While all other sciences have advanced, that of government is at a standstill - little better understood, little better practiced now than three or four thousand years ago. — John Adams

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

The Battle of the Nile

The French, who had helped the Americans fight, and who had been the first to recognize the independence of the United States, had in the meantime grown very much dissatisfied with the state of affairs in their own country. Their king, Louis XIV., had laid heavy taxes upon them to supply money for his wars and for his pleasures. His successor, Louis XV., did not care how much the people suffered, as long as he was comfortable, and carelessly said that after him the deluge might come.

This selfish, hard-hearted king was followed by Louis XVI., a blameless and gentle monarch, who had to suffer for the sins of those who came before him. Seeing that his people were about to rebel, he made arrangements to have the foreign powers help him. The French found this out, and were so exasperated over it that they killed the king's guard, bore the royal family off to prison, beheaded Louis XVI. and his beautiful wife, and, in imitation of the Americans, set up a republic.

But there were cruel and selfish men at the head of the French republic. They pretended that all the nobles were dangerous, and while they were in power they imprisoned and beheaded all those that they could seize. This awful time is known as the Reign of Terror, and Great Britain was first to express indignation at this behaviour and to refuse to recognize so barbarous a government (1793).

With the help of other European nations war was therefore begun against France. The French fleet was defeated by Lord Howe, but the French army soon conquered Holland, which became a republic. France now wanted to do the same with Ireland; but the British put an end to this plan by the naval victories of St. Vincent and Camperdown. To prevent Ireland from again joining the French, it was united to Great Britain, and since 1801 there have been English, Scotch, and Irish members in both Houses of Parliament. Then, too, George III. gave up the empty title of King of France, which had been claimed by English kings ever since the time of Edward III.

When the war began, France was alone against all Europe; but she won many allies, owing to the bravery of her troops and to the military genius of Napoleon Bonaparte. The Dutch helped the French at Camperdown, and the Spaniards lent their aid at St. Vincent.

Glorious First of June

Napoleon, who had recovered Toulon from the English and had become a general in the army, meanwhile carried the war into Italy. Here he won many victories over the Austrians, forcing them to give up the country to him and sign a treaty at Campo Formio.

A great thinker once said that he who was master of Egypt would be master of the whole East, Napoleon, hating the English, determined to destroy their power in India, and set out for the Nile with an army. The battle of the Pyramids made him master of all Egypt, but his plans were spoiled by the bravery of Admiral Nelson. This great English hero came up with a smaller number of ships, and completely destroyed the French fleet (1798).

It was in this naval encounter, the battle of Aboukir, or of the Nile, that the little son of a French officer named Casabianca died an heroic death. His father had told him to stay at his post until called away, so the brave little fellow staid there, amid shot and shell, until the ship was all wreathed in flames. Casabianca had been killed in another part of the ship, but the boy, true to his promise, stood on the deck until the powder magazine exploded and the vessel sank. His courage and obedience were so beautiful that Mrs. Hemans wrote a poem about him, which you will like to read.

After the battle of the Nile, Napoleon vainly tried to take Acre in Syria, but could not do so without a fleet. His had been destroyed by Nelson; so, seeing that he would not be able to carry out his plan of fighting the English in India, he now suddenly decided to go back to France. Passing boldly through the British fleet, he escaped capture by miracle, as it were, and, arriving in Paris, began to rule France, under the title of First Consul.


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