason.  When he set out on his journey to London as a prisoner he was very ill.  On the way he became worse, and arriving at Leicester Abbey one night, he said to the abbot and monks who came out with torches to meet him, that he had come to lay his bones among them.  And so he had, for he lay down never to rise again; and dying he said, “Had I but served God as faithfully as I have served the king, he would not have given me over in my grey hairs.”


A.D. 1525 to 1546.

AS far back as the reign of Edward the Third, there were men who read the Bible and wished to teach the people what they found there, instead of foolish stories of miracles wrought by images of saints and dead men’s bones.  Bibles were very scarce then.  Every word of them had to be written out with the hand, and they were only to be found in monasteries and libraries.  About the year 1360 John Wickliffe made an English translation, and got a great many copies written out and carried through the country; and when people had once read the Bible they would not give it up, even when it became death to read it.

In 1445 the art of printing was invented in Germany, and one of the first books printed was the Bible.  So there were plenty of German Bibles, and people began to read them and to find out exactly, as those who had read Wickliffe’s Bible in England did, that the priests were teaching childish nonsense, instead of Christianity.  In 1517 one Martin Luther, a monk of Wittenberg, having read the New Testament, protested against a great sale of pardons for sin which was going on by order of the pope.  He taught that God only could forgive sin, and that men could only be saved through faith in Jesus Christ.  He called on men to seek the truth and lead holy lives, and showed that the priests did not teach the truth, and that many of them led anything but holy lives.  The pope and the priests were very angry with him, and would have put him to death, but they dared not do it, so many already believed that he was right, among others the prince of his native country, who protected him.

From the days of Wickliffe there had always been Protestants in England — that is, those who protested in private, if not in public, against the teaching of the priests, and the bad lives many of them led — Henry the Fifth, you will, remember, began the horrible practice of burning them alive, and a few had been burned every now and then to keep others from following their example, which it did not do.  Wickliffe’s Bibles continued to be read, though to read them, or have them in the house, might bring a cruel and dreadful death.  News of what Luther had done came speedily to England, and several students went over to Germany to hear his doctrines from his own lips.  Foremost among them went one William Tyndale, who had already set to work on an English translation of the New Testament.  A good London alderman had kept him in his house for half a year, where he studied day and night, and had given him ten pounds to take him over to Germany, for which the good alderman was sent to the Tower.  Tyndale saw Luther, who helped him with his translation, and when he had finished it, he went to Antwerp, and set up there a printing press, that he might print it and send copies over into England, where it was a forbidden book.

At the same time, about the year 1525, the Protestants of London started a society called “The Christian Brothers.”  They were chiefly poor men, poor students, artisans, and tradesmen, with perhaps a few rich men, like the alderman who helped William Tyndale.  They got over a great many New Testaments and tracts from the Antwerp press, and sent them about over the country, and so began the Reformation in earnest.

Now Henry the Eighth had written a book against Martin Luther, for which the pope had praised him very much, and given him a grand new title, never given to any king before — “Defender of the Faith.”  In order to act up to his title, therefore, he felt bound to punish the Protestants, who were so active in his kingdom.  They were to be hunted out, informed on by any one who chose, imprisoned, tortured, made to recant or deny all they believed in, and finally sent to the fire if they were obstinate.  Henry, in his heart, did not think them far wrong, and he quite approved of the translation of the Bible; but the bishops and priests urged him on.  Wolsey, whose rise and fall I have related to you, persecuted them very mildly.  He would not let the bishops burn people alive if he could help it, and so they bought up all the printed New Testaments they could find or buy, and burned them instead, and of course Master Tyndale only printed them the faster.

But when Wolsey was gone, Sir Thomas More became chancellor, and he had no objection to burning people for being Protestants.  He was, in other respects, a very noble, good man, as well as one of the most famous and learned men of his time, and I must tell you a little of his life.  He lived at Chelsea, where he had a pleasant house and garden, and where all the best and wisest men came to see him and his wife and children.  And he trained his son and daughters to be learned and accomplished too.  His little girls read and wrote Latin, and were good musicians, and able to understand the wise and merry talk of their father and his friends.  Above all, they loved their father, and their home was perhaps the brightest and happiest in England.  I shall tell you presently how this good man came to lose his life.

When Henry the Eighth wanted a divorce from his first wife, the pope, after deceiving him for a long time, at last refused to give him one, whereupon he quarrelled with the pope, and set himself up as head of the Church instead.  He got the bulk of the priests to say that they would obey him, but he found out that a great many of them did not mean what they had said, but meant to obey the pope.  Then the king made a law that all his subjects should take an oath that he was head of the Church.

At the very outset there were two men, high in rank honour, who refused to take the oath.  One was Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, an old man who had been tutor to the king; the other was Sir Thomas More, who had resigned his chancellorship two years before, and was living at his house at Chelsea.  They were both sent to the Tower, where they were kept prisoners a whole year, but not in very close confinement.  At the end of that time they were requested to submit and take the oath.  They both again refused, and as the law had said all who refused were to die, they were sentenced to death.  The old bishop was beheaded first.  He died with the words upon his lips, “This is life eternal, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.”  Sir Thomas was next condemned, and when they were taking him back to the Tower, his daughter Margaret, who had been forbidden to see him, broke through the guards and fell weeping on his neck, and after she had bidden him farewell, she came back once more, and clung to him so tenderly that the very guards were weeping round them.  He died with a smile of pleasantry on his face, for when the axe was going to fall, he signed for delay, and put his beard out of the way, saying, “Pity that should be cut, it has not committed treason.”

Thomas Cromwell was now chancellor.  He had been secretary to Wolsey, and faithful to him even in his fall, and he had risen from being a ragged boy begging in the streets of Florence, having run away from his father’s house in England, because of his step-mother’s harshness.  Cranmer was Archbishop of Canterbury; when quite a young man Henry took him into favour because he showed him the best way to get a divorce from Catherine, in spite of the pope.  Hugh Latimer, son of a substantial English yeoman, was the king’s chaplain, and that though he had been brought up on a charge of heresy, the king and Wolsey had said then that he was an honest man, and an honest man he remained, not much minding doctrines, but preaching righteousness of life, and getting at the truth by slow degrees.  All these men favoured the Reformation.  They were all put to death in the following reign, but in the meantime the two former had power to persecute the papists — those who took the part of the pope against the king and they used their power unmercifully.

In 1536 a law was passed to put down the small monasteries, where the monks, for the most part, were living in self-indulgence, idleness, and sin.  This work was put into Cromwell’s hands, and he did not spare in doing it.  It raised a terrible outcry, especially in the north of England.  Parish after parish rose and cried for vengeance on Cromwell, Cranmer, and Latimer.  The insurgents called on all good men to make a stand for the Church of Christ, and they were joined by many of the nobility.  The rising was rapidly becoming dangerous, but it was soon put down, and those engaged in it were severely punished.  Many good and noble men perished for it.  Good and noble men perished on both sides in those days.  Men’s opinions were very much divided.  There was the old, or Catholic religion, and the new, or Protestant religion, and the king’s religion, which was between the two.  We ought to honour those who were willing to die for what they believed to be right and true, whichever religion they professed.

The Reformation had been making rapid progress in England under the guidance of Cromwell.  To a certain extent the king went with him.  But the bishops and clergy and many of the high nobility were constantly pulling him in the opposite direction.  The bishops complained of the Bible being read, and said Tyndale‘s translation was very bad.  The king told them to make a better.  They did nothing, and Cromwell sent one Miles Coverdale, a Cambridge scholar, to collect the scattered books of the Old and New Testament, and edit them.  This he did, and in the same year (1536) appeared the first complete Bible.  The king ordained that a copy of it should be placed in every parish church.  You will be sorry to hear that Tyndale, who had spent his life in translating it, was burnt in Flanders, in the terrible persecution which raged there.

At the same time the images and the relics were destroyed, and the impositions of the priests exposed.  There was one image of Christ on the cross, at Boxley, in Kent, which moved its eyes and bowed its head.  One of Cromwell’s men found out that the priests pulled some wires behind to make it do this, while the poor people thought it was done by miracle.  The image and its wires were shown to them in the market-place at Maidstone, and then it was taken to St. Paul’s, in London, and exhibited there.  You may fancy how angry the people were with the priests, and how angry the priests were with Cromwell.

But the time came when Cromwell must fall, as Wolsey had fallen and More had fallen.  He went further in his reforming than the law allowed; and his enemies — and he had made many, some justly, and some unjustly — denounced him as a traitor.  The law said traitors and heretics should die; and the king said if Cromwell was a traitor and a heretic he should die.  So they proved that he had encouraged heresy, and that he had done many things of his own will as the had been king himself.  So he was sent to the Tower, and thence to death.  Two days after three Catholics and three protestants were burnt, the first as traitors, the last as heretics.

After the fall of Cromwell the Reformation stood still.  The Catholic party came into power again, and tried to stop the reading of the Bible, but with very little success.  France and Scotland united against Henry.  The King of Scotland, James the Fifth, died, leaving a daughter newly born to inherit his throne.  Her mother, Mary of Guise, was a princess of France and a Catholic.  She and her party brought on war between Henry and Scotland.  The king wanted to marry his little son Edward to the infant Mary, Queen of Scots, and Mary’s mother pretended that she was quite delighted with the prospect, and all the while she was plotting against it, and joining with England’s enemies.  Under her rule and that of Cardinal Beaton, the Protestants in Scotland were persecuted and put down.  Francis the First was killing them wholesale in France.  With France, too, Henry went to war, and made terms of peace only the year before he died.

To the very last he was engaged in the dreadful work of exterminating heretics and traitors.  On the 16th of July, 1546, Anne Askew, a good and gentle lady, was burnt, with three companions, in front of St. Bartholomew’s Church, for denying the presence of Christ in the mass.  And on the 13th of January, 1547, only a fortnight before the death of the king, the Earl of Surrey, a gallant young noble, and a poet, was executed for seeming to aspire to the throne.  His father, the Duke of Norfolk, was in the Tower, under the same condemnation when the king died, after a reign of thirty-seven years, in which, spite of all the troubles and all the bloodshed, England had been greater than ever before.  We must not judge the men of that time as we would judge the men of our own.  All parties were ready alike to suffer and to inflict suffering for opinions.  They had not then learnt that truth prevails by its own power and not by force.


A.D. 1547 to 1553.

ENGLAND had another boy king, Edward, the son of Henry the Eighth, who was only nine years old when his father died.  His mother was the Lady Jane Seymour, and the king, his father, had placed the Seymours on the council of noblemen who were to govern the kingdom till the prince came of age, as he thought they were to be trusted to take care of him.

The young king had two uncles — the Earl of Hertford and Lord Seymour.  The first thing which the earl did was to make himself head of the Council as Lord Protector, and also Duke of Somerset.  The duke was a reformer, but he was not a persecutor.  He did away with the penal laws against religious opinion, and was greatly loved by the people.  His brother, Lord Seymour, the High Admiral of England, was not a good man.  He married Catherine Parr, the widow of Henry the Eighth, and he tried to get the young king into his own hands.  When Queen Catherine died, he wanted to marry the Princess Elizabeth, and was preparing to take violent measures against his brother, the protector.  The Council now called upon him to explain his conduct; but he resisted their authority, and was sent to the Tower.  Both Lords and Commons passed a Bill attainting him.  His brother could not or would not save him, and with the consent of the young king, his nephew, he was condemned and sent to the block.

Thither Somerset himself was to follow.  He had invaded Scotland and sacked Edinburgh and Leith; but he marched back to England with his victorious army, and allowed the purpose of his invasion to be defeated.  That purpose was to compel the Scotch to keep the treaty made with Henry, and allow their young queen to marry Edward, and so unite the two countries in peace.  But her mother sent the young queen away to France, and engaged her to the Dauphin, which left England still at war with Scotland.  War with France followed, and discontent at home, which rose to insurrection, and had to be put down by force, and even by the help of foreign soldiers.  The protector got the blame of all this because he would not take the advice of the Council, as he was really bound to do.  The Council complained, and he immediately accused them of wanting to destroy both him and the king, and he most unwisely tried to carry the king away.

He was accordingly sent to the Tower and deprived of his protectorship; but he was afterwards liberated and allowed to remain on the Council.  The Earl of Warwick was now the leader there.  He was made Duke of Northumberland.  Somerset tried once more to regain his power, and plotted against Northumberland, but he was betrayed.  His plot to arrest his rival was magnified into a design to murder the Lords of the Council at a banquet.  He was seized at the council-table and again sent to the Tower, this time only to come forth to die.  He was tried at Westminster, and acquitted of treason against the king, but found guilty of felony, for he admitted that he had designed to raise the City of London in his favour, and assault the Council.  In January, 1552, he was brought to the scaffold, to the great grief of the people, who to the last hoped a pardon would be sent to him by the king, and kept shouting, “A pardon, a pardon!” at the foot of the scaffold, whenever they heard a stir in the street.  “There is no such thing, good people,” said the duke; and after speaking a few last words, he knelt down and laid his head on the block.

Northumherland was now chief in power, and the king’s health was failing.  He had always been delicate; but he was a clever, well-educated, thoughtful boy.  He had been brought up in the Protestant religion, and was easily persuaded that it was in danger — as indeed it was, if his sister Mary should succeed him on the throne.  Under the influence of Northumberland he made a will excluding his sisters, and naming as his successor his cousin, Lady Jane Grey, to whom Northumberland had married his son, Lord Guildford Dudley.  In July, 1553, after much suffering, Edward died, in the sixteenth year of his age and seventh of his reign.

The Reformation had made great progress in Edward’s reign.  Cranmer had prepared, and Parliament had adopted, the Book of Common Prayer, to be used in all the churches of the land.


Ten Days of 1553.

NORTHUMBERLAND kept the young king’s death a secret for a day or two, in order to secure the Princess Mary, whom he intended to send to the Tower.  But within an hour of her brother’s death a messenger had ridden off to bid her mount and fly.  Mary’s secret friends had sent her the message, and she was soon safe in Norfolk, proclaiming herself queen even as she fled.  Then Northumberland sent for Lady Jane, and in presence of five Lords of the Council told her of the king’s death, and of his will in her favour.  And the Lords knelt before her, and took an oath to be faithful to her, and die in her defence.  Lady Jane had stood up trembling to hear all this.  She was full of sorrow for the king, whom she loved, and who had been her companion, and at last she covered her face with her hands, and fell fainting to the ground.  When she came to herself she said it could not be.  The crown was not for her; she could not bear it.  Then she clasped her hands, and prayed that if she must be a queen, God would give her grace to govern for his service and the good of his people.

The next day the royal barges came down the Thames, bringing Lady Jane as queen to the Tower, while she was being proclaimed in London. But the people were silent, for they thought the Princess Mary was the rightful queen, and they did not like to see her set aside.  That very evening it was known in London that Mary also had been proclaimed in Norfolk. She had written to the Lords, telling them that the crown was her right, and that she was ready to pardon what they had done, if they would return to their duty.  She was calling all her friends round her, and such numbers came at her call that Northumberland found it necessary to send an army against her. He was obliged to take the lead of this army himself.  The Lords were leaning to Mary’s side, and the sailors of the fleet had declared for her.

Northumberland, with four sons, left London with the troops.  He said himself that no one bade him Godspeed.  His troops were mutinous, and at last refused to fight against Mary, so he sent hastily to France for aid.  Then the Lords of the Council left in London proposed to set aside Queen Jane, and proclaim Mary in her stead.  One of the five who had knelt to Lady Jane, and taken the oath to die for her, was the first to propose it.  Then they all swore to do it, and Lady Jane was queen no more.  When her father, the Duke of Suffolk, told her this, she said that it was more welcome than the news that she was to be queen.  Then she asked, like an innocent girl as she was, if she might leave the Tower and go home.

The Council proclaimed queen Mary, and wrote to Northumberland to lay down his arms.  He was at Cambridge with his army, but they would not fight, so he went to the market cross, and declared that the Council had ordered him to go against Mary, but the Council had now changed their minds; and so he tossed his cap in the air and shouted, “God save Queen Mary!”  He could no longer help himself, and he hoped the queen would pardon him.

He was immediately arrested, and with his sons sent to the Tower.  Mary after a little delay, came up to London.  Her sister Elizabeth met her outside the gates, with a guard of two thousand gentlemen.  They embraced and rode together to the Tower.  There the old Duke of Norfolk, Gardiner, and others received her kneeling.  She kissed them and said, “You are my prisoners!”  They were free.  In her joy at the way in which she had been welcomed, Mary was ready to pardon all who had been against her, even Northumberland.  If she had been left to herself, she might not have committed so many acts of cruelty, and thereby earned the hatred of the whole nation.

But she was not left to herself.  Her cousin, the Emperor Charles the Fifth, urged her by his ambassador to punish and put down her enemies.  Northumberland was doomed.  Thinking to save his life, he sent for a confessor, and told him that he was a Catholic, and had always been of the Catholic faith, even when he was acting as a leader of the Protestants.  His doing so had been but hypocrisy.  It was indeed hypocrisy in such a man to pretend to any religion.  He did not save his life, though he made a public confession of this, and told the people that all their miseries came from their forsaking the old religion.  After this, he begged for life, even the life of a dog; but it was denied him.

Lady Jane Grey, with her husband, were awaiting their fate.  It was delayed still for months.  Mary was unwilling to put her to death, innocent as she knew her to be.  But the queen had set her mind on a marriage with her cousin, Philip of Spain, and this marriage, and her intention of bringing back all the old superstitions, so displeased many that at length there was a rebellion.  It was put down after much bloodshed, and Mary was again urged to rid herself of her foes, by the only sure way — death.

Lady Jane and her husband were the first victims.  Beautiful, learned, and accomplished, and not yet seventeen, innocent of any crime, Lady Jane was condemned to die.  When she was told, only the day before, she listened calmly and said the time was short.  When three days’ respite were granted, and a good priest whom Mary had sent carried the news to her, she said she had not expected him to repeat her words.  She had given up all thoughts of the world and was ready to die.  She wrote a beautiful letter to her father, who was also in the Tower awaiting death, and sent her Greek New Testament to her sister.  Her husband died first, without seeing her again.  She feared their meeting might unnerve them, and sent him a message that they would soon meet in the other world.  But she saw him that morning twice.  He suffered on the Tower Hill, she within the Tower.  As she stood at her prison window, she saw him led away to the scaffold, and again as he was brought back a bleeding corpse.

Even this did not shake the heroic courage of Lady Jane Grey.  She thanked the good old priest for his services, though they had been wearisome to her.  She sprang up the steps of the scaffold, declared she died innocent of crime, and a Christian.  Then she uncovered her head and tied a handkerchief over her eyes.  Blindly she felt for the block, and was heard saying, “Where is it? What shall I do?”  She was guided where to lay her beautiful head, and when she had said, “Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit,” it was severed from her body.


AD. 1553 to 1558.

THE day on which Lady Jane died there was a general slaughter.  The Tower was so full of prisoners that several had to be put into one cell.  The very churches were made prisons for the common people.  No mercy was shown; all who were suspected — and all who were Protestants were suspected of being against the queen — were doomed to die.  The Duke of Suffolk followed his daughter in a few days.  Gibbets were erected all over London.  In one week eighty or one hundred bodies were hanging in St. Paul’s Churchyard and on London Bridge.  The Princess Elizabeth was brought up to London, and kept a prisoner at Whitehall Palace, Mary’s Spanish friends urging her immediate death.  Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer were condemned, either to recant or suffer death by fire.

Sir Thomas Wyatt, the principal leader of the insurrection, was now promised his life, if he would confess that the Princess Elizabeth was on his side.  She wrote to the queen denying that she had anything to do with treason, and the angry queen raged at the bearer of the letter.  Elizabeth had offended her by refusing to be present at the mass, and Mary now sent her to the Tower.  When the barge came to Traitors’ Gate, Elizabeth refused at first to land; then feeling that she was powerless to resist, she sprang out into the rain and was conducted into a cell.

The Lords of the Council at length interfered to stop the continued bloodshed.  Wyatt, at his execution, declared before the crowd that Elizabeth was innocent, and the judges gave their verdict that there was no evidence against her.  She had to be released from the Tower; but she was sent to Woodstock, still a prisoner.

In July, 1554, Mary was married to Philip of Spain, and in November of the same year there was once more a minister or legate of the pope in England, Cardinal Pole.  His object was to reconcile England to the pope.  High mass was said in Westminster Abbey, and the cardinal pronounced a national absolution.  Immediately the persecuting laws were revived.  The work of the Reformation was swept away.  A day was fixed on which the bishops were ordered to receive back their clergy into the Church of Rome.  The clergy were ordered in the same manner to receive the people.  On the 28th of January, 1555, a court was opened by Gardiner, Bonner, Tunstal, and three other bishops, to try for their lives those who refused submission.

Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester, and Rogers, a Canon of St. Paul’s, were brought before them.  The good bishop, who had given away his income to the poorer clergy, and who had fed the poor of his city at his own table, had been eighteen months in a cell of Fleet Prison.  They both refused to submit, and were sentenced to die.  The Catholics said they could not abide the fire, and would recant.  And the people shouted for joy when they saw Rogers led out to die at Smithfield, not for pleasure in his death, but because he had courage to stiffer for the truth.  His wife and ten children, one of them an infant in its mother’s arms, were there to bid him farewell.  Gardiner had refused to allow him to see them in prison.  At the last moment he was offered pardon if he would recant, but in vain; the fire was lighted, and, exulting in the midst of it, he died.

Hooper was taken down to Gloucester, and the same offer was made to him; but he too remained constant; and that through tortures which I cannot bring myself to write about, so dreadful were they, because the fire in which they burnt him would not kindle in the rain.  I dare say you wonder, as I do, how people could stand still and see it done.  It is said, indeed, that some would fain have thrown themselves into the fire and died with the martyrs.

In October of that same dismal year, Ridley and Latimer were tried concerning their faith, and condemned to die.  Latimer was eighty years of age.  The old man, ever brave and faithful, came to the stake with a shroud under his coat.  Ridley was before him. “Be ye there?” said Ridley.  “Yea,” answered Latimer, “as fast as I can follow."

Ridley ran and embraced him, and they knelt and prayed together.  They were tied to the same stake, back to back, and the wood was fired.  “Be of good comfort, Master Ridley,” said Latimer; “play the man.  We shall this day, by God’s grace, light such a candle in England as, I trust, shall never be put out.”

But it was not only Protestant bishops who could die for their faith.  I must tell you how a young London apprentice, William Turner, behaved.  He read the Bible, and refused to attend mass, so his master sent him home for fear of trouble.  His father ordered him away still further, as he was known in the place where he lived.  But a Catholic magistrate sent to the father, and ordered him to deliver up his son.  So William came back, and gave himself up, lest his father should suffer.  He was then sent to London, and kept many months in prison.  The Bishop of London, before whom he was brought, tried to tempt him to deny his faith, and offered to make him a freeman of the City, and give him money to set up in business, or to take him into his household and make him steward, if he would recant.  Turner thanked him; but said he could not lie or pretend to believe what he did not believe.

He was sent back to his own town to be burned.  But his father prayed that he might be faithful to the end, and his mother said she was happy to have a child who was willing to lose his life for Christ.  So he went to the stake and was burned, crying, “I am not afraid. Lord, receive my spirit.”

There were hundreds who suffered thus.  I shall tell you only of one more of these dreadful deaths, that of the highest churchman in the land, the Archbishop of Canterbury.  It teaches one of the great lessons of history, that the greatest and the wisest may fall, and that we are not to judge a man by one act of his life, but by the whole.  He was in prison, you will remember, with Latimer and Ridley, and from his prison window he had seen what they endured.  They kept him wilfully to the last to shake his courage, and accordingly it began to waver.  Then Cardinal Pole wrote to him one of his eloquent letters, to prove to him how wicked he had been, and what evil he had brought on England.  Cranmer had always been very gentle — even timid; he feared death, and perhaps, for a time, he began to think he might have been in error after all.  However it was, he signed several papers declaring that he had been wrong in all that he had held and taught concerning the Church of Rome and the pope, and that he deserved his sufferings.  No sooner had he made this recantation, than he was told that it was well that he repented; but still he must die.

When the day fixed for his death came, the Catholics desired that he should make a public confession at the stake, and a sermon was to be preached on the occasion in the open air.  It was wet, however, and the event took place in the church of St. Mary, Oxford.  The sermon was preached, showing all that the archbishop had done against the Church of Rome.  He was then invited to speak.  He began by lamenting bitterly all his errors; there was one, however, that he lamented most of all, he said, and being now about to die, he desired to relieve his mind of it, and speak the truth before God.  The people and the priests were listening breathlessly; they expected something very different.  “And now,” he said, “I come to the great thing which troubleth my conscience more than any other thing that I ever said or did in my life.”  It was his recantation, “written with my hand,” he went on, “contrary to the truth which I thought in my heart, and written for fear of death to save my life.”

They would listen no longer.  He was hurried to the stake, and when the fire was kindled, before his body was touched by the flames, he thrust his right hand into the midst of the fire crying, “This is the hand that wrote it.”

After Cranmer’s death the persecution raged hotter than ever.  As for the unhappy queen, who thought she was doing God service, I cannot but think she was mad.  She was ill both in body and mind, and was sorely tried; her husband deserted her and went over to Spain.  She went to war with France, and Calais, which had remained English since the time of Edward the Third, was taken.  Her people hated her.  Even the pope ceased to be her friend.  And so she died, feared and hated, forlorn and miserable.


A.D. 1558 to 1603.

THE same day on which Mary’s miserable reign came to an end, her sister Elizabeth was proclaimed with every sign of joy.  The new queen was young and handsome, accomplished in all the learning of her time, and she had been brought up a Protestant.  The first thing she did was to choose Sir William Cecil to be her secretary and adviser — a wise choice, for he was a cautious statesman, and Elizabeth had come to the throne in a dangerous time.  When she met her nobles, she told them she meant “to act by good advice and counsel,” which she did on the whole, though Cecil sometimes found her difficult to manage; for she was self-willed and passionate, as her father had been.

She began immediately to undo all the mischief that her sister had done, and restore the Protestant religion.  In doing this she knew that she should make many enemies.  The pope would be against her, and would stir up against her both France and Spain.  Scotland would be sure to take part with France.  The Catholic bishops and clergy in England would try all they could to make her own people rebel, and Ireland would help the Catholics of England.  All this she knew, and yet she said the sooner Protestantism was restored the better.

So Elizabeth’s first Parliament put an end for ever to the authority of the pope in England.  The Bible and Prayer-book were given back to the people; and with them the mass, the fire, and the axe ceased their work for a time.  All the poor Protestants whom Queen Mary and Bishop Bonner had put in prison, and who had expected to be burned, were set free; and when the other bishops came to kiss her hand, Elizabeth would not let Bonner’s lips touch her.

And now the French king pretended that Elizabeth had no right to be Queen of England, and that Mary Queen of Scots, who was married to the Dauphin of France, and would one day be queen of that country too, was also the rightful Queen of England.  But instead of fighting against her, Philip, her brother-in-law, was anxious to marry her, if she would only become a Catholic.  They could get a dispensation from the pope, he said.  And Elizabeth answered that she did not believe a dispensation from the pope could make her free to marry her sister’s husband, or do anything which her conscience did not approve, and, at any rate, she did not mean to marry just then.

When she went to Westminster to be crowned, the people shouted and wept for joy.  Little children met her with songs and flowers, though it was the month of January.  One branch of rosemary flung into her lap by a poor woman, she carried in her hand all the way.  Another gift, presented from the City of London, she put to her lips: it was the Bible.

I wish I had nothing but good to tell you of this great queen; but while she was brave and able, she was also false and vain, and those faults grew with her years.  She had also much of the mean avarice of her grandfather, Henry the Seventh, and though she took care not to tax her subjects, she had no objection to ruin with expenses the brave men who served her, or to share in the spoils of her pirate captains.  She even allowed her soldiers and sailors, on more than one occasion, to perish for want of food.

Then, till she was quite an old woman, she kept one or two lovers always about her, telling her she was the most beautiful creature in the world; that she had more beauty in her finger than all other women had altogether; that they could not live without seeing her, and such like silly stuff.  She had promised, too, to marry pretty nearly every prince in Europe, at one time or other, and broken her word in every case.

For the first ten years of her reign all went well.  But then the Catholics began to be troublesome.  It was at this time that Mary Queen of Scots fled to her for protection, and became her prisoner, and the centre of Catholic plots, which threatened to ruin the Protestant cause.

The Protestants of France and of Flanders would have made a league with her, as the Catholics had made a league against her; but she was only half-hearted in their cause, and they soon learned to distrust her utterly.  But for her brave subjects her reign would have ended in disgrace and ruin.  Instead of that, it is the most memorable and the most glorious period of our history.  Never were there so many great men around the throne of a sovereign.  Elizabeth’s captains were the greatest that ever lived.  One of them, Sir Francis Drake, sailed for the first time round the world, in the year 1577.  But I must tell you about this, as well as some other great events, in separate chapters.  It would take a whole chapter to make only a list of the famous men who lived in Elizabeth’s time.  Among them was Bacon the philosopher and Shakespeare the poet.

The last years of Elizabeth were, indeed, glorious.  The defeat of the Spanish Armada took place in the year 1588, and the years that followed were full of triumph and splendour.  The flag of England became supreme on the seas.  The queen wavered no more, but united with the Protestants of France and the Netherlands, and England became the first of Protestant states.


A.D. 1561 to 1587.

MARY STUART was the only child of James the Fifth of Scotland, who, you remember, died when his daughter was born.  You also remember that the English were very anxious to marry her to Edward the Sixth, because she was not only Queen of Scotland, but, after Mary and Elizabeth, next heir to the crown of England.

When she was a very little girl she was sent to France, and brought up by the French queen till she was old enough to marry her son.  She had not been long married when her husband became King of France, but he only lived a few years after he ascended the throne.  Mary was a widow when she was nineteen, the most beautiful widow and queen in the world.  She was also as clever as she was beautiful, and brave as the bravest man.  Wherever she went she found people to love and serve her, and believe all she chose to say.

Between Elizabeth and Mary there had been strife from the beginning.  Mary had denied Elizabeth’s right to be Queen of England, and had proclaimed her own to be better.  Then she claimed that at least she should be named as her successor.  When she wanted to pass through England, on her way to her own kingdom of Scotland, Elizabeth would not allow her, and she had to go by sea, a very rough voyage.  So long as the coast of France remained in sight, she stood gazing at it, and when it was fading, she stretched her arms towards it and cried, “Farewell, dear France, farewell; I shall never see thee more.”  She had been very happy there, and she was destined to be very unhappy, perhaps the most unhappy queen that ever lived.

The rough Scottish people received her kindly.  They meant to be very good to her, and they played their harsh bagpipes under her windows all night by way of refreshing her after her journey; and she thanked them in the morning, though she had been kept from her sleep.  But on the very first Sunday, when she had mass in her own chapel, they got into such a fury that they very nearly killed the priest.  Mary was a Roman Catholic; the Scotch had become Protestants, and they did not understand liberty of conscience.  Even among the Protestant lords, however, Mary made friends.  She sent for John Knox, the famous preacher, and tried to make friends with him; but she could not gain him over with her charms.  He spoke the truth so hardly to her that he made her weep, and he did not even care for her tears.

Elizabeth, who was always meddling with Mary’s affairs, now pressed her to marry one person after another; and Mary, without her leave, at length married a cousin of her own, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley.  He was a very young man, and foolish and brutal besides.  Mary could not love him, and he very soon made her hate him.  He was jealous of one Rizzio, an Italian, who was Mary’s secretary, and of whose society she was very fond; and one night when Mary was at supper in her room with Rizzio, and one lady-in-waiting, Darnley brought a band of armed men into the palace, and stabbed Rizzio before her face, and dragged him to the foot of the stairs, where they murdered him, while he called on her to save him.  You may think what she suffered when she found she could not, and how this bad deed roused her spirit to vengeance.  She seemed, however, to be reconciled to her husband, and very soon after she had a little son born to her in Edinburgh Castle.

A few months went past, and one night a lonely house close to the town of Edinburgh was blown up with gunpowder, and Mary’s husband was found dead in the field close by.  He had been ill, and the queen herself had taken him to this house, and had been with him there one or two nights before.  But on this night she had a ball at her palace of Holyrood, and was dancing at the wedding feast of a favourite maid.  Some say that Mary knew nothing about the murder, and some that she planned it all.  It is very difficult to prove either her guilt or her innocence.  The worst fact of it is that, four months after, she married the murderer, and declared she did it of her own free will.  This Lord Bothwell was loved by the queen to the last.  For him she lost her crown, and years after, her life.

Her people rebelled at her conduct.  She met them in arms, but was taken, without a battle, and brought back to Edinburgh, where the mob reviled and cursed her till they nearly drove her mad.  Then the lords sent her prisoner to Lochleven, a lonely castle in the middle of a lake.  Once she attempted to escape in a boat, in the disguise of a washer-woman, and was taken back, but the second time she got away.

After fighting one battle, called the battle of Langside, Mary had to fly.  She came to England and sought the protection of Elizabeth, to whom she wrote begging her to send for her.  Instead of sending for her, Elizabeth resolved to keep her a prisoner, and wanted to bring her to trial for the murder of her husband.  From one castle to another she was carried, till she was a captive in the very heart of England.

All the time Mary was plotting how to get free again.  She promised to marry an English nobleman, and make him King of England if he would help her to get free.  She appealed to foreign princes and to the pope for aid, and was really dangerous to the life of Elizabeth and the peace of the country.  At Sheffield Park she was at length kept so close that she was never suffered to leave her rooms except to walk in the courtyard, or on the leads of the house.  At last it was resolved that she must die, and she was removed to a place in Northamptonshire called Fotheringay Castle.  Elizabeth sent down a number of lords commissioned to try her, only she was already condemned.  They accused her of plotting against the life of the queen, which she solemnly denied, and as for trying to free herself by any means she could command, she said that she had a right to do so, being an independent queen unlawfully imprisoned.

When her sentence was announced to her, she listened calmly, and said that, though it was unjust, death would he a welcome release from her weary captivity.  She wrote to Elizabeth, making some requests for her faithful servants, and desiring to send a jewel to her son, whom she had never seen since she left him a little infant.  Mary had been twenty years a prisoner.

When the order for her execution was read to her, she asked if no one had interfered to save her, and if her only son had forgotten her.  He had made a very feeble appeal to Elizabeth, and she had sent him back an angry message, reminding him of the murder of his father.  Mary then asked when she was to suffer.  The Earl of Shrewsbury, who had been her keeper, replied, “To-morrow.”

When she was left alone with her attendants, they gave way to tears and lamentations.  Mary told them not to weep, but to rejoice.  She spent the night in prayer, and went down to the great hall in which she was to die, with a calm smile and kind words to all her people.

At the foot of the stairs, meeting Andrew Melville, an old servant who had been faithful to her, and seeing him in great grief, she said, “Good Melville, cease to lament.  Thou hast cause to joy rather than to mourn, for thou shalt see the end of Mary Stuart’s troubles.  I pray thee report that I die true to my religion, to Scotland, and to France.”  It is no wonder that, through her heroic death, and her twenty years’ captivity, people forgot the sins of her earlier life, and remembered only her greatness and her misfortunes.

Elizabeth has been justly blamed for her treatment of Mary.  She had no right to keep her a prisoner; and yet to let her go altogether free would have ruined Scotland, and perhaps shaken her own throne.  During her captivity Mary joined the Catholic League, and that league meant the destruction of every Protestant ruler and every Protestant state.  It kept France in the agonies of a civil war.  In the person of Philip of Spain, it was the cause of such horrors in the Netherlands that these provinces revolted; and one of its fruits was the massacre of St. Bartholomew — a massacre the most horrible and treacherous ever perpetrated.  It took place in the earlier years of Mary’s captivity, which it would have shortened, but for the reluctance of Elizabeth to shed her blood.


A.D. 1572.

AT this time a number of the noblest men in France professed the Protestant faith, among whom was the Prince of Condé and Admiral Coligny.  The king, Charles the Ninth, was weak and foolish, and governed by his mother, Catherine de Medicis, one of the most wicked women who ever lived.  The admiral was her enemy, and had tried and was still trying to get the king out of her hands.  Catherine had made an attempt to get Coligny assassinated, which failed, and she now went to the king and told him that his life was in danger.  The Huguenots — the party opposed to the Catholics — were arming.  She said they intended to seize the palace, to kill her, her son (the king’s own brother) and the other Catholic nobles, and carry off the king himself.  They waited only a sign from Coligny; and the one safe course was to anticipate the plot, and put him and his friends to death.

The poor young king wept and cried.  He would not have Coligny touched; he prayed his mother and her friends to try some other way out of the danger.  They told him it was too late.  “You refuse,” said the queen, “to save your mother and your brother?  Is it that you are afraid?”

He started up in a passion, swearing and saying, “If you kill the admiral, kill them all — kill all the Huguenots in France — leave none to reproach me.  Kill them all.”

He was taken at his word; though even Catherine did not intend a general massacre.  Only half a dozen of the leaders, she said afterwards, were to be slain.  But she gave orders to the Duke of Guise, who told the officers of the royal guard, that the Huguenots were going to rise, and that the king had ordered their destruction.  The soldiers were ready for the work — the Catholics were to wear a white cross in their caps, and the slaughter was to begin at daybreak.

When night fell the soldiers stole to the different parts of the city where their victims lay.  When the morning broke over the sleeping city, a shot was fired, the bell tolled, and the massacre began.

Admiral Coligny had not recovered from the wound which had been inflicted in a former attempt to murder him.  He had passed a sleepless night; and the surgeon and a minister were sitting by his bed, when the gates of his house were broken, and shots and shrieks were heard in the courtyard.  He sat up in bed.  His servants and attendants rushed into the room.  “Save yourselves,” he said to them; “I commend myself to God my Saviour!”

They fled, trying to escape by the roofs and balconies; one only remained with him.  The door was immediately burst open, and an officer, a Bohemian, rushed in, crying, “Are you the admiral?”  “I am,” replied Coligny; “and, young man, you ought to respect my age and my wounds.”

The answer was a curse and a stab.  “Is it done?” cried a voice from below.  It was the Duke of Guise.  “Is it done?  Fling him out that we may see!”  And, still breathing, the old man was dashed upon the pavement.

In the neighbouring houses were many of the admiral’s friends; they were treated in the same way.  His son-in-law, from a parapet on the roof, had seen him murdered; he was discovered, tracked, and hurled from the roof with a dagger in his side.  None resisted.

In the Louvre — the palace of the king — there was nothing but murder.  The staircases were guarded to prevent escape, and all the Protestants in the palace were called into the courtyard.  As they descended unarmed they were killed; but some fled, wounded and shrieking, up the stairs, and were slaughtered even in presence of the princesses.  The miserable king stood between his mother and brother at a window of the palace and saw it all.  He never could forget it.  The cries rang in his dying ears.  He could not shut out the vision of blood from his eyes.

Roused by the soldiers the mob had risen.  The Catholics knew their Protestant neighbours, and, seized with a horrible madness, began to kill and destroy.  Midday came and they had not ceased.  Charles bade the police do their utmost to stop the massacre.  They could do nothing.  All that day and the next and the next it went on, not staying even in the night.  At last it stopped of itself.  But in half the towns and villages of France, by orders of the Court, the horror was repeated.

This massacre made the Roman Catholics still more hated and dreaded in England.  Instead of denouncing the wickedness done in the name of their religion, Roman Catholic princes rejoiced, and the pope himself blessed the deed, and had a picture painted in memory of it.  But it was some time before Elizabeth and her Court would receive the French ambassador, and when she did, both she and they received him in mourning, and in silence, nor was he left at a loss to know how foul a crime they held it to be.  Protestants came to believe that there was no crime, however monstrous, of which Roman Catholics would not be guilty, and that therefore they might be destroyed without mercy.  But for this Mary Stuart might not have perished on the scaffold, and other and more innocent blood would have been unshed.


A.D. 1577.

FRANCIS DRAKE was born near Tavistock, in the county of Devon, but brought up at Chatham, in Kent.  He took early to the sea, and was bound apprentice to a small coasting vessel.  His master liked him so well that he willed the little ship to him, and died leaving Drake its master at the age of twenty-one.

Drake next took a voyage with Hawkins — another famous sailor — to the Spanish Main.  The adventure proved unprosperous.  Hawkins and Drake barely escaped with their lives, and some of their men were left prisoners in the hands of the Spaniards.  To release them Drake revisited the West Indies in 1571.  He spent the summer there, and returned safe to England with enormous booty of gold and silver.

On this occasion, from a mountain in the Isthmus of Darien, he looked over into the Pacific, where never yet an English ship had sailed; and, falling on his knees, he prayed that he might one day explore its mighty waters.

In 1577 he set out for this purpose, having been employed in the meantime in plundering, with Elizabeth’s sanction, the Spanish colonies.  His ship, named the Pelican, was only 120 tons burthen.  Three vessels, still smaller, went with him.  They sailed on the 13th of December, escaped the Spaniards on the watch for them, and struck across the Atlantic, reaching South America on the 5th of April.

Here one of the ships would have deserted, but Drake landed on a lonely shore, assembled his men, solemnly tried the captain, and condemned him to die.  He had a chaplain with him, and he partook of the Holy Communion with the condemned man, who embraced him before he suffered.  He feared God, you see, and made his men fear as well as love him — this brave sea-king.

Then they sailed away south till (August 17) they reached the Straits of Magellan.  Only one man, who had given his name to the straits, had ever been there, and he had left no chart of the place.  It was winter time; all was strange and wonderful.  They shot seals and penguins on the icy shores.  At length they reached the open sea, where they were beaten about for six weeks.  One ship and her crew went to the bottom.  Drake had taken the crew of another on board his own vessel.  The last was separated from him in a storm, and sailed back to England.  He was alone.  Friends at home concluded he was lost.  He was not lost, however — he was staying till spring among the islands of Terra del Fuego.

Then he sailed for Valparaiso, landed and seized the piles of gold and silver brought from the mines.  These mines were the strength of Spain, since Columbus had discovered America, countless treasures had been dug out of them and sent thither.  More than one Spanish ship, too, he captured.  Eight hundred miles the little Pelican flew after one rich prize, which was caught at last, laden with wedges of gold and bars of silver, and pearls, emeralds, and diamonds besides.  The Spanish ship was sent empty away, as soon as the precious cargo was transferred to the English one, and Drake told its captain to tell the king his master to kill no more Englishmen, and take care of the four in his hands, as five hundred Spanish heads would answer for each of theirs.  The Spaniards sent in pursuit of Drake turned back, frightened.

Drake then sailed north as far as California, where he took a month to repair his ship.  Then he went eight hundred miles further, trying to find a passage; but failing in this, turned back with his precious cargo to go round the Cape of Good Hope.  On his way he touched at San Francisco.  The poor Indians, to whom he gave ointments and medicines, took him for a god, and offered to worship him; the king resigned his crown, and made over California and its hidden treasures to England.

His next stoppage was made among the coral reefs and palms of the tropical islands, where the Pelican grounded, and was almost lost.  At length they got once more into the open sea, and sailed away past the Cape of Good Hope, touching at Sierra Leone for water, and so back to Plymouth Harbour, having tracked a path completely round the globe.

Drake’s Spanish adventures had very nearly brought on a war with Spain.  He had been three years absent, and for the half of it had not been heard of; but now there was a shout of triumph for his return.  Elizabeth was delighted, for she expected, and took care to have, the lion’s share of his spoils.  She sent for him to court, and when the little Pelican [Ed. by now renamed Golden Hind] was drawn up on shore, she went and dined on board, and made her commander Sir Francis Drake.

In 1585 Sir Francis obtained leave from the queen to fit out another squadron.  He had twenty-five ships this time; but Spain had prepared a great fleet to invade England, and such was the terror of Drake’s name, that this fleet was sent after him alone.  He escaped as usual, took several of the Spanish towns in the West Indies, and returned safe once more.

When the queen could no longer pretend to be at peace with Spain, and had sent a miserable army to help the Netherlands, Drake was once more put at the head of a squadron and sent to the Spanish coast.  He had to hurry away out of Plymouth for fear Elizabeth should recall him; indeed, the courier sent to stop him galloped into Plymouth just as he slipped away.

This time he was not fighting for gold, but for the safety and honour of England about to be invaded by Spain.  He entered the harbour of Cadiz, between the batteries, sunk a ship of war, took scores of store-ships loaded with corn, wine, biscuits, and everything the invaders required.  Drake helped himself to as much as he could carry, and then set fire to the ships, and sailed out of the harbour.  So gallant was this exploit, that the Spaniards themselves could not withhold their admiration.  On he went, burning and destroying the Spanish shipping, and defying the whole power of Spain.  When he had done his work, he took his wages in the shape of a Spanish ship laden as usual with gold and silver.

Elizabeth was now obliged to keep her fleet ready for action; but her folly and meanness nearly ruined it.  The men were starved, had to eke out their meals by catching fish, and were left to die of dysentery, brought on by bad provisions.  Admirals Howard and Drake were unable to endure it; they ordered wine and arrowroot for the men.  The queen, as usual with her, left them to pay the bill.  The ships had not even proper stores or ammunition; and at last the Spanish fleet, splendidly equipped and provisioned, was ready to descend on the shores of England.


A.D. 1588.

ELIZABETH and her subjects had so often and deeply offended the King of Spain, that at length he made up his mind to conquer them.  For this purpose he collected more money than was ever before seen in the world, and the pope promised to help him besides.  He cut down whole forests to make ships of war, and got together a fleet, the like of which had never been heard of.  In the Netherlands, he had an army under the command of a great general, Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma, who was to bring thirty thousand of his best soldiers on board the fleet.  They were to march straight to London, and take the city, and make a prisoner of the queen.  Philip never doubted that he could do all this with such ships and soldiers and money as he possessed.

When news of these great preparations was brought to England, nobody seemed to be very much afraid, the queen least of all.  But wise men thought it was time to prepare some defences.  There was no army in England; the only soldiers were a kind of volunteers, and for a royal navy there were only thirty-six vessels.  However, the queen, who hated spending money, and often did wrong and cruel things for the love of it, put off the preparations, and scarcely anything was done till the danger was close at hand, and then she showed herself brave enough to meet it.

You have heard how Sir Francis Drake sailed out of Plymouth, to see what damage he could do to the Armada before it reached England, and how he burned the store-ships which Philip was getting ready.  This he called “singeing Philip's beard.”  Naturally enough, Philip did not like his beard singed, and was more eager to invade England than ever.

In November a council was held by Elizabeth, at which it was resolved to meet the Spaniards on the seas, and never allow them to set foot on England at all.  As soon as this was known, merchant-men offered their vessels, and towns and even private people fitted out ships at their own expense for the service of their country; the City of London gave no fewer than thirty vessels and ten thousand men.  So much was done in this way that in May, 1588, there were three times as many ships as there had been the year before.  Still, most of them were small and light, and none of them were so large and splendid as the ships of Spain.  The Great Eastern would carry twice as much as the whole of that English navy.  Now Philip had become almost mad with pride and cruelty, and he named his fleet the Invincible Armada, because he thought nothing would be able to resist it.  He forgot that it is God himself that resisteth the proud.

At the end of May the Armada sailed from Lisbon — one hundred and thirty ships, sixty of them great galleons, like floating castles, each rowed by three hundred chained slaves, and all filled with soldiers.  But they were very slow at sailing, for they took three weeks to reach the Bay of Biscay — a voyage which they might have made in three days.  No wonder they could not catch Admiral Drake.  Just as they got into the bay, too, a storm came on and scattered them.  One filled and went to the bottom, and two more were taken by the slaves who rowed them, who were glad of an opportunity to escape.  This was the first serious trouble which befell the Invincible Armada.  Re-assembling at Corunna, the Armada sailed again on the 22nd of July, and came in sight of England on the 29th.  That same evening England blazed with beacon-fires from shore to shore, and sixty of the best ships sailed out of Plymouth Harbour.

I can compare it to nothing but the going forth of David to meet Goliath.  The Spanish ships were drawn up in the form of a half-moon, seven miles from horn to horn, all glittering, and grand, and stately.  Their great floating castles looked ready to sink the slender vessels which came dancing lightly out of Plymouth Harbour.  But in these slender vessels were such splendid sailors as Admiral Lord Howard — a perfect sea-king — and Vice-Admiral Drake, who had been round the world and had singed King Philip’s beard, though he was once only a poor boy in Devonshire, living in an old boat.  And there was Frobisher, who had been among the icebergs of the Polar seas, and Hawkins, and many more; whereas the Spanish ships were full of dukes, and dons, and grandees, whom nobody ever heard of before or since.

The Armada moved slowly down the channel toward Calais.  (You ought to take your maps and follow its course.)  There the Duke of Parma and his men were to come on board.  The English ships followed, doing what harm they could without any danger to themselves, for they were light and swift, and easily escaped from danger, while those of the enemy were slow and difficult to manage.  On the 6th of August the Armada anchored in Calais Roads, and the English fleet took up its station about a mile and a half distant.  All that night and all next day they lay idle, the Spaniards waiting for the Duke of Parma, the English waiting for an opportunity to attack the Spaniards.  But the Duke of Parma never came.  He, too, was waiting for the Armada to come to him, for he was shut in by the Dutch cruisers, who would not allow him to put his troops to sea.

On the second night the English admirals hit upon the plan of sending fire-ships into the Spanish fleet.  The night was very dark, and a fresh breeze had sprung up, when all of a sudden the Spaniards saw quite close to them six vessels, which burst into flames.  This put them into a horrible panic.  In their eagerness to escape, four or five of the largest ships got entangled, and were disabled. Two others were set on fire and burned.

When the morning came, the Spanish vessels having lost their anchors, were being driven north-eastward toward the Flemish coast.  Very soon the English fleet came up with them, and, seeing their advantage, began a general attack.  The battle lasted from nine in the morning till five in the afternoon, and then the Spanish admiral ordered a retreat.  All his best ships were damaged, and three had gone to the bottom, while not one English vessel had been lost.

But the English had to leave off fighting too, because their powder and shot were gone.  They followed the Spaniards at a distance, expecting every moment to see them driven on the shore.  At length a portion of the English fleet was sent back to guard the Thames, while Howard, Drake, and Frobisher went on.  They gave chase till the 12th of August.  When they had sailed as far as Denmark they turned back; and not a day too soon, for on the 14th a terrible tempest arose, which lasted for days.  The little English fleet got into Margate Roads; but the big, clumsy Spanish ships were driven at the mercy of the winds and waves, and dashed upon the rocky coasts of Scotland, Norway, and Iceland.  Two out of every three were wrecked; the rest made their escape to Spain, so battered and damaged that they could never again be sent off to England.

And this was the end of the Invincible Armada.


A.D. 1588 to 1603.

SOME time after the defeat of the Armada, Parliament prayed the queen to send a strong force against the King of Spain.  Of this force Drake was to be commander, and with him went the young Earl of Essex, the queen’s greatest favourite.  Elizabeth could not bear him out of her sight, so he went away secretly with the fleet, and so ran the risk of losing her favour for ever.  When he came back Sir Walter Raleigh had taken his place; but he soon got it back, even from him, though he was the worst flatterer of the two.

Essex was rash and high spirited, and often offended his royal mistress.  But when Spain menaced England with another attack, Elizabeth gave him the command of the army.  Admiral Howard led the fleet; but Drake and Hawkins were no more.  In this expedition Essex displayed the highest courage and spirit, both by sea and land, and proved himself a true hero; but when he returned, with all England sounding his praise, Elizabeth received him coldly.  He had enemies at court, in whose way he stood, who had poisoned the mind of the queen against him.  This time, however, he was able to clear himself and turn the tables against them, and soon after he was sent to govern Ireland.

Ireland had always given Elizabeth a great deal of trouble.  It had been the scene of constant disturbances, and as the queen was always angry with people who failed in anything, however little they might be to blame, she was constantly out of temper with those who tried to govern Ireland for her, for none ever succeeded in that.  A great many noblemen had been ruined through this, and at last no one would take the post.  It was his enemies that forced it upon Essex in the hope of ruining him; and it did.

The Irish Earl of Tyrone had a large army in the field.  Essex went to meet him; but as usual, Elizabeth withheld the means of war.  Essex remonstrated.  He met the Earl of Tyrone, ascertained the real grievances of the Irish, and wanted to make friends of them instead of fighting with them.  Not that he had not courage to fight against the greatest odds; but he had the wisdom and the gentleness to feel that the only way to rule the Irish people was to rule them by means of kindness.

But his enemies misrepresented him.  The queen sent him angry and unjust letters, and anger and injustice he could not bear.  Suddenly he left Ireland, and hastening home, rushed into Elizabeth’s presence to justify himself.  As soon as she recovered from her surprise, Elizabeth was angrier than ever.  That he had come back without leave was offence enough.  She sent him from court, appointed another deputy in his room, and took from him the places and income she had given him.

Wild with unjust treatment, and knowing that his enemies, Elizabeth’s ministers, were at the bottom of it, he formed a plan to surround the palace, and force the queen to send them away.  But they were too cunning for him; his plot was discovered, and he was sent to the Tower as a traitor.  Elizabeth, after much ado, signed his death warrant, and he was executed.

When it was done the queen gave herself up to regret and grief.  It seems that on some occasion she had given him a ring, and told him to send it to her if ever he was in trouble, and it should not be in vain.  The ring was sent, but it never reached the queen.  A lady confessed on her death-bed that she had kept it back by her husband’s command.  The lady begged the queen’s pardon with her dying breath, but Elizabeth sternly said, “God forgive you, I never can.”

The great men who had upheld her throne dropped off one by one.  Elizabeth was left, the last of her race.  Old, and very lonely in her greatness, her body failed, her mind wandered. She would neither sleep nor eat; and so at length she died, having reigned forty-four years.


A.D. 1603 to 1625.

JAMES the Sixth of Scotland, who was an infant when his mother Mary fled to England, was heir to the English throne, and no sooner was Elizabeth dead than he was proclaimed as James the First of England.  The courtiers tried to out-speed one another in taking the news to the new king, who made haste to leave his Scottish kingdom and go to rich England.  Scotland was very poor, and its people were brave and stern, and its ministers had spoken the truth to James, as they had spoken it to his mother, so that he was glad to get away from them, and hated them with all his heart.

James was weak, mean, and cowardly.  He could not bear the sight of a drawn sword, and had himself padded all over for fear of being stabbed, so that he made quite a ridiculous figure on his very weak legs.  His mind was as ridiculous as his person, for he had been stuffed with learning, and had very little common sense, so that it only made him more foolish and more dangerous; for folly on a throne is very dangerous indeed.

His most foolish and dangerous idea was that a king ought to do just as he pleased.  On his way to London he hanged a thief without judge or jury, by which act he broke the law of the land, for you remember the great charter had made it unlawful to punish any man without trial.

Scotland, England, and Ireland were now at length united under a single king.  They were far enough from being united in spirit.  The Reformation had made the Church of England episcopal — that is, a church under the rule of bishops.  It had made the Church of Scotland Presbyterian — that is, a church governed by the ministers and elders in council.  It had left Ireland Roman Catholic still.  The Roman Catholics said the pope was head of the Church; the Episcopalians said the king was head of the Church; and the Presbyterians said Christ alone was head.  The Episcopalians had the Book of Common Prayer, and though the prayers there are true and beautiful prayers, the Presbyterians thought it sin to use them, and would pray only in their own words, as well as in their own tongue.  Of course there were men of all three sorts of religions to be found in England, though the bulk of the people were Episcopalians.  The other two parties wanted to be tolerated — that is, let alone to worship God as they thought best, and James had promised this.

But he did not perform his promise.  One of his silly notions was to exercise what he called king-craft, which was only another name for deceit and trickery towards the people.  He declared himself an Episcopalian, though he had been brought up as a Presbyterian in Scotland.  He hated the Presbyterians, and said the Church of England was the only church for a king — perhaps because it put him at the head of it.  He hated the Catholics also, and would not give them leave to hold their worship, and took a great deal of money from them as fines.

Both Roman Catholics and Presbyterians were discontented with their treatment, and James was soon engaged in trying and hanging conspirators.  The first conspiracy was very trifling.  He made it the occasion, however, of trying one great Englishman, Sir Walter Raleigh.  Robert, the son of Sir William Cecil, Elizabeth’s minister, had managed to find favour with James, and he had whispered against Sir Walter into the foolish king’s ear.  Sir Walter, in return, plotted the downfall of Cecil.  The former was accused of treason, and though he defended himself in quite a wonderful way, he was found guilty, and condemned to die.  He was not put to death, however, but kept a prisoner in the Tower, where we will leave him for the present.

And now James had to call a Parliament, for he was in want of money, and without Parliament he could not get any.  But he meant the Parliament to do just as he pleased.  He would not even let the people choose the members freely, but told them who were to be elected.  When he found that neither the people nor the Parliament would do exactly as he bid them, he was very angry indeed, and would have done without Parliament altogether.  But he was already dreadfully in debt, and could not do without money, and Parliament said he should not have any till he had promised to rule fairly, and so the struggle began between the king and the Commons, which was never to cease till one King of England had laid his head on the block, and another had fled from his kingdom, and made outcasts of his race.

But meanwhile King James spent his time in hunting, neglecting the business of the state; and as he went through the country with a train of people, everybody was put to great trouble and expense.  At one place they caught a favourite hound of the king’s, and tied a petition round his neck.  It ran thus: “Good Mr. Jowler, speak to the king, for he heareth you every day, and so doth he not us, and entreat that it will please His Majesty to go back to London, or else the country will be undone; all our provision is spent already, and we are not able to entertain him any longer.”

James did cruel things too, though he was not cruel, except from fear.  He was very cruel indeed to a beautiful lady who had the misfortune to be his cousin.  Her name was Arabella Stuart.  He was afraid that she might, some day, take his throne from him.  Elizabeth had once said she would make Arabella her heir, and the poor girl had suffered a good deal in consequence.  But she never plotted against the king, or did any harm in any way.  She might have been a queen if James would have let her, for the King of Poland wanted to marry her; but instead of that she was kept at court, a prisoner in all but name.  At last she fell in love with another cousin of hers, and they were married in private.  As soon as the king knew, he separated them, and kept them both prisoners in different places.  They managed to escape, however, and Lady Arabella got into a French ship, but was caught.  Her husband being too late to go with her, was on board a little collier, and got safe to Flanders.  Arabella was sent to the Tower, and she and her friends tried to get James to let her have liberty to go to her husband, but in vain.  He kept her a prisoner till the poor lady lost her reason, and in this state she died.

Another cruel act which James did was to put to death Sir Walter Raleigh.  He had now been in prison nearly thirteen years.  He had spent his time in the study of chemistry and history, and in dreaming about the still undiscovered countries in the west, and their mines of gold and silver.  The Admirals Drake, Howard, and Frobisher, with whom he had sailed to the defeat of the Armada of Spain, had brought home immense treasures from South America.  If he was only free, he thought he could bring home treasures greater still.  This was brought to the ear of the king, who was always in want of money, and who had just taken a new favourite who wanted money too.  Raleigh thought he could buy his freedom.  He offered to go out to Guiana at his own expense, and share the profits of the expedition with the king.  James agreed to this, and in August, 1616, Sir Walter came out of his prison, and in March of the following year set sail for Guiana.  He had with him a fleet of fourteen sail.  His wife had sold her own estate to raise money, and other friends had helped.  It was an unfortunate voyage.  Sickness broke out in the ships, many had died, and Sir Walter himself was disabled.  His eldest son was killed in a battle with the Spaniards.  One of his chief captains shot himself because Sir Walter upbraided him with the loss of his son.  Others went back to England.  Everything turned out badly, and Raleigh wrote home that his “brains were broken.”

The first news that he heard when he landed in England was that a warrant was out to take him prisoner again.  The Spaniards had demanded his punishment, and his friends had a ship ready for him, and asked him to fly.  But he would not.  Two noblemen had become bound for his return, and he would not break faith with them.  James had the shamelessness to offer to deliver him to the King of Spain for execution — to deliver one of the heroes of the Armada to his enemies! but the King of Spain declined the doubtful honour.  James was left to deal with him as he pleased, provided he put him to death.  The crown lawyers tried in vain to find anything worthy of death in his expedition and his failure; they had to fall back upon his former sentence, and on that they condemned him anew.

He died as he had lived, light-hearted and brave.  He was sick with ague fever, but he took a cheerful breakfast.  Then rising up, he said “Now I am going to God.”  He prayed his last prayer, and forgave his bitterest enemies.  Then feeling the edge of the axe, he said, “This is a sharp medicine, but it will cure all diseases.”

Thus died one of the most remarkable men of his time — a poet, an historian, a traveller, soldier, and statesman; indeed, there was only one more remarkable men in this reign of meanness, namely, Lord Bacon, and his fall was worse than Raleigh’s.  He fell into disgrace, not with his mean-souled master, that would have been an honour, but into the deep disgrace of dishonourable conduct, which, in a man so rarely gifted, was all the more lamentable.

James’s eldest son, who promised well, died young.  The king wanted to marry Charles, his only remaining son, to the princess of Spain, and Charles went over, in disguise, to see her.  He stole away in company with a worthless young favourite of his father’s, who, after behaving very badly indeed at the Court of Spain, persuaded him not to marry the Spanish princess.  Charles had seen a princess more to his mind in Henrietta Maria, of France, so he took the advice, and the French princess became his wife.  But James did not live to see it.  He died in 1625, of a disease brought on by immoderate eating and drinking.

The greatest events of this reign were the founding of the colonies in America.  The first settlement in Massachusetts was made in 1621, by men who have been called the Pilgrim Fathers, driven from England by the persecutions of James.  To another event, which took place very soon after he came to the throne, I must give a separate chapter.

A.D. 1605.

THE year 1605 is made memorable by the conspiracy called “The Gunpowder Plot.”  In his persecution of the Roman Catholics, James had imposed such fines that many families were completely ruined.  Among these was the family of Robert Catesby, whose father had been several times imprisoned, besides being plundered.  Into the mind of this man came a horrible dream of vengeance.  He would blow up the House of Parliament with gunpowder, and destroy by one death all who had persecuted his faith.  The first man to whom he told his secret shrank from it in horror when he heard it; but Catesby had all his arguments ready, and succeeded in enlisting him and four others, who took a terrible oath to accomplish their purpose.  For a year and a half they worked and waited, adding fresh conspirators to the plot, until all was ready.  They had been undermining the foundations of the Parliament House, and had found it very hard work.  The wall was three feet thick.  When they had nearly got through they were stopped, the water of the river was oozing in, and would swamp them if they went on.  Then they were alarmed by a sound like thunder over their heads; but when they found out that it was a coal dealer removing his goods from the cellar above, which lay directly beneath the House of Lords, they made haste and took the cellar as if for the purposes of trade.  Then, in the night, they put into the cellar thirty-six barrels of gunpowder, covering them over with loads of firewood.  All was now ready; they had only to wait till Parliament met.

But some of the conspirators had friends who were members of Parliament, and they determined to warn them not to come on the day when the deed was to be done.  Lord Monteagle received a letter bidding him go down to his country house, and abide in safety an event which was to give a terrible blow to the Parliament about to meet.  He showed the letter to the guests who were with him at supper when it came, and they only laughed at it.  But Lord Monteagle also showed it to the king and his ministers, who said it was meant to blow them up.  A search was ordered under the cellars of the Parliament House, which took place the day before Parliament met.

One Guy Fawkes had been appointed to watch the vault where the mine was prepared, and to it when the time came.  The lord chamberlain, who made the search, found him at his post, and asked who he was.  He said he was the servant of Mr. Percy, to whom the cellar was let.  “Your master has laid in a good stock of fuel then,” said the chamberlain, as he left the cellar.  But that night a party of soldiers were sent to the vault, and when Guy Fawkes, a little after midnight, opened the door, he was seized and pinioned.  He was booted and spurred for flight, the matches to set fire to the train were in his pocket, a dark lantern was behind the door.

When he was brought before the Council he would reveal nothing; nor did torture make him give up his accomplices.  But they betrayed themselves, and all of them suffered the penalty of death.  The unfortunate Roman Catholics were persecuted worse than ever, though all but these men were perfectly innocent of any share in the Gunpowder Plot.


A.D. 1625 to 1649.

AS soon as Charles came to the throne he married the French princess.  She was a Roman Catholic, and in the treaty of marriage Charles had engaged to help the king her brother, who soon called on him to do so.  For this purpose the English navy was to be lent to France; but when the sailors got orders to take in French soldiers, and go to Rochelle, to fight against the French king’s subjects, who were Protestants, they refused, and made their admiral take them back to the Downs.

Meantime (June, 1625), Charles met his first Parliament, and began immediately to quarrel with it.  He asked for money to carry on War with Spain.  The Parliament said they must make sure that it was not taken for other purposes.  They were determined to keep the purse, and so they voted to the king only one year’s income from the customs duties, instead of giving him these taxes for life.  They said also that they would not have the public money wasted on worthless favourites, nor the offices of state sold, as they had been.  This was aimed against the Duke of Buckingham, whom Charles kept in his favour, though he was a man so bad that the whole nation was put to shame by his conduct, abroad as well as at home.  It was he, the Parliament said, who had involved the country in war.

Charles only told the members haughtily to make haste and grant him supplies of money.  They answered he should have the money whenever he promised to set right what was wrong.  On this he dissolved them, as it is called — that is, sent them away, and resolved to get money from the people without them.

Next year, being still more in want of money, and finding it difficult to make the people pay at his own will, he called another Parliament; the new members, he thought, might be easier to deal with.  When he met the Commons he told them how great a condescension he felt it to be in him to ask them to confer with a king.  But the Commons did not take any notice of this; they began at once to their work of making better laws.  All the king wanted them to do was to vote him money, and he told them to do this at once, or it would be the worse for them.  They replied by passing a resolution to impeach — that is, to accuse and punish — the guilty favourite.

Buckingham sat in the House, and when he was charged with the grave crimes of public falsehood and dishonesty, he only laughed anal jeered.  The king chose this time, too, to confer on him a great honour, which is one given only to the best and the wisest in the land.  He was made Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.  And while the House of Commons was sitting Charles sent into their chamber for two of Buckingham’s boldest accusers, and had them brought out, and then arrested and sent to the Tower.  But the Commons were determined to maintain their rights, as much as the king was bent on overthrowing them.  Finding this to be the case he dismissed them, as he had done before, to try again his experiment of governing by his own will and in his own way.

Again he levied taxes, and called for a forced loan.  Those who refused to be forced to lend their money, if they were rich were fined and imprisoned, and if poor were sent to serve in the army or navy.  It was no longer a government of law, but one of force.  Among those who suffered were two whose names you must remember, John Hampden and Sir John Elliot; those gentlemen, who would have given all that they had if the law had demanded it, would give nothing to force.  And the people too were on their side; “A Parliament! a Parliament!” was shouted in London streets.  No Parliament, however, was assembled.

France now united with Spain against England.  Charles had sent away the queen’s French attendants, many of whom were priests, because they made mischief in his household.  Buckingham had also given cause of offence to France, and had been very properly told by the French king’s ministers that they would not have him at their court.  So now Charles, instead of helping his brother-in-law, the King of France, against his Protestant subjects, set to work to help his Protestant subjects against him.

It was done so badly that England was disgraced, and the Protestants were none the better, but rather the worse, for such help, and all because Buckingham, who was neither soldier nor sailor, though the king had made him Lord High Admiral, chose to go in command of the fleet himself.  More money was wanted for this war, and in March, 1628, Charles called a third Parliament.  The first question which came before them was the forced loan and the imprisonment of those who had refused to pay; and there, in the House of Commons, were Hampden and Elliot, and others like them, who had suffered for resisting.  The Commons resolved that no money should be granted till assurance was given by the king that he would no longer act contrary to the laws.

That you may quite understand this great controversy between the king and Parliament, you should understand exactly what taxes are.  They are money paid by the people that every one in the kingdom may live secure from robbery, and force, and injustice.  They go to pay judges, and soldiers, and officers of state, as well as to support the king, and ought to be paid equally by all.  Now you have read that some of the kings took the money of their subjects at their own will, and spent it in their own way, often in useless wars, which cost a great many lives as well; and to put a stop to this the law was made that Parliament alone should have the power to impose taxes.  You have seen how Charles the First broke this law, and that other great law of the charter, that no one should be imprisoned unless the law said he had done something worthy of imprisonment.

Charles’s third Parliament now made four resolutions: 1. That no freeman should be imprisoned unless some lawful cause be expressed; 2. That every man imprisoned should be brought to a fair trial if he required it, under a writ called habeas corpus, 3. That when there is no cause for imprisonment expressed, the party ought to be set free, or bailed — that is, allowed to go on surety being given for his appearance when called for; 4. That it is the undoubted right of every free man to have full and absolute property in his own goods and estates, and that no tax, loan, or gift ought to be levied by the king or his ministers without common consent by Act of Parliament.

These resolutions were made into a petition, which was culled the “Petition of Right.”  It was a petition asking for nothing but what the people had already a right to.  The king pretended to grant it; but instead of writing to it the old words, “Let right be done as is desired,” he put along assent, which could be turned into something quite different.  The Commons would not accept it.  They began to debate what was to be done, and one of the members rose and said that the Duke of Buckingham was the cause of all their trouble.  When they began to examine into affairs too, they found that Buckingham and the king had hired German troops to come over to this country, and thirty thousand pounds had been given to the man who undertook to raise and bring them over.  The king was arming strangers against his own people, especially against Parliament, which was really a treason against the state.

Alarmed at their proceedings, the king gave in.  He signed the Petition of Right in the established form.  Parliament now prayed him to remove Buckingham from his counsels.  But the end of the favourite was near.  As he was stepping into a carriage at Portsmouth, he was stabbed by an English gentleman, who, when asked why he did this, would only answer, “I killed him for the cause of God and my country.”  He was put to death for his crime, which was against the laws both of God and his country, and such crimes no motive can make other than hateful.


A.D. 1625 to 1649.

CHARLES had pretended to grant the Petition of Right, but he meant to do exactly as before Parliament had not yet voted the taxes for the year, but he gave orders to collect them, and the goods of one Mr. Rolles were taken for refusing to pay.  The king explained that he had never meant to include the customs duties among the taxes which the Parliament were to consent to every year; he said they ought to be his for life.  He knew quite well, however, that the Parliament and the Petition meant to include them.  Parliament therefore paid no heed to his explanation, but sent the Sheriff of London to the Tower for seizing the goods of Rolles and other merchants.

This was in February.  The king adjourned the House till March.  It came back in March as resolved on its rights as ever.  Besides the question of taxation, there was the religious question.  Some of Charles’s bishops wanted to go back halfway to the Church of Rome.  A great number of his subjects wanted to get further from it.  This latter party began to be called Puritans and Roundheads — Puritans, because their lives and manners were far more severe and pure than those of the other party, and Roundheads, because they dressed very plain, and cut off the long curls it was then the fashion for men to wear.

The House of Commons shut their doors to deliberate about these matters of religion and government, and the king, in a rage, sent to break them open, and soon after dismissed this Parliament as he had dismissed the two former ones.  More than this, he arrested and sent to prison those who had been active in opposition to him and in defence of their just rights.  Three years after one of the noblest of these brave men died in the Tower, for Charles summoned no more Parliaments for eleven years.  For eleven years the people had patience and waited.

I will tell you a little of what they had to bear in those years.  There was a merchant who would not pay a tax on a bale of silk, because it was not a tax made by Parliament.  He was taken before a court, called the Star Chamber — not an open court, but one in which the king could do as he pleased.  Chambers told his judges that he thought the merchants were less oppressed in Turkey than in England, and for this he lay in prison for twelve years, and died in poverty.

One Dr. Alexander Leighton, a good and learned man, who had been a professor in the University of Edinburgh, wrote a book against the bishops.  For this Laud, whom the king shortly made Primate of England, had him brought before a court called the High Commission, like the Star Chamber, only it was wholly for religious matters.  This was his sentence: That he should be imprisoned for life, should pay ten thousand pounds, be whipped, set in the pillory, have one of his ears cut off, one side of his nose slit, and the letters S. S. (sower of sedition) burnt into his forehead.  He was then to be carried back to prison, and after a few days have all this torture over again, his other ear cut off, and the other side of his nose slit, and then be cast into his dungeon, wounded and bleeding, to live or die, but never again to be set free.

And this sentence, which I think shame to write, and do write only that your hearts may burn against oppression, was actually carried out — carried out on a sick man who could hardly stand to receive the lashes — carried out in the frost and snow of winter; and he lay eight years sick in his dungeon.

William Prynne was a student of Oxford, a grave and noble-minded youth.  He wrote against theatres and dancing, which were in those days much more immodest than the worst are now.  Laud, who encouraged light games, said he had insulted the queen, who danced herself.  The young man had to pay five thousand pounds, lose an ear, and be imprisoned for life.  In spite of the outcries against this sentence, it also was carried out.  The king was told there were a hundred thousand people there, who turned the pillory into a place of triumph, and wanted to heap presents, and even money, on Prynne and some others who suffered with him.

Such was the government of Charles Stuart.  Abroad it was as weak as it was wicked at home.  He entered into a treaty with Spain against Holland, and ordered the City of London to furnish him with seven ships, armed and manned.  Other towns were ordered to provide ships in proportion.  Money was levied upon inland towns instead of ships, and it was to be forced from all who refused.  There were murmurs and resistance; but the king got over two hundred thousand pounds.

John Hampden, who refused to pay the forced loan, now refused to pay ship-money.  He was a gentleman of Buckinghamshire, rich and learned, gentle and courteous in manner, tolerant and forbearing in religion, and unbending in right.  Again he suffered rather than yield, two of his judges, however, deciding in his favour.

Both in Scotland and in Ireland the government of Charles was equally reckless and unprincipled.  Wentworth, afterwards Earl of Strafford, was sent to rule Ireland.  He persecuted the Catholics, and forced upon them the Church of England.  He got their money by false promises, and by confiscating; their lands on the pretence that their titles were not good, and, having done all this, wrote to the king that he had made him absolute there.

In Scotland the same spirit was abroad.  The Scotch were Presbyterians, and Charles was resolved to thrust the English Liturgy upon them. But the first day that the prayers were read in Scotland there were such riots that the church doors had to be locked; and in the church of St. Giles, in Edinburgh, one old woman threw her stool at the dean’s head.  He had to get out of the pulpit as fast as he could, and then out of the church, and the crowd in the street dragged him through the mud and shamefully ill-treated him.  But those who are the first to use illegal force are to blame if force is used in return, and carried by the rough-and-ready common people to ugly excesses.

The Scotch formed committees of resistance, and demanded boldly that the Liturgy should be withdrawn.  They drew up a covenant, to which they signed their names by tens of thousands, swearing to stand for religion and liberty to the death.  Charles sent the Marquis of Hamilton to treat with them, insincerely, for his instructions were, “Your chief end is to win time, that they (the Covenanters) may commit public follies, until I be ready to suppress them.”  But they did not commit public follies.  They knew they could not trust the king, and soon found out that he was intending to make war on Scotland, and so prepared for the worst.  Charles, meantime, was offering to withdraw the Liturgy, and to pardon the offenders.  They did not believe in the first offer; the second they rejected, as they had no intention of asking pardon, for that would have been confessing themselves to have done wrong.

At length Charles invaded Scotland with an army, but he found the army of the Covenant in force to meet him.  The Covenanters sent Lord Dunfermline and others to try and arrange a peace; and when the king asked the Scotch lords what they wanted, Lord Rothes answered, “Nothing but to be secured in our religion and liberties.”  At length the king agreed that their differences should be settled by a Scotch Parliament, and that meantime both armies should disband.

The Scottish Parliament met, abolished episcopacy, and made laws to secure the liberty of Scotland — laws which the king showed he did not intend to respect.  He treated the Scotch as if they were a nation at war with him, prohibited trade with them, and seized the ships of their merchants.  It was eleven years since an English Parliament had met, but he was now pressed by want of money to call one.  It met on the 13th of April, 1640, and immediately began to inquire into the proceedings of the Star Chamber, and was about to protest against the war, when Charles impatiently dismissed the members at the end of three weeks, in which they had voted no money.  The next day, he, as usual, sent some of them to the Tower.

Anger and discontent now spread over the country, caused by fresh illegal demands for money.  Those who refused to pay were dragged before the Star Chamber and heavily fined.  The property of foreign merchants was seized.  It was proposed to coin four hundred thousand pounds of bad money; but this disgraceful plan was given up.  Supplies of material for war against Scotland were taken by force.  Several aldermen were sent to prison for refusing to give the names of the rich people in their wards who could be made to give, and Strafford said things would never go right till a few fat London alderrnen were hanged.


A.D. 1640.

CHARLES had raised another army, and again set out to invade Scotland; but the Covenanters were before him.  They marched into England, and Charles’s army fell back before them.  They then sent him a petition praying him to summon the English Parliament once more, and settle terms of peace, and this petition was urged by the English Lords and by the English people, so that against his will the king was forced to yield.

This Parliament met on the 3rd of November, 1640.  It was afterwards called “The Long Parliament” — the longest as well as the most famous that ever met in England.  All the old leaders were there — Cromwell, Hampden, Pym, only more roused by the wrongs of the nation, more indignant and more determined than ever.  On the fourth day of sitting they ordered Prynne and his fellow-sufferers to be brought from their prisons, to declare by whose authority they had suffered.  They were escorted to Parliament by joyful thousands, who strewed their path with flowers.  The House of Commons, after hearing their statement, voted them damages of five thousand pounds each, which their unjust judges were to pay.

The next step was to arrest Laud and Strafford.  The latter was tried first, and after much debate condemned to die.  It was difficult to prove him guilty of treason, for all that he had done, he had done for or by command of the king.  Charles was very unwilling to sign the bill for his death, but nothing less would content the people, and he yielded where he ought to have stood firm, for he ought not to have allowed him to suffer for obedience to his orders.  Strafford was executed May 12th, 1641, Laud from his prison window putting forth his hands and blessing him as he went to die.

In this session the king gave up the right to dismiss Parliament without its own consent.  He passed a law to exact no more customs duties without a regular vote, and another to call a Parliament every three years.  Lastly, and most unwillingly, he signed a bill abolishing the Star Chamber and Court of High Commission.

But the next step which the king took was fatal.  He accused of treason five members of Parliament, and demanded that they should be delivered up to him.  Charles could not be made to see that it was not a few members of Parliament, but the bulk of the nation, who were against his tyrannical measures.  As the Parliament paid no attention to his messages, he went down to the House of Commons with a band of armed men to seize the members by force.  They had left before he entered, or doubtless blood would have been shed on the floor.

The City of London flew to arms at the news of the outrage.  The train bands mounted guard round the Houses of Parliament.  The roads were soon crowded with horsemen coming up to protect the members, while angry crowds roared round the king’s palace.  The Commons went and sat in Guildhall, whither Charles followed them, still demanding the members to be given up to him.  At length, finding nothing but resistance, he quitted London never to enter it again till he entered it a prisoner.  With thirty or forty boats and barges, armed and guarded, and with flags flying, the five members of Parliament came back up the river to Westminster.  It was the first triumph of the Parliament, and won without blood.

Strafford had kept down Ireland by force.  Now that he was gone it had risen in rebellion.  An army was required to put it down.  The king was not to be trusted with an army; he wanted to use it for putting down the Parliament.  The Parliament therefore took it into their own hands.

The king had gone to York.  From thence he tried to get possession of Hull, by pretending to come and dine with the governor, Sir John Hotham, with a guard at his back of three hundred horsemen.  Sir John Hotham shut the gates in his face, and threw out a tablecloth to him.

The king now raised an army.  The Parliament did the same, though still trying to make peace.  The queen had got away to Holland, on pretence of handing over to the Dutch her little daughter Mary, who was to marry William, Prince of Orange.  There she had borrowed money, sold her jewels, and raised two millions, with which she was sending Charles arms and ammunition.

On the 25th of August, 1642, the king raised his standard at Nottingham, and it was remarked as an evil omen that the wind blew it down.  His nephew, Prince Rupert, was at the head of the cavalry.  The Parliamentary army led by the Earl of Essex, marched to meet them, and the first battle was fought at Edge Hill, in Warwickshire.  Both sides claimed the victory.  Essex was a very bad general, and his soldiers were not good.  On the other hand, a great many gentlemen fought for the king who did not approve of his actions.  The queen had come over to England and joined her husband, helping him greatly; and Prince Rupert, with his cavalry, did good service.  At the end of a year the Royalists had the best of it.  They had taken Bristol, and won a great many fights.  The prospects of the Parliament were growing gloomy.

But at this time a very remarkable man came forward to lead the cause of the people.  Oliver Cromwell, who had taken a commission in the Parliamentary army, soon turned defeat into success.  He raised a regiment of grave, stern, pious men, who from their strength came to be called Cromwell’s Ironsides.  They gained for the Parliament the battle of Marston Moor.  Essex was now set aside, and Fairfax got the command; but Cromwell, who acted under him, was the real leader.  He filled the army with men like those in his own regiment, and with them won the battle of Naseby, which was rapidly followed by other victories.  In a few months the Parliament was everywhere triumphant, and Charles gave himself up to the Scottish leaders, who had sent to the aid of his enemies an army of twenty thousand men.

The English Parliament demanded that the king should be given up to them, and after a debate, caused by the wish of the Scotch to gain Charles to the Covenant, they complied.

The Parliament now wished to disband the army; but it would not be disbanded.  Its leaders took possession of the king, and led him about with them; but treated him on the whole with kindness, allowing him to see his children and friends.  He was lodged by them in Hampton Court, from which he escaped to the Isle of Wight.

He was taken, however, and confined there in Carisbrook Castle, while the dispute went on between Parliament and the army.

Cromwell had now to march into Scotland to put down insurrection there; when he returned victorious, the army would have nothing more to say to the king.  They demanded that he should be tried as a traitor to his country, and the author of all its misery.

When the order came for his removal from the Isle of Wight, Charles felt sure that he was going to be murdered.  But the men he had to do with were no murderers.  They told the astonished king that they meant to give him a public trial.  A majority in Parliament were still for treating with him.  The army sent them away.  On the 6th of January, 1649, the remainder made an order for the trial of the king.  It was to take place in Westminster Hall on the 19th, before one hundred and thirty-five judges, and the people were invited by proclamation to attend.  This tribunal found the king guilty of treason to the state by making war on his subjects.  He refused to plead, and was condemned to die.

Charles, though he was a bad king, was not altogether a bad man.  His great fault was that he had broken his word till no one could trust him, and this was in part caused by his training.  His foolish father had made him believe that a king was above law, and ought not to be bound by his word.  In his death he was nobler than in his life, and when his head had been cut off in front of his own palace, and in presence of an immense crowd, the people forgot his crimes in pity for his misfortunes.


A.D. 1649 to 1660.

ENGLAND had got rid of the tyranny of a king, only to fall under the tyranny of an army.  The kingdom was declared a Commonwealth, and the House of Commons was to be the supreme power of the state.  But the real power was in the army, and the power of an army is even more dangerous to liberty than the power of a king.  It would have fared ill with England if at the head of this army there had not been one who was a great statesman as well as a great general — Oliver Cromwell.

Ireland rose against the Commonwealth, and the Council of State, which the army and the Parliament had set up, sent Cromwell against them.  He spent about ten months in Ireland, and carried on a war so fierce that it was called “the curse of Cromwell.”

When Ireland was sufficiently subdued he was recalled and sent to Scotland.  The Scotch had proclaimed the eldest son of Charles king, as Charles II., and he had come to Edinburgh and taken the oath of the Covenant to please the Scotch.  In two battles Cromwell routed the Scotch army.  The young king then turned south, and with the remains of his army marched into England.  Cromwell, leaving a force in Scotland under General Monk, followed.

The king had reached Worcester before Cromwell came up with him.  In the meadows outside, and then in the very streets of the town, the battle took place.  The young king fought bravely, but lost the day, and was obliged to fly.

The royal party was completely broken, and Charles with difficulty escaped.  A great reward was offered to any one who would take him; but he was not betrayed.  At one time he was hidden by a woodcutter in a barn, at another by a lady who made him ride with her, dressed as her maid.  Once he sat all night in the midst of a thick oak-tree, and heard the soldiers, who were looking for him, pass under it and say that they knew he was not far off.  But at last he got away to France, and it was many years before he came to England again.

The army was the chief power in the state, and that power was now in the hands of Oliver Cromwell.  He did not hesitate to use it; and though for quite other purposes — he resolved on an act as unlawful as any that Charles had ever committed.  He dissolved the Parliament by force, and summoned a new one in his own name.

One day he went down to the House with a party of soldiers, and after some time told the members to be gone.  He bade the soldiers “Take away that bauble,” pointing to the mace, and one of his colonels took the Speaker out of the chair, and pushed him to the door.  As the members went out he spoke to them, one by one, by name, not sparing to tell them of what sins they had been guilty.  Then, when all were gone, he locked the door and put the key in his pocket.

The next Parliament was speedily dismissed.  The country was not ready for the reforms it proposed, and the heads of the army elected Cromwell Lord Protector.  With this title he had all the power and nearly all the state of a king.  Foreign States sent embassies to congratulate him.  The fleet, under Admiral Blake, went to war with the Dutch, and gained the most splendid victories, which enabled him to make treaties favourable to England with Holland, France, Denmark, Portugal, and Sweden.

But the first Parliament elected by his command questioned his authority, and was dismissed before it had passed a single act. His second Parliament wanted to make him king. He refused. He made England to be at peace at home, and to be feared abroad — that was enough for him.

England had been of no account in the reigns of James and Charles Stuart. Under Cromwell she became foremost among nations. The English fleet was again mistress of the seas. It put down the pirates of the coast of Barbary, who were the terror of the nations. In the West Indies it took from Spain Jamaica, one of the finest of the West Indian Islands. In humbling Catholic Spain, Cromwell believed he was doing the work of God. He was ever faithful to the Protestant cause, and always true to his word. When he sent to tell the pope that unless he showed favour to the people of God (the Protestants), the English guns would be heard in his Castle of St. Angelo, it was as though the English guns had opened their mouths.

When news came to England of a dreadful persecution among the Vaudois, by the Duke of Savoy, Cromwell was making a treaty with France. He refused to sign it till the French minister had promised to aid in putting a stop to the persecution. He sent money to the Vaudois, and such determined letters to the duke, that he was forced to cease from his cruelties, and promised to give his subjects religious freedom. The secretary who wrote these letters was one of England’s greatest poets, ]ohn Milton. When he had done all this, when he had ruled over England six years, without the name of king, but with more of the power, the justice, and the clemency of a king than any that had ruled before him, he died.


A.D. 1660.

RICHARD CROMWELL succeeded to his father peaceably.  He called a Parliament, and everything seemed going on smoothly, for he was a mild and good young man; but over the army he had no control.  The soldiers were displeased with this new Parliament, and forced him to dismiss it.  They then brought back the old one, and dismissed Richard himself.  Without a struggle he went away to the quiet country life which he liked, and for which his father used to call him “Lazy Dick.”

But the army and the Parliament could agree as little as ever, and people began to wish they had a settled government again, for they had no real security while these changes were going on.  From wishing, it soon came to acting.  General Monk, whom Cromwell had left to rule in Scotland, marched into England without telling anyone what he intended to do; but as soon as he got to London he declared that he would have a free Parliament, one really elected by the people, and not by the army.  The Long Parliament was now at an end.  The new Parliament desired to bring back the king.

It was done without any more fighting, for the army was divided, and had no great leader.  Charles the Second was proclaimed.  The fleet went over to Holland, and escorted him to Dover, where he had a splendid reception.  All the way to London there was nothing but rejoicings to welcome him; flags flying, bells ringing, and music playing.  The generous people tried to make up to him for all he had suffered.  They were ready to love him as never king was loved before.  They made sure that he would be a better king than his father; and that, taking warning by his father’s fate, he would respect their liberties and govern them according to the laws.

The army was now disbanded.  The old soldiers of Oliver were sent back to their homes.  It was expected that the usual crimes and disorders would follow the letting loose on society of fifty thousand men of war.  But it was not so.  None of these men either stole or begged.  They went to work in the same earnest manner in which they had gone to fight; and if a baker, or a mason, or a wagoner was seen to be more diligent and sober than others, it was said, “He is one of Oliver’s old soldiers.”

The new king soon showed that he could not behave so well as the old army.  His first act ought to have been forgiveness, instead of that it was revenge.  He made a list of his father’s judges, and the hangings, drawings, and quarterings — of which we heard nothing in Cromwell’s time — began again.  Some who were thus punished were conscientious men, who died as martyrs die for a cause which they believed to be God’s.  Charles was an eye-witness to some of the cruel deaths inflicted, and went back to his palace, to his mirth and dancing.  They dragged the bodies of Cromwell and his great men and good women from their graves, exposed them, and flung them rudely into pits. Instead of the pure and pious house which the Protector had kept in the palace, it was filled with riot and drunkenness, shameless vice and impurity.  The king cared for nothing but his pleasures, and these were of the lowest kind.

Charles left the government entirely in the hands of his brother, the Duke of York, a harsh, gloomy man, and of Lord Clarendon, whose daughter had married the duke.  These men were resolved to restore the Church and State to what it had been in the reign of Charles the First.  The Parliament of 1661, indeed, was quite as zealous as they.  It was filled with men who had fought and suffered for royalty, and who hated the Puritans.  It ordered the Covenant to be burnt by the hands of the hangman, and restored the old liturgy and the bishops.  Two thousand ministers of God were driven from their churches in one day, because they could not, on their conscience, conform to the orders of the king.  They were called Nonconformists.  The Long Parliament had turned out an equal number, but it had not left them to starve, as these were left.

But this was not enough.  Persecution began again.  It was made a crime to attend a dissenting place of worship.  A justice of the peace, without a jury, might for the third offence send any one to banishment.  If the banished man returned, he might be put to death.  The ministers were forbidden to come within five miles of a town, and hunted from place to place.  The gaols were filled with learned and pious men.

Scotland had helped to bring back the Stuarts.  She was now to suffer for it even more than England.  The religion which the people loved, and which they had sworn to uphold, was taken from them: the forms which they hated were restored.

The Duke of Lauderdale was set to govern Scotland for the king.  He was one of the cruellest and most hateful tyrants that ever lived.  The laws against the Covenanters were fiercer than those against the English Nonconformists.  Driven from the towns, they met in the mountains and on the wild moors.  They carried their Bibles in one hand and their swords in the other, and fought the troopers, who were sent to take them dead or alive.  They were hunted like wild beasts, imprisoned, tortured by boot and thumb screws till the bones of their feet and hands were crushed flat, hanged by scores, and shot by hundreds.  Parents suffered for hiding their children; children for saving their parents.  But for all this they kept their covenant.

Abroad, England rapidly lost the power and honour which she had won under Cromwell.  Dunkirk, which had been taken from Spain by Oliver, was sold to Louis the Fourteenth of France.

The Government went to war with the Dutch, but the money voted for it was so wasted that the sailors were in a state of mutiny for want of food, and the ships useless for want of repair.  In this state of things the Dutch fleet sailed up the Thames, and burned the English ships in the river: London for the first time heard the roar of an enemy’s guns.  And what do you think this foolish king was doing on the night of this great disaster?  He was running round the supper-room of his palace, playing at hunting the moth with some of the bad, silly women of his court.


A.D. 1660 to 1685.

WHILE this disgraceful war with Holland was going on, London had been visited by the sickness called “the Great Plague,” A.D. 1665.  People fell down smitten in the streets, or died deserted in their houses.  Whole families were swept away.  The dead could not be buried properly.  Carts came round, and the bodies were flung in and hurried away to great holes in the outskirts of the City.  A red cross was marked on infected houses, and no one was allowed to come out of them.  In six months, more than a hundred thousand people had perished.  The plague had hardly ceased to rage when a great fire broke out, by which two-thirds of London was consumed.  This was in the your 1666.  For nearly a week it burned on, night and day.  From the Tower to Temple Bar was one mass of ruin.  Eighty-nine churches were reduced to ashes.  This great calamity roused even the king for a time, and he did all he could for the poor homeless people.

There had been no great plague since that of 1665. London was rebuilt, so that it could be kept cleaner, for we now know that it was the dreadful filth and closeness of the old cities which bred and spread the plagues.

Charles now sold himself to the French king altogether.  He was really a Roman Catholic, and he made a secret treaty with Louis to profess this religion as soon as he conveniently could, and Louis was to help him to put down insurrection in England.  Together they were to go to war against Protestantism, and allow neither that religion nor liberty to exist.  Charles, meantime, pretended to be friends with the Protestant countries, Sweden and Holland; but as soon as Parliament ceased sitting he declared war against the latter in concert with France.  The war began in 1672, and proved as inglorious as it was unjust.  The saviour of Holland was the young Prince William of Orange, Charles’s own nephew.  He bade his countrymen submit to no disgraceful terms.  He told them that, even if they were beaten, they could give the Holland they had rescued from the sea back to the sea again, and take their ships, and carry themselves and their wealth to the Indian Islands, where they might make a new Holland greater than the first.

William ordered the dykes, or high banks, to be cut.  The sea rushed in and covered the land.  The whole country was like a great lake, in which the cities, with their high towers, looked like islands; and the invaders had to fly for their lives.

As soon as Parliament had met again, it caused the king to make peace with Holland.  The French king still carried on the war; and Charles took the French king’s money, and allowed his brave nephew to go on fighting and suffering, when England would have gladly given him aid.

In 1677 William of Orange came over to England and married his cousin Mary, the daughter of the Duke of York.  After this marriage there were proposals for a general peace, which was concluded toward the close of 1678.  Brave little Holland got back all she had lost.  England, by inconstancy, inaction, and secret treachery, had lost all she had ever gained of power and reputation in Europe.

It had leaked out that the king and the Duke of York were Roman Catholics, and rumours had got abroad of the secret treaty with France, which greatly alarmed the people.  A man called Titus Oates, who had been a clergyman, but was forced to resign his living because of bad conduct, took advantage of these rumours and fears to create a story of a popish plot, by which the king was to be murdered and Protestants massacred wholesale.  It is said that Charles knew that the story was an invention, but it touched very closely on his guilty secret concerning the pension.  A magistrate was found stabbed to the heart, and the public believed the story of Titus Oates to be true.  Parliament voted him a pension of twelve hundred pounds a year, and he was called “the saviour of the country.”  Other bad men, seeing how profitable it was, turned informers and false witnesses against the Roman Catholics, and a fierce persecution began.  Five noblemen were sent to the Tower; two thousand suspected persons were sent to the common prisons, and thirty thousand Catholics were compelled to quit their homes in London.  Many were condemned to death, and died protesting their innocence: among them the old Lord Stafford.

The next set of victims belonged to the other side.  Chief among them was Lord Russell, who was accused of plotting against the lives of the king and the Duke of York.  He denied it, and no proof was brought forward; yet, on the most insufficient evidence, he was condemned to die.  His real offence was that he was the friend of liberty, and would never cease to oppose those who were its enemies.  He had tried to keep the Duke of York, whom he knew to be a tyrant, from succeeding to the throne.  During his trial Lady Russell sat by his side taking notes for him.  When he was condemned, she went on her knees to the vile king to pray for his life, and she would have been content to lose everything in the world but him.  She waited upon him to the last, and parting with her was to him the worst part of death.  Lord Cavendish, a friend of his, offered to save him by changing clothes with him; but Lord Russell would not save himself at the expense of his friend, as he would not do so at the expense of truth.

The cruelties of Lauderdale [Ed. — John Maitland, 1st Duke and 2nd Earl of Lauderdale, 3rd Lord Thirlestane KG PC (1616-82)] had driven the Covenanters of Scotland to arms.  They had been defeated and scattered, and James, Duke of York, was now sent to rule that country.  James showed himself at still more cruel tyrant than Lauderdale.  He would sit and see tortures inflicted, from which the rest of the Council hurried in horror away, till he compelled them to remain.

Never was there such a shameful and unhappy reign as this; but it came to an end at last.  Charles died a Roman Catholic.  His wife, who had no children, was a princess of Portugal, and she brought with her as her marriage portion the Island of Bombay — the beginning of the English Empire in India.

In this reign died Henry Jenkins, who is said to have lived to a greater age than any man since the days of the Flood.  He was 169 years old, and had lived in eight different reigns.  He could recollect the battle of Flodden Field, and he died shortly after the great fire of London.


A.D. 1685 to 1689.

JAMES THE SECOND succeeded his brother.  It was he who sat and saw the torture inflicted on the Covenanters in Scotland.  You will easily guess what kind of king he would make.  In Scotland the persecution under his orders raged fiercer than ever.  It was made death to attend a Presbyterian meeting, or listen to a Presbyterian preacher.  I cannot tell you what horrors were perpetrated.  Dragoons rode through peaceful valleys, shooting and hanging whom they would.  One band, commanded by John Graham, of Claverhouse, were foremost in the hateful work.  One day they took a poor man, well known for his piety, and condemned him to instant death.  His wife came out of her cottage, a little child at her feet, and in her presence, the soldiers, bad as they were, shrank from killing him.  Their captain did it with his own hand.  The people were driven nearly mad with such deeds as this.

James was fain to punish the English Nonconformists too.  His favourite judge was one Jeffreys, the worst judge that ever perverted justice.  Before this wretch some of the best and most pious of men were brought to trial.  Among others Richard Baxter, an old man of great learning and most gentle and Christian spirit, who had written several books which pious people still read with pleasure.  The wicked judge would not hear him speak, but mocked and insulted him, and would have had him whipped, only he was not allowed to do this.  Baxter was imprisoned.  There was one man whom Jeffreys whipped to his heart’s content, who certainly deserved the punishment, and that was Titus Oates.

During his rule in Scotland James had sentenced to death the Earl of Argyll.  “We would not hang a dog in England on such grounds,” one of Charles’s courtiers had said.  The earl, however, made his escape, and took refuge in Friesland.  A great many of the fugitives from both England and Scotland had gathered in Holland, and they persuaded the earl to join them in an invasion, by which they proposed to take the crown from James, and place it on the head of the Duke of Monmouth, an illegitimate nephew of his.  Argyll was to land on the west coast of Scotland, and raise his clan, the Camphells, “for the defence of true religion.”  He did this; but the expedition failed.  His men were dispersed, and he himself was taken prisoner, and made to walk bareheaded through the High Street of Edinburgh to prison.

James would have tortured the noble prisoner to make him give up the names of those who had been engaged in the rising; but his wish in this matter was not carried out.  Argyll was put to death, however, without further trial.  Instead of condemning himself at his execution, he said he had not been found worthy to save his country, because he had submitted to the tyrant so long.  Kings like James must always make enemies of men like Argyll, and in being served by such men lies the safety and honour of nations.

Meantime Monmouth invaded England, and was well received in the south and west, where he went about collecting troops, and took the title of king.  His troops, the peasants of Somerset and Dorsetshire, met the army of James at Sedgemoor, in the former county, and though they fought bravely, they were terribly defeated.  A thousand of them were left dead on the moor.  Monmouth fled, and was caught in a ditch.  He was taken to London, and instead of dying, as Argyll had died, the death of a hero, he spent his time pleading and praying for mercy.  He knelt at the feet of his uncle the king and begged for life, but was refused and sent to the block.

After the battle, the soldiers of the king killed in cold blood a great many who had been in arms, and after the soldiers came judge Jeffreys, to hunt out those who had escaped.  He hanged without mercy all on whom he could lay hands.  One lady, Alice Lisle, who had only given shelter to two of the insurgents, he burnt alive; another lady he beheaded.  Eight hundred people he sold as slaves to the West Indies.  This visit of his was called “the Bloody Assize.”  The reward for his savage work was the Chancellorship of England.

All this happened in the first year of King James’s reign, and the people were heartily sorry that they had brought back such a bad king.  He was a Roman Catholic too, and he began to favour the Roman Catholics more and more, and to put them into the best places.  He made them officers of the army, and then tried to get them into the church, meaning to turn out all the English clergymen by-and-by, and put in Roman Catholic priests.  He did this with some of the great colleges at Oxford.

Like his father, he now thought he would govern without Parliament; and he made a new law, but nobody would obey it, for they knew that the king had no right to make laws.  He pretended that he wanted every one to have freedom of conscience; but the nation would not have a freedom which was to break the laws, and make them slaves of the king.  He commanded the bishops to make known his will to their clergy, and when they had presented a petition to him on the matter, they refused, and he sent them to the Tower.  Then they were tried at Westminster, but the jury said they were not guilty, for they had broken no law; and at this all the people in the great hall shouted for joy.  The people outside shouted too.  All London rejoiced, but the king vowed vengeance.  The clergy in the towns and country would not obey any more than the bishops.  Then James tried the soldiers; but the soldiers went further still in disobedience — they laid down their arms.

If the king had been wise, he would have seen by this time that unless he governed by law he would soon cease to be King of England.  But he would not see.  He had an army in Ireland, all Roman Catholics, who would obey him, so he began to bring over these Irish troops.  He could not have done a more foolish thing.  This was a threat of war, and the worst kind of war.  A number of noblemen, who desired freedom and peace for England, at once consulted together what was best to be done, and they sent for William of Orange, who had married Mary, the eldest daughter of the king, and asked him to come and govern England.  Both he and his wife were Protestants, and he had proved himself in his own country, a great soldier and a good man.

After much anxious thought, William came over at the head of a small army, landed at Torbay, and took up his abode at Exeter.  The king sent his army to drive him away, but in the meantime all the best men were going over to his side.  One after another went, and news of their desertion was carried to James day by day.  Prince George of Denmark, the husband of his other daughter, Anne, left him: Anne herself followed.  When news of this last desertion was taken to him, the unhappy man cried out, “God help me! even my children have forsaken me.”

James had married a second wife, an Italian princess, and she had just borne him a son.  He now made haste to send the mother and child out of the country.  A French nobleman undertook the care of them; and one night, wrapping up the baby in a cloak, he carried it to a boat on the river, and through the rain and the darkness mother and baby got away, and were soon safe in France.

The king declared that he would stay at his post; but he said what he did not mean, for a day or two after he too ran away in the night.

There were riots in London, thus left without a Government, but no life was lost.  One man would have been killed if he had not been protected by soldiers, and carried off to the Tower; and that man was the wicked Judge Jeffreys.  He was detected by one to whom he had done injustice, trying to escape in the dress of a coalheaver, and was very nearly torn to pieces by the mob.

Meantime the king had been taken in his flight, and very roughly used.  He was brought back to London; but William was already at Windsor, and allowed the poor king to get away again.  He chose to go to Rochester, and the Prince of Orange entered London, amid rejoicings, that same day.  He was advised to proclaim himself king; but William was wise, and a man of his word.  He would not do this without the consent of Parliament, which he summoned at once.

But the king could not overcome his fears for his life.  He went to bed telling the gentlemen about him that he would see them in the morning, rose at dead of night, stole out by a back door, and escaped.

Parliament offered the crown of England to William and Mary, on condition that they promised to maintain the laws and the rights and liberties of the nation.  That promise was given in good faith, and the great Revolution was complete.


A.D. 1689 to 1702.

WILLIAM AND MARY were cousins, and they reigned nominally together; but the ruling power was placed in William’s hands.  As I have already told you, he was a wise and good prince in his own country, and he proved the same in England, though he was never loved in his new kingdom.  One reason of this was, perhaps, that he was a Dutchman.  His manner was bad, and he could hardly speak the English language, and besides he could not love the English, whom he knew chiefly by the base and false courtiers who had been bred in the bad reigns of Charles and James.  In addition to this he behaved with the greatest impartiality, and as the parties in England were bitter foes, and had always desired vengeance more than justice, he did not succeed in pleasing any of them.

Civil war had meantime broken out in Scotland.  The Highland clans were chiefly Roman Catholics, and had not suffered under Charles and James the cruel persecutions which had been inflicted on the Lowland Presbyterians.  Dundee took arms against William, raised the clans, and gained a battle at a place called Killiekrankie.  But Dundee himself was killed, and his army melted away.  The Highlanders went back to their hills and glens, and Scotland gave very little more trouble during the reign of King William.

He was very much blamed for a dreadful massacre which took place there, in which all the people — men, women, and children — who lived in a wild, beautiful valley called Glencoe, were murdered in cold blood.  I do not think that King William understood about it rightly, therefore he did not punish those who did it as they deserved.

Ireland also supported the cause of James, who, assisted by the King of France, came over to that country, and fixed his court at Dublin.  The whole population rose in arms for King James.  Only a few cities, filled with Protestant English colonists, declared for King William.  Among these was Londonderry.  The siege of this city is the most famous in the history of Great Britain.  The citizens held out for four months against their enemies, until nearly half of them died of starvation and the other half could hardly stand.  William sent a fleet to relieve them; but through the cowardice of its leader it lay inactive for a long time, filled with food, in sight of the starving town.  At last two brave merchantmen, guarded by one of the war-vessels, ran against the bar which the besiegers had thrown across the mouth of the harbour, broke through and relieved the city.

Shortly after William came over to Ireland, with an army of which he himself took the command, and won the battle of the Boyne — a battle which decided the war.  James was looking on, but at a safe distance.  William, though he had been wounded before the battle began, and could only carry his sword in his left hand, led his troops through the river, and fought at the head of them till victory was won, and James had once more run away.  He hardly ever stopped till he got back to France, which no doubt William was very thankful for, as he was anxious, for the sake of his wife, that no harm should happen to her father.

After this Ireland was speedily reduced to order; but William was still at war with France, and he left Mary to govern England while he took the command of the army of the Netherlands.  In this war was laid the foundation of the National Debt.  It continued for many years, and at first, both by sea and land, the English suffered defeat.  It was William who turned the tide of fortune.  Even in defeat he never gave in.  When the English had to retreat after the battle of Landen (1693), William put himself at the head of a few brave regiments, and made a stand to stop the pursuit.  The star upon his breast was a mark for the enemy; but he only smiled when he was begged to conceal it.  Two horses which followed him were killed.  A ball passed through the curls of his wig, another through his coat, another grazed his side, and tore his blue ribbon in shreds.  With two regiments he fought seven, and drove them before him for a quarter of an hour before he effected his own retreat.

Every spring William went over to the Netherlands to fight, and every autumn he came back to England to attend the Parliament and govern the kingdom.  In 1695 he took the fortress of Namur; and this victory, and the way in which he kept the French armies back, at length wore out the patience of the King of France.  He began to desire peace, and to offer better terms to William and his allies.

At length, in 1695, peace was made.  It was called the Peace of Ryswick, from a place in Holland where the commissioners of the different nations met.  It was really William’s peace.  He it was who made terms with Louis, who was made to promise that he would not allow James to disturb the peace of England any more.

Before this peace came Queen Mary was dead.  She was attacked by small-pox, and carried off after a few days’ illness.  William had to be taken away from her bed insensible, and so great was his grief that it was two months before he was able to transact business.

In 1701 the exiled king died at St. Gerniains, a palace in the neighbourhood of Paris, which had been given to the family as a residence by Louis the Fourteenth.  In spite of his treaty with William, Louis promised to the dying man to stand by his son as he had stood by him; and no sooner was he dead than Louis had the boy — who you remember was carried off as a baby from England thirteen years before — proclaimed in Paris as James the Third of England.  But the only name he ever bore in this country was the “Pretender.”

William did not long survive his father-in-law.  His health had always been delicate.  Often he could hardly breathe, so weak and diseased were his lungs, though he had fought and laboured harder than many of the strongest men.  Then his horse stumbled and fell with him, breaking his collar-bone.  When he found that he could not recover, he calmly prepared for death, only sorry that he left so much undone.

But he had done much.  He had secured that the people in England, Scotland, and Ireland should worship God without fear according to their consciences.  Abroad he had won a glorious peace.  In his reign it was settled that none but a Protestant should sit on the throne of England.  During this reign also the East India Company was founded, and our trade with the East greatly enlarged.


A.D. 1702 to 1714.

WILLIAM AND MARY had no children.  The next in succession was Mary’s sister, Anne.  Anne was very unlike William’s wise and gentle queen.  She was a very silly woman, who allowed herself to be governed by favourites; and her choice of favourites was very bad indeed.  For many months she had been under the rule of the Duchess of Marlborough, who tyrannised over her in a way which no woman of sense and spirit would have endured.  The Duke of Marlborough was a great general, but a very mean and selfish man, who cared more for money than for anything else in the world, and was always ready to sell himself to the highest bidder.

One of Anne’s first acts was to make Marlborough commander-in-chief; but, indeed, King William had put the army very much into his hands during the last year of his life, though the duke had behaved very ill to him.  War was again declared with Louis the Fourteenth of France, in order to prevent his grandson from being placed on the Spanish throne, and France and Spain being united.  This war lasted more than ten years, and raged over nearly the whole of Europe, making a perfect desert of a great part of Germany.  Every spring, Marlborough, like King William, went over to the Continent and took the command.  He could not have been braver, but he was more daring than William had been, and his victories were far more splendid.  I should like you to remember a few of the names of them: Schellenberg, Blenheim, Ramillies, Ouclenarde, and Malplaquet.

For his splendid services he was splendidly rewarded.  Anne made him a duke, settled on him ten thousand a year, and gave him Woodstock lands and manors, an estate belonging to the Crown, where a splendid palace called Blenheim was built for him.  But nothing could satisfy the avarice of this man; and his wife was equally avaricious.  She kept the queen’s purse, and Anne could hardly get what money she wanted, and had sometimes to borrow from her other ladies when she wished to do a charity.  The duchess, too, had such a bad temper, that she could not help sometimes flying at the queen, who loved her very much, and was as submissive to her as if she had been her servant instead of her mistress.

But at last the queen got tired of this, and found another favourite.  This was one Abigail Hill, a poor relation of Lady Marlborough’s, whom she had herself put into the place of waiting-woman in the palace.  The new favourite was clever, and saw her advantage in serving those who were striving for the overthrow of the duchess and her husband too.  Lady Marlborough would not give in without a struggle; and she abused her niece, even in the presence of the queen, whom she insulted and tormented in every possible way.  At last she was forced to give up her keys, and retire from all the posts which she held in the palace.  Then her husband was deprived of his, and they soon after went abroad.  A new set of ministers had come into power, and they hastened to make peace with Louis.  A peace, by which most of the advantages gained by the war were given up, was signed at Utrecht in 1712.  The English, however, kept Gibraltar, taken in 1704.

The widow and son of James, who had been living in France under the protection of Louis, were eager to invade England as soon as the latter could take command of an army; and Louis would willingly have furnished him with means, only he had enough to do to find men and money to fight against Marlborough.  In 1708 he was at length persuaded to send an expedition into Scotland, with James at its head.  He gave him a small fleet and five thousand troops, and sent the young man away like a prince, presenting him with a sword studded with diamonds; the pope also gave his blessing.  Neither prince nor troops ever landed in England.  The English fleet, under Sir George Byng, watched and guarded the English coast; and the winds and waves helped him.  After beating about for a month, the poor Pretender went back as he had come.

It is thought that at the close of her life Anne would fain have been reconciled to her brother, and have named him her successor.  She is scarcely to be blamed for this.  She was a kind-hearted woman, and her husband and children were dead.  No doubt her heart longed for the love of her kindred.  But this wish influenced others who were guilty, in trying to give effect to it, of far graver offence — or at least of grave offence for lesser cause.

The latter days of Anne were disturbed by the quarrels of her ministers who carried their disputes into her presence, otherwise her reign had been most successful.  In it (1707) took place the union of Scotland and England under one Parliament, as they were already united under one crown.  Scotland keeps her courts of justice and her own religion and laws, and sends a proportion of members to the House of Commons and of Peers to the House of Lords, to see that in every respect her interests are attended to.

In the reign of Anne, as in that of Elizabeth, there lived an unusual number of clever men, though none of the very greatest.  In it Pope wrote his poems and Addison his beautiful prose.


A.D. I714 to 1727.

THE crown had been settled by Parliament on a family of small German princes, descendants of James the First.  This family was called the house of Hanover.  After Anne, the Electress Sophia was to succeed; but she died a fortnight before the former, and her son George became King of England.  The new king was already over fifty years old.  He was slow and dull.  Not a word of English could he speak, though he had long expected to be king, and it was six or seven weeks after Anne’s death before he made his appearance in his new kingdom.

And now the Pretender came once more to Scotland to make another trial for the crown.  Indeed, he was invited by his friends there, who raised an army for him, led by the Earl of Mar.  It was not until this army had been already defeated that the prince arrived.  He was a melancholy man, who seemed to have little heart for the venture, and who could therefore put no heart into his discouraged followers, from whom one day he stole away, after the manner of his father, and troubled George of Hanover no more.

A great many lost their lives for this rising, King George refusing to pardon those who were engaged in it.  I have not much to tell you of this dull reign.  King George had a wife, but she had been shut up in a solitary castle for years; sent there when a young and beautiful woman for some fault about which there is a strange mystery.  Her name was Sophia of Zell.  Once when the French came near her prison, and might have set her free, George sent her home to her parents, who received her with joy, and would gladly have kept her.  But when the danger was over, the hard-hearted king sent her back to prison again, where she died, only a few months before him, after an imprisonment which lasted thirty-three years.  This lady had a son, who was to become King of England after his father; and it is dreadful to think how father and son hated each other, and did everything they could to oppose each other.

When George the First had reigned twelve years he suddenly died.  He was in the habit of going yearly to Hanover, and he was on his way thither when he took a fit in his travelling-coach: before they could reach a town he was dead.


A.D. 1727 to 1760.

GEORGE THE SECOND was not a much better man than George the First.  The terrible and unnatural hatred between him and his father had descended to another generation.  There was the same bad feeling and the same open strife between George the Second and his son, Frederick, Prince of Wales.  The new king had, however, a very good and sensible wife, who ruled him without his knowlege, and prevented his dreadful temper from doing him and others harm.  She died in 1737 — a great loss to her husband and the country.

The first twelve years of this reign were years of peace.  England had not been so long at peace for many years; and it is during times of peace that improvements are generally made.  The ministers of George the Second were, however, much more occupied in fighting for power for themselves, than in doing good to their country.  Sir Robert Walpole was prime minister, and he began a system of bribery at elections which has not been got rid of to this day.

But now war was declared against Spain.  The Spaniards had for some time troubled and even carried off English merchant ships.  King George sent a fleet to protect them, and the Spaniards appeared to yield, set free seventy English sailors whom they had detained, and promised to pay a large sum which they owed to Great Britain.  Presently, however, they became as insolent as ever, and refused to pay this sum, upon which Parliament declared war.

The country rejoiced at this.  The cruelties of the Spaniards in Mexico and Peru roused the generous; and the hope of getting possession of rich Indian Islands incited the covetous to take part against Spain.  Nothing less than the conquest of the Spanish West Indies was resolved on.  Admiral Vernon was sent out with the fleet.  He stayed out doing nothing whatever till it was almost destroyed by sickness, and till the French fleet united with that of Spain to drive it away, though France at that time pretended to be at peace with us.

All Europe had now become involved in war; and I must tell you how it was, and how England came to be mixed up in it.  The Emperor of Germany had died, leaving no son to succeed him, but only a daughter, named Maria Theresa.  Before his death he had got the sanction of a number of States, among them France and England, that she should wear his crown, which had never been worn by a woman.  Therefore, in 1741 Maria Theresa became Empress of Austria.

Her nearest neighbour was Frederick of Prussia, a young king whose father had left him a great deal of money and the biggest army in Europe.  He and the Kings of France and Bavaria united to take the empire of Germany from Maria Theresa, and divide it among them.  All those who had promised to support her had broken their pledge and turned against her — all save England.  The English nation took her part.  Parliament voted her a large sum of money, and the king, though he wavered when Hanover was in danger, was obliged to take her part too.

Soon the allied armies of France, Prussia, and Bavaria commenced their march on the capital of Austria.  As they drew near, Maria, leaving her husband to defend the city, fled with her infant son to Hungary.  The Hungarians welcomed their queen and her son; and when she took him in her arms, and appeared before their Parliament, they all rose to their feet, and holding out their swords, cried they were ready to die for her.  Next year Prussia withdrew from the war, in which the Austrian and Hungarian armies had beaten those of France and Bavaria.

No sooner had the Parliament of 1743 closed, than George, with his son, the Duke of Cumberland, hastened off to Germany to join the army which he had ordered to pass the Rhine.  The army was commanded by Lord Stair, who was not a good general.  At a place called Dettingen he got his men into such a position that but for the king they would have been cut to pieces.  George arrived there to find them shut in a narrow valley, among woody hills, and the French hemming them in on every side, and counting on their surrender and the capture of the king.  And in the beginning this seemed likely enough to happen, for the king’s horse took fright, and nearly carried him into the ranks of the French.  It was stopped just in time, and the king dismounted and put himself at the head of the British and Hanoverian foot-soldiers, flourishing his sword and crying to them, “Now, boys!”

Nothing inspires men with such courage as the bravery of their leaders.  Thus led, the British army was irresistible.  The French were routed, and the English marched in triumph out of their dangerous position.  This was the last time a King of England led an army to battle.

The French then began to encourage another rebellion in favour of the Pretender.  His sons were now grown up, and the eldest, Prince Charles Edward, who was extremely handsome and agreeable, was to go to Scotland in his father’s stead, at the head of an army furnished by France.  The Scottish jacobites were ready to receive him, having entered into an association to bring back the Stuarts at any hazard.  Fifteen thousand men under Marshal Saxe, the best general of France, were assembled at Dunkirk.  Prince Charles left Rome, where he had been residing with his family, in disguise.  The French fleet was in the Channel.  The French army embarked, and the prince went on board.

But they had got a very little way when they saw the English fleet bearing down upon them.  The English Government were already aware of everything.  To escape destruction, the French turned back, pursued by the storms which seemed always to fight for England, and thus the expedition ended for the present.


[Next Page]


[Home] [Up] [Poems by Isa] [Duchess Agnes] [Songs of Consolation] [Poems: a Miscellany] [The Argosy (1866)] [Tales on the Parables] [Tales on The Parables] [Poetry Reviews] [Cotton Famine] [Round the Court] [Peggy Oglivie] [Esther West] [Fanny's Fortune] [A Heroine of Home] [Deepdale Vicarage] [Miscellanea] [Site Search] [Main Index]