... we are all prompted by the same motives, all deceived by the same fallacies, all animated by hope, obstructed by danger, entangled by desire, and seduced by pleasure. — Samuel Johnson

Story of the English - Helene Guerber




A Scotch King

One hundred and eighteen years had passed since the Tudors first became masters of England on Bosworth battlefield. There were no Tudors left, and as Elizabeth had never before been willing to name a successor, her ministers, as she lay on her deathbed, begged her to appoint one. She was then too weak to speak, but nodded her approval when they suggested that the crown should go to her nearest relative, James VI. of Scotland, the only child of Mary Stuart and Darnley.

This monarch, who was already thirty-seven years old, therefore became King of England, which, with Scotland, is called Great Britain. But although the crowns were united, the parliaments were separate for about a century longer. James I. of England, as the new king was called, immediately set out for his new realm, and on his journey thither he gave the title of knight to many men. He had been born a Roman Catholic and brought up a Puritan; but he now favoured the Church of England, to the disappointment of both Catholics and Puritans.

A few of the former, seeing he would not restore the Catholic religion, as they had hoped, now made a conspiracy to put his cousin Lady Arabella Stuart upon the throne. They failed, however; but as the poor lady had been merely their tool, she was at first kindly treated. When she escaped from prison and married, James had her captured again and closely guarded until she died.

Several noted Catholic gentlemen were accused of having taken part in this plot, among others the famous Sir Walter Raleigh. He was imprisoned, tried, and sentenced like the rest; but for some reason he was reprieved, and spent the next twelve years in the Tower. Here he was allowed to receive visitors and to write and study as much as he pleased.

In the reign of Elizabeth tobacco was first brought to England by Raleigh. It was such a curiosity that a new servant, entering Sir Walter's room and finding him smoking, fancied that his master was on fire, and hastily flung a pitcherful of water over him. As James did not approve of smoking, he wrote a book against the practice, pompously calling it "A Counterblast to Tobacco." He was so proud of this work, and of all his intellectual gifts, that the French wittily called him "the wisest fool in Christendom."

James I. was homely, vain, stupid, and so untidy in person and habits that even his friends compared him to the filthiest of all animals. He was also mean, untruthful, and so fond of eating and drinking that he has often been called a drunkard and a glutton. His principal amusement lay in hunting and cockfighting, or, as he prided himself upon being very learned, in arguing about religion.

Hoping to settle all church difficulties, and especially to show his talent in argument, James soon called a religious conference. Although this meeting did not do all that he had hoped, it decreed a careful revision of the Bible. During the next four years, it is said, fifty learned men worked hard at this translation, and finally printed what is still known as "King James's Bible."

The Puritans, Independents, Separatists, and Nonconformists, as those who would not conform to the established religion were called, would not yield. Parliament refused to change the laws, so James boastingly said: "I will make them conform, or I will harry them out of the kingdom."

It was because James was so determined to have his subjects worship as he wished, that some of them resolved to leave the country. A small band of Separatists first went over to Holland; but, seeing that their children would soon forget the English language and their native country if they continued to dwell there, they came back to England, and, embarking on the Mayflower, set sail for the New World to make their homes there. These Separatists, who are known as the Pilgrim Fathers, landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620, and founded the first colony in New England.



Contents

Front Matter
Review

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
"Remember"
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