Stories From English History: III - Alfred J. Church

The Lord Protector

When the war between the King and the Parliament was brought to an end, there was no man whose name stood so high in the estimation of the nation as Oliver Cromwell. And, indeed, he had done more than any one else to win the victory for the Parliament. Again and again he and his Ironsides—for this was the name which men gave to the cavalry which he commanded—had turned the fortune of the day. He and they were terribly in earnest. "Our enemies," he had once said, "have the spirit of gentlemen; we must match it with the spirit of religion." The war finished, there was a great question as to what was to be done with the King, and Cromwell had much to do with deciding it. He strongly urged that Charles should be brought to trial, and, if found guilty, should be put to death. When this had been done, men began to ask how the country was to be governed. For the time Parliament had the power, by Parliament being meant the House of Commons only, for the House of Lords had been abolished. But the army was not satisfied. It had won the victory, and it was not willing to be ruled by men who had done nothing, it was said, but talk. As it had been the Parliament against the King, so it was now, or would soon be, the army against the Parliament. We shall soon see how the struggle ended.

The first thing to be done was to make Ireland submit to the new order of things. Cromwell was appointed Lord Lieutenant and Commander-in-Chief, and took with him an army of 12,000 men. The war that followed was carried on with dreadful cruelty. Some years before the Irish had rebelled and massacred thousands of English settlers, men, women, and children. Cromwell and his army were determined to have vengeance for these things, and at the same time to make it impossible for the Irish to rebel again. At Drogheda, and again at Wexford, thousands of people, peaceable inhabitants as well as soldiers, were put to death. To this day the most hateful of all names to an Irishman is that of Cromwell.

He had not altogether finished the work of conquering reland, before he was called away to Scotland. The Scotch people had been displeased with the course of affairs, and had sent for the eldest son of Charles I., himself a Charles, who was then living In Holland. If he would consent to make certain promises, to follow the Presbyterian form of religion, and to govern by the advice of Parliament, they would make him king. Charles consented, though these conditions were not much to his mind, and crossed over from Holland to Scotland. Cromwell and his friends felt that this must not be allowed to go on. It was useless to have put an end to kings in England, if they were to be set up again in Scotland. Cromwell crossed the border, this time with sixteen thousand men, and marched to Dunbar, where the Scottish army, under General Leslie, had taken up its position. There was some fighting before dawn on September 3 (1650). The English cavalry were driven back, and a regiment of infantry, which had advanced to support them, was broken. The time was come for Cromwell to act. An officer who was present with the English army writes: "The sun rising upon the sea, I heard Noll say, 'Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered.' " He gave the word to his own regiment of infantry to advance. They levelled their pikes and moved forward, the Scottish cavalry retreating before them. At that moment the mist which covered the country lifted, and the Scots saw their cavalry falling back. A panic seized the whole army—they were raw soldiers, few of whom had ever seen a battle—the men threw down their arms and fled. Three thousand were killed, ten thousand taken, with all the baggage and artillery.



But another battle had to be fought. Charles, who had been crowned king on January 1, 1651, resolved to make his way into England, and try his fortune there, hoping that a number of Royalists would join him. About twelve thousand Scottish soldiers went with him, and he reached Worcester without much difficulty. But his hopes of getting support from his English friends were sadly disappointed. Not more than three or four thousand men joined his army. His force, all told, was little more than half that of the enemy. The Scots fought bravely in the battle that followed, and Charles himself showed no little skill as a general. But Cromwell, with his army of veterans, both better disciplined and superior in numbers, could not be resisted. The Royalists were utterly defeated, with the loss of three thousand killed, and twice as many taken prisoners. How Charles himself escaped I shall tell in my next chapter. The battle of Worcester was fought exactly one year after the battle of Dunbar.

The man who had conquered Ireland and Scotland, and had destroyed the last hopes of the Royalists in England, was, of course, more powerful than ever. It was not long before the Parliament found that he was their master. On April 20, 1653, he went down to the House of Commons, followed by a company of musketeers. He entered the chamber, and sitting down on one of the benches, listened to the debate. When it seemed to be coming to an end, he whispered to Thomas Harrison, an old comrade, who sat by him, "This is the time I must do it," and rose to address the House. He began by praising it for the good that it had done, but soon changed his tune. The members had thought of their own interest only; they had refused to do justice; they had oppressed the people; above all, they had neglected the army. The Speaker said that this was not the language that ought to be used to Parliament; it was all the worse because it was spoken by that Parliament's own servant, who had been made what he was by their kindness. Cromwell put on his hat—he had taken it off to speak—and cried, "Sir, I will put an end to your prating." A few minutes after, he stamped his foot on the floor, and called to the officer who commanded the musketeers, "Bring them in; bring them in." At once the door was opened, and Colonel Wolseley with some twenty soldiers entered. After reproaching various members with their misdeeds, Cromwell bade the soldiers clear the House. Harrison took the Speaker by the hand and led him down from the chair. Some of the members left the House of their own accord, others were forced to go. When the chamber was empty, Cromwell pointed to the mace lying on the table: "Take away this bauble," he said to one of the soldiers. He was now practically the ruler of England.

But he was not to have his way without opposition. It was necessary to have a Parliament, and a Parliament, whatever pains he might take to have no members but of his own way of thinking, was sure to set itself against him. An Assembly, known in history by the name of the Little Parliament, was called together. But it soon showed itself unwilling to submit, and Cromwell had to call in his musketeers again. On December 16, 1653, he had the title of Lord Protector bestowed upon him, practically by the army.

As time went on he became more and more arbitrary; and, we cannot doubt, more and more unhappy. He knew that he held a place which the will of the English people had not given him. But it was a place that he would not, indeed could not resign; to resign it, he was persuaded, would be to cause more evils than to keep it. " 'Tis against the voice of the nation," said one of his friends to him. There will be nine in ten against you." "But what," he answered, "if I put a sword in the tenth man's hand? Will not that do the business?"

I pass quickly over this time. Cromwell professed to despise the title of king. "The name," he said, "is but a feather in the hat." As for the crown, it was only "a shining bauble for crowds to gape at or kneel to." Yet it seems that he secretly desired it. But to take it would have offended friends whom he could not afford to lose, and in the end he declared that he could not accept the government with this title.

But he was again declared Lord Protector, and this time with more state and ceremony than before. In December 1653 he had been dressed in a suit of dark velvet, with long military boots, and a gold band round his hat; and the ceremony took place in the Court of Chancery. Now, Westminster Hall itself was used for the purpose. On June 26, 1657, a splendid chair of state was set at the upper end. Cromwell stood before it, while the Speaker of the House of Commons put a mantle of purple velvet, lined with crimson, about his shoulders, presented him with a belt, richly gilt and embossed, girded him with a sword, and put a sceptre of solid gold into his right hand.

The troubles and difficulties through which he had to pass at home did not prevent him from making England greatly respected abroad. It was no time of peace. At one time or another England was at war, with Holland, with France, with Spain, with Portugal, and always, thanks to the energy of Cromwell, and the courage and skill of his admirals and generals, she held her own.

The most famous of his dealings with foreign Powers was his interference on behalf of the Vaudois, the Protestant inhabitants of the valleys of Piedmont. The Duke of Savoy, who was the ruler of the country, had treated these poor people with much cruelty. Cromwell, of course, could not help them directly, for they were far out of reach. But he refused to conclude a treaty that was being negotiated with the King of France, unless the latter should first compel the Duke of Savoy to treat his Protestant subjects with more justice; and this was actually done.

At home, things went on from bad to worse. The Lord Protector could not raise money without Parliaments, and the Parliaments that he summoned always turned against him. Then he was in constant fear of assassination. It is said that he wore armour under his clothes, and that he carried loaded pistols about with him. When he went out, a large escort of soldiers surrounded his carriage. It was never settled beforehand by what road he would travel, and he was careful not to return by the same way by which he had come.

And he suffered a great loss in his private life. The best loved of his children was his daughter Elizabeth, the wife of a Northamptonshire gentleman, named John Claypole. She died on August 6, 1658, having first, it is said, entreated her father to lay down the power of which he had unlawfully possessed himself. Cromwell felt her death profoundly, and survived her but a few weeks. Removed from Hampton Court, where he had been suffering from ague, to London, he became rapidly worse. For some days before his death he was barely conscious, but it is said that when asked directly whether he did not wish that his son Richard should be his successor, he answered "yes." He died on September 3, his lucky day, that on which he had won the battles of Dunbar and Worcester. The day before all England had been shaken by such a storm of wind as had never been within the memory of the oldest inhabitants.

The Royal Oak

The young King Charles escaped from Worcester city by the north road just as Cromwell's soldiers were making their way into it on the other side. He would hardly have got away had not some brave followers made a desperate charge on the enemy, and so turned away their attention.

Cavalry encounter


By the advice of the Earl of Derby, another fugitive from the battle, Charles resolved to seek refuge at Boscobel, a house in Shropshire, belonging to a loyal lady, Mrs. Cotton by name. Riding all night he arrived at dawn at another of Mrs. Cotton's houses, called Whiteladies. His companions were Gifford, a cavalier, and Yates, a labouring man who acted as guide. At Whiteladies Charles put on the disguise which it was settled he should wear. He was to pass as a woodman. His clothes were shabby and coarse; he carried a bill-hook in his hand: his hair was cropped close to his head, and the skin of his face and hands dyed brown. A little party of Royalists had gathered at Whiteladies; they took leave of the king, as soon as he had completed his disguise, and rode away in another direction, Charles, with his guide Yates, going on to Boscobel. He had not been gone more than an hour when some troopers belonging to the enemy's army arrived, and after searching the house in vain, started in pursuit of the fugitives.

Yates had married a woman of the name of Penderell, and it was her brothers who now took charge of the King. The Penderells were natives of Tong, a village not far from Shifnal in Shropshire. There were six brothers, three of whom had fought for the King. One of these three was killed; the other two, John and George by name, were employed as woodmen at Boscobel. A fourth, William, was in charge of the house; a fifth, Humphrey, worked at the mill in the parish; the sixth, Richard, farmed a few fields. They were Roman Catholics, and had helped more than once to save priests of that faith when in danger of being arrested. It was not thought prudent that Charles should go to the house; Richard Penderell, accordingly, took him into the thickest part of the wood, and made him lie down on a blanket under one of the trees. Here Yates's wife brought him some food. The sight of the woman startled him. "Good woman," he said, "will you be faithful to a distressed cavalier?" She declared that she would sooner die than betray him. His next visitor was the mother of the Penderells. The old woman kissed his hand, and falling on her knees thanked God that He had chosen her sons to deliver their King from his enemies.

It had been at first arranged that Charles should make his way to London. A large city, where many are coming and going every day, and where few know anything about their neighbours, is always an excellent place in which to hide. But now another plan was proposed. Charles was to seek shelter among his friends in Wales, make his way to the coast, and so escape to France. He and Yates left Boscobel Wood at nine in the evening, and reached the house of a friend named Wolf, at Madeley, at midnight. Madeley is not far from the Severn; they hoped to cross that river, and then make the best of their way into Wales. Wolf was afraid to take them into his house, where he had no safe hiding-place; there were two companies of militia in the village; to get across the Severn was impossible, for all the fords and bridges were guarded. Nothing was left but to return to Boscobel. It was still thought dangerous to enter the house, and the next day was spent by Charles and Colonel Careless, a cavalier whom he found at Boscobel, among the branches of the famous oak. The tree had been lopped a few years before, and had thrown out a very thick foliage. Charles and his companion saw soldiers pass near it more than once in the day. Meanwhile, William Penderell and his wife Joan, while seeming to be at work—he a woodman, she busy in gathering sticks—kept watch. At night the fugitives came down from the tree and took shelter in the house. There was a secret chamber in it, and Charles thought that he should be as safe there as anywhere. His next move was to Moseley in Warwickshire (not far from Birmingham). It was a journey of more than twenty miles, and Charles, who was tired out with all that he had gone through during the last few days, was provided by Humphrey Penderell, the miller, with a horse. The five brothers and Yates accompanied the King, two walking before, two behind, and one on either side. Charles complained that the horse moved very heavily. "Sire," replied Humphrey, "you do not recollect that he carries the weight of three kingdoms on his back."

At Moseley a new plan was devised. A certain Miss Lane, daughter of Colonel Lane, of Bartley, near Walsall, had obtained a pass permitting her to visit a relative near Bristol. Charles was to disguise himself as her servant. If he reached Bristol there would be a good chance of finding a ship to carry him to France. While he was at Moseley the search was very hot, and a very careful watch had to be kept. Whiteladies and Boscobel had been again searched, and now a troop of horses arrived at Moseley, and arrested the King's host on the charge of having fought at Worcester. He was able, however, to prove by the testimony of his neighbours that he had never left Moseley, and was released. That night Charles rode to Bartley, where he was to take up his character as servant. His dress up to this time had been a leathern doublet, with coat and breeches of coarse green cloth, so worn in places that it seemed to be white, stockings much darned at the knee and without feet, heavy shoes, and a grey steeple-crowned hat, without band or lining. He now put on a neat suit of grey, such as a groom might naturally wear. A three days' journey took the party to their destination, Abbotshill, a few miles west of Bristol. Here Charles was recognized by the butler. The man was loyal, however, and took the precaution of keeping out of the way two of his fellow-servants who were known to have republican principles. But no way of escape appeared, for no ship could be hired at Bristol, and another move was necessary.

The next plan was to go to Trent, near Sherborne, where a Royalist of the name of Windham resided. A forged letter was delivered to Miss Lane, calling her back to Bartley, where her father was said to be at the point of death. She hurriedly departed, and the King made his way to Trent. A ship was hired at Lyme Regis to carry a nobleman and his servant to France—the nobleman was Lord Wilmot, while Charles was the servant. Charles, however, was to act the part of a young man eloping in a servant's disguise with a young lady, whose part was played by a Miss Juliana Coningsby. These two were to be received at an inn at Charmouth, a seaside village near Lyme. Again the scheme failed. The boat which was to fetch the passengers from Charmouth never appeared, the Lyme ship-master having repented of his agreement. Charles returned to Trent, and his friends tried to hire a ship at Southampton. This they succeeded in doing, but the vessel was seized to carry troops across to Jersey. A day or two afterwards the King had to leave Trent, where there were suspicions about his real character. His next refuge was in a house near Salisbury. Here he lay in hiding for five days. In the meanwhile a loyal gentleman, Colonel Gunter by name, succeeded in hiring a vessel from a loyal trader at New Shoreham. Charles made his way with all speed to Brighton, where he sat down to supper with Colonel Gunter, the trader, whose name was Mansel, and the captain of the vessel, whose name was Tattershall. The captain was observed to watch the King very closely during the meal. When it was over, he took the trader aside, and complained that he had been deceived. The stranger in grey was the King. "I knew him," he said, "when he commanded the fleet three years ago." The master of the house also was aware of the quality of his guest. As Charles stood with one hand resting on the back of the chair, the innkeeper kissed the hand, saying—"Doubtless if I live I shall be a lord, and my wife a lady!"

At four o'clock in the morning the next day, the party went down to the shore. Here Tattershall fell on his knees before the King, and vowed that whatever might happen, he would land him safely on the coast of France. They embarked. When the ship had weighed anchor, her head was put for Deal, to which place she was bound. A little scene had been arranged between Charles and the master. The King addressed the crew, saying that he and his friend Wilmot were merchants in distress, and flying from their creditors; would they join him in persuading the master to alter his course and land them on the coast of France? He would give them twenty shillings for their trouble. The men did as they were asked, and Tattershall, after making some objections, took the helm, and steered for the French coast. At day-break they came in sight of land, the shore being Fécamp, which was two miles distant. The tide was low, and not being able to make the harbour, they cast anchor. But a suspicious sail hove in sight. The master believed that it was a privateer from Ostend. This was not the case—it was really a French hoy—but it seemed safe to land the fugitives at once. The boat was lowered, and Charles and Lord Wilmot were rowed to shore. He had been traversing long distances for a long time,—not less than three hundred and fifty miles in forty-four days—he had been in the power of poor men, to whom the offered reward of a thousand pounds would have been wealth beyond all their hopes; he had been recognized by several people who had spared no pains to help him, but no one seems even to have thought of betraying him. I shall have to tell a very similar story, hereafter, of another Prince of the same royal house.

Soldier and Sailor

Every one would be very much astonished now-a-days if a man who had never been even a midshipman, perhaps had never been to sea, were appointed to the command of a fleet. Yet this was what was done when in 1649 Robert Blake was appointed, together with two other officers in the army, to command the fleet, and yet no one was surprised. Blake had showed himself an excellent soldier, and that was thought a good reason for supposing that he would make an excellent sailor.

His first service was to blockade Prince Rupert in Kinsale Harbour. War had ceased everywhere in Great Britain and Ireland, but the Prince was still carrying it on by sea, somewhat in the fashion of a pirate. Reduced to extremities by the blockade, he had no choice but to attempt an escape. He took the opportunity of a strong gale of wind, and succeeded in breaking out, but with the loss of three ships. He sailed to Lisbon, and made his way up the river Tagus, where he was under the protection of the King of Portugal. Blake followed him, but was fired on from the castle which commanded the river when he attempted to come to close quarters. The King of Portugal sent him a present of fresh provisions, with a polite message, but begged him not to come higher up the river, unless he should be compelled to do so by bad weather. Before long Blake was, or pretended that he was, so compelled, and came; but he anchored his ships a good way from Prince Rupert's, and, for the time, contented himself with sending to the King a statement of reasons why Prince Rupert was not worthy of protection. The King still refused to give him permission to attack, and Blake began to seize Portuguese ships, both coming from Brazil—for that country then belonged to Portugal—and going thither. In September he took seven outward-bound ships, and in October sunk or took eleven out of a home-bound fleet of twenty-three, with a cargo of 10,000 chests of sugar. Prince Rupert now contrived to get out of the Tagus, and made his way to Cartagena. Blake followed him thither, and asked the governor of the city for leave to attack. The governor referred the matter to Madrid, but while he was waiting for an answer, the Prince escaped again, and got into Malaga. Here Blake entered the harbour without asking leave, and destroyed the whole squadron excepting two, with which the Prince escaped to the West Indies. English traders had nothing more to fear from him.

Naval engagement


But a more formidable enemy was at hand. England and Holland were the chief trading nations of the world, and there was, of course, much jealousy and many quarrels between them. It is not easy to say which was in the right. Even when the two fleets fought, as they did before war had been regularly declared, we do not know which was to blame. The Dutch Admiral, Van Tromp by name, was told by the Dutch Council to refuse to allow his ships to be searched—the English had lately claimed the right to do this—and to salute or not, as he thought best. Van Tromp came over to the Downs (a place in which ships lie at anchor between Dover and Deal), with forty men-of-war. Blake, who had fifteen only, but these of a larger size, came up from the westward to meet him, and fired a gun, thus demanding a salute. Van Tromp replied with a broadside. A regular battle began, and the English fleet was in danger of being surrounded, when another squadron, commanded by Bourne, came up. After four hours of fighting, the Dutch lost two ships. This happened on May 19. For some months afterwards there was much discussion between the two governments. But they could not agree upon terms, perhaps because, as has been said before, the Dutch would not give to the Parliament what they had been willing to give to the King. Some fighting took place, mostly to the advantage of the English. In August, Blake took a whole fleet of merchantmen and six of the men-of-war which were protecting them. On September 29 there was a battle in which the Dutch fleet would have been destroyed but for the darkness coming on. At this time Van Tromp was in disgrace, and De Ruyter was in command of the Dutch fleet. The result of all this was that the trade of Holland was almost entirely stopped. The Dutch, in their distress, repented of the injustice with which they had treated Van Tromp, who had not really been to blame, and restored him to his command, and made so great an effort that he was able to put to sea with a fleet of eighty ships. Blake had only thirty-seven with which to meet him. Whether he did not know the real strength of the enemy, or felt himself bound to fight, whatever the odds, the English admiral joined battle. He attacked De Ruyter, who was in command under Van Tromp, in his flag-ship the Triumph, and was backed up by some but not by all of his fleet, for some of the captains were not well disposed to the Government. In the end Blake had to retreat into the Thames. Three of his ships were taken and two blown up. Many of the others were greatly damaged, none worse than the Triumph. It was after this battle, which took place on November 29, that Van Tromp sailed down the Channel with a broom at his main-top mast, to signify that he had swept the sea of his enemies. This was, of course, a great blow to Blake, but it did not break his spirit. The Government at home, knowing when it had got a good man, did not think of taking away his command, but appointed the best officer they could find to help him, while they exerted themselves to the utmost to equip a new and stronger fleet. Very early in the year (1652) Blake sailed out of the Thames with seventy ships, and took up a position near the Isle of Portland. On February 18 Van Tromp came up from the westward with about as many ships of war, and a convoy of three hundred merchantmen. The English fleet was divided into three squadrons, which were not near enough to help each other. Van Tromp attacked Blake's flag-ship, which was still the Triumph, and for a time had the best of the fight. Blake was severely wounded and his captain killed. But the other squadrons came up and the two fleets were now on equal terms. So they remained till nightfall. The next day Van Tromp made sail eastward, with his convoy in front, and his war-ships behind. Blake and his colleagues followed close behind. A running fight went on for two days, until the Dutch reached the shallower water further east. The English had decidedly the better of the fighting. Four Dutch ships were taken and five sunk, and between twenty and thirty merchantmen were captured. Blake was so disabled by his wound and by sickness, that he had to be put on shore. Both sides were busy in getting together and equipping all the ships they could. The Dutch had one hundred and twenty ships, with Van Tromp still commanding, the English nearly as many. The two fleets met on June 3 off the North Foreland. The first day neither obtained much advantage; on the second Blake came up with a squadron of seventeen fresh ships to the help of his colleagues. In the end Van Tromp lost one-and-twenty ships, 1300 prisoners, and a large number of killed and wounded.

This was the last time that Blake was to meet his old enemies. He had to be put on shore again, and before he was fit for service, his colleague Monk, of whom we shall hear again, had defeated the Dutch in a great action off the mouth of the Texel. In this action Van Tromp was killed.

Blake was not a man who would let politics interfere with the business of fighting. It was reported that when he heard of Cromwell having turned out the Parliament, and made himself Chief of the State, he said to his officers—"It is not for us to mind state affairs, but to keep foreigners from fooling us." Still, we can easily believe that he was not altogether pleased with having to fight the Dutch, who had once been the allies of England, and who might well be so again. Anyhow, he had next to do with very different enemies. The towns of Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, on the northern coast of Africa, were the habitation of pirates who were the terror of all the nations of Europe. Blake sailed to Algiers, and demanded that the Dey—this was the title of the governor, who was nominally subject to the Sultan of Turkey—that he should set free all Christian captives, and promise not to interfere with any English ships in the future. The Dey gave a civil answer. He would give up all the captives that were in his hands for a certain price apiece, and would promise to keep the peace. The Bey of Tunis, which Blake visited next, was insolent. "Look at my castles," he said. "Do you think I am afraid of your fleet?" Blake sailed into the Bay of Porto Ferino, bombarded the castle till it was in ruins, silenced all the enemy's guns, and then sent the long-boats of his ships into the harbour with orders to set fire to the fleet in it. All the Bey's ships, nine in number, were destroyed. This was done with the very small loss of twenty-five killed and forty-nine wounded. Tunis, after this, was glad to make peace, and Tripoli followed its example.

His last exploit was against Spain. News was brought to him that a fleet laden with silver was in the harbour of Santa Cruz, in the island of Teneriffe. It was protected by sixteen men-of-war; the forts of the harbour were fully armed; in fact, every preparation in the way of defence had been made. Yet Blake, though his force was but small, boldly attacked, and burnt, blew up, or sunk every Spanish ship, without losing one of his own. His strength was now rapidly failing; he sailed home, but died on August 17, 1657, just as his fleet was entering Plymouth Harbour.

He was buried in Westminster Abbey, but all that he had done for England did not prevent the Royalists from taking his body out of its grave and hanging it on a gibbet.

The Great Plague

NOTE.—I have taken (with some corrections) the contents of this chapter from Daniel Defoe's Journal of the Plague Year. Defoe did not write from his own recollections, for he was but four years old at the time, but it is commonly allowed that an eye-witness could not have described this terrible calamity more accurately.

It was in the month of November, in the year 1665, that there first began to be spread abroad a report that the Plague had come again to London. But, for the most part, men took little heed of it, for such things are often said without cause. Nor, indeed, did we know the whole truth, because, as long as it was possible, the matter was kept secret. But when the weather set in hot, things became so bad, one hundred and twenty dying in the parish of St. Giles' only, that there was no more concealing the trouble. And now began a great flight of people from the city into the country.

London street


In the Broad Street of Whitechapel, where I had my dwelling, being a saddler by trade, was nothing to be seen but wagons and carts, loaded with children and servants and goods, coaches also with those of the better sort, and horsemen. And it could plainly be seen that all were equipped for travelling. This being so, I doubted what I should myself do. To leave my trade was to hazard the loss of all that I had in the world. To stay, on the other hand, was to put my life in peril. I changed my opinion more than once. But when I resolved to go, I was put off more than once by some accident. First, the servant whom I purposed to take with me, deceived me, for being frightened at the increase of the distemper, and not knowing when I should go, he left me. Secondly, the woman whom I should have put in charge of my house and goods fell sick. But what chiefly determined me was this, that taking up the Bible, if haply I might find guidance therein, I lighted upon the 91st Psalm, wherein is written: I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge, and my fortress, my God; in Him will I trust. Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler and from the noisome pestilence. . . . Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation. Thus shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

At the first the distemper was chiefly in the out-parishes, because they were very populous and fuller also of poor, but afterwards the city itself, that is to say, within the walls, was sorely visited. Only it must be remembered that many of the inhabitants, being rich men, had the means of going away, whereas the poor were constrained to stay. Verily I might have thought, when I walked abroad, that all the inhabitants of London had gone out of it, the streets which were commonly thronged being now grown desolate. Yet a man could not fail to learn that there were some yet left behind. The voice of mourning was heard in the streets, and the shrieks of women and children at the doors and windows of their houses, where their dearest relations were perhaps dying or just dead, were frequent to be heard. But this was rather in the first part of the visitation. Towards the latter end, men's hearts were hardened. They did not concern themselves for the loss of friends, expecting that they should themselves be summoned the next hour.

Then also there were other things that increased the general fear. A blazing star or comet appeared for several months before the beginning of the Plague. Some would have it that it was of a faint, dull, and languid colour, but this they said, I notice, not so much at the time as afterwards. Books also, pretending to be religious, were published at this time, and frighted the people, or at the least some of them, sorely. One of these was entitled "Come out of her, my People, lest you be partaker of her Plague." Another was called "Fair Warning." These did, either openly or secretly, foretell the ruin of the city. Then there was a preacher who cried continually in the streets—"Yet forty days, and LONDONshall be destroyed." He said no more, but repeated these words continually, with a voice and countenance full of horror. He would not stay to speak to any one or even to take food, but cried continually these words. Then some pretended, or, it maybe, believed, that they saw wondrous sights, as an angel with a sword, or the spirit of some dead man, pointing to a tombstone as the place to which many would soon come.

Of quacks and mountebanks that professed to have remedies against this disorder there was, as may be supposed, no lack. The door-posts of the houses and the corners of the streets were plastered over with their papers. Here one might see such flourishes as these: "INFALLIBLE Preventive Pills against the Plague," "NEVER-FAILING Preservatives against the Infection," "The ONLY TRUE Plague-Water," and the like. I could, if I would, fill a book with them. Others set up bills to summon people to their lodgings for direction and advice. Here you may read one of them: "An Italian Gentlewoman just arrived from Naples, having a choice secret to prevent infection, which she found out by great experience, and did wonderful cures with it in the late Plague there, wherein there died 20,000 in one day."

One of these added to his bills, which he gave about the streets, these words, "He gives advice to the poor for nothing." Abundance of poor people came to him accordingly, to whom he said much, telling them many good things for them to do. But the conclusion of all was that he had a preparation, which if they took such a quantity of, every morning, he would pawn his life they would never have the Plague. And the price of this was half-a-crown. One of them that came says to him: "Sir, I am a poor alms-woman, and am kept by the parish, and you say that you give your help to the poor for nothing." "Ay, good woman," says he, "I give my advice for nothing, but not my physic." "Alas, sir," answers the woman, "you have laid a snare for the poor," and gave him many ill words, and stood at his door all that day telling her tale to all the people that came, till the doctor, finding she turned away his customers, was obliged to call her upstairs again and give her his box of physic for nothing, which, perhaps, too was good for nothing when she had it.

Others dealt in charms and amulets, as if the Plague was a thing to be kept off with signs of the Zodiac; papers tied up in knots, with words or figures written upon them, as particularly, the word Abracadabra, formed in triangle or pyramid thus—


But the true physicians themselves, when the distemper was at its worst, could do nothing. It defied all medicine; the very physicians were seized with it, with their preservatives in their mouths, and some of them the most skilful of their profession. Of the means that were employed by persons in authority, as the Lord Mayor and aldermen within the City and the Justices of the Peace without it, the chief was the shutting up of houses that were infected. A watchman was set there night and day, to prevent the inhabitants stirring out, or any coming to them. This looked hard and cruel, and doubtless many perished that might have lived if they had been suffered to leave the infected houses without delay. But the public good justified the private mischief.

Yet many did escape out of these houses, as particularly, when the watchman was sent on some errand, for it was his business to go of any errand on which the family sent him, as to buy food and physic, or to fetch physicians or nurses, or to order the dead-cart. It was not possible that one man could watch a house, it having, perhaps, more than one door. Doubtless, also, many were bribed to suffer the dwellers in the infected houses to escape from them. I can scarcely find it in my heart to blame such as gave the bribes or such as received them. I pitied much three watchmen that were publicly whipped through the streets for suffering people to go out from infected houses.

Who shall describe the terrible sights and sounds that were to be seen and heard in the streets? The most dreadful thing that I myself encountered was of my own seeking, for I must needs go and see the great pit that they had digged for them that died of the Plague in the churchyard of our parish of Aldgate. 'Twas about 40 foot in length, and about 16 foot broad, and about 9 foot deep when I saw it, but afterwards, it was said, they dug it in one part as far as 20 foot, till they could get no further for the water. Many cried out at the size of it, saying that the churchwardens had a mind to bury the whole parish in it. But the churchwardens knew better than did they who blamed them. For having begun to bury on the 6th of September, they had thrown into it 1114 bodies in the space of two weeks, and so, the bodies having thus come to lie within six foot of the surface —and none were suffered to lie nearer—they were constrained to fill it up. Having seen it when it was newly digged, I saw it again on September l0th, when there was 400 buried, going in the night-time. This I did, though it was forbidden, having some acquaintance with the sexton. The good man would have dissuaded me. " 'Tis our duty," he said, "and we must do it at all hazards, but you that have no call there is nothing to justify." But when I said that it might be an instructing sight and not without its uses, he answered—"Go in; depend upon it, 'twill be a sermon to you, and the best you ever heard in your life."

When I heard this I wavered, but seeing two links come over from the Minories, and hearing the bell-man, and the dead-cart afterwards appearing, I could no longer resist it, but went in. There was no one in the churchyard but the buriers and the man that had the cart. But when they came to the pit, I saw a man in a brown cloak, going to and fro, and making motions under his cloak as one in a great agony. The buriers gathered round him, supposing him to be one of the desperate natures that would throw themselves alive into the grave. But they found him to be no such, but one oppressed with a dreadful weight of grief, for in the cart were his wife and several of his children. When he saw their bodies shot into the pit, for to lay them decently was not possible, he gave a great cry, and fell down in a swoon. This, I say, was the most dreadful sight I ever saw.

In this place I will relate in what manner I myself lived when the Plague was at its height, following herein the counsel of a physician who was very skilful in his art, and also my very good friend. He bade me lock up myself and my family in my home, and not suffer any one to go abroad. Nor was I to open any door or window except I first made a very strong smoke with rosin, or pitch, or brimstone, or gun-powder, in the room where the door or window was to be opened. Not having laid in any store of provisions, I could not keep within doors entirely. Nevertheless, though it was very late, I attempted something towards it. I went and bought two sacks of meal, and having an oven for several weeks we baked all our own bread. Also, I bought malt, and brewed as much beer as would fill all the casks that I had in my house. Also I laid in a quantity of salt butter and Cheshire cheese. As for flesh meat, the Plague raged so violently among the butchers that I judged it not advisable to go among them; so we were constrained to make shift without it.

But though I kept my family, to wit, an old woman that managed the house, a maid-servant, and two apprentices, within doors, I could not prevail upon myself, so curious was I, to stay entirely within. Yet I seldom went abroad but that I came home greatly terrified with what I had seen, to wit, persons falling dead in the streets, for some were taken with the disease and did not know it, till it had consumed all their strength, and sick people heaving open their chamber windows, and crying out in a most dismal, surprising manner, and such-like things.

Once, walking in Well Alley, I heard a great screaming in a house, and a noise of women and children running to and fro. Then I saw a garret window on the other side of the Alley thrown open, from which one called and asked, "What is the matter?" Upon which from the other house it was answered, "O Lord! my old master has hanged himself!" The other asked, "Is he quite dead?" and the first answered, "Ay, ay, quite dead; quite dead and cold!" This person was a merchant and a deputy-alderman, and very rich.

Another day I walked out into the fields towards Bow, for I had a great mind to see how things were managed on the river and among the ships. I had even a thought, having some concern in shipping, that the best way to avoid infection would be to retire into a ship. Musing on this I turned from Bow to Bromley, and so to Blackwall. Here I saw a poor man walking by himself on the sea-wall. I fell into some talk with him, and asked him, how people did thereabouts? "Alas, sir," said he, "almost all desolate; all dead or sick." Then, pointing to one house, "There they are all dead," said he, "and the house stands open; nobody dare go into it." Then I asked him what he did there alone. Thereupon he pointed to a very little low boarded house, and said: "That's my house; and there are my poor wife and children. She is visited with the Plague, and so is one of the children. She, I hope, will recover; but I fear the child will die. I work for them as much as I am able." "How is that?" said I. "Why, sir," says he, "I am a waterman, and there's my boat, and the boat serves me for a house. I work in it by day, and sleep in it by night. What I get I lay down upon that stone," showing me a broad stone on the other side of the street, "and halloo and call to them till I make them hear, and they come and fetch it."

"Well, friend," says I, "but how can you get any money as a waterman? Does anybody go by water in these times?" Then he told me how he fetched provisions for ships that lay in the river, buying them from places not infected, as from Woolwich, and from single farm-houses on the Kentish side, places where he was known.

After some further talk, the poor woman opened the door, and called, "Robert, Robert!" He answered, and bade her stay a few moments, and he would come. So he ran down the stairs to his boat, and fetched up a sack in which were certain provisions that had been given him. These he took to the stone, and laid them out on it, and also the money that he had earned in the week, four shillings and a groat. His wife came and fetched them away, but was so weak that she could not carry all at once, though the weight was not much. So she left her little boy by it till she could come again. Then the man cried to her, "The Lord keep you all," and so he turned to go away.

There are many more things to be told about this terrible time, of how some stayed bravely at their posts, as clergymen and others, and others fled for their lives; how some were moved by the visitation to repentance, and others were made more desperate; but I have consumed enough of time and space, and so must make an end. I may say, by way of conclusion, that the sum of those who died this year by the Plague, in London, was counted at 68,596 persons, but I should reckon it to have been near upon 100,000.

NOTE.—The population of London at this time was not more than 600,000.

The Great Fire

Will God never set an end to the troubles of this city? I had thought that in the year now past London had suffered its full measure of evil, yet now there has befallen it a yet worse thing. They that the Plague spared are now for the most part without a roof to cover them.

'Tis a week now since I came back from Henley-upon-Thames, where I had been passing a week with my uncle Richard. Being somewhat tired with my journey, I went to my chamber at nine o'clock. An hour or so after John Pearce, my fellow 'prentice, woke me saying that there was a great fire burning near to London Bridge. I donned my clothes with all haste, for I have always been ready to go any whither for the sight of a fire. God forgive me if I did it from want of heart! But this I can say of a certainty, that from this time forward such things will be no pleasure to me but a terror.

We found that there was a great conflagration, scores of houses, as it seemed to me, burning together near to the end of London Bridge. One in the crowd told me that the fire began at the King's baker in Pudding Lane. By this time it had come to Fish Street, nor did there seem any likelihood of staying it, for, by some mischance, there was no water in the conduits of the New River. Had they been full, it would not, in my judgment, have availed much, for the heat was so fierce that none could approach the burning houses. The fire was all the worse because the wind blew so strongly. Nor must it be forgotten that everything was beyond usual ready to burn, the summer having been very hot and dry. While I watched, I saw a great flake of fire carried on to the roof of St. Magnus' Church, which, as you know, is hard by the Bridge. Certain sailors, at the instance of the parson, who was greatly concerned for his church, set a ladder against the parapet, and carried up buckets of water from the Thames. But it was of no more avail than if one poured a cup of water into the melting furnace at Hawkhurst. Indeed one of the men barely escaped with his life, the ladder catching fire before he could come to the ground. For the most part there was no thought of staying the flames, which indeed was plainly impossible, but of saving such goods and chattels as could be got out of the houses. Such as dwelt in the neighbourhood of the river fared best in this respect, for they put their possessions into barges and lighters. To the rest it often happened that they had to remove their property twice or thrice, the house to which it was first taken, though at first it had seemed safe, being soon in manifest danger of the flames. There were some who, having changed their refuge, so to speak, twice or thrice or even more often, yet lost in the end all that they possessed. Every place was crowded with people lamenting, and there were pitiable sights without end to be seen. Yet I know not whether anything more moved my heart than to see the pigeons which dwell in great numbers by the riverside, especially at the wharves where they store corn, flying about their cotes, as if being loth to leave them. The poor birds would tarry even till their wings were burned, and they dropped down into the fire. 'Tis strange that in the midst of such unhappiness of men and women I should think of brute creatures, yet so it was.

About eight o'clock John Pearce and I went home—my master's house, you should know, is on the south side of the river, and so was out of danger. After breakfast, being quite spent, we slept awhile, but waking about noon, went forth again. A waterman of our acquaintance took us in his boat, and we rowed to and fro till it was dark. All this time the fire grew fiercer and fiercer. Even on the river, we keeping as close as might be to the further shore, 'twas as much as we could do to endure the heat. Drops and flakes of fire also would be blown into our faces by the wind, so that we were glad to have the water so close at hand. At nightfall 'twas a most horrible sight we saw. The flame seemed not to be as of an ordinary fire, but more than commonly terrible, with a colour as of blood. And the compass of it was marvellously great. There was an arch of fire of more than a mile long. The noise too was most horrid, a continual roaring, and now and then a loud crash, when some great house or church fell in a ruin.

That night John Pearce and I slept but two or three hours, if that which was so troubled could be called sleep, and then out again. This time our friend the waterman took us to Westminster, where we landed and went on foot along the Thames. At Temple Bar we encountered a certain alderman with whom my master often does business. Master Statham, for that is his name, was very wroth with my Lord Mayor. "The man is no better than a child," quoth he. "I myself stood by when Mr. Pepys, who is clerk to the Navy Board, came with a message from the King that he should spare no houses, but pull them down on every side, so that the fire, having nothing that it could devour, might die out. And what did he answer. 'Lord! what can I do? I am spent; people will not obey me. I have been pulling down houses; but the fire overtakes us faster than we can do it.' And so all that he did was to go home and refresh himself." I could not wonder at the Alderman's anger, for he had himself lost a fine house and a great store of goods, but it needed a man of no common parts, a Julius Cæsar, or if I may name him, an Oliver Cromwell, to order things rightly, at such a time.

Fire of London


Going eastwards, after we had parted from the Alderman, we saw what seemed more terrible than anything that we had before beheld, the great church of St. Paul's in flames. The church is, or rather was—alas that I should write the word!—near upon six hundred feet in length, and more than one hundred feet in breadth, and the spire near upon five hundred feet high. The flames had not yet so mastered it but that one could see the whole form of the building, but they were breaking out of the windows and climbing, as it seemed to us, up the tower.

I saw the Duke of York riding with his guards after him. They are much needed for the keeping of order. Evil-minded men took occasion of this trouble, as is always their custom, to make profit by robbery and the like. I hear that the King also has greatly bestirred himself to help at this time, but I have not chanced to see him.

On the third day, that is Tuesday, I took boat again and went down the river as far as the Tower. It was indeed scarcely possible to make one's way by land, so great was the throng, for the country folk have crowded into the city, eager to see what may be seen, and some of them, I fear, hoping to lay hands upon goods left without watch. Being by the Tower stairs I saw a great company of workmen that had come from Deptford and Woolwich. Mr. Pepys, who is a notably clever man, had sent for them. It was his purpose to blow up houses with gunpowder, for 'tis too slow a business to pull them down, and these men are used to deal with such work. This I heard from the captain of the barge in which they came. And, sure enough, about the space of two hours after, we heard a great and terrifying noise, and saw a great cloud of dust, as it seemed, rise into the air. Those that were there judged it to be near to Seething Lane, wherein is Mr. Pepys' office, which, because there are many papers and the like of great value, they are most desirous to save. But doubtless the same will be done in other parts. But 'tis strange to see how little men think of the public good, and how much of their own.

Going the next day to the same spot, I found that the fire had been indeed stayed from spreading eastward. Barking Church stands mostly unhurt, but the flames came so near that they scorched the dial and consumed part of the porch. Climbing to the top of the steeple I saw the saddest sight of desolation that ever I beheld; everywhere great fires, all the more violent because there were many stores of brimstone, cellars of oil, and the like in those parts. Clothworkers' Hall, where there was a great store of oil, burnt, as I heard afterwards, for three whole days.

It is too early as yet, for I am writing this on the eighth day after the beginning of the fire, to reckon up the total damage. So much, however, is known, that the whole city between the Tower and the Temple has been consumed, and in this portion eighty-six churches, not reckoning St. Paul's. There is much talk about the cause of this great calamity. Some will have it that the Dutch sent over men to kindle it; others, and this is indeed the more common belief, protest that it has been the work of the Papists. For myself, I pretend neither to affirm nor to deny, except so far as to say that there is no need to look beyond the causes that we know.

The Dutch in the Medway

The most dreadful plague and the worst fire that had ever been known in England were followed in the very next year (1667) by the greatest disgrace that the country ever suffered. It was worse than all, perhaps, that England should have such a king as Charles II. We cannot say that he was to blame for these troubles, except that some of the money that should have been spent on the navy was wasted by him in foolish extravagance, but it is only fitting that the country should have suffered its worst losses in the time of its very worst king.

The trouble came from the weakness of our fleet, and the cause of this was the want of money. Partly, as I have said, the King was to blame; but the Plague and the Fire had also much to do with it. Commonly, when money was wanted in a hurry, the rich Companies and merchants in the City of London were ready to lend it. But now they had nothing to spare. The Plague had stopped all trade for more than half-a-year, and after this was at an end, the fire came and destroyed half of London. This had to be rebuilt. Thus it came to pass that Government could not borrow, because there was no one who could lend. You will remember how, in the time of the Protector, Blake had won victory after victory over the Dutch fleets. Even in the year before, the English had fought against them with fair success, losing one battle and winning another. But now it was found impossible properly to fit out a fleet. Accordingly, a certain Sir William Coventry, who was Chief Commissioner of the Navy, proposed that the larger ships should be laid up, and that two squadrons of light frigates should be equipped, one for the Channel and the other for the German Ocean, to do as much harm as possible to the enemy's commerce. The Dutch saw their opportunity, and did not fail to use it. De Ruyter, who was in chief command, ordered the fleet, which consisted of seventy vessels, to meet him in separate squadrons at the buoy off the Nore. He intended to sail up the Thames and the Medway, and to destroy the docks in which many of the English ships were laid up.

Naval engagement


The English Government knew what was intended, and did their best to guard against it. Three months before they had given orders to build a fort at Sheerness, to throw a boom across the Medway, to furnish the batteries with guns, and to get ready ten fire-ships. But to give orders for works without money to carry them out was useless. The Commissioners of the Navy were already nearly a million in debt; the sailors refused to serve; the labourers would not work. So De Ruyter found no real resistance. He sent one squadron as far as Gravesend; the other was to go up the Medway and burn the shipping that was in that river. The fort at Sheerness, which is on the right bank of the river where it joins the sea, fired upon the Dutch fleet, but to little or no purpose. The boom, however, was of more use. It stood against the shock of the Dutch men-of-war, though they came against it with both wind and tide. But even here the Government had been badly served. There was another channel which had been left unguarded. The Dutch vessels made their way up this, and opened fire upon the forts. At the same time, first one heavy fire-ship was driven against the boom, and then another; the chain broke under the weight of the two; very soon the guard-ships which had been moored behind it were on fire. The next disaster that happened was the taking of the hull of the Royal Charles, a man-of-war of the largest size. It had been left too far down the river. Samuel Pepys writes in his Diary (June 13)—"No sooner up but hear the sad news confirmed of the Royal Charles  being taken by them, and now in fitting by them (which Pett should have carried up higher by our several orders, and deserves, therefore, to be hanged for not doing it)." The next day, in spite of all the English were able to do in the night by way of mounting guns on the batteries, and collecting men to work them, there were fresh losses. The Dutch again came up the river. The men-of-war anchored in front of the batteries and engaged them. Meanwhile the fire-ships went on and burnt three more first-rates, the Royal James, Oak, and London. This done, the Dutch fleet went down the river again to the Nore.

De Ruyter now sailed along the south coast. There was no fleet to hinder him, but when he attempted to burn the ships at Portsmouth, Plymouth, and Torbay, he failed; nor did he again venture to sail up the Thames. But he had inflicted such a disgrace upon England as is scarcely to be equalled in all her history.

The Seven Bishops

Charles II., who had certainly during his life showed himself as careless of religion as a man could be, declared himself on his death-bed to be a Roman Catholic. His brother, James, Duke of York, who succeeded him, had for many years belonged to the Roman Church. There had, indeed, been an attempt to prevent him from becoming king on this account, but it had failed. Now, those who professed the Roman Catholic faith had much to put up with. They could not hold offices under Government, nor sit in Parliament, nor were they allowed to have public service in their churches or chapels. King James was determined to release them from their "disabilities," as they were called. In 1687 he published a Declaration, in which he said that though he would gladly see all his people of the same faith as himself, he would not use any force to bring this about. He wished his subjects, whatever their belief, to have liberty to practise it openly. The Established Church should still have her legal rights, but those who differed from her were not to suffer for it. No one, in particular, was to be kept out of any office because he did not belong to the Established Church.

Now all this may have been right, but the King had no power to do it. He was really trying to repeal, by his own simple word, a number of Acts of Parliament. The Declaration was issued a second time on April 27, 1688. A week afterwards the King made an Order in Council that it was to be read on two Sundays—May 20th and 27th—in every church and chapel in London, and on two other Sundays—June 3rd and 10th—in all the other churches of England and Wales.

The clergy of London held a meeting to decide whether the Order was to be obeyed. At first the majority were disposed to obey. But one of their number declared that, whatever others might do, he would not read it. Some of the most eminent of the others agreed with him. In the end it was generally determined that the Declaration should not be read. The Bishops also held a meeting, and came to the same conclusion. They consulted with some of the other clergy, and drew up a petition to the King. They should be ready, they said, to do all they could to relieve in the proper way the consciences of those who differed from them, but they had been advised that the King had no power to issue the Declaration, and that therefore they could not send it out for the clergy to read. This paper was signed by the Archbishop and six Bishops. The six went to the King to put it before him. No time was to be lost, for it was Friday, and the next Sunday was the day appointed for its first reading. Bishop Lloyd, of St. Asaph, presented it to the King. James, who had not expected them to resist, was very angry. "I did not expect this from you. This is a standard of rebellion." The Bishops were greatly troubled by the word. Trelawney, Bishop of Bristol, fell on his knees and said, "For God's sake, sir, do not say so hard a thing of us. No Trelawney can be a rebel. Remember how my family has fought for the Crown." "We are ready," said another, "to die at your feet." The King grew more and more angry. "I will be obeyed," he said; "go to your dioceses and see that I am obeyed. This paper I will keep. I will remember you that have signed it."

On the Sunday the Declaration was read in four only out of the hundred churches in London. Even in these the congregation left the place before the reading was finished. Much the same happened in the country. Not one clergyman in fifty obeyed the order.

A few days afterwards the Seven were called before the Council. The King could do nothing to make them change their minds, and that evening they were sent to the Tower. As they were taken down the Thames from Whitehall, they were greeted by thousands of people with loud cheers; many even rushed into the water to ask for their blessing. The very sentinels of the Tower did the same, and the garrison would drink no other health. Many people of the highest rank came next day to pay them their respects. Among their visitors were ten Nonconformist ministers. The Protestant Dissenters would not consent to be helped by the King, if this was to be done against law. The Bishops remained in prison for a week only; on June 29 they were brought to trial.

[Illustration] from English History Stories - III by Alfred J. Church

Meanwhile the whole country was greatly moved by what had happened. In Cornwall, the native county of Bishop Trelawney, the miners sang a ballad of which the chorus was—

"And shall Trelaway die, and shall Trelaway die?

Then twenty thousand Cornish boys will know the reason why."

When the 29th came, the lawyers of the Crown did their best to "pack" the jury, i.e.  to let no one be a member of it who would not be likely to find a verdict of guilty. But they could not hinder the prisoners' right to object to a certain number of jurymen. Some of the forty-eight summoned were Roman Catholics, some were in the King's service. To these the lawyers objected. The Crown lawyers, on the other hand, objected to some whom they believed to be inclined to the cause of the Bishops. The Chief justice and the three other Judges of the King's Bench sat to try the case. The Bishops were accused of publishing a "libel," i.e.  something either false, or, if true, of such a kind as to do injury to some one.

The first thing was to prove that the petition presented to the King was written by the Bishops. The lawyers called witnesses to swear to the handwriting, but they could get nothing certain from them. Then they called a Clerk of the Council, who had been present when the Bishops had been brought before it. He swore that he had heard them own to their signatures. Then it came out that they had done this at the King's command, and in the belief that their doing this would not be used against them. The King had, indeed, made no promise, but the Bishops had understood that they would be safe in doing what they did. This was the reason why the lawyers had tried to prove the writing in other ways. It was not to the credit of the King that he should have made the prisoners give evidence against themselves.

Then it became necessary to prove that the libel had been published. The Bishops had written and signed the paper, but was this the paper given to the King? Here also there was a difficulty, but at last this too, was removed by the Earl of Sunderland, who was President of the Council.

Lastly came the great question which the jury had to decide. Was the petition really a libel, false or malicious? The lawyers on both sides argued this question, and the judges gave their opinions. The Chief Justice thought that it was false and malicious; so did another of the judges. The third, however, declared that it seemed to him nothing more than what a subject might lawfully present; and the fourth boldly affirmed that the Declaration of Indulgence was against the law, and that therefore the Bishops were quite in the right.

The jury was locked up to consider their verdict, being carefully watched to see that no food or drink reached them. At first nine were for acquitting, and three for convicting. Then two of the three gave way. The only one that held out was Michael Arnold, the King's brewer. He had been very unwilling to serve. It was reported that he had said, "Whatever I do I am sure to be half-ruined. If I say Not Guilty, I shall brew no more for the King; if I say Guilty, I shall brew no more for any one else." One of the eleven wished to argue the question with him. Arnold sulkily refused. His conscience was not satisfied, and he would not acquit the Bishops. "If it comes to that," said the other, "look at me. I am the largest and strongest of the twelve; before I find such a petition as this a libel, here will I stay till I am no bigger than a tobacco pipe." It was six in the morning before Arnold yielded.

At ten o'clock the court met, and the foreman of the jury gave in the verdict of Not Guilty. It was met with a tremendous shout of applause. Everywhere the news was heard with delight. That day the King visited the camp at Hounslow. When the news was brought to him, he set out for London. As soon as his back was turned, the soldiers broke out into a cheer. He asked the reason. "Nothing, sire," was the answer. "They are only cheering because the Bishops are acquitted." "Do you call that nothing?" he said; "so much the worse for them." Less than five months afterwards King James fled from England.


The cause of King James was lost for ever in England, but in Ireland it still prevailed. It was not that the Irish people had any particular liking for him. He was a foreigner, and they had always wished to be ruled by a prince of their own race. But then he was no longer King of England, and he was of their own way of thinking in religion. To have a Roman Catholic king, who would have no reason to prefer the interests of England to the interests of Ireland, was, they felt, the best thing that they were likely to get. But the north-east corner of Ireland was very differently situated from the rest of the island. The inhabitants were mostly Protestants, Englishmen and Scotchmen who had come over and settled on lands that had formerly belonged to the natives. Many of them were sons of Cromwell's soldiers; some of the old men among them had actually fought under him. They hated King James as much as did any one in England, probably hated him more, because they would be certain to lose more, if he should succeed.

The chief town in this portion of Ireland was Londonderry, and Londonderry refused to submit to King James. Thousands of Protestants from the country round, and from more distant parts of Ireland, flocked into it for shelter. It was only there and in Enniskillen that a Protestant's life and property were safe. Unfortunately, Londonderry itself was in danger. The walls by which it was defended had never been very strong, and they had been allowed to get out of repair. The supply of food was very small, while there were a great many more people than usual to be provided for. Worst of all, the governor, one Colonel Lundy, was bent on giving the place up to King James. We cannot say whether he was a traitor or a coward, but it is certain that he did his best to discourage the garrison and the inhabitants. The city, he said, could not possibly hold out, and the best thing that could be done was to make terms with the besiegers. On April 14 two regiments arrived. They had been sent from England to strengthen the garrison. Lundy told the colonel who commanded them that it would be useless for him to land his soldiers. The place could not be defended, and there was not food enough even for the garrison that it had already. He and his regiments had better go back to England at once. After speaking in this way to the colonel privately, Lundy called a council of war, from which, however, he took pains to shut out any officer that wished to resist. The council decided to surrender, and a messenger was sent to King James to say that Londonderry would be peaceably given up to him, as soon as it should be summoned.

[Illustration] from English History Stories - III by Alfred J. Church

This decision was not at all to the liking of the inhabitants. Even the soldiers refused to obey their commander. The gates were shut; the guns upon the walls were manned. When King James, who felt sure that the city would be surrendered to him, rode with his staff near one of the gates, a cannon-shot was fired at the party, and killed an officer by the King's side. Two governors were chosen by the principal inhabitants, one of them a soldier, Baker by name, who was to look after military affairs, the other, an old clergyman, the Rev. George Walker, Rector of Donaghmore, who was to manage matters in the city itself, and issue the allowances of food. King James still hoped to gain the town. He sent a trumpeter with a message to know when the agreement which Governor Lundy had made to surrender would be carried out. The man was told that the people of Londonderry had nothing to do with Governor Lundy's agreements, and that they were determined to resist to the last. Another envoy, an Irish noble, came the following day. Murray, the colonel of one of the regiments, rode out to meet him. "I am to offer," said the envoy, "a free pardon to all the citizens of Londonderry, and to you a colonel's commission and a thousand pounds." The answer was—"The citizens of Londonderry have done nothing that requires a pardon, and have no sovereign but King William and Queen Mary." The envoy was advised to depart at once and not to come again.

After this the siege was begun in earnest. The town was bombarded, with no little damage to the houses and some loss of life. At first this caused much dismay, but the inhabitants got used to it, as men will get used to anything. On April 21 the besieged made a sally, and a fierce fight followed, in which a French general, who had the command of King James' army, was killed. They made another about a fortnight later, in which another French officer of high rank received a wound, which, not many days after, for want of skill in the doctors, caused his death. For several weeks after this fighting went on, and, on the whole, the men of Londonderry had the best of it, taking both prisoners and flags from the enemy. Then Hamilton, who, after the Frenchman's death, had succeeded to the chief command of the army, ordered an assault to be made. The point to be attacked was a spot called Windmill Hill, near the southern gate. A forlorn hope, consisting of men who had taken an oath to make their way into the town or die in the attempt, was led by a certain Captain Butler to the attack. The besieged received them, drawn up in three lines, the men who stood behind loading the muskets of those who stood in front. The struggle was long and fierce. The Irish fought bravely, but they could not drive the defenders from their place. The women of Londonderry were busy serving out powder and shot to their husbands and relatives. A few of the attacking party managed to climb the wall where it was lowest, but they were all killed or taken prisoners. When the besiegers had lost four hundred men, they were ordered by their commanding officer to fall back.

As the town could not be taken by storm, there was nothing left but to blockade and starve it out. It was easy enough to do this by land, but there was the river, by which English ships could pass up to the town with food. True, there were forts and batteries, but these might be passed at night, or, indeed, with some risk at other times. The besiegers, therefore, proceeded to barricade the river. They sank boats loaded with stones, drove stakes into the bottom of the stream, and tied heavy logs of wood together with cables a foot thick. They thus made a boom or fence right across the river. Until this was broken, nothing could pass, and Londonderry was shut off from all help. The brave men who were holding Enniskillen would have been glad to help if it had been possible, but they were not strong enough to do more than harass the outside of the enemy's camp. Meanwhile, inside the walls, the famine grew worse and worse. There was no flesh but horseflesh, and very little of that; the wretched people were glad to have a little tallow doled out to them. At last, on June 15, when the siege had lasted nearly two months, there was some hope of relief. The sails of ships could be seen from the top of the Cathedral tower. These ships were in Lough Foyle, an arm of the sea, as it may be called, into which the Londonderry river runs; and they were, without doubt, the squadron that had come from England to relieve the town. Shortly after, a messenger, who had dived under the boom, brought the news. The ships were carrying men, ammunition, and, above all, food. Londonderry was to be relieved.

So men hoped, but it was long before the hope was fulfilled. The officer who commanded the squadron did not think it safe to approach. He had not men enough to attack the enemy's lines; he was afraid to charge the boom with his ships. For weeks he lay in lough Foyle doing nothing.

Famine, and the fever which always follows famine, were busy in the town. Many died, among them Governor Baker; those who survived were so weak that they could hardly bear arms. Yet the brave people of Londonderry held out. They even endured what must have been not less hard to bear than hunger and disease—the sight of their own countrymen dying of starvation under the walls of their town. The command of the siege had been handed over to Rosen, a Russian officer in the French service. This man drove a number of old men, women, and children from the country round up to the walls. The besieged, he thought, must either take them in, and so have more to feed, or must see them die before their eyes. The townsmen, by way of answer, put up gibbets on the wall, and declared that, unless these poor creatures were allowed to go away, they would hang the prisoners whom they had in their hands. Rosen held out for two days before he gave way; many had died during this time.

King James now took the chief command away from Rosen, and the siege went on more vigorously than ever. The cannons never ceased to fire; one of the gates was beaten in; a breach was made in the walls. Still the brave men of Londonderry repaired by night the damage that had been done by day, and this though they were so weak for want of food that they could hardly stand. For, of course, as the weeks went by, the famine grew worse and worse. Of proper food hardly any was left. There was a store of salted hides, meant to be made into leather; these the soldiers and others gnawed, and so were able to stay their hunger a little. Dogs and rats were greedily eaten when they could be caught; there was even talk of making a meal off human flesh. And all this time the people could see the ships in Lough Foyle, and knew that if they could come up the river there would be plenty of food for all.

Colonel Kirke, who was in command of the fleet, ought to have made the attempt to force the passage as soon as he came. He now received a command which he dared not disobey, that it must be made at all risks and without delay. The master of one of the merchantmen now went to Kirke, and offered to run his ship, the Mountjoy, against the boom, on the chance of breaking it down. His name was Micaiah Browning, and he was a native of Londonderry. The offer was accepted, as also another made by Andrew Douglas, master of the Phœnix. The two ships sailed up the river from Lough Foyle, and with them was a frigate, carrying 36 guns, the Dartmouth, commanded by Captain John Leake. At sunset, on July 28, these three came up the river from Lough Foyle. The tide was flowing, but the water was still very low, and the channel by which they had to pass was close to the left bank of the river, where the besiegers had made batteries on which many guns were mounted. A sharp cannonade was kept up on the vessels from the shore, to which the Dartmouth did its best to reply. When they came to the boom, the Mountjoy  charged it. The ship had all its sails set, and was carried on by the force of the tide, and the boom could not stand the force of the blow, but broke. Still, the shock to the Mountjoy  was so great that she was driven back into the mud. The Irish soldiers on the bank raised a great shout, got into their boats, and prepared to board. But the frigate came to the rescue, pouring such a broadside on them that they were thrown into confusion. Meanwhile, the Phœnix  dashed at the opening which the Mountjoy  had made, and passed safely through the boom. The Mountjoy  too was soon floated off by the rising tide, and followed her companion ship, without suffering much injury, though her brave captain was killed, struck by a shot from one of the batteries. By ten o'clock the two ships had reached the quay. As it was sunset when they came up to the boom, and the sun does not set so far north on July 28 till past nine o'clock, not much time had been lost. But short as it was, this time had been one of terrible suspense to the townsfolk. Now all their troubles were over; an ample supply of food was distributed to every one; nor did it trouble any one that the guns of the besiegers went on thundering throughout the night. They lit bonfires on the walls, and rang out a merry peal from the bells of the churches. For two days more the besiegers kept up the cannonade; on the night of July 31 they burnt their camp and marched away.

Blenheim and After

It is easy to understand that when it seemed likely that the two great kingdoms of France and Spain would be united in the hands of the same ruler, the other nations of Europe would see danger to themselves. After much trouble an arrangement was made, by which it was provided that France and Spain should not be so united. But Louis XIV., though he had agreed to it, refused to abide by it. Hence began what is called "The War of the Spanish Succession." Some of the European nations joined in a "Grand Alliance" to resist the ambition of the French king. It is not certain that England would have joined it, though King William III. was anxious that it should, but for one thing. When James II. of England was dying, his wife prevailed upon Louis XIV. to promise that he would recognize his son as King of England. Accordingly, no sooner was King James dead (Sept. 6, 1701) than his son was proclaimed King of England under the title of James III. The English people were greatly enraged, and King William had no more difficulty in persuading them to follow his advice. He himself died half-a-year later (March 8, 1702), but his death made no change in English policy. John Churchill, whom William III. had made Earl of Marlborough, was appointed Commander-in-Chief. He had done his best, or worst, to injure William, but he was a great general, and the King, when he was dying, recommended him to the Princess Anne, who was to succeed, as the very best man that she could find to carry on the war.

Duke of Marlborough


It was no easy matter to get together an army. Men who had been put into prison for debt—and in those days, and indeed for long after, debtors were treated with the greatest cruelty—were released if they were willing to serve. Recruits were even taken from the prisons. Vagrants and tramps were compelled to enlist. Even then the proper number of men could not be found. But in Germany there were many who were willing to become soldiers. During the last century there had been so much fighting that the labourers had been obliged to become soldiers. It was useless to cultivate fields which might be ravaged any day. In fact, service in the army was for many the only livelihood that they could follow. Then again, the small German princes were glad to hire out their subjects as soldiers to States that were willing to pay for them.

Marlborough went to Holland in May 1702, and was made Commander-in-Chief of the Dutch army. Various German princes, the Elector of Hanover, afterwards George I. of England, among them, joined him. He had altogether about 60,000 men. But it was difficult to manage an army made up of so many States; and still more difficult to manage their rulers, each of whom had his own interests to look after. That year various towns were taken, of which Liège was the most important. A very great misfortune had very nearly happened to the Allies. As Marlborough was on his way down the river Maas to the Hague, his barge was taken by some French soldiers. An old servant who was with him slipped into his hand a French pass which had been given some time before to his brother. The Frenchmen were deceived and let him go.

It would take long to describe what was done in the course of the next year (1703). Marlborough was continually hindered by the Dutch. A committee of Dutch Councillors went about with him, and he had always to consult them. They were cautious, even, one may say, timid, and unwilling to run any risk. Some of Marlborough's best schemes were spoilt because they were afraid to give their consent. It may be said that, on the whole, the Allies made no great advance. Marlborough resolved that the next year should not be lost in the same way. He marched into South Germany, and at the beginning of July had reached Würtemberg. He had, as I have said, a curiously mixed army; but there were no troops so much admired as the English. "These gentlemen all look as if they were dressed for a ball," said one of the German Princes to an English General. On August 2 Marlborough stormed a strong place called the Schellenberg. He lost 4500 men in doing it, but of the enemy's garrison of 12,000 only 3000 escaped. Many were drowned in attempting to swim the river that stopped their flight; still more were drowned by the breaking of the bridge that had been made across it. Eleven days later came the great battle of Blenheim. That it was to be a great battle every one felt. Marlborough, who had received the Holy Communion before dawn, cried, as he mounted his horse—"This day I conquer or die."

The army of the Allies consisted of 52,000 men; about two-thirds being under the immediate command of Marlborough. The rest were led by Prince Eugène of Savoy. The French, on the other hand, had about 56,000 men; Marshal Tallard was in chief command, and seems to have shown a strange want of skill, and even of common care. In the first place, he did not know that the Allied army was so near him; secondly, he did not know how strong it was, thinking, in particular, that Prince Eugène had indeed joined Marlborough, but had not brought an army with him. Then he had not taken any trouble in protecting his position. His camp had a river in front of it and between him and the Allies. He took it for granted that it was too deep to ford, because it had been so in October, whereas it was now August. There was a bridge over it, but this he neither broke down nor fortified. There were two mills upon it; these he did not take the trouble to occupy. Finally, he left a large space between his camp and the river, in which the enemy, if he got across the river, would find ample space to draw up his army. Of course he ought to have moved his troops right up to the bank, so that the Allies would have to meet them as soon as they should get out of the water.

On the right of the French position was the village of Blenheim. By some blunder, a great body of French troops was shut up in this place. A great part of it was protected by the two rivers, the Danube and the Nebel, which flows into it; the rest was strongly fortified. Four thousand men would have been quite sufficient to guard it, but there were more than three times as many, so closely packed together that many of them could hardly use their guns.

Marlborough kept his army waiting till Prince Eugène on the right could reach his proper position (he had to make his way by a long circuit). This was not done till one o'clock (you will remember that the troops began to move at dawn). When this was signalled, the advance was ordered. On the left, General Cutts, nicknamed the "Salamander," attacked the village of Blenheim. But this place was held too strongly to be taken. The Allies suffered considerable loss in the attack, and Marlborough sent word to General Cutts that he must be content to keep the garrison of the village occupied without exposing his own men more than could be helped. On the right, Prince Eugène's troops, who were greatly fatigued by their long march,—much longer than that of any other part of the army,—could make no impression on the enemy. The Danes, Dutch, and Hanoverians, who were between the Prince and Marlborough, did not fare any better. They were opposed to an Irish brigade in the service of the French king, and suffered great loss. Marlborough himself had to go to their help. When he had done this he prepared to make the great effort of the day. He had drawn up his cavalry, 8000 in number, on the slope of ground which went down from the French camp to the river. The river, it should be said, he had been allowed to cross without meeting with any opposition. He now gave the signal to charge. He was met with a heavy fire, which for a time threw his lines into disorder. If the French cavalry had taken advantage of the opportunity, the result of the day might have been different. But they did not move, though they were actually more numerous than the Allies. Marlborough, always calm, however great the danger, formed his lines again, and led them once more to the charge. As they came near the French squadrons, the latter broke and fled. The infantry; finding themselves deserted, followed their example, and in a very short time the centre of the French army had ceased to exist. The left, that portion which Prince Eugène had in vain attacked, withdrew in good order, without suffering much loss. But the right, the 14,000 men who were crowded into the village of Blenheim, were not so fortunate. They had made their position more difficult by setting fire to the village. When they attempted to escape, they were driven back. On the other hand, the Allies were not able to carry the barricades. The general in command of the French saw that it was useless to resist any longer. He sent a messenger to ask for terms. The answer was that, by Marlborough's orders, they must surrender without conditions. It was hard for brave men to submit to such a disgrace, but there seemed no other course. The 14,000 men gave themselves up as prisoners. All that they could do was to burn or destroy their flags.

The loss of the French was very great, amounting in killed, wounded, and prisoners, to 40,000, or more than two-thirds of their army. The Allies had about 4500 killed, and 7500 wounded. The English numbered only about 9000 men, but it will have been seen that they had more than their full share in the fighting and in the victory.

In the next year (1705) little was done; Marlborough could not get the Dutch to move, and he could not move without them. But in 1706, another great victory, greater in some respects than Blenheim itself, was won. The French general, Marshal Villeroi, made the mistake of supposing that Marlborough had not yet got his army together, and put himself in the way of a battle which he ought to have done his best to avoid. He made another mistake in the position which he took up. His line of battle was curved like a bow, one may say, while Marlborough's army was like the string. The string is shorter than the bow, and so Marlborough could bring more men, and more quickly to bear on any one point, than could Villeroi. Another thing that put the French commander at a disadvantage was this. He was made to believe that Marlborough intended to attack his left wing, and so strengthened it with troops which he had to take away from places where they were more wanted. The chief fighting of the day took place on the right wing. The English drove the French out of the little village of Tavière, and then charged the famous corps of Musketeers, which was posted behind it. They broke the first line, but were driven back by the second. Marlborough came to their aid with his cavalry—he always made a great use of cavalry—and compelled the Musketeers to retreat. Meanwhile a mound, called the Tomb of Ottomond, had been occupied with cannon, which swept the whole of the French line. The next thing was that the French left was attacked in the rear. This completed the rout. It was a great victory, and, to compare it with other battles, did not cost the conquerors very much, a few more than 3000 in killed and wounded. The French lost 8000 in killed and wounded. Nearly as many more, natives of the country, deserted, some going home, others joining the Allies. All the baggage fell into the hands of the English. Nearly all the Spanish Netherlands was lost to France by this battle of Ramillies. "We have done in four days," Marlborough wrote to his wife at home, "what we should have thought ourselves happy if we could be sure of in four years."

A third great victory was won in 1708 at Oudenarde, and a fourth in 1709 at Malplaquet; but this last was a victory only in name; for though Marlborough drove the French from the field of battle, he lost 20,000 in killed and wounded, to 12,000 of the enemy.

Good Queen Anne and Her Son

Anne was the younger of the two daughters of James II., by his first wife, Anne Hyde, daughter of the Earl of Clarendon. There were other children of the marriage, but these two only lived to grow up. Mary married William Prince of Orange, himself a grandson of Charles I., and reigned with him as joint sovereign till her death in 1694. It had been settled that if she left no children the crown should pass to Anne, but that William should be king for the rest of his life. He lived till 1702, and then Anne succeeded.

She had been married at nineteen to George, Prince of Denmark, a cousin of her own, and had had many children, of whom one only, William Duke of Gloucester, lived beyond infancy. The Prince was born July 24, 1689, and grew up to be a very interesting child. He was weakly and ailing, for at four years of age he was scarcely able to walk without support, but he had plenty of life and cleverness. Indeed, the disease from which he suffered is one that often makes children seem older than their real age. His chief amusement seems to have been playing at soldiers. He had a band of boys whom he called his "horse-guards," and he used to exercise them in the gardens of Campden House, in Kensington, where his father and mother resided. Young as he was, he had a very clear notion of his own importance. He knew, for instance, that he was heir to the throne, and ought to have honours shown to him. One day when King William came to inspect his boy soldiers, and he had promised that the King should have them to help him in his war against the French, he turned to Queen Mary and asked, "Why does not my mamma have guards as well as you?" Anne had had her guards taken from her by the King and Queen, with whom she was on very bad terms. The Duke's little soldiers seem to have been very ill-behaved, giving themselves the airs of grown men, and taking what they pleased from the houses round, just as if the place belonged to them. The poor child seems to have been foolishly treated by his father on the one side, who wanted to harden him by rough amusements for which he was not strong enough, and, on the other, by his mother and her ladies with their petting. In January 1696 the King gave the young Duke the Order of the Garter, and did him the honour of buckling it on with his own hands. "Are you not glad to have this?" some one asked him. "I am gladder of the King's favour," was the wise answer of the prudent little boy. In the summer of this year he was taken for the first time to Windsor, which his mother had now for a summer residence. Four boys from Eton School, one of them the son of the Duke of Marlborough, of whom you have read in Chapter IX., were sent for to be his playfellows. He immediately ordered a sham fight, in which they were to take part. In the course of their wars he got a scratch on the arm from a sword, but said nothing about it till the fight was over, when he asked whether there was a surgeon at hand. On July 24 he was present at a "chapter" or meeting of the Knights of the Garter, and sat down with the grown men who were his companions at the great banquet of the day. Not long afterwards, when a plot for the murder of the King had been discovered, the Duke sent him an address, in which he declared that he was his Majesty's most dutiful subject, and had rather lose his life in his Majesty's cause than in any one else's.

Campdon House


His eleventh birthday was kept with much rejoicing. He reviewed his boy regiment, had a great exhibition of cannon and fireworks, and sat at the head of the table at a grand banquet. The next day he complained of sickness, headache, and sore throat. The family doctor was called in, and, after the common fashion of the day, bled him. This naturally did him more harm than good. Dr. Radcliffe, who had the reputation of being the most skilful physician of the age, was sent for in haste. When he came, he pronounced the boy to be suffering from scarlet fever, and asked who had bled him. The doctor in attendance owned that it had been done by his orders. "Then," said Dr. Radcliffe, "you have destroyed him, and you may finish him, for I will not prescribe." On July 30, 1700, five days after his birthday, the Duke died. Queen Anne herself is not so interesting a person as her little son. Great events happened in her reign, and there never was a time in English history more distinguished for great men, soldiers, statesmen, and writers. But she herself had no greatness about her. She was weak and fickle, ruled first by one favourite, then by another. In the early part of her reign it was the wife of the Duke of Marlborough that was in power, so to speak. The two used to write to each other under the names of Mrs. Morley (the Queen) and Mrs. Freeman (the Duchess). But the Duchess was a very haughty and self-willed person, and in the end the Queen tired of her. After many angry letters and conversations, a final quarrel took place, and the Queen's favour was transferred to Lady Masham, who had once, as Abigail Hill, held a quite humble post in the household. There was, indeed, something political as well as much that was personal in these changes. The Duchess of Marlborough was on the side of the Whigs, Lady Masham on the side of the Tories.

Why she has been called Good  Queen Anne it is not very difficult to see. As long as King William lived, she had the advantage of being compared with him. William was a remarkably cold, ungracious person, unlucky as a soldier, and getting little credit even for his good qualities. Anne, who was always kindly and good-humoured, was popular by contrast. And then, as has been said, she had the good fortune to be served by great men. William scarcely ever won a victory, though he was both skilful and brave; Anne had not a little of Marlborough's glory reflected upon her. She was disposed to be generous, though indeed real generosity is not easy for a person who has never any occasion to deny herself. Still, she was ready to give away, and did not care either to save money or spend it upon herself. Her allowance as Queen was smaller than that enjoyed by any Sovereign either before or after. Her name is preserved by what is called Queen Anne's Bounty. In the second year of her reign she gave certain sums of money, which used to be part of the revenue of the Crown, to be used for increasing small livings of the Church of England. It may, of course, be said that in this she was scarcely giving away money of her own; still, it was a kindly thought that prompted the act, and when she did it she was moved by the belief that she was helping the Church.

She and her sister have been greatly blamed for their conduct to their father, King James. They were, it has been said, most undutiful children. Yet it is difficult to say how they could have acted otherwise than they did. They could not refuse to reign when the country demanded that they should, and if their father was banished for his misdeeds, that was not their fault.

The '15

The word "Jacobites" means "friends or followers of James." Many people thought that the Stuart family ought not to have been driven from the throne. They believed that a king had the right to reign whatever he might do, or whatever he might be. These were the real Jacobites. Then there were many who were ready to help them because for various reasons it suited them to do so. There were the Roman Catholics, for instance, who wanted to have a king of their own way of thinking. There were, again, the Scotch Highlanders, who did not like being under the rule of any but their own chiefs, and hoped, besides, to get something for themselves by a war, the country which they were going to invade being much richer than their own. And there were some people who, being very badly off, hoped to get some profit out of a change of Government. Some even of the great nobles who had had much to do with driving the Stuarts out of the kingdom, began to consider whether it would not be well to have them back again. They did not get as much as they wanted, or thought they ought to have, from the new King. Perhaps if they brought back the old one, he might give them more.

In the year 1700 Parliament passed what was called the "Act of Settlement." On July 30 the young Duke of Gloucester died, and there was then no one to come after Queen Anne. Accordingly it was settled by this Act that if, as seemed likely, the Queen should leave no children, the throne should go to the family of Sophia, wife of the Elector of Hanover. This lady was the daughter of Elizabeth, who, again, was the daughter of King James I. There were other persons who had a better right to succeed—the Duchess of Savoy, for instance, who was a grand-daughter of Charles I.; but the choice was a good one, one great reason being that the family were Protestants. But during the latter years of Queen Anne's reign, the Jacobites were very busy trying to set this arrangement aside. The Queen disliked the Hanover family very much, and would have been pleased that her brother should succeed her, anyhow if he would consent to become a Protestant. If she had lived longer, the Jacobites might have succeeded, but she died rather suddenly, and the Elector of Hanover, son of the Electress Sophia, was proclaimed King, with the title of George I., without any opposition.

Still, there were many people in the country who did not like the idea of having a German king, one, too, who could not speak a word of English, and the Jacobites were not willing to let the opportunity pass without trying to bring about a change.

The Queen had died on August 1, 1714. Some of the friends of the Stuarts were for proclaiming the Chevalier St. George as James III., but no one had the courage to do so, and for a time it seemed as if nothing would be done. But on August 2, 1715, the Earl of Mar, who the day before had congratulated King George on the anniversary of his succession, left London to raise an insurrection in the Highlands. A few friends went with him. They were disguised as sailors, and pretended to be part of the crew of a small collier. In about a fortnight's time he reached his house in Aberdeenshire, and from there sent out invitations for what was called a great hunting party, but was really a council of war. A number of Highland noblemen and gentlemen attended, and promised to raise all the troops they could collect. On September 6 Lord Mar raised the standard of "King James, Eighth of Scotland and Third of England," at the village of Kirkmichael. No more than sixty men were present, and these were much disturbed to see the gold ball at the top of the standard fall off. But this small band soon increased. Clan after clan joined it, and before the end of the month nearly all the country north of the Tay had risen for King James.

In the south of England, the Jacobites could do nothing at all. The Government put the chief men belonging to the party in prison, and so frightened the others that when the Duke of Ormond, who was to lead the insurrection in that part of the country, came over, he did not find a single person to join him. But in the north, where their party was much stronger, they rose, with a gentleman of Northumberland of the name of Forster for their leader. They were joined before long by a party from the southwest of Scotland, led by Lord Kenmure, and afterwards by two thousand men under a certain Brigadier MacIntosh. MacIntosh had been sent by Lord Mar to seize Edinburgh. This he was not able to do. Accordingly he marched south, crossed the Border into England, and joined his forces with those led by Mr. Forster and Lord Kenmure. It was but a small army, scarcely more than two thousand men in all. It defeated, however, almost without having to strike a blow, a hasty levy of ten thousand men, with which the Bishop of Carlisle and Lord Lonsdale sought to stop their advance. This was at Penrith. The army then advanced into Lancashire, where its numbers were greatly increased. The new-comers, however, were but poorly armed, some of them having neither swords nor muskets, but only pitchforks and scythes.

The end of this expedition was very inglorious indeed. The Jacobites took up their position at Preston, and if they had been under a capable leader, they might have made a long resistance. But Mr. Forster, who was in command, seems to have had no skill in war, and no courage. He did nothing to defend the approaches to Preston, especially the bridge over the Ribble. This was so important that when the English general saw that it was not occupied, he felt quite sure that the Jacobites must have left the town. Even then the place was not easily taken. The English troops—there were not more than a thousand of them—attacked it, but were beaten back. In spite of this success, Forster insisted on treating for surrender. The next day the army laid down their arms. Many had taken the opportunity of escaping, but 1400 prisoners gave themselves up. This took place on November 13.

On the very same day the insurrection in Scotland also came to an end, though this end was not quite so discreditable. The English Government had given the command here to the Duke of Argyll, chief of the powerful clan of the Campbells, and a man of great ability. Lord Mar, on the contrary, was about as poor a general as Mr. Forster. He stopped in Perth doing nothing; whereas, if he had only bestirred himself, he might, it is possible, have gained over the whole of Scotland. At length, on November 10, he marched southward. More men joined him as he went, till he had about ten thousand in all, but they were a very mixed and rough multitude, ill-armed, and with little or no discipline. The Duke of Argyll, on the other hand, had between three and four thousand men, but they were all regular troops. The two armies met on a tract of open country, near Dumblane, known by the name of Sheriffmuir.

The Duke of Argyll was on the right wing of the loyal army. The enemy opposite supposed themselves to be protected by a marsh that lay between the two armies, but the Duke reckoned that the ground would be hardened by the frost that had happened in the night, and sent some of his cavalry across it. He followed with the rest, and charged the Jacobites so fiercely as to break their line. They gave way, and were forced back to the river Allan, which was three miles in their rear; many were drowned in attempting to cross the stream. This part of the Jacobite army was nearly destroyed.

Meanwhile things had been going very differently on the other side of the field. The Highlanders under Lord Mar, enraged by the death of the Chief of Clanronald, who had fallen by the first volley fired from the English ranks, made a furious charge. They thrust aside the soldiers' bayonets with their targets or shields, struck fiercely with their broadswords, and in a few minutes completely routed the English left wing. The English general fled from the field as fast as he could gallop, and did not stop till he found himself in Stirling. If the victorious Highlanders had followed up their success, they might have gained a complete victory. But there were divisions among them. What remained of the centre and left of the English army was able to join the Duke. Even then, as Argyll was leading his troops in view of the rebel army, they might have been scattered by a single charge. But Mar did nothing, and even retreated. The Duke, on the other hand, remained on the field of battle, and had some reason to claim the victory.

But whoever it was that won or lost this battle, there was no more fighting. The Pretender himself, it is true, landed in Scotland on December 22. He bestowed some honours on his followers, named a council, issued some proclamations, and fixed a day for his coronation. But his cause was really hopeless. It had been expected by his followers that he would bring an army with him. But he came almost alone. Louis XIV., who had promised to help him, had died a few months before, and the French Government was not now friendly to him. He had himself expected to find a great number of men ready to follow him, and he saw only a few hundreds. It was clearly useless to do anything more. On February 4 he left Scotland. A few days afterwards, what was left of the army dispersed. The leaders and officers fled from the country—Lord Mar had gone with the Pretender—the soldiers returned to their own homes.

Tower of London


The English Government did not behave with any great severity to its prisoners. The most important of these were the noblemen who had surrendered at Preston. Six of these pleaded guilty. Of the six, three were reprieved; two, the Earls of Derwentwater and Kenmure, were executed, and one, Lord Nithisdale, escaped from the Tower of London, through the courage of his wife. This lady had tried in vain all possible means of obtaining mercy for her husband. On the evening before the day appointed for his execution, she visited his cell, taking two women with her, to bid good-bye, as was supposed, to the condemned man. One of them had upon her a second set of clothes. In these the Earl was dressed; his face and hair were disguised; and he passed out unsuspected by the guard.

Of the other insurgents but few were executed, and among these were certain half-pay officers, who were considered, not without reason, to be specially guilty.

The '45

In the '15, the Prince for whom the Jacobites risked or lost their lives and property did not show himself till all the fighting was over. I am now going to tell the story of the '45; we shall see that things were very different. It was the Prince who began the insurrection; if he had not come, it never would have been made.

I must first say who this Prince was. In 1719 the "Old Pretender," of whom you heard in the last chapter, married Clementina Sobieski, daughter of the King of Poland. In 1721 a son was born, who was named Charles Edward, and is commonly known as the "Young Pretender." It was he who was the hero of the '45.

On July 13 he set sail from Belle Isle, which is in the north of the Bay of Biscay. He had with him two French ships of war; the larger, the Elizabeth, carried the stores which he had been able to collect; in the smaller, La Doutelle, he himself sailed with a few companions. On their way they fell in with a British man-of-war, the Lion. A fierce fight took place between the Elizabeth  and the Lion, in which both ships were so much injured that they had to put back into harbour. La Doutelle  took no part in the fight, though the Prince was anxious to do so. Accordingly he was able to proceed on his voyage, but his stores were left behind in the Elizabeth. On July 27 he landed on a small island among the Hebrides. At first he found the chiefs anything but eager to take up arms, for they thought that there was but little chance of success.

Young Pretender


But the Prince persuaded many who began by refusing to join him. He was a tall and handsome young man, who charmed every one that came near him. One of the most powerful chiefs in the Highlands, Cameron of Lochiel, felt quite sure the attempt must fail. The Prince sent for him. On his way he saw his brother, and told him where he was going, and what he should say. "Don't go," said the brother, "write to him. I know you better than you know yourself. If this Prince once sets eyes upon you, he will make you do whatever he pleases." And so it was. For some time Lochiel stood firm. But when the Prince, after a long argument, finished by saying, "Charles Stuart is come over to claim the crown of his ancestors or perish in the attempt; Lochiel, who, my father has often told me, was our firmest friend, may stay at home, and learn from the newspapers the fate of his Prince," he gave way and promised his help. If Lochiel had stood firm, there would have been no war.

On August 16 the first fighting took place. Two companies of soldiers on their way to Fort William were taken prisoners. Two days afterwards the Royal standard was raised at Glenfinnan. Men continued to flock in from various Highland clans. When the Prince set out on the following day on his march southward he had 1600 men with him.

On August 16 General Cope, who was in command of the English troops, set out from Edinburgh, intending to march to Fort Augustus. He had got as far as Dalwhinnie, which is about fifty miles north of Perth, when he heard that the Highlanders had occupied a strong pass between that place and the Fort. He then gave up his plan, and marched to Inverness. The Prince, finding that there was no one to hinder him, marched south. As he went on, chiefs and nobles continued to join him, nor did he meet any resistance, except a few cannon shot which were fired from Stirling Castle. On September 14 he was only a few miles from Edinburgh. This city was really without defence. The walls were scarcely higher or stronger than a common garden wall, and had no cannon mounted on them; there were no regular troops, except some dragoons, and these soon showed that they could not be trusted. General Cope's army was, it is true, on its way back; but it was doubted whether it could arrive in time. While the magistrates were debating whether they should resist or surrender, Lochiel with his Camerons made his way within the walls without having to strike a blow. Thus, on September 17, the Prince became possessed of Edinburgh. At noon James VIII. was proclaimed king at the Cross, and shortly after the Prince took possession of Holyrood Palace. Only the Castle still remained in the power of the English Government.

On the same day that the Prince entered Edinburgh General Cope landed his army at Dunbar. The next day he marched northward; the Prince, on the other hand, marched southward, and on September 20 the two armies met. They were nearly equal in number, about 2500 on each side, but Cope's troops were better armed, and had six cannon. The Highlanders had no cannon, and many of the men were without firearms.

The battle lasted but a few minutes. The Highlanders shouted, each clan its own war-cry, and ran furiously forward. They came first to the cannon. The sailors who served them fled without waiting to be attacked. Colonel Gardiner, who commanded the dragoons on the left wing, led them to the charge, but they would not follow him. As soon as the Highlanders drew their broadswords and came on, the men turned and fled. Very much the same thing happened with the other regiment of dragoons on the other wing. So the infantry was left without either guns or cavalry to support them. They stood firm for awhile, and fired a volley on the enemy. But the Highlanders rushed upon them, thrust aside their bayonets with their targets, and broke up their line. The dragoons for the most part got away, for there was no cavalry to follow them, but of the infantry nearly all were killed or taken prisoners. The Highlanders lost about a hundred men in killed and wounded. Such was the battle of Prestonpans or Gladsmuir.

Some of his friends now advised the Prince to march without delay into England, and even make his way to London; but most of them were against this plan. If he would wait awhile, they said, great numbers more would join him. As it was, he had fewer soldiers with him than he had before the battle, for many of the Highlanders had gone back to their homes in the mountains with the plunder which they had collected. Indeed, at one time, he had no more than 1500 men left. Nevertheless, it might have been better for him if he had hurried on at once.

It was quite true, however, that great numbers were ready to join him. Every day recruits flocked in both from the Highlands and the Lowlands. In the course of a few weeks as many as 6000 men were collected. The officers did their best to drill them, and give them proper arms, but it was impossible to make them into a regular army.

The great question now was—what was to be done? Should they stop in Scotland, or advance into England? The Prince was for advancing. If he was to keep Scotland he must conquer England. And, beyond all doubt, he was quite right. But most of his advisers did not think so. What they hoped to see was a Scottish kingdom under a Stuart king, and they were altogether against any attempt upon England. But the Prince was determined to go. "I see, gentlemen, you are determined to stay in Scotland and defend your country, but I am not less resolved to try my fate in England, though I should go alone."

Then the chiefs gave way. On October 31 the Prince left Edinburgh. Eight days later the army crossed the Border. The Highlanders gave a great shout as they passed into England, but it was thought to be a very unlucky sign that Lochiel, in drawing his broadsword, cut his hand. Carlisle was besieged and taken with very little loss, one Highlander being killed and another wounded. The Prince entered Carlisle on November 17. Again there was the question whether he should return to Scotland or proceed further into England. The Prince was determined to go on, but many of his men left him. When he reached Penrith only 4500 of his 6000 remained. Everywhere as he passed he found the people curious to see him, and even ready to cheer. But there were very few willing to help. At Manchester, two or three hundred men enlisted; but, on the whole, Lancashire was far less zealous for the cause than it had been thirty years before. There were, indeed, some zealous friends. One old lady, who had been held up in her mother's arms eighty-five years before to see Charles II. land at Dover, and who had always devoted half her income to the cause, sold all her jewels and brought the price to the Prince, saying, as she kissed his hand, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace." But the people cared little for King James, though probably they cared no more for King George.

Still the Prince went on, and on December 11 entered Derby. But he went no further. There had been no rising of the English people in his favour, nor had a French army been landed to give him help, and his councillors declared that there was nothing left but to go back to Scotland. They had good reasons to give for their advice. The Prince had but 5000 men with him, and the forces of the English Government were at least six times as numerous. And then all his hopes of help had been disappointed. Yet it is quite certain that the Prince, who was still eager to go on, was right. And, indeed, London, which was only one hundred and twenty-seven miles distant, was in a great fright. The shops were shut, the banks were thronged by people drawing out all their money, and King George himself, it is said, put his most valuable property on shipboard. The day on which the news came that the Pretender was at Derby, and that there was no army between him and London, was long remembered as Black Friday.

But the experiment of advancing was, happily, not tried. "Happily," I say, because if it had succeeded, it must have ended in a long civil war, for it is impossible to suppose that England would have been content to let the Stuarts rule again. Much against his will, the Prince consented to retreat. On December 20 his army crossed the Border again. Six days later it reached Glasgow. By this time it had dwindled down to just over 4000 men. But now it was increased again. Various nobles and chiefs had raised bodies of troops, and these all joined the Prince. When he reached Stirling he had as many as 9000 men.

The general in command of the English army was the Duke of Cumberland, the second son of King George II. But he had been called away to take charge of the forces on the south coast of England, which the French were preparing to invade. He appointed a certain General Hawley to act for him, and Hawley had marched to attack the Prince at Stirling. He halted at Falkirk, which is about ten miles to the south. There a battle was fought, and lost by the English, partly through the folly and neglect of their general. He despised his adversaries as being nothing better than an ill-armed mob, and was actually absent from his place when the battle began. The dragoons again behaved badly. They were ordered to charge the right wing of the enemy. But the Macdonalds who stood over against them kept back their fire till the horsemen were near them, and then sent among them a destructive volley. Two of the regiments broke at once; the third stood firm for a while, but were soon compelled to retreat. Then the Macdonalds charged and fell on the flank of the infantry in the centre of the line, which was being attacked at the same time in front. The soldiers had been tired early in the day, by having to march through a storm of wind and rain, and were now numbed with standing still. They had little courage left, and, like the cavalry, turned to fly. The Prince's left wing had not done nearly so well; the English here were sheltered by some rough ground, and the Highlanders' attack was repulsed. Yet here, too, the English were forced to retreat. They could not stand their ground alone.

The conquerors did not make the best of their victory. If they had, they might have almost destroyed the defeated army. But they did not fully know what had happened, and besides, the light failed them. At that time of the year—the battle of Falkirk was fought on January 17—the days are very short, and it is very dangerous, especially with untrained troops, to move in the dark. As it was, General Hawley lost 400 men killed, 100 prisoners, and all his artillery, ammunition, and baggage, and was also compelled to burn his tents, lest they should fall into the hands of the enemy. The Prince, however, got little real advantage from his victory. His officers quarrelled, blaming each other that the English had not been more vigorously pursued, and many of the Highlanders hurried home with their plunder. An unlucky accident that happened on the day after the battle also did him much harm. A gun which one of the Macdonalds was examining, went off and killed a son of Glengarry, who happened to be passing. The Glengarry clan insisted upon the man being put to death. Nor were they satisfied with this, for the greater part left the army and returned home. Not long after, the Prince was again compelled by his counsellors to retreat. On February 1 the army left Stirling, having first spiked the heavy guns and blown up the powder magazine. On the 18th of the month it reached Inverness. Here it was quartered for some eight weeks, growing weaker and weaker every day. The Prince could neither pay nor feed his army. The country about Inverness was so poor that he could get little from it, and most of the supplies which should have reached him by sea were captured by British ships. It was only to be expected that men who had neither food nor money to buy it with should grow tired of the service. By April 15—on this day each man received nothing but a single biscuit—the 9000 men whom the Prince had with him at Stirling had dwindled down to 5000. The English army under the Duke of Cumberland was nearly twice as numerous, consisting of 8000 infantry and 900 cavalry.

The Prince and his advisers planned a night attack on the Duke's army. It failed; the troops started too late, many of them having straggled away in search of food, and moved too slowly, so that it was nearly dawn when they reached the English camp. They fell back, and took up the position which they had held before on Culloden Moor, otherwise Drummossie, tired by their useless march, and, as usual, hungry. The best officers in the army were for withdrawing to a stronger position, where the Duke would have to begin the attack, but the Prince had a strange idea that he was bound to fight where the ground gave no advantage to either side. Everything was against him, even the order of battle, for the Macdonalds were put on the left wing, and were so offended by the slight, as they thought it, that at a critical moment of the battle they refused to advance.

The battle began with a cannonade. This was also in favour of the English, whose guns were served by men that knew their business. Then the Highlanders of the right and centre charged. At first they did again what they had done before at Prestonpans and at Falkirk, and broke the enemy's line. But the Duke had provided for this chance. Behind the first line was a second, three deep, the first rank kneeling, the second bending forward, the third standing upright. The line kept back its fire till the Highlanders were close, and then poured a heavy volley into them. Like other soldiers whose first charge is almost irresistible, they had little spirit left for a second. This part of the Prince's army was broken. On the left, as has been said, the Macdonalds refused to fight. Their chief advanced, but they would not follow him; they were not moved even when they saw him fall.

One more chance was left. If the Prince had charged with all that remained of his army, he might have even then changed the fortune of the day. He had often said that he would either conquer or die, and now was the time to keep his word. That he did not do so is certain; but it is not easy to say whether he was right or wrong. We do not even know for certain what he did. According to one account he was urged to charge and refused; according to another he was forced against his will from the field by two officers, who laid hold of his horse's bridle, exactly as his great-grandfather had been a hundred years before on the fatal field at Naseby.

I must now bring this chapter to an end. I am glad to say nothing about the cruelty with which the Duke of Cumberland used his victory, and I must leave you to read elsewhere the romantic story of how the Prince escaped. Now hiding, now wandering about in disguise among the islands off the western coast, or on the mainland, he continued to avoid his pursuers for nearly half-a-year. Many helped him, some of them persons who did not favour his cause, but two must be specially mentioned, Flora Macdonald, of South Uist, and Macdonald of Kingsburgh. At length, on September 20, 1746, he embarked at the very spot where he had landed fourteen months before, and escaped to France.


In the year 1600 Queen, Elizabeth gave a charter to a Company of Merchants under the title of "The Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading to the East Indies." For some time the East India Company, as it came to be called, was a very humble affair. It built, by leave of the native rulers of India, factories or places for trade. But these were never safe from attack, either from the natives or from European rivals. The Dutch, for instance, in 1623 destroyed the factory of Amboyna, and murdered all its inhabitants. Nevertheless, the Company's power and wealth gradually increased. A factory was founded on the Hoogly river in 1642. This is now Calcutta. In 1661 Bombay was handed over to England as part of the dowry of the Portuguese princess, Catherine of Braganza, who became in that year the wife of Charles II. Madras, the chief city of the third of the three great divisions or presidencies, as they are called, was bought from an Indian Rajah or Prince for a yearly payment of £500.

In 1743 one Robert Clive received an appointment as "writer," i.e.  clerk in the East India Company's factory at Madras. He was certainly not a good clerk; the work was not of a kind that he liked, and he neglected it, and he gave much trouble to his superiors. In 1747 he ceased to be a clerk and became a soldier. As a soldier he was to do his country such services as have never been surpassed. Many able statesmen and brave and skilful soldiers have helped to build up our great Indian Empire, but no one of them did more than Robert Clive, and very few did as much.

A Frenchman, Dupleix by name, had conceived the idea of gaining India for France. To do this he had to conquer or persuade the Indian rulers, and also to drive out the English. For a time his plans seemed to prosper, but it was Clive who hindered them from being accomplished. He persuaded the Governor of Madras to allow him to occupy the fort of Arcot. The place seemed hardly capable of standing a siege. The walls were low, the towers upon it ruinous, the ditch half filled up. Clive did his best to strengthen these defences. Though he lost four of the eight officers who were serving under him, and though his garrison was at last reduced to 200 native troops and 120 Europeans, he contrived to hold out for fifty days against an army of 10,000 men. The siege was raised, other victories were won, Dupleix was recalled to France, and the natives began to look to the English rather than to the French as the nation that could not be conquered.

This was in 1751. Five years later a terrible thing happened in another part of India. The Nawab of Bengal, Suraj-ud-Dowlah by name, picked a quarrel with the English at Calcutta, seized the town, and compelled the fort to surrender. The prisoners, one hundred and forty-six in number, were thrust into a chamber about twenty feet each way, afterwards known as the Black Hole. After a night of dreadful suffering from suffocation and thirst, only twenty-three were found alive next morning. The Government of Madras at once sent Clive to punish the Nawab for his wrong-doing, and to recover Calcutta. Calcutta he recovered without any difficulty, and won other victories so speedily, that the Nawab was compelled to ask for peace, and to give back to the English all that they had ever held in Bengal. But no sooner had the treaty been signed than the Nawab began to negotiate with the French. Clive saw at once what had to be done. The French would attempt in Bengal what Dupleix had attempted in Madras, and they must be stopped at all hazards. He began by seizing the French settlement of Chandernagore. This was an illegal act, for though France and England were at war, Chandernagore nominally belonged to the Nawab, and could not be taken without his permission. Nevertheless, Clive did it. He then made friends with two of the Nawab's most powerful subjects. One, Meer Jaffier by name, was to succeed the Nawab; the other, Omichund, was to be rewarded by a large sum of money.



The Nawab had collected an army of 50,000 men. Clive had 3000, of whom less than 1000 were English. The question was—should they fight? Meer Jaffier had promised to desert his master, but he might not keep his promise; he certainly would not unless Clive could make him feel sure that the English were going to win the day. A council of war was held. The majority was against fighting, and Clive, strange to say, was one of the majority. But a commander can always overrule the decision of a council, and Clive had to consider again what was to be done. He retired into a clump of trees, and there thought the matter out, with this result—that he determined to fight. The next morning he crossed the river, and marching during the day, found himself at night-fall within reach of the enemy's army.

The next day, June 23, the Nawab drew up his forces in order of battle. Clive's army was in front of a mango grove. He had one regiment, the 39th. This he put in the centre, the native troops and the few small guns that he had being on either side. Cavalry he had none. The Nawab had 12,000, 36,000 infantry, and a number of heavy guns, some of them served by French artillerymen. The Nawab's guns opened fire with such effect that Clive had to withdraw into the mango grove, which was protected by mud-banks all round it. Here he intended to wait. At night he would attack the enemy's camp. While he waited a heavy storm of rain came on, and so spoilt the enemy's powder that the cannonade was almost stopped. The commander of the Nawab's cavalry, Meer Mudin, thinking that the English guns also were disabled, advanced to attack Clive's position. But the guns had been under cover, and fired a discharge of grape shot which drove the enemy back in confusion, Meer Mudin himself being killed. The Nawab, dismayed at this reverse, ordered his army to retreat into the camp, and himself fled from the field. Clive now advanced with his whole force. The French artillerymen offered a brave resistance, but there was no one to support them. As for the Nawab's infantry, they fled almost without waiting for a blow. The Nawab had deserted his army early in the day, and the rest of their leaders followed the example of their chief. Clive won the battle, and with it a vast extent of territory, at a cost of less than a hundred in killed and wounded. This was the first great victory of Plassey.


James Wolfe was the son of a soldier who had fought under Marlborough, and set his mind from his earliest days on being a soldier himself. In 1740, when he was only thirteen, he volunteered to join the expedition to Cartagena. Luckily, something prevented him from going, for the affair was a terrible failure, and many who went never came back. Two years afterwards, at an age when it is a rare thing for a boy to be in the head form of a public school, he received a commission, and carried the colours of his regiment when the King reviewed the troops at Blackheath. The following year (June 27) he fought at Dettingen, the last battle in which an English king actually led his troops. He not only fought, but distinguished himself, for in default of any older officer to take the place, he had to act as adjutant. After the battle, he was made lieutenant and adjutant, and the year following was promoted to be captain. Four years more saw him a major—he had been present meanwhile at Falkirk and Culloden—and his regiment had the reputation of being the best drilled in the army.

From 1748 (the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle) to 1756 there was, in name at least, peace between England and France. But in North America the French and English settlers were at war. In 1755 George Washington, of whom I shall have to say much in the next chapter, fought a mixed force of Indians and French on the Ohio. The same year, General Braddock led some troops into the backwoods. Braddock, never a good soldier, was particularly unfit to command in such an expedition. He was surprised and routed. Two-thirds of his troops were killed or taken. With Braddock was a company of Wolfe's own regiment, the 20th. Happily he was not with it. He was reserved for greater things.

Pitt had kept his eye on young Wolfe ever since the day when he had fought so well at Dettingen. When war was declared with France (May 1, 1756) he remembered him as an officer who might do good service. The first attempt to strike was a failure. An expedition was sent against La Rochelle, but it did nothing. In this Wolfe held the post of Quartermaster-General. In the early part of the following year, he received a sudden summons to London. An army was to be sent to Cape Breton, and he was to be brigadier. The special object which Wolfe had before him was the port of Louisburg, then an important place. For some days the troops could not land, for the fog was thick, and the sea was rough. But on June 2 (1758) the boats were ordered out. Wolfe was the first man to leap ashore. After about two months of hard work, Wolfe being all along the most active in pushing the siege, Louisburg surrendered. He had to go home on account of ill health, but he came out again early the next year. His object was now Quebec itself, the capital of French Canada.

[Illustration] from English History Stories - III by Alfred J. Church


The first thing was to take the fleet safely up the St. Lawrence river. The navigation was difficult, and to the English unknown. The device of hoisting flags that bore the French Lilies was practised. Canadian pilots hastened to offer their services, and found, when they were on board, that the Lilies were changed for the Cross of St. George. Doubtless they were made to understand that, though they were good subjects of the French king, they must not run the English ships aground. However this may be, the English fleet reached Quebec in safety, not a little to the surprise of the French. "They have brought forty ships of war," wrote one of the Quebec people, "where we should be afraid to take a vessel of a hundred tons." The presence of the fleet was of immense advantage to General Wolfe—he had the rank of general though he was really only a colonel. He could move hither and thither as he pleased—the enemy had no power to hinder him. Their fleet was much weaker, and what there was had been sent further up the river out of harm's way. One thing that Wolfe soon did was to set up some batteries on the bank opposite to Quebec. The St. Lawrence here is scarcely a mile broad. The English cannon soon laid a great part of the city in ruins. An attempt to destroy the batteries, made by a party of volunteers from the city, failed completely. Still, the governor of the city and the Marquis Montcalm (who was in command of the army encamped outside) had no fear that the city might be taken. "The English," they said, "will not be mad enough to attempt it." And indeed it seemed quite impossible that the city should be taken. It stands on a narrow strip of land between the two rivers, St. Lawrence and Charles, and looks eastward down the St. Lawrence. Behind it, i.e.  to the westward, is some high ground known as the Heights or Plains of Abraham. On the river side there are steep cliffs, which seem to be quite beyond all climbing. Yet it was in this way that Wolfe determined to approach the city. He made an attempt to take up a position lower down on the left bank of the St. Lawrence, but it failed. Then came three weeks of severe illness, and nothing was done. He was suffering from a deadly disease, but his spirit and courage were not in the least broken. "Give me a few days without pain," he said to his doctor. If he could only get to work, he felt that Quebec might be taken. And he took it.

He had noticed, between two or three miles above the city, a place where the line of cliffs was broken. From this a path led up to the Plains of Abraham. If he could land his men here, and get them up to the top without hindrance, he felt that his work was done. He had fewer soldiers, it is true, than Montcalm, but they were all of the best quality. After dark on September 12, the army embarked on some flat-bottomed boats and dropped quietly down the river on the ebb tide. Wolfe, as they went, repeated to his companions Gray's Elegy in a Country Churchyard  (published eight years before), saying, when he had finished it, "I would rather be the author of that piece than take Quebec." The boats glided into the cove, and the troops landed without any hindrance. They made their way up the narrow path—so narrow that two men only could walk abreast—and reached the level ground at the top in safety. There was a small body of men on guard at the top, but a volley of musketry sent them flying. Wolfe had about 3500 men, for part of his 5000 had been left to guard the landing-place, and part was sent to guard against an attack from the rear. As soon as it was sufficiently light, this force was drawn up in line facing Quebec. Montcalm, who had heard the firing, rode in the direction of the Plains, saw the red coats of the English regiments, and at once made up his mind to fight. This was the only chance of saving the city. He had rather more than double the number of men, not counting the Indians. At ten o'clock, the French line advanced, somewhat unsteadily. Wolfe would not allow his troops to return the fire until the enemy were within forty yards. Then they poured into the advancing line so heavy a volley as to break it at once. Without allowing the enemy time to reform their ranks, Wolfe led his men to the charge. A bullet struck him on the wrist, but he wrapped his handkerchief round it and pressed on. His uniform made him a conspicuous figure, and the Canadian riflemen, deadly shots, though not disciplined enough to stand steady under the shock of battle, made him their mark. A second bullet struck him in the groin. Even that could not stop him, but the third, hitting him in the breast, brought him to the ground. He was carried to the rear. When they asked whether a surgeon should be sent for, he said, "No, it is all over with me." For a time he seemed to become unconscious. Then there was a cry, "They run! They run!" "Who run?" cried the dying man. "The enemy, sir," replied one of those about him. "They give way everywhere!" Wolfe raised himself. Faithful to his duty to the last, he did not forget that the victory must be made as complete as possible. "Go, one of you, back to Colonel Burton," he said; "tell him to march Webb's regiment with all speed down to the river to cut off the retreat of the fugitives from the bridge." He then turned upon his side, and with the words "Now God be praised, I die in peace," he passed away.

The loss of the British was 87 killed, and about seven times as many wounded. The French loss was 500 killed or mortally wounded, and twice as many taken prisoners. The Marquis Montcalm died soon after, and on the 17th Quebec surrendered. France lost Canada at the battle of Quebec.

The Lost Colonies

Wolfe's victory at Quebec won, as I have said, Canada for England, but it did something to lose possessions far more valuable, the Colonies between the St. Lawrence and the Mississippi. Of these Colonies there were thirteen, founded at various times from 1622 to 1733. They were different in many ways, but in one thing they were agreed, and that was the fear of France. As long as they felt this fear, they could not help looking to England to protect them; when this was removed, they began to consider whether they should not do better if they stood alone. England was ready enough to protect them against any foreign enemy; but, in return for this protection, it desired to make all the gain it could out of them. It compelled them to buy various articles in England, laid duties on goods sent from one colony to another, and taxed various things, such as printed books and the like, that were imported from England. Many of the taxes imposed were afterwards repealed, but a duty on tea was retained; it was about tea that the final quarrel took place. The people of Boston in Massachusetts threw many thousand pounds' worth of it into the harbour sooner than allow duty to be paid upon it, and the English Parliament, to punish them, passed an Act by which it was forbidden to import any goods at all into Boston. This, of course, destroyed the trade of the town, and it was not long before there was war.

The first fighting took place at Lexington, a village in Massachusetts, about fifteen miles from Boston. The Colonists had collected at Concord, undoubtedly in preparation for war, a quantity of arms and ammunition. The governor of Boston sent some troops to destroy these stores. On their way they found some militiamen assembled on Lexington Green. They fired a volley and dispersed them, and going into Concord destroyed the stores. On their way back they were fired upon by a number of riflemen, who lined the hedges, and lost many in killed and wounded.

Braddock's force surprised


After Lexington came Bunker's Hill. This is one of two hills which are outside Boston, on the left bank of the River Charles. The other is called Breed Hill, and this it was that the Colonists occupied, though somehow the battle has got its name from the first. General Gage, who was in command of the English troops, determined to dislodge them. Everything was done in a very blundering way. The troops were landed in heavy marching order, though it was an exceedingly hot day (June 17, 1775), and with three days' provisions, which they were very unlikely to want. They were sent up to attack the hill, on which the Colonists had made a breastwork, at its very strongest point. They had to do with the bayonet what might have been done with far less loss and trouble by a cannonade from the ships. The fact was, that General Gage and the other officers in command did not believe that the enemy would offer any serious resistance. This was found to be a great mistake. Twice the soldiers were driven back. The third time, when reinforced by fresh troops, they took the breastwork, but the Colonists retreated to a neighbouring hill, which they entrenched. The British loss was 226 killed, and nearly four times as many wounded and missing; as the Colonists did not suffer half so much, Bunker's Hill was as good as a victory. Two days before the battle, the representatives of the Colonies had resolved to raise a regular army, and to put it under the command of George Washington. In the winter of the year the Colonists endeavoured to seize Quebec, attacking it from the same Heights of Abraham on which Wolfe had won his great victory; but the affair was ill-managed from beginning to end, and the Colonists were repulsed with heavy loss. They kept up a siege of the city, however, till May, when, some troops having arrived from England, they retreated, leaving behind them their guns, baggage, and stores.

On July 4 in the following year (1776) the Colonists sent forth their famous Declaration of Independence, but for some time it seemed as if they had but a small chance of making good their claim to be free. The British army was transferred from Boston, where the population was altogether hostile to England, to New York, where it was mostly friendly. General Howe, who was now in command, took up a position on Staten Island, which is below New York, and Washington sent a force of 10,000 men to Long Island, which is near to it. Howe began by attacking the Colonists, and inflicted on them a severe defeat. If he had followed up the pursuit, their whole force would probably have been destroyed. As it was, 1000 were killed, and twice as many wounded or taken prisoners. The rest Washington was able to carry off, and he was also able to save some of the guns. A little more than a fortnight afterwards Howe entered New York. The Colonists suffered loss after loss. On November 19 Washington was glad to escape into New Jersey. He had only 3000 men with him, and these were in a deplorable condition. The year, however, was not to end without some compensation. On Christmas night Washington attacked one of the British posts on the Delaware River, and captured 900 Hessians. (The English Government, unable to find soldiers enough at home, had been driven to hire Germans from the Elector of Hesse.)

In the year 1777 things went very differently for the Colonists. General Burgoyne started from Canada with some 5000 regular troops, and a number of provincials and Indians. Almost from the first everything went wrong with him. He divided his forces, though the enemy was near with superior numbers. He did not know the country well enough to take the best route; and he could not keep his army properly fed. The provincials and the Indians took every chance of leaving him, and at last, not quite four months after leaving Canada, he found himself compelled to surrender. He had 3500 regular troops with him. The capitulation of Saratoga was a blow from which the British never recovered.

On February 8, 1778, an alliance was made between the States and France—many Frenchmen had already come over to fight as volunteers in the army of the Colonists—and shortly afterwards France declared war against England. Fortune, however, turned against the Colonists. Their French allies were of little use to them, and the British were better led by new generals. In December the town of Savannah, in Georgia, was taken. Things went on in much the same way in the year following. Washington, for want of men and money, had to sit still and do nothing. When the French tried in the autumn to retake Savannah, they failed disastrously. In 1780 Charleston in South Carolina was taken after a long siege.

But the war was really hopeless, and in October 1781 it practically came to an end with the capitulation of Yorktown, where Lord Cornwallis surrendered with an army of between six and seven thousand men. For two more years there were various negotiations both in America and in Europe. King George III. unwillingly gave his consent to the Independence of the American Colonies on December 5, 1782; but it was not for nearly a year after this (November 25, 1783) that the British troops evacuated New York. England had spent nearly two hundred millions of money to no purpose.

The Gate of the Mediterranean

One of the most valuable possessions of England is the great fortress of Gibraltar. It was taken from the Spaniards with very little trouble in 1704. Many attempts have been made to get it back again, for indeed it must vex the Spanish people to see it in our hands, as much as it would vex us to see the French in possession of the Isle of Portland. The great siege of which I am going to tell the story began in 1779. In that year war broke out between England and Spain, and the Spaniards immediately blockaded Gibraltar. They sent a squadron to cut off any supplies that might come by sea, and they occupied the narrow strip of ground by which the fortress can be approached by land. Before long, food became scarce, for there were many people to be fed; the population of the place, which is now about 18,000, may then have been half as large, and there was a garrison of 5000 men. The Governor, Sir George Elliott, had been very careful with the stores, but by the end of the year little was left, and many had to live on such things as thistles and wild leeks. In January 1780 Sir George Rodney defeated the Spanish fleet, and brought a large supply of provisions. But these were in time exhausted, and the scarcity became as bad as ever. Then, in April 1781, came another supply, and the besiegers began to see that, if they were ever to take the place, they must do something more than blockade it. They began a bombardment, which did a great deal of damage to the houses in the town, but did not cause much loss to the garrison. During six weeks more than fifty thousand shot and twenty thousand shells were fired into the town, but not more than twenty soldiers in all were killed. Then the Spaniards began to approach the fortress with trenches and other siege works. The governor, who had found out from a deserter what they were doing, waited for an opportunity of attacking them. At midnight on November 26, a body of 2000 men sallied out. The besiegers were taken unawares and fled. In the course of an hour all the siege works were burnt, the guns spiked, and the stores of powder blown up.

About half-a-year after this, the final attempt to take the place was made. The French and the Spaniards were now united. They had 33,000 men and 170 heavy guns. On the other hand, the British garrison consisted of 7000, all tried soldiers, full of spirit, and firmly resolved to stand by their brave commander. The great hope of the besiegers was in the floating batteries, which a French engineer had invented. It was hoped that they could be made so strong that no shot should make its way into them, and that it should be impossible to set them on fire. There were to be ten of these batteries, made out of the hulks of large ships. The tops were to be proof against shot and shell; the side nearest to the fort was strengthened with heavy timbers seven feet thick, and covered with raw hides. These batteries were moored with iron chains half a gun-shot from the shore. The besiegers hoped that when they had made a breach in the defences, the place could be carried by assault. They carried altogether 142 heavy cannon.

Taking of Gibralter


Sir George Elliot, on the other hand, did not lose courage. His second in command suggested that they might use red-hot shot against the enemy; furnaces accordingly were prepared in various parts.

On September 13 the ten batteries took up their places about six hundred yards from the shore, and opened fire. For some hours the fire went on from both sides, without, as it seemed, much effect. The batteries could not break down the fortifications nor silence the British guns. The besieged, on the other hand, appeared to make no impression on the batteries. The red-hot shot either bounded off the tops or pierced the sides without doing any harm. If at any time smoke was seen, the fire was speedily put out. But in the course of the afternoon it could be seen that something was wrong with the floating batteries. They did not keep up their cannonade, and the crews had evidently as much as they could do to keep them from catching fire. Before midnight two were seen to be in flames. The British gunners, able to take good aim by the light of the fire, went on with their cannonade more furiously than ever. Six more of the batteries were burnt, and before long the other two were destroyed. These the British had captured, but in one the powder magazine blew up, and the other was found to be so injured that it had to be burnt. The besiegers lost 1600 men, and would have lost more had it not been for the courage and kindness of the British, who did their best to take the crews of the batteries that had been destroyed.

The siege, though continued in name till peace was made in February 1783, was now at an end.

"The Greatest Sailor Since the World Began"

I have not space to tell the whole story of Nelson's life, and so must pass over many gallant deeds, and begin with the action which, I may say, first made him really famous. It was the 14th of February, 1797, and Nelson, who was then thirty-eight, was in command of the Captain, a 74-gun ship in the fleet commanded by Sir John Jervis. England was then at war with both France and Spain, and Jervis was very anxious to prevent the Spanish fleet from joining the French. He met it on its way northwards—it was bound for Brest—and as it happened, gave an order which would have let it slip by, but that Nelson, who knew better what was to be done, chose not to obey it. But it is not my business now to describe the battle—it is known by the name of the Battle of Cape St. Vincent—but to say what part Nelson took in it. The Captain, after engaging with other Spanish ships, closed with the San Nicolas, an 84-gun. While the action was going on, the Spaniard got entangled with another man-of-war, the San Josef  Nelson's ship had been a good deal knocked about; its foremast was down, and its wheel shot away; it certainly, therefore, could not sail to any purpose. Accordingly he called for the boarders, at the same time ordering the helm to be so put about that his ship should get quite close to her antagonist. Our men jumped on board, and Nelson was soon after them. While he was receiving the Spanish officers' swords, some shots were fired from the San Josef . Nelson called for the boarders again, himself scrambled aboard, and hastening to the quarter-deck received the captain's sword. There was but very little fighting; neither ship offered any serious resistance. But it was a very notable thing thus to take two ships, as it were at a blow. People at home could not say too much in praise of the captain of a seventy-four who took an eighty-four, and passed over its deck to take a 12-gun ship on the other side. His fellow-officers talked of "Nelson's patent bridge for boarding first-rates." "The quick perception that the ships were beaten, that the Captain  was useless in the chase, the determination not to lie idle when anything could be done—all this was Nelson's own." And his own too was the bold disobedience to orders, without which there might not have been any battle at all.

In the following year it became known in England that a large expedition was being fitted out in the French port of Toulon. No one knew whither it was to go. A squadron under Nelson was set to watch the harbour, but the French fleet got out during a gale of wind. Nelson's squadron was made much stronger, and he was sent to search for the enemy. He had already guessed the truth. The French were bound for Egypt, and were thinking, after they had conquered that country, of going on to India. It is a wonderful thing that he should have found out what does not seem to have been so much as thought of by the Government at home. For some time he searched for the French fleet in various parts of the Mediterranean, but could not see or hear of it. He even went to Egypt, but it had not then arrived. The search was begun on June 7, and it was not till July 28 that he learnt that the French had been seen on June 30 near the island of Candia, sailing eastward. This made him feel sure that it had gone to Egypt. Thither he sailed, and on August 1 he found the enemy, thirteen ships-of-the-line and four frigates, at anchor in Aboukir Bay. The bay is to the east of Alexandria, between that city and Rosetta. Nelson had twelve ships-of-the-line and one frigate. One of his ships, the Culloden, struck on a rock before the battle began, and remained there till it was over. On the whole, the French fleet had 1198 guns and 11,110 men, against 924 guns and 7478 men on our side. But our ships were in a better condition, and the crews better disciplined.

The French fleet was anchored in line, about three miles from the shore. The English ships, none of them firing a gun till quite close to the enemy, began with the end of the enemy's line, and beat them, we may say, one by one. The battle began about 7 p.m. In about two hours' time the five ships first attacked were conquered. At 10:30 p.m. the Orient, 120-gun, which bore the admiral's flag, blew up. All night the fight went on. When it was over, nine  French ships had been taken, and four  destroyed. Four escaped. A more complete victory has never been won than the Battle of the Nile.

In 1801 the English Government found it necessary to declare war against Denmark. I cannot fully explain their reasons, but I may say so much. England was engaged in a desperate struggle with France; Russia, Sweden, and Denmark, while professing to favour neither side, acted in such a way as likely to help France and injure England very much. On April 2 Nelson, with nine ships (three ran aground in attempting to follow) passed up the channel on which Copenhagen is situated, and anchored opposite the floating batteries belonging to the Danes. At 10 a.m. the battle began. Three hours passed. The English ships had suffered much; two of those that had run aground had hoisted signals of distress, and none of the Danish batteries had been silenced. The admiral in chief command—Nelson was acting under his orders—hoisted the signal, "Leave off action." But the admiral had sent the captain of his ship to explain that Nelson might obey the order or not, as he thought best. Nelson preferred not to obey, and, as usual, was quite right. "Leave off action?" he said, when the signal was reported to him. "Not I." "You know, Hardy," he went on, speaking to the captain of his ship, "that I have a right to be blind sometimes," and putting his glass into his blind eye, said, "I really do not see this signal." In an hour's time it was no longer doubtful which way the battle would go. Most of the Danish ships and batteries had ceased to fire. The Dannebrog, the ship of the Danish commander, blew up, and every one on board, except those who jumped into the water, perished. At half-past two Nelson sent a letter to the Crown Prince of Denmark in these words—"Lord Nelson has orders to spare Denmark when no longer resisting; but if the firing is continued on the part of Denmark, Lord Nelson will be obliged to set on fire all the floating batteries which he has taken, without having the power of saving the brave Danes who have defended them." In the end a truce for twenty-four hours was made; after this an armistice for fourteen years, and finally a peace.

Horatio Nelson


Four years later England was in greater danger than ever. Napoleon was bent on invading her; if he could have got command of the sea, there would be nothing to prevent his crossing the Channel, and putting on her shores armies so large that it would have scarcely been possible to resist them. This command he never was really likely to get; the last thing that Nelson did for his country was to make it impossible. Till the very end of the war—and it lasted for nearly ten years after the battle which I am about to describe—there never was any question about England ruling the sea. France did not even attempt to dispute it.

On September 15, 1805, Nelson sailed from Portsmouth in the Victory. On the 28th he joined the British fleet, which was then lying off Cadiz, and took the command. The French admiral, Villeneuve, was lying in that port, and was not at all anxious to come out. But Napoleon threatened to take away his command if he did not, and on October 19-20 he came out. Nelson during this time had been busy explaining to the officers who commanded under him his plan of battle. When the time came, every man knew exactly what he had to do. Generally, we may say, the plan was the same as it had been at the battle of the Nile—to attack first one portion of the enemy's fleet and then another with a superior force. As at the Nile, the enemy, a combination of the French and Spanish fleets, was superior in the number both of ships and guns—thirty-three ships with 2601 guns to twenty-seven with 2294. At half-past eleven a.m. on Oct. 21 he made the celebrated signal: ENGLAND EXPECTS THAT EVERY MAN WILL DO HIS DUTY. Half-an-hour later the Royal Sovereign  came into action. For some time she was alone, with several French and Spanish ships firing at her, but with so little skill that she received very little damage. Her own fire she kept till she was quite close, and then discharged it with terrible effect. Almost exactly the same thing happened with Nelson's ship the Victory. At least half-a-dozen Spaniards and Frenchmen cannonaded her. They did some damage, but not a fifth part of what she did to the Bucentaure, the French ship into which she discharged her broadside. Nearly four hundred men were killed or wounded by it. But it was with another ship, the Redoubtable, that the Victory  became finally engaged. The Frenchmen were driven from their guns by the superior fire of the English. But they had a number of men on their top-masts, and these kept up such a fire on the upper decks of the Victory  that it was impossible to stand there. Nelson would never allow this kind of fighting to go on from the ships which he commanded. He was afraid of their being set on fire, a thing which he had seen happen. About half-past one in the afternoon a shot from the top of the mizzen-mast struck him on the left shoulder, and passing through the epaulette, the lungs, and the spine, lodged in the muscles of the back. He fell on the deck. When Hardy, who was his flag-captain, endeavoured to raise him, he said, "They have done for me at last, Hardy." "I hope not," answered Hardy. "Yes; my backbone is shot through." He was carried below, and lingered in great pain for three hours. At times he was unconscious. But he seems to have known that a victory had been won. "Ten ships, my lord, have struck," said Hardy to him. "But none, I hope, of ours," he answered. Later on he heard the total number. "God be praised!" he murmured; "bring the fleet to an anchor." The dying Wolfe was also thinking up to the last of his duty as General. About half-past four he died, his last words having been, "Thank God! I have done my duty." Unfortunately, Admiral Collingwood, who succeeded to the command of the fleet, would not anchor. The consequence was that, as the weather became bad, some of the prizes were lost and others were recovered by their crews, who had to be set at liberty, if the ships were not to sink. Four only of the prizes were taken into Gibraltar. Four others, however, which had escaped from the battle, were taken by another English squadron on November 4. These were all in fair condition, and one of them is still afloat, being used as a training-ship. Of the eleven that escaped into Cadiz, not one was ever used again. Practically, the French and Spanish fleets were destroyed.

From Lisbon to the Pyrenees

On April 22, 1809, Wellington landed at Lisbon. The object which he set before himself was to defend Portugal from the French, and possibly to deliver Spain from them. We shall see with what wonderful skill he carried it out.

This was not the first time that England had tried to strike at Napoleon's power by attacking him in the Peninsula, of which he had gained possession in a very shameful way, and where he was greatly hated by the people. In the year before, Wellington himself had defeated the French at Vimiera, and had made an agreement with them by which they engaged to leave Portugal. Later, in 1808, Sir John Moore had marched into Spain, where, according to agreement, large Spanish forces were to meet him. The promise was not kept. Sir John Moore found no one; the only Spanish army that could have come to his help was defeated, and having but 27,000 men to oppose to 70,000 of the enemy, he could do nothing but retreat. This he did, closely followed by the French. At Corunna, he turned upon his pursuers and inflicted a heavy defeat upon them, dying in the moment of victory. This then was the work which Wellington now took up. Accordingly he proceeded to make sure that Lisbon should be safe from the enemy; and that his own army should have a place to which it could retreat. Lisbon stands at the sea or south end of a peninsula some thirty miles long, which has the sea on one side and the estuary of the Tagus on the other. Twenty-five miles to the north are some hills, called Torres Vedras. Here Wellington made a line of forts, and another, yet stronger, ten miles nearer Lisbon. Here was to be the refuge of his army if ever he should be compelled to fall back before superior forces.

There is no need to describe his movements during the next few months. They were very bold and skilful, and, as for a time it seemed, very successful. By May 19, not quite four weeks from the time he landed, there was not a single French soldier in Portugal. He then marched into Spain. He relied on being helped by the Spanish troops, for he had not yet found out how little they could be trusted. They made him lose more than one chance of beating the enemy. Nevertheless, he won a great victory at Talavera (July 27-28), though he got very little help from his allies. But his experiences in Spain taught him that the work before him was one of great difficulty, and that he must be prepared for the worst.

In the next year (1810) came the time for using the shelter provided. Napoleon, who had been greatly vexed at the defeats suffered by his troops, sent a great number of troops into Spain, and with them the best of his generals—"marshals" they were called—Massena. Wellington might have got back to his shelter without fighting; but he chose to stop and give the French the chance of attacking him. He felt sure that his army would be able to hold its own, and a victory gained at this particular time would be worth so much that he was ready to risk something for it. It would put his own men in good spirits; it would strengthen the Government at home, and would make the Portuguese more willing to exert themselves. The spot where he halted was Busaco, a place about one hundred and thirty miles north of Lisbon, for the French were in Portugal again. It is a ridge on a line of hills, and about eight miles long. Two French columns attacked the position. The left column got up to the crest of the hill, and held it for a time. Our troops were not numerous enough to occupy the whole length of the ridge, and this particular spot was not defended. The French were soon driven down the slope. The column on the right did not do even so much, for they never quite reached the top. Wellington's army lost about 1300 in killed and wounded; the French more than three times as many.

The battle of Busaco was fought on September 27. About a fortnight later, Wellington was behind the lines of Torres Vedras. It is a curious thing that till then no one, neither the Portuguese Government nor his own army, knew for what these lines were meant. As for Massena, he had not so much as heard of them. He surveyed them, hoping to find a weak spot in them, but could not. He never ventured to attack them, though he remained in Portugal all the winter. His army fared badly during that time; but if Wellington's plan of laying all the country waste had been carried out, he would have fared much worse. As it was, he lost great numbers of men from disease and want, and when he made up his mind to retreat, had only 50,000 left out of 70,000.

French Camp


Massena began his retreat on March 2, and contrived it so cleverly that it was not known for some time. But on the 7th Wellington was pursuing him; and less than a month later crossed the Spanish frontier. Portugal was again free from the enemy. By this time, it should be said, he had a much stronger army, more British troops and some good Portuguese regiments. These latter had been drilled during the winter, and could be trusted to stand fire and do good service generally. On May 3-4 he fought a doubtful battle at Fuentes d'Onoro. The loss on both sides was much the same, but the English took possession of a strong fortress, Almeida, which would be useful if Portugal were to be again invaded. This was Massena's last battle; Marmont had been sent by Napoleon to take his place. A few days later (May 16) a fierce battle was fought at Albuera, not by Wellington but by Beresford, one of his lieutenants, who was scarcely as able as he was brave. It was a victory, but very dearly bought, for our loss was 7000 to 8000 on the side of the French. Out of 6000 British troops, only 1500 were left unwounded. Later in the year, Wellington tried to take two great fortresses of which the French had gained possession, Badajos and Ciudad Rodrigo, but was obliged to retire from both, the French bringing up against him superior forces. This was the end of the third  campaign. The winter before he had spent behind the lines of Torres Vedras, all the country that he could command being the Lisbon Peninsula. Now he was in Spain, and so secure that a pack of hounds was kept in the camp, and the country was regularly hunted.

The fourth campaign (1812) was begun very early, and with a great surprise. On January 12 Wellington took the fortress of Ciudad Rodrigo by storm, and not quite three months later (April 6) he got possession of Badajos in the same way. Both were terrible fights, Wellington losing about 1300 men in the first and more than 5000 in the second; but they were great blows to the enemy.

Wellington was now free to begin the second part of his task. He had driven the French out of Portugal; he was now to drive them out of Spain. It was a wonderful thing to do, but you must not forget that he was greatly helped by what Napoleon was now doing. The French Emperor had been preparing for some time to invade Russia. In June he started. If he had sent into Spain but a half of the enormous army which he took with him on this fatal expedition, Wellington could not possibly have done what he did.

After various movements, which I have not space to describe, but in which it may be said that the very skilful French general, Marmont, had slightly the advantage, the two armies met at Salamanca (July 22). Marmont made the mistake of leaving a great gap between two parts of his army. Wellington saw it in a moment and attacked, and in an hour's fighting the French line was finally broken. Marmont, who had ridden forward to do what he could to repair his blunder, was severely wounded and carried off the field. The same thing happened to his second in command. The third made a skilful retreat, which would, however, have been cut off if the Spaniards had done their proper part in the day's work. But they had left their post and the French escaped. As it was, they lost 12,000 out of 42,000 men, Wellington's being about half as much out of 46,000. It should be noted that, for the first time, the British army was superior in numbers. On August 12 Wellington entered Madrid, from which Joseph Bonaparte, to whom the Emperor had given the empty title of King of Spain, had fled a few days before. But he was not strong enough to hold the place. He had to leave it and to retreat. This he did, not without some loss, but on the whole with success. The fourth campaign of the war was now at an end. Wellington thus sums it up in a letter written to a friend on November 30: "Although we have not been able to hold the two Castilles, our campaign has not been a bad one, and we are in a position to make a good one next year."

The campaign of 1813 began with a forward movement into Spain. It was delayed for some time while Wellington made his arrangements, for it was not till May 22 that he himself passed the Spanish frontier. On that day, when crossing the Agueda, a river which flows into the Douro, he rose in his stirrups and cried, "Farewell, Portugal!" And indeed he never saw the country again, for when the campaign was over, he sailed directly for England.

And now the French were retreating, taking with them all that they could carry of the vast plunder which they gathered together in Spain. King Joseph was nominally in command, with Marshal Jourdan to help him. The two could not agree; the troops, too, were disappointed; they were in retreat, and retreat never suits the French soldier, who is very apt to lose heart, and, unlike the Englishman, knows only too soon when he is beaten. At Vittoria, a valley near the mountains of Biscay, Joseph found himself compelled to make a stand.

Through this valley of Vittoria there runs a river named the Zamorra, and by the river the high-road to Bayonne, along which the French were marching, with a vast train of baggage. At either end there are hills. It was at these two ends, as well as in the middle, where there are several bridges over the river, that Wellington made his attack. General Graham was on the left or west, General Hill on the right, Wellington in the centre. There was much fierce fighting everywhere, but especially on the left. If the French could have been beaten here, their whole army would have been destroyed. But their commander here held his own bravely, and though the road to Bayonne was seized by the English, another, namely to Pampeluna, was left open. By this the French army was able to retreat. The losses in killed and wounded were much the same on either side—between five and six thousand; but the French lost everything but their lives and arms, one hundred and fifty out of one hundred and fifty-two guns, all their stores of ammunition and food, all their baggage, in fact everything that belonged to themselves or that they were carrying away out of Spain.

The battle of Vittoria was fought on June 21. For more than a year afterwards the war went on, first in Spain before San Sebastian, which was besieged on July 10 and taken by storm three weeks later, and among the valleys and heights of the Pyrenees; and afterwards in France itself, which Wellington entered on October 7. The last battle was fought at Toulouse on April 10, 1814, and fought to no purpose, because Napoleon had abdicated six days before.


I said in the last chapter that Napoleon abdicated, i.e.  gave up the throne of France on April 6, 1814. He was allowed to remain an Emperor, but of a very small empire, namely, the little island of Elba, between Italy and Corsica. This, as you may suppose, did not satisfy him long. He left Elba on February 26, 1815, and returned to France. Here most of his old soldiers joined him again, and for a short time—the Hundred Days, as it is called—he was again Emperor of France.

The kings or their ambassadors had been quarrelling at Vienna, where they had met to arrange the affairs of Europe; but the news of Napoleon's return made them agree. All promised to help in resisting him, and it was settled that in six weeks 700,000 men should be ready to fight. As a matter of fact, nothing of the kind was done. England, indeed, sent an army over into Belgium, but it was not a large one, for there were only 30,000 British troops in it, and some of these were new recruits. Wellington was, of course, put in command, but the veteran soldiers whom he had led to victory in Portugal and Spain were, for the most part, in America, whither they had been sent for the war with the United States. The total number that he had was rather above 100,000, and this was made up by Germans, who, for the most part, were good troops; Dutch, who were not so good, but still fair; and Belgians, many of whom were very bad. The Prussians had an army of about 80,000 in the field, under Marshal Blucher, their most famous general. Napoleon, on the other hand, had an army of 130,000, composed, for the most part, of excellent soldiers, the veterans whom he had commanded in so many wars. He hurried from Paris, which he left on June 12, to the French frontier. His plan was to attack first the Prussians and then the English with his whole force. Wellington was at Brussels, Blucher at Namur, that is about fifty miles apart. On June 16 Napoleon attacked the Prussians' left at Fleurus and defeated them, but not so heavily as to make them unable to move. On the same day one of his marshals, Ney, fell on the British troops at Quatre Bras. He did not begin his attack till late in the day; had he been earlier, he might have done more, for he would certainly have found his adversaries weaker. As it was, though some Belgian troops fled from the field, and the Duke of Brunswick's legion was broken for a time, their leader being killed, Ney could not drive the British from their position. The total loss of the Allies was about 25,000 men in killed, wounded, and prisoners; that of the French about 16,000. Napoleon had won a victory, but not so great a one as he wanted. He had beaten, but not routed, the Prussians, and he had not beaten the British at all.



On the 17th there was no fighting; it was on the 18th that the great battle was fought which was to put an end to Napoleon's power. Wellington's line of battle was along a ridge about two miles long. Behind it was the Forest of Soignies, into which he could retreat if it became necessary. In front of him on the right was a country house called Hougoumont, and about the centre a farm named La Haye Sainte. The ridge gave some shelter to his troops from the French cannon. He had about 62,000 men, with 156 guns; Napoleon had 65,000 with 246 guns; but some of Wellington's troops were, as has been said, worth but very little. It was not so much that they wanted courage, but they were better disposed to the French than to us.

Napoleon did not begin the attack until about half-an-hour before noon. There had been rain in the night, and it would be convenient that the ground should dry before he moved. Still, as it turned out, this was a mistake. Napoleon did not know that the Prussians were as near the English army as they really were; if he had, he would certainly have done his best to beat the British troops before they could possibly come up. The first thing done was to attack Hougoumont. Here fierce fighting went on during the whole day, but the French never got possession of the whole place. The house was always held by the British garrison. But at the centre things were somewhat better for the French. They took the farmhouse of La Haye Sainte, and routed the Dutch-Belgian brigade. Yet here, too, they suffered a considerable loss; thrown into disorder by the heavy fire from the English lines, they were charged by the Union Brigade of cavalry on one side, and by the Household Brigade or Lifeguards on the other. Napoleon, who had found out from a Prussian officer who had been taken prisoner that Blucher was advancing, made more and more furious efforts to break the English line. A huge body of cavalry, as many as 12,000 in number, charged time after time, but could not break the squares of British infantry. "I shall beat them yet," Wellington said about this time to one of his officers. Still, the battle was far from being won. The fierce cannonade had so thinned a part of the line where the Hanoverians were posted that the Duke himself had to rally the wavering troops.

It was now late. Napoleon had been vainly trying for eight hours to overcome the stubborn British lines, and now the Prussians had appeared on the field. He made one last effort, sending the last ten battalions of the Old Guard. It was in vain. They charged in two columns, but both were broken and driven back. Then Wellington ordered an advance of the whole British line. The French army broke up in hopeless confusion and fled. Napoleon's Empire had fallen. It was a splendid victory, but dearly bought. The British loss in killed and wounded was 15,000, the Prussians nearly half as much. This last fact shows that the Prussian army had a much greater share in the battle than most people think.


On the first day of January, 1822, the Greeks declared themselves independent. For some time past they had been discontented with Turkish rule. They had rebelled more than once, and at this time had driven the Turks out of the Morea. Great sympathy was felt for them throughout Europe, especially by those who had read the history and knew the books of ancient Greece.

Fighting went on for some years. The Greeks won some victories, but they were not a match for their enemies. In May 1827, Athens, which had been captured by the patriots five years before, was compelled to surrender to the Turks. Then England, France, and Russia joined together to bring about peace, more readily because the Turks carried on the war in the most savage fashion. But the Turks refused to come to terms, and made a great effort thoroughly to subdue the rebels, as they called the Greeks. For this purpose they collected a fleet of seventy men-of-war of various sizes at Navarino, a harbour on the western side of the Morea. This fleet was under the command of Ibrahim Pasha, eldest son of Mehemet Ali, Viceroy of Egypt. Early in September the Russian squadron joined the fleets of England and France, and the three admirals sent a message to Ibrahim to this effect—"We are instructed from home to prevent any further fighting between the Turks and the Greeks, and we desire you to do your best to carry this out." Ibrahim appeared to consent, and an armistice, that is, a stay of fighting, was concluded till an answer should come from the Sultan at Constantinople. But Ibrahim did not mean to keep his word. No answer was expected for twenty days, but at the end of a week the Egyptian squadron stole out of the harbour of Navarino, intending to carry on the war elsewhere. The English admiral sailed after it, and, though he had only three ships with him, compelled it to come back. No satisfactory answer was received from the Sultan, and the three admirals made up their minds to blockade the Turkish fleet in the harbour of Navarino. No one supposed that Ibrahim would venture to resist.

Battle of Navarino


In the afternoon of October 20 the combined fleets sailed into the harbour. The Turks, on seeing them, began to prepare for battle, though they were not by any means all of one mind. The Egyptian admiral, for instance, who may have remembered, or possibly seen, the battle of the Nile, declared that he would not fight. Their fleet was arranged in the shape of a crescent; so large was it that the horns of this crescent nearly surrounded the ships of the three Allies. These latter had strict orders not to fire a gun, unless the Turkish ships should first fire on them. But if this were to happen, then they were to set to work in real earnest, for the admirals' orders ended with a famous message once sent by Nelson to the captains of his fleet—"No captain can do wrong who lays his ship alongside one of the enemy."

The Turks began the fighting, for they fired upon a boat which had been sent with a message to a Turkish fire-ship, which the Allies thought to be dangerously near. An English and a French ship returned the fire, and then sent parties of their crews to board the fire-ship. They were just about to do this when it was blown up. Next an Egyptian frigate poured a broadside upon the Dartmouth, one of the British ships. The men in the rigging hurried down to the deck, and the captain called to them, "Now, my men, down to the main-deck, and fire away as fast as you can."

The English admiral, still anxious to avoid, if possible, a general battle, sent his pilot to the Turkish commander for an explanation. But the enemy fired upon the boat and killed the messenger. On this the admiral poured one broadside on a Turkish and the other on an Egyptian ship. Both were reduced to mere wrecks; but as they swung aside they made way for a second line of the enemies' ships. These all opened fire, and in a few minutes more the battle became general, and the whole harbour was covered with ships fiercely engaged. And while some of the enemies' ships were still fighting others were burning, while, from time to time, first one and then another blew up with a terrible explosion. As soon as an enemy's ship became disabled its crew set fire to it.

For nearly four hours the battle went on, for, as I have said, it was past two o'clock when it began, and the sun had set before it was finished. Of all the seventy Turkish ships only one frigate and seventeen smaller vessels remained fit to put to sea. All the others had been knocked to pieces, sunk, or burnt. The loss of the Turks was terribly great, for the ships were crowded with men, and the fire of the Allies was so well directed that it made dreadful havoc among them. It was reckoned afterwards that between five and six thousand Turks and Egyptians perished at Navarino.

Strange stories are told of the carelessness of the Turks about their own men. When the battle was over, the English admiral sent to the Turkish commander offering him any help that he might want. There had been terrible slaughter among his men. Hundreds of corpses had been thrown overboard, and the deck was strewed with wounded. Some Turkish officers were smoking and drinking coffee. "We don't want any help," said one of them to our admiral's messenger. "But," said the Englishman, "shall not our surgeon attend to your wounded?"

"No," replied the Turk, "wounded men want no help; they soon die."

The English loss was about 140 in killed and wounded, that of the French a little more.

The White North

For the last three hundred years many British sailors, and not a few belonging to other nations, have been making voyages into the region of perpetual ice and snow. For a long time, far, we may say, into this century, these voyages were made in the hope of gain—not to be got at once, indeed, but to come some day. It was believed that there was a short way to the East, which would make trade with India and China more profitable. Now—and there is still as much zeal about Arctic voyaging as ever—it is knowledge that men have in view.

Sebastian Cabot was the first to have the idea of a "North-west Passage," as it was called. This was about 1497. Half-a-century afterwards, Sir Hugh Willoughby sailed to find it, but he and his crew perished of hunger. Then a "Northeastern" passage was looked for. Frobisher, Davis, Barentz are the names of some of the brave seamen who went on this errand. But no one had more success than Henry Hudson, who made his way in a vessel in which one would hardly like now to cross to America, with a crew of ten men and a boy, as far north as latitude 80° 30'. This was in 1607. He made three more voyages. In the fourth his crew mutinied and put him out in an open boat to die of cold and hunger. Hudson's Bay, which he discovered, bears his name. In 1743 the English Government offered a large reward to any one who should discover a north-west passage, and some years afterwards another reward to any one who should get to within one degree of the North Pole. This second reward has never been earned, for no one has been nearer to the Pole (as I write the distance has been lessened by 160 miles) than 400 miles, nearly six degrees; but the first was paid to Captain McClure, who discovered the passage in October 1856. By that time, however, all idea that it might be found useful for trade had been given up. But I cannot tell the story of Arctic navigation; all that I can do is to give some account of the adventures of one man, John Franklin. I choose him, not because he was the most skilful and experienced of the many brave seamen who have explored these dreary and dangerous regions, but because he is certainly the most famous.

Franklin, born at Spilsby in Lincolnshire in 1786, was present as a midshipman at the battles of Copenhagen and Trafalgar. Most of the time between these two he spent in a voyage of discovery in the Southern hemisphere. His first voyage to the Arctic regions was made in 1818. In the year following he was sent again, this time in command of a land expedition. He and his party went by sea to Fort York, on the east side of Hudson's Bay. There they took what was called a "York boat," a flat-bottomed boat about forty feet long, which drew only twelve inches of water. In this they could navigate even very shallow rivers. Their plan was to go from river to river, and lake to lake, dragging their boat over land when it was necessary. After a great deal of labour and suffering, the party reached the Great Slave Lake, which is about 800 miles north-west of Fort York. Here they were to pass the winter, and to build a house which they called Fort Enterprise. But on examining their store of provisions they found that they had not enough to last. One of the officers, Lieut. Back, started for Fort Chipewyan, which is on Athabasca Lake, to have some more sent on. He travelled more than a thousand miles (there and back) on snow-shoes, sometimes having no food for two or three days together. The party left their winter quarters in the beginning of June, in the next year, and on the 15th of that month reached the shore of the Arctic Sea. The journey back was a terrible one. For days together the travellers lived on a plant, called tripe de roche, with now and then some singed hide or bit of old leather. They thought themselves lucky if they found the bones and putrid flesh of a dead deer. On October 4, Lieut. Back went on ahead to Fort Enterprise to fetch provisions, and a few days afterwards Franklin and some of his party followed him, leaving the rest, who were too weak to move, under the care of Mr. Richardson, the doctor, and another officer. When Franklin reached the fort he found nothing. The Indians had promised to make a store of provisions, but had not done it. Back had left a note saying that he was going on to Fort Providence, and would send food from there. Franklin and his companions were too weak to move more than a few yards at a time. On October 24 he, with two others, started to look for the Indians, but his snow-shoes broke, and he was compelled to come back. While he was away some reindeer came close to the house, but the men were too weak to shoot them. On the 29th Richardson, the doctor, arrived with a seaman: these two were the only survivors of the party of eight left at the first halting-place. Hood had been murdered by a Canadian boatman, Michel by name, and Richardson had shot Michel in self-defence. The man had been suspected of murdering and devouring two others of his companions. Only six of the company were now left alive, and of these two soon died. On November 7, three Indians, who had been sent by Back with food, arrived. The Indians took the kindest care of the sick men. In the end, after spending another winter in the country, they reached York Factory on July 14, and four months later got back to England. Franklin had been away from England for more than two years. In 1825 he went again to the same region, and by the same way. This time everything was well managed; proper preparations for food, etc., were made, and the expedition was prosperous. Many hundred miles of the north coast of America were surveyed, and the party returned safely to England.

John Franklin


In 1843 Franklin, now Sir John, went again in command of an expedition, which this time was to go by sea. He had now two ships, the Erebus  and the Terror, which had lately come back from a voyage to the regions of the South Pole. The ships were made as fit for the work as possible, and were supplied with provisions for two years. The crew consisted of twenty-three officers, and a hundred and eleven men. No man had had more experience of Arctic voyaging than Franklin, but he was too old for the work. The expedition set sail on May 19, and was last seen by the captain of a whaling ship in Melville Bay, which is on the west coast of Greenland. But though both the ships and the crews were absolutely lost, something has been learnt about their fate by those who went out in search of them. It seems that at first things went well with them. But in the second year their ships were caught in a pack of ice from which they never got free. In this ice their second winter was spent. And now the great discovery was made. Though the ships could not be moved, two of the officers made an expedition to King William Island, and saw then that if they could only get their ships so far—and there was nothing but ice to hinder it—they would have made the North-west Passage. Franklin himself died on June 11, 1847. If the survivors had made up their minds at once that the ships must be left, and had made their way by land to some factory in Northern Canada, they might have saved their lives. But they were unwilling to give up the hope of success, especially as they knew that it was within their reach, if only they could get clear of the ice. And of this they had hopes for a time. The whole pack began to move southward, but when it was sixty miles from the American shore it became fixed again. So it came to pass that the crew had to spend the third winter in the ice. When this was finished their provisions had come to an end, for they had started with food for three years only. In the spring of 1843 the survivors, one hundred and five in number, started on sledges for the Great Fish River. They seemed not to have actually reached it, though we know that they were not far off. Some Eskimos—this is the name given to the Indians who inhabit these regions—declared that they had seen white men travelling in this direction. Many expeditions were sent out from England in search for them. In 1854, Dr. Rae got from the Eskimos some forks and spoons that had belonged to the two ships. And in 1859, Captain M'Clintock, in the steam yacht Fox, which had been fitted out by Lady Franklin, found papers which one of the two officers mentioned before had left at Point Victory, with some words added by Captain Crozier, who was in command of the Terror, in 1848. It was on this paper that the date of Sir John Franklin's death was given. Captain M'Clintock collected a number of relics belonging to the expedition. Of the Erebus  and Terror nothing was ever discovered.

The Khyber Pass

I am going to tell the story of the greatest disaster that ever happened to a British army.

In 1838-39 the Indian Government sent an army into Afghanistan. Its object was to restore a certain prince, Shah Soojah by name, who had been driven into exile nearly twenty years before. It hoped that he would be grateful for what had been done for him, and that the country which he ruled would be a valuable ally. Unfortunately, Shah Soojah was a feeble creature, and his people hated him because he had been put over them by foreigners.

For some time, however, everything was quiet, though there were some who suspected danger. But in 1841 some of the Afghan chiefs rebelled. They had been provoked by having the payment which had been made to keep them quiet reduced. What they did was to occupy the passes between Afghanistan and India. The most important of these was the Khyber Pass, of which I shall have more to say hereafter. A brigade which was returning to India was attacked on its way, and suffered no small loss, though it managed at last to get clear. The officer in command, General Sale, thought it best not to go further than the town of Jellalabad. This place, of which we shall hear again, he occupied and fortified.

Meanwhile a riot had broken out at Cabul, the capital of Afghanistan, and the envoy of the Indian Government was murdered. Very soon the whole city was in a state of revolt. The English force, which was considerable—four regiments of infantry and two of cavalry, with some other troops—was badly managed. Forts which might have been defended were given up, and other opportunities of attacking or resisting the enemy were lost. Elsewhere, also, great losses were suffered. One native regiment mutinied and murdered its officers; another was destroyed by the Afghans.

Then the civil officer, Macnaughten by name, to whom the generals had to look for orders, resolved to negotiate with the enemy. The Afghan chiefs made delay after delay, but at last, on December 11, they agreed to a treaty. Twelve days afterwards, when Macnaughten rode out from Cabul to have a conference with the chiefs, he was seized and murdered.

Still, even after this, the English officers went on negotiating. They thought that they could neither remain in Cabul nor force their way back to India, and that therefore nothing could be done but accept the terms which the enemy offered them. Briefly, these were that they were to evacuate the country, and, in consideration of this, were to be allowed to return unhurt, with their arms and property. On January 6, 1842, a bitterly cold day, with the snow lying deep on their road, all that was left of the British army, with the women and children that belonged to them, left the city. There were 4500 men in all, of whom 690 were Europeans, an army quite strong enough to hold its own even then, if it had been well commanded.

All the day was occupied in moving out, and from the first the enemy broke in the cruellest way the promises made by their chiefs that the British should be allowed to retreat in safety. The first day only six miles of march were accomplished. The army and its followers bivouacked in the snow, without fire, shelter, or food. Many soldiers and camp-followers, accustomed to the warmth of an Indian climate, perished of cold. During the night a part of the native troops deserted.

The next day, the march—if march it can be called—was resumed. The enemy still continued to plunder and kill. The soldiers had lost all heart, and made no resistance. They even allowed five out of their seven guns to fall into the hands of the Afghans. Another night even more miserable than the first followed. When the morning came, only a few hundred men were able to bear arms. In the course of the next day the women and children with the married officers were given over to the Afghan chiefs.

On the 10th the advance, consisting of what was left of the 44th Regiment (Europeans) and a few native cavalry, with one gun, had found their way through a narrow pass, in some places not more than ten feet wide, which lay in their way, and waited to be joined by the main body. But the main body had perished. Only a few stragglers survived to tell the story to those who, for the time, but only for the time, had escaped.

Khyber Pass


The Afghan commander now offered to take the remnant that was left safely to Jellalabad, if they would lay down their arms. The offer was rejected, and Brigadier Shelton, who was in command, proposed that they should make a night march to a place called Jugdulluk, which was about forty miles short of Jellalabad. The march was made, though not till after long delay, for the force had still a crowd of camp-followers with it, and could not move quickly. Jugdulluk was reached on the afternoon of the 11th, but no shelter was to be found here, and those still surviving had to march on again. The Afghans had put up across the road a barrier of prickly brushwood. This kept back the front rank from advancing; the rear was continually attacked by the savage enemy. The British soldiers made a brave defence. One officer, a captain in the 44th regiment, slew five Afghans before he fell. At last the brushwood barrier was broken down, and the few survivors—twenty officers and forty-five European soldiers—reached Gundamuk, a place half-way between Jugdulluk and Jellalabad. They took up their position on a little hillock. At first the Afghans charged them, trying to wrest their arms from them, but were beaten back. The enemy then retired to a distance, and fired, picking off man after man. When they had weakened it, as they thought, enough, they charged again—they greatly wished, you see, to have some prisoners—and at last overpowered the little band. One officer, who had wrapped the colours of the 44th round his waist, was carried off, and with him a few private soldiers who had been wounded.

Meanwhile the mounted officers had ridden forward. Of these five were killed on the way, two of them within four miles of Jellalabad. One survivor only, a doctor, Brydon by name, reached that town.

I must now relate what happened at Jellalabad. When Sale reached this town its fortifications were not capable of being defended. He had thirteen days to strengthen them, and his engineers made such good use of the time that when on November 29 the Afghans attacked it, they were driven off with heavy loss. About a month later came the news of what had happened at Cabul, and soon afterwards came a command from the General-in-Chief ordering Sale to give the place up, according to the terms of the agreement that had been made. Sale declared that he should not heed an agreement that had been made under fear of death, and that he should hold the place till the Government itself should order him to retire. Two or three days later came Dr. Brydon with the dreadful news that he was the sole survivor of the army that had marched a week before out of Cabul.

Sale himself was now shaken. A council of war was held, at which he declared that they could not hope to be relieved for a long time to come, and that his own opinion was to make terms. The Afghans offered a safe retreat to India, and he advised the council to accept the offer. Broadfoot, the engineer officer who had strengthened the defences, declared that such conduct would be neither safe nor honourable. They could hold Jellalabad, he said, as long as they wanted to. Another officer, Oldfield by name—I feel bound to mention these gallant men—exclaimed, "I will fight to the last drop of my blood, but I will never be a hostage, and I wonder that any one should regard an Afghan's word as worth anything." But the majority was the other way. Only these two voted for holding the town. But their example had its effect. The others soon recovered their courage, and it was resolved by all that they would hold on.

For nearly three months the siege went on. Then as the town was closely blockaded, supplies began to fall short, and Sale determined on making a sally. The Afghan general had about 5000 men, and the garrison marched out in three columns, one of them led by an officer who was to become famous afterwards, Henry Havelock, to attack him. In the end the Afghans were swept out of their position, lost all their guns, and had their camp set on fire. Jellalabad was now safe. A fortnight afterwards General Pollock arrived with a relieving force, which was played into its camp on the plain by the band of the 13th Regiment playing the tune of "'Oh! but ye've been lang o' coming!"

Five months afterwards the British army again entered Cabul. The great Bazaar, in which the heads of Burnes and Macnaughten had been paraded, was burnt, and the two places at which British regiments had been slaughtered were also destroyed. This done, the army returned to India.

The Lion and the Bear

In the year 1854 war broke out between England and France, on the one side, and Russia on the other. The cause, to put it shortly, was the ambition of Russia, which desired to seize part at least of the dominions of the Sultan of Turkey, especially Constantinople. I pass over the first few months. War was declared on March 28, but nothing of any importance was done for nearly half-a-year. Then England and France resolved to invade the Crimea. There Russia had a great fortress and arsenal, with a harbour which could hold a great fleet. As long as Sebastopol stood, Constantinople never could be safe. The great object of the Allies, as I shall hereafter call the two Powers, was to take this place. On September 14 the landing of troops was begun; five days later the Allies marched in the direction of Sebastopol, which was about 25 miles distant. The Russian commander had taken up a position on some heights on the further side of the river Alma. It was a strong position, and he might have made it much stronger. Near the sea the heights were very steep, and could be climbed only by a track in one place and a rough road in another. These approaches might have been destroyed, but these were not even guarded. The French, who made the attack on this side, suffered but little loss. And if our men had waited till they (the French) had finished their work, they too would have had an easier task. But the French commander asked Lord Raglan, who was the English general, to attack at once, and this was done. Our troops had to bear a heavy cannonade and musketry fire before they could come to close quarters with the enemy. There were mistakes in the way in which they were led, for indeed few officers had any experience, save some of the older men, who had served in the Peninsula forty years before. The Light Division had the hardest of the fighting to do, but it did it well. The first to make their way into the Russian breastwork were the men of the 23rd (Welsh Fusiliers). When, afterwards, they were forced partly down the slope by the superior force of the Russians, the Guards helped them bravely. Then the Russians gave way and fled in confusion towards Sebastopol, the English artillery doing them much harm as they went. We lost 2000 men in killed and wounded, the Russians at least three times as many; the French suffered but little.

It has been said by some writers that the Allies might have taken Sebastopol if they had gone on at once. Other writers have doubted; and indeed we can never be certain as to what might or might not have been. And it must be remembered that, though the Allies lost many men during the siege that followed, the Russians lost many more. They had to march all the men that were wanted to defend Sebastopol over great distances. Those that perished on the way were more than those who were killed in the siege.

Order for Light Brigade


The Allies now set about besieging the town, the English taking the east side, the French the south, and soon found out that they had a very hard task to perform. While they were busy making trenches and cannonading, the Russians had quartered a large army on the field, and with this on October 25, they attacked the English lines at Balaklava. They drove out the Turks from some redoubts and then advanced against the one English regiment which, with the Turks, made up the garrison of the place. This regiment was the 93rd Highlanders, commanded by Sir Colin Campbell, afterwards Lord Clyde. The Highlanders stood firm, not in square, as usual when cavalry charge infantry, but in the "thin red line" which has become so famous. By this time, the English Heavy Cavalry were coming up to support the Highlanders. On their way, they came across a large body of Russian cavalry, charged them, and drove them down the other slope of the hill, on which they stood in confusion. The Light Brigade of cavalry was at hand, and might have charged the flying enemy and completed their destruction. They did not do so, but unhappily they did something else which made the day, that had been so far a day of success, end in disaster. Lord Raglan sent an order to the officer in command of the brigade to charge and so prevent the Russians carrying away the guns from the redoubts which they had taken. The charge was made, though it is doubtful whether it was what had been ordered, and quite certain that if Lord Raglan had seen what was to be done, he would not have thought of it. In front, about half-a-mile off, were the batteries which the brigade was to charge; on either side there were cannon and masses of infantry. The two English regiments, six hundred men in all, rode straight on, through a storm of shot and shell; they actually reached the batteries and drove the gunners away. Then they rode back, but they had lost nearly half their men and more than four-fifths of their horses. One of the regiments, when it was next mustered, had but ten mounted troopers. "It's splendid, but it is not war," said a French general who saw the charge. He was quite right; but the same might have been said of Arnold von Winkelreid when he broke the line of the Austrian infantry by gathering the spears into his own breast.

A week afterwards, the Russians made another and more dangerous attack upon the Allies. The Russian commander had now 100,000 men at his disposal, and if he had used them with more skill, he might well have put an end to the siege. Before dawn on November 5, 19,000 men came out of Sebastopol and advanced against the English position, on what was called Mount Inkerman. Later in the day, another Russian force, not less numerous, came up from the other side. How the English troops resisted, and in the end drove back these assailants, far more numerous than themselves, it is impossible to say. The battle has been called a soldiers' battle. This means that the British troops fought where they stood, often in quite small parties; their courage, their strength, their national habit of not knowing when they were beaten, all helped them. "They held their ground with an audacious obstinacy, which it would be difficult to parallel in European warfare." Towards the afternoon, when their strength was becoming exhausted, the French came to their help. Without this, they could hardly have stood as firm as they did. Their loss was very heavy, 2300 men in killed and wounded, about a third of their whole force. But the Russian loss was many times greater, more than 12,000 men; that of the French was about 900. If the Russians had used all the troops that were available, if, for instance, the French lines had been attacked at the same time with the English, the day of Inkerman would hardly have ended as it did, in one of the greatest victories in our history.

After this defeat, the Russians did not again attempt to attack the Allies in the field, but the siege was very far from an end. The English troops—not to speak of the French who, for a time at least, suffered less—went through a terrible winter from cold, hunger, and disease. One cause of this was a great storm which happened nine days after the battle of Inkerman. The tents in the camp were blown down; many ships, even in harbour, were wrecked; the rain and snow, which continued for many days, made the roads and all the country deep in mud. Another cause was the want of proper stores for the men; some necessary things, especially fuel, were wanting; others had been badly chosen by the board of officers which had to look after this business. But the chief reason of all the trouble was the want of a Transport Service as it is called; that is, a regular establishment of wagons, horses, and drivers to carry the food and other necessary things from the stores, which were by the sea, up to the camp. The few horses that there were died for want of forage, and the stores had to be carried by the soldiers themselves. The soldiers, after being for many hours in the trenches, instead of finding their food ready for them, had to go for miles through mud and rain to fetch it, and often found that it could not be got. And it must not be forgotten that, for some parts of the siege, the English army had more than its fair share of the work to do. The result of all this was such a state of misery as it is quite impossible to describe. At one time (the beginning of January, when things were, perhaps, at their worst) there were more than twice as many sick as were fit for duty. When I say "fit for duty," I mean who said they were fit for duty, for the brave soldiers held out to the very last of their strength before they would own that they were sick. One regiment was so reduced that there were but eight men (not counting officers) on parade. If the Russians had only known how weak we were, they might have put an end to the siege.

Many strange stories are told of this time, some of them sad, some amusing. One thing that very soon came to pass was that the soldiers took very little trouble to keep themselves smart, but put on whatever they could find that would keep them comfortable and warm. An English major who was dressed in this sort of way was mistaken by some French officers who passed by his hut for the keeper of a canteen. "Some absinthe," they said, "and make haste about it." The major, who had lived in France, served it much to their liking. "How much to pay!" "Nothing, gentlemen." "Nothing! People don't give absinthe away." "Gentlemen," said the major, "I am in command of the regiment of the line, and am delighted to have had the chance of serving my French comrades." The Frenchmen apologized. A few days afterwards, the rest of the officers thought that they too ought to express their regret for the mistake; so they paid a visit to the major, and when they went away he had no absinthe left.

Fighting went on daily, and many curious things happened. Once, Captain, now Lord, Wolseley missed his way in a snow-storm, though he knew the ground perfectly well. Finding a great boulder, he was going to sit down upon it for a short rest, when he saw three Russians sheltering themselves on the other side. He was unarmed and ran away as fast as he could, and the Russians were too cold to use their rifles. Sir Evelyn Wood, who then belonged to the Naval Brigade, tells a story of how he was talking to a sergeant in charge of a battery, when what they thought was a shot lodged in the parapet close by. It was not a shot, but a shell; a few moments later it burst; a fragment cut Mr. Wood's cap off his head, but no harm was done. Once when Lord Raglan was going round the batteries, he sat down close to a 60-pounder gun which was being fired, and at which several Russian cannon were being aimed. A shot went through the parapet six inches above Lord Raglan's head, covering him with stones and earth. He stood up to shake himself, saying as coolly as usual, "Quite close enough."

Early in April a great bombardment was begun, and was carried on for ten days. More than 100,000 shell and shot were fired into the town, and the defences were broken down in more than one place. If an assault had been made—and the Russians, as we now know, fully expected that it would be made—Sebastopol would in all probability have been taken. The Russians had suffered very greatly in the bombardment, losing more than 6000 men. The Allies did not suffer nearly so much. If a Russian shot missed the batteries it did no further harm, but shot fired against the town commonly hit something.

By this time, matters had greatly improved in the English camp. There was a railway between it and the sea, and stores were brought up in abundance. By the time that the siege came to an end, everything in our army was in good order; far better, in fact, than among the French.

On June 7 there was another heavy bombardment. When it was finished, an assault was made. The French took a fortification named the Mamelon. This had been made by Todleben in front of the walls, and had given the Allies a great deal of trouble. On the 18th of the same month—a day chosen because it was the anniversary of Waterloo—the French attacked the Malakoff, and the English the Redan, both of them important parts of the fortifications of Sebastopol. Both attacks failed, it is generally thought, because the French general resolved to attack too soon; that is, before the bombardment had sufficiently broken down the defences.

On June 28 Lord Raglan died.

On September 8 the French, who had now brought their siege works close up to the Russian fortifications, stormed the Malakoff and took it. The same day the English attacked the Redan, but were beaten back. But the siege was now over. On the following night the Russians left Sebastopol, after destroying all that they could. They had lost at least 200,000 men. Great as had been the sufferings of the Allies, those of the besieged were far greater.

Peace was proclaimed on April 28, 1856.

Cawnpore, Lucknow, Delhi

In the early summer of 1857 a terrible mutiny broke out among the native troops of the Indian army. There were many causes at work to bring this about. I cannot describe them here; perhaps no one knows all about them. But I will mention one, because it is easily described, and also because it actually produced the first outbreak. Grease had been used in making the cartridges served out to the native troops. The ends of the cartridges used in those days had to be bitten or torn off. But to put a thing on which there was fat into the mouth, or even to touch it, was shocking to many of the Hindoos. And when the report was spread that the British Government had ordered this fat to be used for the purpose of making the Hindoos do what their religion forbade, it made the soldiers furious. At Meerut, a town 40 miles N.E. of Delhi, some troopers of a native cavalry regiment were sentenced to imprisonment for refusing to touch the cartridges served out to them. This was on May 10. The next day all the native regiments (which I shall henceforth call Sepoys) mutinied, murdering some of their officers. They broke open the prison and released their comrades, plundered everything they could lay their hands on, and then made their way to Delhi, the ancient capital, as it may be called, of India.

The mutiny which began in this way lasted for nearly two years. I cannot tell the whole story of it, and so have chosen three of the most famous names in it.


Cawnpore was an important place on the road from Calcutta to Delhi. At this time it was garrisoned by three Sepoy regiments. There were no European troops. The officer in command was Sir Hugh Wheeler, who had had Sepoys under him all his life, and found it hard to believe that they were not loyal. Still he could not help seeing that all was not right, and he began to take precautions. Unfortunately he did not act at all wisely. He might have made the magazine into a strong fortress. What he did was to fortify in a way some barracks. These were so placed, however, that had the defences been much stronger than they were they could hardly have been held. A supply of provisions was laid in, but this too was very badly done. But this, we shall see, did not matter in the end. On June 4 the Sepoy regiments mutinied. They intended to march away and join their comrades at Delhi, but a native prince, Nana Sahib by name, who believed that the British Government had treated him badly, and was eager for revenge, persuaded them to attack the Europeans at Cawnpore.



The barracks had been hastily surrounded by a mud wall. Behind this there were gathered together about one thousand people. Not quite half were men, the soldiers among them being chiefly the officers of the regiments that had mutinied. For three weeks they held out. They might at any time have cut their way through the enemy, but they could not leave behind them the women and children. At the last nothing was left but to treat with the enemy. Nana Sahib promised to send them safely away. They were to march out of the fort, and to embark in boats which had been provided for them. On their way to the river they were attacked by the treacherous enemy. Some reached the boats, and perished afterwards; others were afterwards murdered. Nearly a quarter of the whole number, happier than their companions, had died of disease, or been killed during the siege.


Here matters were better managed than at Cawnpore, thanks to the wisdom of the officer in command, Sir Henry Lawrence. The building, which had been formerly occupied by the Resident, was strongly fortified, and a good store of provisions was laid in. The place was invested by the mutineers on July 1. The next day Sir Henry Lawrence was mortally wounded by a shell which entered the room where he was sitting. He died on the 4th. On the 30th of the same month General Havelock, who had reached Cawnpore too late to rescue the inmates of the fort, and was on his way to relieve Lucknow, reached a spot about fifty miles from that town. But here he had to halt. His little army was not strong enough to go forward. He had started from Cawnpore with less than 1500 men, of whom not quite 1200 were Europeans. He had had to fight two battles, and had lost between two and three hundred of his few European soldiers. He had to count on losing more before he could reach Lucknow. He could hardly have more than 600 fit for service when he arrived. He had nearly exhausted his ammunition, and he had no means of carrying the sick and wounded. He fell back. A few days afterwards he advanced, and again retired. To have gone on would have been to lose his army, and to take away all hope of the safety of Lucknow. On September 19 he started for the third time. He had now 3179 men, of whom all but 400 were Europeans.

Meanwhile the Lucknow garrison had been holding out bravely. The Residency, which, as I have said, they occupied, was not a fortress. It was not strong, and it was too near the buildings of the city. Four times the enemy assaulted it, and were driven back. The garrison, too, had to fight under the ground as well as above the ground, for the enemy never ceased to make mines, which the garrison had to destroy with counter mines. Sometimes the two would meet, and then there would be a fierce struggle almost in the dark. But so watchful and so skilful were the engineers in the garrison that the enemy never but once succeeded in making a mine that did any serious damage. But there was dreadful loss of life. In eighty-seven days, the time between July 1, when the Residency was first besieged, and September 25, when it was relieved for the first time, there died, killed or mortally wounded, or struck down by disease, 350 Europeans and 133 native soldiers.

On September 23 Havelock, who had now Sir, James Outram with him, came in sight of Lucknow. After two days' fighting, which I cannot attempt to describe, he and his brave men made their way into the Residency. It was not done without heavy loss, for the enemy, who were trained soldiers, trained, too, by British officers, and well knew that they had committed crimes which could not be pardoned, fought fiercely. Altogether 535 British and native soldiers were either killed or wounded in these two days—about one in six, that is, of the whole army which had marched out of Cawnpore. As for the joy of the people in Lucknow, of the men, who had begun to doubt whether they could defend the place much longer, of the women, who had suffered so much themselves, and so much more in seeing their children fade away before their eyes, there is no telling it.

But all was not over yet. To put the matter shortly, another siege began. Outram and Havelock were not strong enough to leave the place, taking with them all the sick and wounded, with the women and children. Of these there were altogether about a thousand. This second siege lasted for seven weeks. On November 16 Sir Colin Campbell, afterwards Lord Clyde, reached Lucknow; the garrison sallied forth at the same time, and attacked the enemy. This time the place was really relieved. Eight days later Havelock died. Sir Colin Campbell and Outram marched away, and for a time Lucknow was left to the enemy.


In the midst of the fighting that took place during the first relief of Lucknow, news was brought that Delhi had been taken. The troops were partially formed into a square and the despatch read to them. They heard it with a loud cheer, and indeed it was very good news indeed. It was the first great thing that had been done towards bringing this dreadful war to an end.

I have said that the Sepoy regiments that mutinied at Meerut fled at once to Delhi. This city had been the seat of a powerful kingdom, and there was still a King of Delhi, though he was a king in name only, the real government of the country being in our hands. But the leaders of the rebellion hoped that the ancient name would be a source of strength to them.

The Sepoys did dreadful deeds in Delhi. I would not describe them if I could. But I can tell you of some brave acts which our countrymen did, faithful to their duty to the last. A telegraph clerk was killed at his desk, having just wired to Sir John Lawrence, who was Governor of the Punjaub: "The Sepoys have come in from Meerut, and are burning everything." Sir John Lawrence received the message in a few hours' time, and at once began preparing to send help. No one did more to save the British power in India, and it was a great thing that he was warned so soon. Then there was a young officer, Willoughby by name, who was in charge of the magazine. He did good service, and in the very bravest way. He had eight Europeans with him. For a time they defended the magazine, hoping that help would come. When Lieutenant Willoughby saw that this would not be, he determined to blow up the magazine and all the stores in it. A train of powder had been laid, and one of the eight—his name was Scully—offered to fire it when Willoughby gave the signal. Scully perished in the explosion, but a thousand mutineers perished with him, and all the ammunition in the magazine was destroyed. Four of the eight made their way out in safety. Willoughby himself was murdered on his way to Meerut.

The first thing that the British Government did was to prepare to take Delhi out of the hands of the mutineers and the king, who indeed was nothing more than a puppet in their hands. All the troops that were available were hastily got together, and on June 8 the siege of Delhi was begun. To take the city seemed almost hopeless. One side of the city was protected by the river. On the others were fortifications not less than seven miles round, very strong, and with more than a hundred guns mounted upon them. The besieging army consisted of but a few thousand men. It could not even attempt to invest the city. All that was possible was to attack that part where there seemed most hope of success. Behind the walls of the city there were many thousands of rebels, trained soldiers all of them. And the besiegers, for the present at least, had no heavy guns with which to make a breach in the walls. For about three months, indeed, there was no siege. A small British army held its own against a far more numerous enemy. There was fighting almost, one might say, without ceasing. In these two months thirty actions took place, one, that is, for every two days. And some of these actions lasted for more than a day. We find an officer writing, after a grand attack by the enemy had been made and beaten off: "Most of us had been fighting for more than thirty hours." On June 23 the enemy made a tremendous attack on our camp. It was the hundredth anniversary of the battle of Plassey, and there was a very common belief that it was to be the last of the British rule. Fired by the hope of bringing this to pass the Sepoys fiercely assailed our camp. They were beaten back with heavy loss, and from that time were far less confident than before.

At last, early in September, the heavy guns, that were wanted to make a breach in the walls, came up. The mutineers had tried to take them as they approached, but were driven off with heavy loss. On the 4th of the month they reached the British camp, each drawn by twenty couple of oxen. The engineers busied themselves in building the batteries, and the guns were mounted as they were finished, and opened fire on the city. On the 11th the guns were all at work, and two days afterwards they had made such breaches in the walls—they were of stone, which does not resist nearly so well as earth—that it seemed as if the assault could be made. But it was necessary first to find out the exact state of the case. Four officers volunteered to examine the breaches. This they did, and narrowly escaped with their lives. The report which they brought back was such that an assault was ordered for the next day at dawn.

The attacking force was in five columns. The first and second of these were to force their way into the city through breaches that had been made in the walls; the third was to enter by the Cashmere Gate; the fourth was to go against the Cabul Gate; the fifth was to follow the first. In all the five columns there were not more than 6000 men, of whom about one-fifth were British soldiers; inside the walls there were not less than 30,000 rebels.

It had been arranged that the assault should be made at dawn, but it was bright daylight before the columns reached the walls. Both the breaches were carried, but not without heavy loss. At the second twenty-nine out of the thirty-nine men who carried the scaling ladders in part of the column were struck down. But fresh men filled their places; the ladders were set against the walls; men mounted, cut down the gunners at their guns, and drove all before them. Perhaps the hardest work of all was done at the Cashmere Gate. A party of Sappers and Miners made their way to the Gate, carrying with them the powder-bags with which it was to be blown up. The drawbridge had been partly destroyed, but they crossed by the beams that were left, and placed the powder against the gate. The wicket was open, and through this the enemy within went on firing at our men. A sergeant was killed while laying the train of powder; the officer who was to light the fuse was mortally wounded just as he was about to do it; he handed the match to a sergeant, and the sergeant was shot down, but not till he had succeeded. A tremendous explosion followed; the Gate was blown in, and the bugle sounded thrice as a signal for the column to enter.

The fourth column only failed in its task. At one time it seemed as if the rebels might make a counter attack in this direction, which would have been dangerous to the whole British army, but a charge of the Cavalry Brigade drove them back.

It must not be supposed that Delhi was taken when the attacking columns made their way into it over the breaches or through the gates. The fight was carried on fiercely and obstinately in the streets. One of the best and bravest of the English Qfficers, Brigadier Nicholson, whom men called "The Lion of the Punjaub," was killed within the city. So were many others. Almost every street was defended by the rebels. It was not till the afternoon of September 20, more than six days after the morning of the first attack, that the Palace, the last stronghold of the rebels in Delhi, was taken.

The British army, which never numbered more than 10,000 men, lost nearly 4000 in killed and wounded during the siege. How many died of disease, sooner or later, it would not be possible to say. But the taking of Delhi was well worth all that it cost.

Queen and Empress

More that eighteen centuries and a half ago a Roman Emperor, Claudius by name, came over and began the conquest of the Island of Britain. So pleased was he with the achievement, with which, however, he had not much to do, that he took the title of Britannicus and gave it to his son. Claudius had a most unhappy reign, unhappy both for himself and for the people over which he reigned. He was weak rather than cruel, but many wicked things were done in his name. He came to his death by poison, which was given to him by his wife. And his son, who was always known by this name of Britannicus, was poisoned also when he was in his fifteenth year.

With these unhappy events I may contrast the glorious reign of this island's ruler, Queen Victoria. On the day on which I write this (September 24, 1896) she has reigned longer than any of the sovereigns before her, longer, in fact, if we reckon the time of actual rule, than any sovereign since the birth of Christ.



Queen Victoria was born in Kensington Palace on May 24, 1819, the daughter of Edward, Duke of Kent (fourth son of George III.) and his wife, Victoire Marie Louise of Saxe-Coburg Saalfield. (She was, I may say in passing, thirtieth in descent from the good King Alfred.) She received the name of Alexandrina, after her godfather, Alexander I. of Russia, and of Victoria, as an English form of her mother's name Victoire. Her father died when she was eight months old.

Her bringing up by her mother was most careful and most simple. Everything was managed in the most perfect way, not less from inclination than from necessity. The Duchess was poorly provided for, and for a time had the burden of her husband's debts upon her. Yet nothing that was needful was wanting, and the education that the Princess received was of the best. She, too, was both clever and industrious, though not too good to live, for some amusing stories are told of an occasional rebellion against good order. Of Court the Princess saw but little. Its manners were not quite to the Duchess's taste, and the two childless uncles were a little jealous of the niece who was one day to succeed them. She first learnt the greatness to which she was born when she was twelve years old. A paper containing a pedigree was put within the leaves of a book of history which she was reading. "I never saw this before," she said to her governess. "It was not thought necessary that you should," was the answer. She studied the paper more carefully, and remarked, "I see I am nearer to the throne than I thought." "I will be good" was the resolve which she made and expressed at the time, and which she certainly kept as well as any sovereign that ever lived.

The greatness to which she was then taught to look forward came on June 23, 1837. King William IV. died in the early morning of that day, and two great dignitaries (the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Chamberlain) started for Kensington Palace to tell the Princess that she was Queen. It was scarcely light when they got there, and they were kept waiting, first at the door, and afterwards, when admitted, before they could see her. "The Princess must not be awaked," said the maid to the visitors. "We are come on business of State to the Queen," said the Archbishop, "and even her sleep must give way." She came down in her dressing gown, with her hair falling over her shoulders. The two dignitaries knelt to kiss her hands. "I beg your Grace to pray for me," were her first words to the Archbishop. A few hours later she received the homage of a number of great persons, members of the Royal family, ministers and officers of State. "She blushed," says one who watched her closely that day, "when her two uncles, the Dukes of Cumberland and Sussex, knelt to kiss her hand." The next day she was proclaimed Queen from a window in St. James' Palace. "The tears ran down her face," says a writer of the time, "when Lord Melbourne, standing by her side, presented her to the people as their Sovereign." Lord Melbourne was then Prime Minister. The next day she presided for the first time at a Council, "with as much ease as though she had done nothing else all her life." A writer who was very sparing of his praise said, "She appears to act with every sort of good taste and good feeling, as well as good sense." Various stories are told of these early days. One I may repeat here. The young Queen had to sign the death warrant of a soldier who had been condemned for desertion. She asked the Duke of Wellington whether he had anything to say on the man's behalf. "Nothing; he has deserted three times," said the Duke. "O, your Grace, think again." "Well, your Majesty, some one spoke to his good character. He may be a good fellow in civil life." And she wrote "Pardoned" on the warrant. Now the warrants are not signed by the Sovereign.

On June 28, in the year after her accession, she was crowned, and about twenty months after that married to her cousin, Albert, Prince of Saxe-Coburg Gotha.

The Queen has had great sorrows. She lost her husband after nearly twenty-two years of happy married life. Her second daughter, the Princess Alice, died on December 14, 1878, and her fourth son, Leopold, Duke of Albany, on March 28, 1884. But the fortunes of her family have been wonderfully prosperous. She has, what no English Sovereign has had before, an heir to her throne in the third generation. A grandson is Emperor of Germany; a grand-daughter is Empress of Russia; the Grand Duke of Saxe-Coburg Gotha is her son; the Grand Duke of Hesse is a grandson; another grand-daughter will be Queen of the Hellenes. Her peoples too have not escaped various calamities during her reign. There have been great wars, times of scarcity, and heavy visitations of disease. But they, too, have mostly prospered. The population of the United Kingdom, according to the first census of her reign, was about twenty-seven millions; by the last (fifty years later) it was thirty-seven millions. The public revenue was a little more than fifty millions in 1837-8; in 1895-6 it was above one hundred millions. Her dominions have greatly increased. In India, of which she is now Empress, and in South Africa, territories far larger than Great Britain have been added to them. The great colonies of Australia and North America have become populous and wealthy. Her subjects everywhere feel for her affection and loyalty. Among foreign nations she is regarded with a respect that no English Sovereign before has ever inspired. It has been, indeed, a marvellous advance in all that is most to be desired from Claudius, Emperor, to Victoria, Queen and Empress.