If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. — Thomas Jefferson

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

The Taking of Gibraltar

While Marlborough was winning glorious victories for his country in the north of Europe, another English commander, Sir George Rooke, carried on the war in Spain, and by a bold move became master of Gibraltar, one of the strongest fortresses in the world. The fort stands on a huge rock at the entrance of the Mediterranean Sea; and although many efforts have since been made to recapture it, the British flag still floats proudly over it. But at first the English so little knew the value of this glorious possession that Parliament did not even send a vote of thanks to the gallant Sir George Rooke.


Shortly after the taking of Gibraltar, the union between Scotland and England was completed by arranging that there should be only one Parliament for both countries. Since 1707, when this change took place, Scotchmen have had seats both in the House of Lords and in the House of Commons.

All through the reign of good Queen Anne the two political parties, Whigs and Tories, were constantly quarrelling, yet England steadily prospered. The queen herself took very little part in the government, which was left almost entirely in the hands of her ministers. But while all England was rejoicing over the victories won abroad, Anne was very sad; for her husband, George of Denmark, became ill and died. He had taken no part in the government, and he was so uninteresting that Charles II. once cried in jest: "I have tried him drunk and sober, and there is nothing to him."

Five years after his death, the War of the Spanish Succession came to an end, and peace was signed at Utrecht 1713. Louis XIV. again promised not to uphold the Jacobites, and in America he gave up all claim to Newfoundland, Acadia, and the land around Hudson Bay.

Although Anne herself was not a clever woman, her time is almost as famous in literature as that of Elizabeth, because so many noted men lived then. Among them were the poet Pope, the satirist Swift, and Addison and Steele, the great writers of the "Tatler" and "Spectator," the first two English magazines. That is why in literature you will find this epoch called the Age of Queen Anne.

Parliament, you know, had decided that if Anne died without leaving children, the crown should go to Sophia, the granddaughter of James I. This princess had married the Elector of Hanover, and had always hoped to be queen; but she died before Anne, so the crown, which she never wore, was placed upon her coffin.

When Queen Anne grew very ill, and her ministers saw she was about to die, they sent word to Sophia's son George, the Elector of Hanover, to be ready to come over to England at any moment, to take possession of the throne. Then, as soon as Anne breathed her last, Parliament proclaimed George King of Great Britain.

The new monarch came over as quickly as possible, though this was not very fast, for travel was very slow in those days. He was met and welcomed by Marlborough and by the Whigs, who were then in power. George I. was a plain-mannered, middle-aged German who could speak only a few words of English. He was a good business man; but when he wanted to talk with his prime minister Walpole, he had to use the help of an interpreter, or else speak Latin, the only language that they both knew. The English, however, were so anxious to have a Protestant ruler that they welcomed George and applauded him greatly when he said: "My maxim is never to abandon my friends, to do justice to all the world, and to fear no man."


Front Matter

Early Times
The Druids
The Britons
Caesar in Britain
Queen Boadicea
The Great Walls
The Great Irish Saint
The Anglo-Saxons
Brave King Arthur
The Laws of the Saxons
The Story of St Augustine
Three Great Men
The Danish Pirates
King Alfred and the Cakes
Alfred conquers the Danes
A King's Narrow Escape
The King and the Outlaw
The Monasteries
An Unlucky Couple
St Dunstan
King Canute and the Waves
A Saxon Nobleman
Lady Godiva's Ride
The Battle of Hastings
The Conquest
Lords and Vassals
Death of William
The Brothers' Quarrels
Arms and Armour
The "White Ship"
Matilda's Narrow Escapes
Story of Fair Rosamond
Thomas a Becket
Murder of Thomas a Becket
Richard's Adventures
Richard and the Saracens
The Faithful Minstrel
Death of Richard
The Murder of Arthur
The Great Charter
The Rule of Henry III
A Race
Persecution of the Jews
The Conquest of Wales
A Quarrel with France
The Coronation Stone
The Insolent Favourite
Bruce and the Spider
Death of Edward II
The Murderers punished
The Battle of Crecy
The Siege of Calais
The Age of Chivalry
The Battle of Poitiers
The Peasants' Revolt
Richard's Presence of Mind
A Tiny Queen
Henry's Troubles
Madcap Harry
A Glorious Reign
The Maid of Orleans
The War of the Roses
The Queen and the Brigand
The Triumph of the Yorks
The Princes in the Tower
Richard's Punishment
Two Pretenders
A Grasping King
Field of the Cloth of Gold
The New Opinions
Death of Wolsey
Henry's Wives
The King and the Painter
A Boy King
Lady Jane Grey
The Death of Cranmer
A Clever Queen
Elizabeth's Lovers
Mary, Queen of Scots
Captivity of Mary Stuart
Wreck of the Spanish Armada
The Elizabethan Age
Death of Elizabeth
A Scotch King
The Gunpowder Plot
Sir Walter Raleigh
King and Parliament
Cavaliers and Roundheads
The Royal Oak
The Commonwealth
The Restoration
Plague and Fire
The Merry Monarch
James driven out of England
A Terrible Massacre
William's Wars
The Duke of Marlborough
The Taking of Gibraltar
The South Sea Bubble
Bonny Prince Charlie
Black Hole of Calcutta
Loss of the Colonies
The Battle of the Nile
Nelson's Last Signal
The Battle of Waterloo
First Gentleman of Europe
Childhood of Queen Victoria
The Queen's Marriage
Wars in Victoria's Reign
The Jubilee