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Title: Pictures from English History - A Fireside Amusement
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Pictures from English History - A Fireside Amusement" ***

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[Frontispiece: Queen Victoria raising Lord Rolle.  p. 102]




  A Fireside Amusement






While there are so many pleasant ways of instructing the youth of the
present day, it may perhaps appear presumption to add this work to the
number.  But those who have watched the expansion of a child's mind may
have seen, that the idea of improvement is too frequently combined with
that of a task; and where instruction can be conveyed in a lighter
form, it is more pleasantly and permanently impressed.  With a little
attention from their elders, many branches of education may be made
attractive to children; and it is hoped, that this small volume, if it
should not succeed in imprinting some few incidents of English History
on the memory of the children, may suggest to the parents the
possibility of lessening the weariness of study.


A Fireside Amusement.


Little boys and girls--aye, and their elders also--often feel the hours
very long and heavy.  The latter have many causes for this feeling; but
the former had better take my advice, and directly seek for some
employment, which will, I promise, cure their complaint.  They may have
a kind mama or friend to assist them; and there are many more ways of
amusing themselves than they think of.  Let them listen to me, and I
will tell them of a game which often entertained some young friends of
mine, and was one of their plans for passing idle moments.

It was early in January that Mrs. Macdonald was quietly sitting with
her sister, who had not long arrived from India.  It was very cold; the
shutters had been shut, the curtains drawn earlier than usual, and the
ladies had made a cheerful fire to greet Mr. Macdonald on his return
from his daily occupation.  After so long a separation they had much to
talk of, and preferred the bright blaze to the light of the lamp.

At the top of the house a very different scene was passing.  Mrs.
Macdonald's children and their four cousins had romped until they were
tired, and were now silly enough to complain of being obliged to stop,
and did not know what to do next; the elder children had good-naturedly
joined in their games, and were too weary to tell stories, or continue
their exertions in their behalf.  The nurse had insisted on their not
crowding too close to the fire, to which she maintained the baby and
the tea-kettle had the best right.  Little Alfred had asserted he was
tired of his life, and his little cousins began crying with cold to
which they were so unaccustomed, when the former started to his feet,
expressing his determination that he would go to mama, who he was sure
had candles, and would shew them the new puzzles papa gave them at
Christmas.  It was in vain to try and stop him, or to remind him that
it was some time before the usual hour of going into the drawing room:
the nursery was quite out of favour, and little feet hurrying down
stairs, soon interrupted the ladies' conversation.

Alfred was the first to enter, and was quite disappointed at finding
the lamp had not been brought in; the chilly little natives of India
crowded to the fender, and all contrived to secure a piece of the warm
hearthrug, or a footstool.  Alfred, to compensate for his troubles,
seated himself on his mama's lap, and presently assured the circle,
that he "would give the whole world, if papa would come home."

"You are a silly little boy, Alfred," replied his mama; "if it were
possible for you to possess the world, you would soon gladly relinquish
it to any one who would take it from you.  You had better learn to know
more of the earth, its inhabitants, and their customs, before you
undertake such a weighty charge."

All laughed at poor Alfred, until his aunt silenced them, and declared
that she thought his remark might lead to much pleasant instruction;
she felt sure that many of the party knew but little of the globe on
which they lived; "suppose we talk on the subjects of which you are so
ignorant, instead of the stories we generally relate."

Some murmured approbation; but one or two confessed they thought it
would be rather like a lesson, and that their governess had that
morning given them a long lecture on geography.  Alfred boldly asserted
that he did not like such subjects, and that he was very glad the next
day's task would be history.  "I long to see," he added, "what becomes
of poor Charles I.  I left him in prison; mama, will you tell me if he
was ever made a king again?"

"I must say," answered his mother, "that you are not as grateful for
your aunt's suggestion as I could wish.  I am sure had you listened we
might have made our accounts of different lands so interesting, that
you would have found it very different from a task; but I will humour
you, and this evening's amusement shall be historical.  If I tell
stories of former days, I shall find it difficult to suit them to your
different ages; I therefore propose that all who can, shall join me in
describing scenes from English history, of which you each know
something.  Those who listen must guess the subjects, and may be
allowed to ask questions."

"We think we understand you, mama," exclaimed the children; "and if you
will begin, we shall soon be able to join."

Mrs. Macdonald willingly consented; and after a few minutes, described
the following circumstance:--"You must picture to yourselves the coast
of a shore, where it was rather flat, and easy to land.  It was crowded
with a vast multitude dressed in skins, and painted with a blue dye:
formidable cars, with sharp scythes fixed to the wheels, were ready to
attack the enemy, who approached in large vessels, the construction of
which showed more skill than the wicker boats, covered with skin, made
by the people on the land.  The ships were close to the shore, but none
dared to leave them, until a standard bearer jumped into the water to
encourage his comrades, who, following him, soon defeated the natives."

"Do let us have the date told us," begged Mary Macdonald.

"I have made my first picture so easy, that I should scarcely have
thought this necessary: however, I will tell you: it was 53 years
before Christ."

"Did the conquerors leave the poor savages, and return the following

"Yes; and they found it so difficult to subdue them, that the
enterprise was at last abandoned."

"Then, mama, I know to what you refer."

The answer was pronounced correct; and whilst Mrs. Arabin was
considering what incident to relate, the last was discussed.

"Mama," said Alfred, "do you know that I think the people were very
dirty to paint themselves."

"It was their idea of ornament; in these days it is difficult to
imagine the unenlightened state of their minds.  The blue dye which
they used was extracted from a plant called woad."

"I think I remember," remarked one of the little ones, "that the
conquerors came to Britain from Gaul;--but I see my aunt is ready."

"My history is a sad instance of the cruelty often attending war; the
scene is laid in a public street of a magnificent city, adorned with
massive buildings, laurel-crowned statues, and fine bridges over a
noble river.  Crowds of spectators are watching a procession, the
principal figures of which are a royal prisoner, with his wife and two
daughters, led in chains: the man's face bespeaks lofty indignation."

This at first puzzled the young people; but when they heard he made
such a moving appeal for liberty, that his chains were struck off, the
mystery was solved.

Annie had already prepared a sketch, and now begged for her turn.  "I
wish to show you," she commenced, "a woman with more the appearance of
a warrior than a female, in her tent on the field of battle, surrounded
by her children; she has put a cup of deadly poison to her lips, and
now presents it to her young son: his firmness masters the weakness of
his years, and he also takes a long-deep draught."

"Mama, help us to guess," was heard on all sides, but the young ones
were desired first to exercise their own memories.  All the cases of
poisoning they had ever heard of were mentioned, but at last a hint
from the relator assisted them, and the right answer was given.

Mrs. Macdonald now took the turn of one of her little nieces, and
described to them a fact which had taken place some time after that
just related.  "A king and his courtiers are listening attentively to a
holy man, who had come to their country to preach Christianity; the
minds of the court had before been in darkness, but the earnestness of
his auditors prophesied that they were now inclined to listen to his

This was pronounced very difficult; many guesses were given, some
fancying that it must be intended for Henry VIII. and Cranmer, but they
were told that it was a much earlier date, and not later than A.D. 600.
This information, after a short pause, made the true circumstance to be
remembered, and the next description was of an encampment.  In one of
the tents the inmates are absorbed by a harper, who had sought the
principal tent, and was so completely captivating them by his musical
talents, that they seemed to forget both their situation and military

"Did he receive money, and bury it?" was quickly asked.

"No, it was not Prince Anlaff, although you are right in fixing on a
Danish camp."

The hero was such a favorite with the little historians that they soon
found the right name, and Alfred reminded them that the same person
invented lanterns, and proceeded to relate a story from their nice
book, called "Evenings at Home," where he was represented baking cakes;
the little boy was so pleased at the opportunity of talking, that he
felt quite annoyed when the nurse came to tell them their tea was
ready.  The clock was examined to show that there had been no mistake
in the time; an hour had passed so quickly, that some suspected it was
not yet six.

"I wished so much for papa to come home," remonstrated Alfred; "he
generally comes back long before our tea-time; I am certain it cannot
be so late."

"You have, my dear boy," replied his aunt, "learnt that discontent may
be cured by occupation: had you observed your mother, you would have
seen by her constant glances at her watch, that she has long expected
your father.  I now hear his step in the hall; run and kiss him, and
then go with nurse, as you have already kept her waiting some time."

Before this injunction was obeyed, they solicited a promise that they
might come down the next evening at the same time, and play at the same
game.  This was readily granted, and they ran up stairs much happier
than they had come down.

1. Invasion of Britain by Julius Caesar.  B.C. 55.

2. Caractacus led prisoner through Rome.  A.D. 43.

3. Boadicea.  A.D. 43.

4. St. Augustine preaching to Ethelbert.  A.D. 600.

5. Alfred in the Danish camp.  A.D. 880.


"Now mama," "Now auntie," cried half a dozen little voices at once, as
Mrs. Macdonald and her sister closed their books, and drew their chairs
close to the fire, on the following evening.

"One moment to collect my thoughts, dear children," said Mrs.
Macdonald, stirring the fire, and taking one of her shivering little
nieces on her lap, whilst Alfred secured his aunt's knee, seeing that
his accustomed place was occupied.

"The scene I shall describe to-night is laid in a hall, where tables
are spread for a feast: the preparations are certainly not so costly as
some we might see now-a-days; for instead of carpets, rushes are laid
on the floor; the walls appear to be made of wood, interlaced with
osiers; the windows are filled up, some with cloth, and others with
lattice work, instead of glass; there are no grates or fire-places;
nevertheless the table is covered with clean white linen, and each
person has a separate drinking horn, a mess of pottage, a wooden knife
and spoon; whilst on the wall are hung two or three wooden harps.  The
entertainment seems to have been interrupted by the entrance of a wild
looking man, with whom he who appears to be a king is engaged in close
combat.  The king holds the robber by the hair of his head; but the
latter contrives to plunge a dagger into the heart of his youthful

There was a long pause after Mrs. Macdonald had ceased speaking, and
many were the whisperings between the young people.

"Give it up," cried Alfred, tired of the silence.

"It was a Saxon king, was it not, aunt?" asked Edward, a pale, quiet
boy, the eldest of the group.

"Quite right, my dear; and as you have guessed so soon, perhaps you
will try and puzzle me in your turn."

Edward blushed, and after a few minutes' hesitation, described the
following picture:--

"A king, surrounded by some of his officers, is seated in a large room;
his dress and the furniture of the apartment show more cleanliness than
luxury; brave, rough men are on bended knee before him; whilst their
attendants are bringing in wolves' heads, and laying them at the feet
of the king."

"Every one of them was obliged to bring three hundred heads yearly,
were they not?" said Mrs. Macdonald.

"Yes, aunt; I am afraid I cannot puzzle you."

When the subject was more clearly made known, Annie asked, "Are there
any wolves in Wales now, mama?  I should be afraid to live there."

"No, my dear; as men have become more civilized, and the country more
full of people, these and other wild animals have been driven into
smaller spaces, until at last they have all been killed.  This is not
only the case in England, but in other countries; where colonies are
spreading over formerly wild tracts of land, the wilder animals are
fast disappearing."

"I am glad of it," rejoined Annie, drawing closer to her mother's knee,
and looking round as if a wolf had been behind her.

"I will now describe a picture," said Mrs. Arabin.  "At the gate of a
castle, situated in a country where the ground near the sea never
appears to rise into high hills, but spreads itself in undulating
downs, we see a mild-looking young man on horseback.  His horse is much
heated; he wears a hunting-horn by his side, whilst thirsty dogs seem
to envy their master the cup he is putting to his lips.  An elderly
woman, with sharp eyes, but a gracious smile on her face, has scarcely
withdrawn her hand after presenting her young visitor with the cup,
whilst a servant is at this moment plunging a dagger into the shoulder
of the fair-haired youth on horseback."

The subject of this description was exclaimed by many little voices as
soon as Mrs. Arabin had ceased to speak.

[Illustration: Canute and his Courtiers.]

Annie spoke next "of a king dressed in his royal robes, seated on the
sea-shore; he looks calmly and quietly at the waves, which roll one
over another in beautiful succession, splashing his face with their
silvery spray, and wetting his feet with their briny waters, whilst the
sea-weeds cling to his regal attire.  The courtiers are eagerly
watching the waves, any thing but pleasure depicted in their
countenances, and they look very much afraid of getting wet.  The king
is pointing with one hand to a mark set in the sand, over which the
ocean is proudly dashing."

"Oh, Annie! that is too easy," exclaimed Mary.

"Not at all," interrupted Mrs. Arabin, "if it teach us to remember the
lesson which the story is so well able to teach."

Mrs. Macdonald then proceeded to describe a scene where a haughty,
fierce-looking man is standing by an open grave, from which his
attendant soldiers are taking a body; the pale features of the corpse
appear to resemble those of the proud king, who points to his followers
to convey the body to the adjacent river.  The bystanders are clothed
in loose dresses like a carter's frock, bound round the waist by a
belt, and only reaching to the knee; some have iron collars round their
necks; most of them are bare-headed, but a few wear fur caps over their
long hair, which, parted on the forehead, hangs down in straight locks
on each side of the face.  Their beards are shaven on the upper lip,
and on the top of the chin; the rest long, clean and neat, divided in
the middle, hangs down in two points; their shoes come up very high.

"Is that really in English history?" asked Louisa.

"Yes, my dear, about 1035."

Edward rejoined, "Canute ascended the throne 1017--he reigned eighteen
years.  I know, dear auntie."

Mrs. Arabin next began:--"My story is one which ought to lead us to
stop and reflect; it relates to a banqueting hall, where a king and a
wary-looking courtier are sitting together surrounded by attendants.
The king looks earnestly and reproachfully at the nobleman, to whom he
points with one hand, whilst the other is directed towards his own
breast.  The courtier, with a proud, defying look, yet with a lurking
expression of conscious guilt, is raising a piece of bread to his
half-opened mouth."

None of the party seemed able to guess this story, and even Mrs.
Macdonald herself looked puzzled.  Just then the door opened, and the
words "Please, ma'am, the nursery tea is ready," interrupted the
amusement for this evening.

Aunt Mary was then obliged quickly to tell, how that piece of bread
choked the ambitious man, who so wickedly exclaimed that he hoped the
next morsel might be his last, if he had ever intended any ill against
his king.

"Are not those dangerous sands off the coast of Kent supposed to mark
the possessions of this designing earl?" asked Edward.

"Yes, my love, and therefore I contend that the name should be spelt
with but one o, thus restoring it to its purer Saxon form."

1. Death of Edmund.  A.D. 948.

2. Welsh tribute.

3. Death of Edward the Martyr.  A.D. 979.

4. Canute.  A.D. 1017.

5. Harold.  A.D. 1035.

6. Death of Earl Godwin.  A.D. 1041.


The following evening, Mrs. Macdonald, who had spent the day with an
invalid friend, found all the children seated and ready to resume their
historical amusement; her bonnet and shawl were soon taken from her,
and leading her to a chair, all once more crowded round her.

"We could not begin without you, dear mama; but aunt has been so kind
in entertaining us, that we have not been in the least impatient."

"As you have all had so much time to prepare, and I am tired," replied
Mrs. Macdonald, "one of you must commence.  Louisa, you look as if you
had meditated on something with which to entertain us; let us hear your

"That I am quite ready to do, and will beg you to follow me to a
coronation; the king, about to have the crown placed on his head, is a
man with strongly marked features and a stern expression, of the middle
height, but showing great bodily power.  His followers are dressed in
armour, made of very small iron rings linked together like net-work,
and so flexible, that it fits close to their bodies.  The ceremony is
not yet completed; the people inside the building are noisy in
expressing their exultation and applause, but outside there are signs
of a tumult; the mob, in its excited state, has set fire to the
neighbouring houses, and is riotous in its indignation at some supposed

"There has been more than one king whose accession to the throne has
been against the wish of the nation," remarked Edward; "but I do not
remember any opposition when they were crowned."

"I believe," said Mrs. Macdonald, "that this king was a foreigner,
whose attendants had unjustly feared that their prince was betrayed."

"You have guessed it, I see, mama."

"And so have I," exclaimed an exulting little voice; "I think they
spoke a different language from our last night's Saxon friends.  Annie,
it is now your turn."

"I shall," she directly began, "describe a quieter scene than the noisy
event just represented.  A royal lady, with a mild, rather intellectual
countenance, is seated with her attendant ladies, busily employed in
working a large piece of tapestry.  The history she is carefully
depicting appears to absorb her very much, and her industry has
produced the representation of some stirring scenes, for on her work we
descry horses, and riders, ships, soldiers, &c."

"Your picture is rather a short one," said Louisa, "but interesting
from the fact of the lady having been so worthy of admiration.  I
should not like to have been born in those days, for I do not like
working, and they seem to have done nothing else."

"There are certainly large pieces of work said to have been executed in
this reign, but many believe female minds were more cultivated than we
suppose.  Matilda of Flanders has been drawn with a book in her hand,
as if she were in the habit of reading, and by some means had formed
elegant tastes.  Emily, you have long been silent; try and puzzle us
this time."

"I should like to do so, mama, but I fear the story I now relate will
soon be discovered.  The scene is not laid in England, but near the
coast of an adjacent country, an exposed rock, on the summit of which
there was a castle but indifferently defended.  A long siege had so
much weakened the garrison, that few were able to protect the prince
who led them; they were forced to surrender to the enemy at the foot of
the rock, who had anxiously expected the moment when starvation would
conquer their courage.  The prince knelt to the victor for mercy; life
was granted; but he was cast out, with a few faithful followers, to
find shelter and support from any who would take pity on him."

"We were sure Emily would tell us something pathetic; it is a very
pretty story, but we cannot think who it is.  Were there old men,
women, and children turned out, and taken care of by the besiegers?"

"No, it was not the taking of Calais by Edward III.  I ought to have
told you that the rock was an island."

"Mama," whispered Alfred, who had secured his mother's lap, "do you ask
questions, for I am tired, and want to know."

Mrs. Macdonald indulged him, and begged to know if the conquered and
the conqueror were related to each other.

"Oh! mama, Emily moves her head to say yes.  We know now; when little
boys I think they quarreled, because one of them threw a bucket of
water over the other; if they began so early to fight, no wonder they
hated each other in after life."

"Can any of you tell me," enquired their aunt, "what celebrated
building was erected in this reign?  William, if you retain your wish
to study law, you may some day know more of its interior."

"I can tell you, mama; it was Westminster Hall; the Tower of London was
also much added to, some say commenced in this reign."

"Yes, but has been still more enlarged and altered since.  Your aunt
mentioned Earl Godwin last night; it was in this reign that the lands
which had belonged to him were overflowed."

"I remember," said Alfred, looking very solemn as he thought of his
death; "but now, dear Edward, do tell us something funny."

"That will not be very easy," replied his cousin; "and I dare say mama
could obey your request much better than I can."

"I will tell a story next," exclaimed Willie; "the consequences were
sad, but the beginning will please Alfred.  You must witness the toilet
of a king, and fancy he has taken a new scarlet cloak from his
attendant's hands; he tries in vain to fasten the hood, he pulls and
struggles, but the material will not bear such treatment, and is soon

"I think," said Mrs. Macdonald, "you have, to please your little
brother, chosen a curious specimen of your powers of memory."

"Indeed, mama, Holinshed is my authority; the sad end is, that the
cloak was sent to the king's brother, who, he said, had a smaller head
than his; this so hurt his brother's feelings, that he refused all
nourishment, and died in a few days.  He was the king's prisoner at the

For some minutes all seemed inclined to think Willie had told them too
silly a story to take any trouble about; but their mother reminded them
that the exercise of thought was the same.  "Did the king," she asked,
"die a year after his poor brother?"

"Yes, mama, in 1135."

"Then," added Louisa, "they were the same brothers who fought at St.
Michael's rock; and I think the king died from eating too much of a
favourite dish of fish."

"How smart the scarlet cloak must have been," remarked Alfred.

"You might have liked that," replied his mother, "but you would not
have admired the shoes they wore in those days; the toes had such long
points that they were fastened to the knee by a chain.  Willie must not
take your turn, Edward."

"My history, mama, will be very different; for I wish to describe a
fine vessel tossed about on the waves of the English Channel.  Her
destruction is evident; and, in their eagerness, some of the poor
perishing creatures crowd into a boat, which is already full.  It stays
to rescue one other female: a prince holds out his arms to her; she is
caught, and you trust saved; but too many follow her, and the boat
being overloaded, struggles for a short time with the elements, and
then sinks with all on board, never to rise again."

One of the party whispered, "The young prince's father was never seen
to smile again."

"You are quite right, Mary; now let us hear your anecdote."

"My scene is laid in winter; the snow covers the country; a town is
besieged, and the soldiers are quietly resting at night, expecting that
the dreadful scarcity of provisions will soon make the enemy surrender.
Four figures, as white as the snow over which they hastily move, have
issued from a postern-door; they have crossed the frozen river, and are
now escaping the sentinels, who seem to be ignorant of their flight."

"Mama," said Alfred, "they must have been white bears.  I saw one in
the Zoological Gardens, and Annie was so afraid it would get out."

"I remember the circumstance, and that one little boy was thoughtless
enough to teaze his sister, which was a silly way of trying to overcome
her foolish fears.  She will, I am sure, conquer them herself, when she
finds how much they interfere with her usefulness.  I think Edward's
account relates to a scene in England, and the white bear is only found
in the Polar Seas."

"Was not one of the fugitives a woman, Edward?" asked one of his
cousins; "and had she not a young son who met her on this occasion?"

"Yes, he joined his mother on her escape from Oxford at Wallingford.
Mama, are there not some curious accounts of their escapes?"

"Yes; the royal mother was taken to Oxford in a litter, as if she had
been a corpse; on another occasion she mounted a swift horse, and rode
with the greatest speed from Winchester to Devizes.  She was an
intrepid, courageous woman, and had been chosen by her father, Henry
I., to succeed him; before his death he made his nobles swear fealty to

The hour for leaving their favourite game had now arrived: and with
repeated hopes of renewing it the next evening, they bade good-bye to
their kind mother.

1. Coronation of William I.  A.D. 1066.

2. Matilda of Flanders working her husband's conquests.

3. William II. besieging Prince Henry at St. Michel.  A.D. 1088.

4. Henry I. sending his cloak to his brother Robert.  A.D. 1125.

5. The loss of the "White Ship."  A.D. 1120.

6. The escape of the Empress Maude from Oxford.  A.D. 1141.


"The subject of my picture to-night," said Mrs. Macdonald, when the
party was again assembled round a cheerful fire, "is that of a young
man, apparently about twenty-one years of age; his features are
handsome, particularly his eyes; his form is graceful, about the middle
height; he has a manly, military bearing; in his helmet he wears a
piece of a small-leaved plant, and with one hand he is encouraging some
workmen, who are busily engaged in pulling down a castellated building.
All seem to be working cheerfully under him; and he is so gentle in
appearance, that the little children are not afraid to come near him,
and look at the warlike ornaments of his dress.  In the distance some
soldiers, evidently of a different country to the rest of the people,
are embarking in boats, with all their baggage."

"Were those the Romans going away, mama?" demanded Annie.

"No, my love; the building and the dress show a more advanced state of
civilization than our country presented at the time of their invasion;
besides, there is a trace of Saxon descent in my hero's countenance."

"Did he derive his Saxon blood from his grandmother?" asked Edward.

"I see you have guessed, my dear boy."

"Edward is so clever, we have none of us any chance when he is here,"
exclaimed Mary.

"Your cousin," replied Mrs. Macdonald, "has acquired so much
information by constant, persevering study and attention to what he has
been taught, and you will learn as much if you apply as steadily."

"What was the flower the kind man wore in his helmet, mama?" enquired

"Broom, which you must have seen growing on commons, and in grandpapa's
garden.  Henry and his descendants took their surname from this
circumstance, _planta_ being the Latin for plant, and _genista_ for
broom; hence the name--"

"Plantagenet," cried several voices at once.

"Did not the Romans speak Latin, mama?" asked Mary.

"Yes, my dear; and perhaps, Annie, you can tell me who wrote an account
of the Roman invasion into Britain in the Latin language."

"Julius Cæsar, mama; his Commentaries principally relate to his wars in
Gaul; and once when he was obliged to swim from the ship to save his
life, he carried his arms in one hand, and his writings in the other."

"That would have made another good picture, mama," said Louisa to Mrs.
Arabin; "but I think it is now your turn; you have not told us one

"Well, my dears, picture to yourselves the shore of a rocky island,
lovely scenery in the distance; the faint smoke of a then tranquil
volcano curling above the surrounding hills; soldiers, clad in coats of
mail, bearing crosses on their shields, are preparing to embark in the
numerous galleys which are waiting in the harbour; they yet stop for
one, whose noble mien and princely appearance seem to show him the
chief of the expedition; he is tenderly taking leave of a young and
lovely woman, who wears a golden diadem on her head; a veil descends
nearly to her feet, whilst a loose robe scarcely conceals the graceful
figure enveloped in its folds.  Behind the pair stands an elderly
matron, trying to separate them, yet evidently with some reluctance."

[Illustration: Richard I. parting with Berengaria.]

"That was a sad parting, aunt," said Emily; "and I think the young lady
was not then married."

"You are right."

The rest of the party confessed themselves puzzled.

"Did you hear me say that the soldiers wore crosses?"

"Oh! that tells the tale," replied Annie.

Edward next began as follows:--"The scene of my picture is in the
precincts of a castle: a bold, intrepid looking figure on horseback is
seeking for the easiest place of attack, whilst at a small window in
the turret, depicted on the dark side of the picture, we descry an
archer aiming his bow and arrow at the figure below."

After some little deliberation, the supposed subject was confidentially
whispered to mama, who thought it was a right guess, after which the
name was more boldly mentioned.

"I am now going to tell a very shocking story," commenced Mary.  "The
scene is a prison; cold stone walls, narrow windows, iron bars, and
rough seats, give no idea of comfort.  A kind-looking man is seated in
the centre of the group, covering his face with one hand, whilst the
other rests on the head of a pretty boy, who looks beseechingly in his
face.  The other figures are busily engaged heating some
curiously-shaped iron instruments."

"That is the poor, dear little prince who had his eyes put out by his
naughty uncle," cried Alfred, delighted at being able to guess one of
the many scenes described.

"I have heard the truth of that story doubted," remarked Mrs. Arabin.

"So have I," rejoined her sister; "but it is a legend which has become
so mixed up with history, that it is difficult to ascertain its truth,
and it is as well to know the tale.  Now, my dear children, picture to
yourselves a battle.  It appears to be an engagement during a civil
war, for the dress and appearance of the opponents are exactly alike.
There is a gloom spread over the whole picture; the redness of sunset
has scarcely faded away, and the moon is appearing in the horizon.  On
one side we see an infirm monarch in the grasp of a soldier, who, with
his hand raised to strike the fatal blow, seems to hesitate with
astonishment.  On the other side, one of princely deportment is
attracted by a voice from the spot where the scene I have just
described is taking place.  By his side a noble figure has just had his
horse killed under him."

Louisa guessed this picture, and asked, "Was it not this prince whose
life was saved in the Holy Land by his wife's sucking the poison from a
wound in his arm?"

"So it is said," answered Mrs. Macdonald, "but the truth of the
statement is very much doubted.  Now we will stop for this evening, as
I hear papa's knock; perhaps he may be able to come home early
to-morrow, and help us to puzzle each other."

"Oh! that will be nice," cried all the little voices at once.  "But how
I should like to puzzle papa," added Willie; "I will read history all
the morning, when I have done my lessons."

"Very well, my dear; your leisure hours will then be profitably
employed, although the motive may be to give papa a difficult subject
rather than a love of information on your own part.  But here comes

Mr. Macdonald now entered the room amidst the din of little voices, all
crying at once, "Do come home early to-morrow, dear papa."  "Please do,

1. Henry II. pulling down the castles erected by Stephen, and
discharging the foreign soldiers.  A.D. 1154.

2. Richard I. parting with Berengaria, at Messina.  A.D. 1189.

3. Death of Richard Coeur de Lion.  A.D. 1199.

4. Prince Arthur.  A.D. 1199.

5. Battle of Evesham.  May 14th, A.D. 1265.


"Papa has promised to come home early this evening," repeated the
children to each other; "we must not begin without him.  Mama, do you
think he will be long?"

"No, my dears, I expect him every minute; but he may be detained by
business, and you must not be disappointed if he should not come as
soon as you desire."

"We will try and not complain," they answered, in a tone that showed
they would be much inclined to do so if they had the trial.

"You need not frighten yourselves," said their aunt; "he is now on the

The door was quickly opened for him, and he was begged to make haste
and seat himself, whilst poor baby was prohibited from paying her visit
to him till they had finished.

"You are expected to commence," said Mrs. Arabin, "and to puzzle the
whole party."

But papa did not consider that it was at all fair he should be directly
made to task himself.  He reminded them that he had never seen the game
played, and promised that if their mama would begin, he would speak
after her.

"I am quite ready to do so," said Mrs. Macdonald; "and my first picture
will show you a little child of not more than three years of age.  She
is laid on a bed of sickness, and the deepest anxiety may be traced in
her attendants' countenances.  Whispers of fear at the consequences of
her death are escaping them.  The child herself, had she been capable,
would have been thankful for her release: she was a queen, and even at
her early age, by her marriage, the nation had decreed she should
secure a sister-country's interest for her own people.  Her ladies in
vain exert all the means that can be thought of to restore her; she was
called from earth in her pure, bright innocence."

"Was her name Anne, mama?"

"No; you are thinking of Earl Warwick's daughter, who married Prince
Edward, the son of Edward the Fourth, and whose dreadful, early death
you all have heard of.  My little bride was a young queen of Scotland."

"Let papa guess now," said Alfred.

"Then I shall ask, was the bride the daughter of the king of Norway?"

"You are right, and must not now refuse us your history."

"I have no desire to do so; and you must all take a journey with me
into Scotland, for I wish to be present at a coronation in that
country; we shall find a lady asserting the right of her family to
crown all the kings of the nation.  She was the only representative of
it then able to perform the ceremony: she places the diadem on the brow
of one destined to continual struggles for liberty; his countenance
bespeaks prudence, valour, and great enthusiasm."

"I think, George," remarked Mrs. Macdonald, "you have taken a scene
from Scottish annals.  We have at present confined ourselves to English
history.  You have, however, puzzled the children, I perceive."

"I did not, you must remember, hear any of your rules; but I shall
expect the true answer to my account to be given in five minutes by my

"Oh, mama! how cruel papa is; pray help us."

"I think your father spoke of a Countess Buchan."

Ignorance was still confessed, till a hint was given of a spider having
urged the same hero in after life to persevere in toil and exertions;
the riddle was now soon solved.

"I have a story," said Mary, "of a great indignity that was once
offered to a royal prisoner, by the orders of the hard-hearted man who
had the custody of him.  His attendants had brought some water out of a
dirty ditch to shave him with; the poor victim meekly submitted; the
tears trickled down his cheeks, and he murmured, 'Here is clean warm
water, whether you will or no.'"

The question of "Was he not a king, and born in Wales?" showed that
this subject was known.

"The wicked queen, I think," said Annie, "put him into prison, and thus
caused all these indignities."

"Yes; she took advantage of the naturally weak disposition of her
husband.  Now, Charles, you who have only returned from school to-day
ought to give us a capital recital."

"I fear my historical characters are of an earlier date than yours, and
are more Grecian and Roman heroes; but I will do my best.  In a retired
room of a castle, no longer standing, there were two people sitting
together in apparent security; the lady had the air and manners of a
Frenchwoman, but her expression was disagreeable, giving the idea of a
cruel, deceitful person.  The gentleman also had no very pleasing
aspect; in the midst of their conversation a secret door is broken
open, and a king, with men following him, seize and carry away the man,
in spite of the female's earnest entreaties."

"Mary, Queen of Scots," ventured an undecided voice.

"No; Darnley was not a king."

"Was the lady a queen, and mother to the person who forced away her

"And I think," exclaimed another of the circle, as the truth broke upon
them, "the queen begged them to have pity on the gentle Mortimer."

"Quite right," was Charles's answer; "her entreaties were, however,
disregarded, for he was soon after hanged on a gibbet at Tyburn: it
appears a very hard-hearted act, but I suppose the young king believed
it to be the only way to render himself free from the authorities who
governed his youth."

"I conclude the step was considered a politic one," added Mrs.
Macdonald; "but it is always difficult to me to reconcile man's right
to take away the life that we know was given for some wise purpose.
Suppose we give papa hard work now we have secured him, and let him
relate every story till it is time to leave off our game."

Papa in vain begged they would not be so unjust; the proposal was
thought so excellent, that directly Alfred would leave off clapping his
hands, he good-naturedly acquiesced:--

"A field of battle presents all the usual horrors, but in one respect
has a particular that I do not think is paralleled.  An aged king is to
be seen in all the perils of the day; he is well mounted, and a knight
rides on each side of him, leading his horse; if you examine him, you
will find that he is blind, and has braved danger to assist the French.
The motto on his shield was 'Ich dien,' which means, 'I serve.'"

"I am sure," said Alfred, "he was very foolish to go to battle.  He
could not see who would attack him, and he prevented the two knights
from fighting.  I do not know anything about such a silly old man."

"I am not sure when I told the story that I expected you to give me the
answer, Alfred."

"Did he lose his life?" inquired Edward.

"Yes, I am sure he did," interrupted Emily; "the scene was in France,
and the chief leader of the English party was a youthful prince, famed
for his courage and amiable character."

"My next picture," resumed Mr. Macdonald, "shall be a crowded street,
with banners flying from every window; arches of boughs and flowers,
with many other signs of joy and exultation.  A procession passes
amidst deafening applause; the principal figures are a king, dressed in
his royal robes, and mounted on a beautiful steed; the other, much
younger, with an attractive expression of countenance, rides at his
side on a small palfrey.  The people bestow their chief attention and
admiration on the latter."

"Did he not," asked the children, "once wait on this same king at his

"Yes; I see your favourite is again revealed.  This was a reign full of
glorious acts, but peaceful improvements were not forgotten.  Windsor
Castle was rebuilt and enlarged; many other restorations were executed,
and much attention was paid to the laws.  Ever since William the
Conqueror's reign they had been in Norman-French; they were now written
in English.  I think I have now done my part towards this evening's

"One more story, please, dear papa."

"Indeed, uncle," said the little girl next to him, "we have time to
listen to one more, if you will be so good as to tell it to us."

This last appeal could not be resisted, and the river Thames was next
described:--"It has seldom presented so curious a scene as that I now
relate.  A king was in his royal barge, surrounded by a few of his
noblemen.  On the shore there are at least ten thousand of the rabble
awaiting his approach; their frightful cries, when they see the vessel,
so terrifies the royal party, that they turn the boat's head, and
escape to the Tower."

"You have now given us a very difficult one, papa."

"I hope I have; I shall not tell you any more to-night, and you may be
as long as you like asking questions."

The nurse now entered, and not liking them to keep her waiting, Mrs.
Macdonald told them that Wat Tyler afterwards headed the rabble.

"Then we know the whole history, mama, and will wait for some more
stories till another evening."

1. The death of the young queen of Scotland, and infant daughter of the
king of Norway.

2. Coronation of Robert Bruce.  A.D. 1307.

3. Edward the Second insulted by Maltravers.  A.D. 1327.

4. Death of Mortimer, Earl of March.  A.D. 1331.

5. The king of Bohemia at the battle of Cressy.  A.D. 1345.

6. Edward the Black Prince returning in triumph to London.  A.D. 1356.

7. Richard the Second meeting the insurgents at Rotherhithe.  A.D. 1381.


"Mama," said Mary, one evening, "I have been reading a story to-day,
which shall be my picture to-night.  You must imagine a court of law,
the judge raised on a high seat with all the lawyers round him; he
looks sad yet firm.  Before him stands a royally dressed young man in
the act of drawing his sword, his face beaming with anger, and a
haughty defying look on his proud mouth.  Officers of justice are
securing him, and another prisoner stands near."

"Was the prisoner old or young, Mary?" asked Louisa.

"Young," was the answer.

"Was it Charles I.?"

"No.  Charles I. was forty-nine years of age when he was tried, and I
do not think he offered any resistance."

"I have it," said Emily; "but, Mary, how was the prince royally drest?"

"He wore a tight waistcoat with a loose robe over it, and a richly
embroidered girdle, from which hung a bag."

"I have heard," said Mrs. Macdonald, "that on one occasion your prince
was said to have been dressed in a blue satin robe full of eylet holes,
and from each hole hung the needle with which it was worked; but I am
happy to say that if gentlemen's dress be less graceful in the present
day, it is at any rate less effeminate and fantastical."

"But how did the ladies dress?" asked Annie.

"High head-dresses with long streamers of ribbon floating from them,
short waists, long, full, flowing petticoats trimmed with fur, and
large sleeves ending in a pouch, which was used as a pocket.  Their
dresses were made of silk or stuff, but the poorer classes wore coarse
flannel or fustian.  But, Edward, it is a long time since you have
described a picture; it is your turn now."

"My picture," he answered, after a few moments' deliberation, "is of a
field of battle seen under the grey sky of morning.  No very large
number of men is disposed so as to look as numerous as possible; the
archers are in front, whilst before them are placed sharp stakes
pointed with iron.  A kingly figure rides up and down the line, clad in
glittering armour, and wearing a crown of gold ornamented with precious
stones.  The opposite party appears much more numerous."

"Are they French and English?" asked Willie.

"That is rather a leading question," answered Edward; "but if you think
they may be, name the battle to which I refer."





"Then I know what it must be," exclaimed Mary; "one of the French
leaders was killed early in the day, after which they made no more
resistance, and the English became victorious.  Now, Annie, it is your

Annie then described a parliament, where grave men were listening to a
gentleman who held in his arms a little baby, who plays with the royal
ball; he also holds papers sealed with large seals.

"Did not the baby cry when he saw all those gentlemen?" asked Alfred.

"He does not cry in my picture," answered Annie; "he looks very good,
and almost as if he were listening to what was being said around him."

This subject was guessed, and Mrs. Arabin proceeded to describe "a
besieged town, surrounded by the besiegers; at the head of whom,
mounted on a charger, is a young woman apparently about twenty-seven
years of age.  Look well in her face: you see no want of courage there,
yet no masculine coarseness--a calm dignity pervades her countenance.
She wears a helmet, a sword is by her side, and she carries a white
standard on which is depicted the Virgin Mary.  But I need not go on,
for I see by your faces that you have already guessed my heroine.  When
you are a little more advanced in German, Edward, you must read
Schiller's beautiful play founded on this history."

"Was she not burnt as a witch?" enquired Mary.

"That is a disputed point," answered her aunt; "some writers say this
was her fate at Rouen, but others state that she returned to her native
village, Domrenci, and married."

"I hope she did," added Emily; "but do you think, mama, there are such
people as witches?"

"No, my love," replied Mrs. Arabin; "only the ignorant and
superstitious believe in them; and in former days, when there was less
knowledge, and above all, less knowledge of true religion, such a
belief was very common.  Some persons in Dorsetshire and in
Lincolnshire, are foolish enough to credit their existence even now."

"May I tell a story, mama?" asked Willie.

"Certainly, my child."

"Well, then, you must fancy a small dark room with but little furniture
in it, the cold stone walls plainly telling us that the royal person in
the midst of the group is a prisoner.  He is preparing to undress,
whilst attendants are taking the head off an immense butt of liquid; it
looks like wine, for the man nearest to the cask appears as if he would
like a little very much."

"Perhaps he would," remarked Mary; "but I think your hero soon had more
than he liked."

"Mary has guessed," said Willie.  "Louisa, you never tell any stories;
do try and relate something very pretty."

"Something more about little babies," added Alfred.

"That is rather hard," said Louisa, "for little babies have not often
much to do in history or pictures either; but I think I can tell you a
very shocking story about two little boys, who were one night fast
asleep in bed, in a large room.  Two men carrying lanterns have crept
softly up to them, and are just putting the pillows and bolsters over
their poor little faces."

"Oh! do not tell me any more about that story," interrupted Alfred;
"tell me about soldiers again.  I do not like it," he added, nestling
his head on his mama's shoulder.  "Miss Graham told me that story in
the school-room one day, and I cried; I could not help it, mama."

"If that story be really true, it is indeed shocking," said Mrs.
Macdonald; "but I believe the mode of the little princes' death is very
much questioned: however, it is certain that their wicked uncle did
make away with them in some manner."

"Mama, I should not like to have the world for my own," added Alfred,
"if there were such wicked people in it; they might come and smother me
in my little bed."

1. Prince Henry and Chief Justice Gascoigne.  A.D. 1405.

2. Battle of Agincourt.  October 24th, 1415.

3. Earl of Warwick presenting Henry VI. to the Parliament.  A.D. 1422.

4. Joan of Arc before Orleans.  May 8th, 1429.

5. Death of the Duke of Clarence.  A.D. 1478.

6. Murder of the Princes in the Tower.  A.D. 1483.


The children never failed to join their mamas at the usual time, and
sometimes were almost inclined to believe it was dark, and time to shut
the shutters, earlier than the ladies wished.  This evening they had a
lesson in good humor, for a visitor stayed so long that the period for
commencing arrived and passed, without his giving any signs of leaving;
but he was scarcely down stairs before they began to arrange themselves
round the fire.

"While Mr. White was here, mama," said Edward, "I formed our first

"I noticed," remarked his aunt, "that you were the quietest of the
party, and it is now accounted for.  By exercising your mind, you
ensured polite behaviour.  We are all quite ready to listen."

"Although I wish to represent a field of battle, I shall only call your
attention to one part of it.  A single, armed man is fighting
desperately for his life; his helmet is so beaten by the blows it has
received, that all shape is lost.  He seems to desire to aim his chief
fury at a person apparently of some importance, who shews no
disposition to meet the attack: his followers, however, are less
scrupulous, and he is killed on the banks of a brook which long
remained stained with his blood."

"What was your hero like, Edward?"

"There seems," he replied, "a difference of opinion on that point.
Some historians say that although his features were homely, the
expression was princely and sensible; others inform us, that he was
deformed, and unpleasing in every way."

The next question was, "Do most of them agree in saying that he had one
shoulder higher than the other, and was sometimes called Crookback?"

"Yes.  But who can tell me what he exclaimed as he rushed on to the
Earl of Richmond?"

"Treason!  Treason!  Treason!" readily cried Willie.

"As you are in such a hurry to answer, Willie, you shall entertain us
next," said his mother.

"Certainly, mama, I have a story quite ready; and you must all fancy
you see a sacred edifice, which has been the scene of many of our
interesting historical annals.  We are on the outside, and against its
holy walls we see a scaffold erected, but there is no execution to be
perpetrated.  A youth of singularly dignified and fascinating
appearance stands with a paper in his hand, from which he reads a
declaration to the crowds, who have flocked from all quarters."

This story puzzled the children for a long time; even the ladies could
not at first remember the fact.  "Was he a king?" asked one.

"No; he on that occasion confessed that he was not of royal blood."

"Was he the only impostor obliged to relinquish his pretensions in that
reign?" enquired Mrs. Arabin.

The answer that he was the second, solved the mystery.

Annie next took her turn, and gave an account of the meeting of two
kings.  It was in another country, although the ground on which it took
place belonged to the English; the different suites were lodged around
their respective masters.  At the moment I have selected, the two
latter appear to have been wrestling; one has been conquered, and has
fallen; he is of a fresh and ruddy complexion, and of an athletic form,
which shew great expertness in his companion to have vanquished him."

"It is certainly an uncommon thing," said Willie, "for two monarchs to
fight like schoolboys; is it really in English history?"

[Illustration: Wolsey arriving at Leicester.]

"Yes.  I have merely related facts; they gave more than one proof of
their familiarity, and one had a few days before gone to the other
early in the morning whilst he was yet asleep.  This unceremonious
visit seems to have produced the freedom of intercourse I have just

"Whom can you mean, Annie?"

"I think I can tell you," said Emily; "the incident you have mentioned
was at the time believed to be a mere jest, but the vanquished never
entirely forgave his opponent; they were a French and an English king."

"You have discovered the truth," replied Mrs. Macdonald, "and I will
now continue.  A cavalcade has approached an abbey; a sick man,
scarcely able to bear the exertion, is mounted on a mule; he shows
every symptom of approaching death, but even then his former life might
be traced in the troubled expression still visible on his face; his
days have been spent in intrigues.  The entreaty for admission into the
monastery is granted, and the abbot kindly receives him.  He is lifted
from the mule, and carried to his bed, from which he never rose again."

"The only similar instance I can now remember," said Edward, "is that
of Charles V., and this would be the history of Germany instead of

"You have," rejoined his aunt, "guessed the period of my account nearer
than you think.  Charles V. went to the monastery of St. Justus some
time before his death, which was in the year 1558; the person I have
brought before your notice was taken to Leicester Abbey almost in his
last hours, and it was twenty-eight years before the emperor's death."

"I think," added Mrs. Arabin, "both were more than once concerned in
the same schemes and intrigues."

"Was not your hero disappointed of becoming a pope, mama?"

"I see by your question that he is known to you.  This prelate's
ambition and consequent life of struggle, affords one of the strongest
lessons in history, and his latter days were rendered miserable by the
passions of his earlier career.  I think, Mary, you must remember his
rooms at Hampton Court."

"Yes, I do, mama; a beautiful carved wood screen was said to have
belonged to him."

"I will now resume our game," said Mrs. Arabin.  "A lady is seen
sitting with one attendant, who appears to have been trying to lighten
her cares by playing a mandolin; but her mistress's brow, although
serene, is overcast; she knows she has been treated unjustly; she may
also mourn for a little daughter, whose prospects are blighted by her
mother's troubles.  There are traces of splendor around, and the books
and employments of the recluse convince us of her talents and
accomplished tastes."

"Do you mean Lady Jane Grey, aunt?"

"No, my dear; my heroine had numbered more years than the poor young
creature of whom you are thinking."

"Was she a queen?"

"She had been."

"Then I can tell you; she was the divorced wife of a king of England.
Do please, Louisa, make haste, and we can have one more anecdote before
tea, although we were so late in beginning."

"I must not hurry my story too much, or you will not be able to guess
it.  Picture to yourselves a garden, which in the days I speak of would
have been considered a beautiful specimen of horticulture, but which we
should now think stiff and formal; the long, straight, broad walks,
however, present an appearance of grandeur, which we see in none of the
present day.  A pulpit had been placed among the green boughs, from
which a holy and venerable man is preaching to a small congregation; in
the centre of the group is a young man, so attentively listening that
hours have past away, and he is not yet tired.  His countenance is
remarkably attractive and beautiful, especially his eyes, whilst
religious reverence for the doctrine he hears, is shewn in his whole

"Going to church in the open air!" exclaimed Alfred; "I am very glad,
mama, that you do not take me to a beautiful garden every Sunday; I am
afraid I should watch the birds and butterflies instead of listening."

"I trust, my dear child," replied his mother, "that in these happier
days, we may never know the privation of not having a house of God to

"Could not this young gentleman find one, mama?"

"Not so easily as we could; the religion we profess was not then so
firmly established, although Louisa's hero did all in his power to
spread it throughout his dominions.  But I believe his habit of
attending Latimer in the royal garden, was from preferring the open air
to the more confined atmosphere of a chapel."

"Thank you, mama, you have told us of whom Louisa was thinking; your
mentioning Latimer and the royal gardens tells the secret."

"I certainly did not mean to enlighten you; but I am glad I have done
so, as now you need not keep poor baby waiting for her tea."

1. Death of Richard III.  A.D. 1485.

2. Perkin Warbeck's public declaration of his imposture.  A.D. 1499.

3. Henry VIII. and Francis I. meeting on the "Field of the Cloth of

4. Death of Cardinal Wolsey.  A.D. 1530.

5. Catherine of Aragon.  A.D. 1536.

6. Edward VI. and Bishop Latimer.  A.D. 1553.


Mrs. Arabin commenced this evening's entertainment, and described as
follows: "A young lady, with an intellectual countenance, seated in the
midst of books, some of which appear to be written in Greek characters.
She is evidently weeping bitterly, and two men dressed in black are
apparently talking to her, and showing her some papers."

"Was she beautiful?" asked Emily.


"Mary, Queen of Scots?" guessed one.


"Catherine of Aragon?"


A pause ensued; at last Mrs. Arabin was asked to give them some little
clue to the history.

"She was famed for her learning; indeed, so much so as to be styled by
historians, the wonder the age."

"She and her husband were shortly afterwards beheaded, were they not?"
demanded Edward.

"Quite right," was the reply.

Mrs. Macdonald then began: "On a large open space, surrounded by
ancient buildings, is assembled a large crowd of persons, some of whom
appear to be preparing wood for burning around two stakes, placed at
some distance from each other.  Near the one stands a very aged,
white-haired man with a Bible in his hand; he who stands near the other
pile is younger in appearance, but they both wear an expression of
calmness and resignation; indeed there is almost a look of joy in the
elder man's countenance.  A person dressed in black has ascended some
elevated position to preach to them, and the younger victim is paying
evident attention to his discourse."

"Was Archbishop Cranmer one of the sufferers, mama?" asked one little


"Hooper or Ridley?" suggested Edward.

"No; after their death."

"Then I think I know who they were," said Annie; "but did only bishops

"No, my dear; besides five bishops, there were twenty-one clergymen,
eight lay gentlemen, eighty-four tradesmen, a hundred husbandmen,
fifty-five women, and four children."

"Had four children the courage to go through such pains for their

"Yes, my love, but not in their own strength; their weak bodies and
minds would have flinched, had they not been strengthened from above.
We could all of us go through much more than we think ourselves capable
of, if we did but seek for help from God; and if we try to go on alone,
without looking to Him, no wonder that we fail."

Edward next began.  "My picture represents a very, very small room,
almost a closet; its one window faces the door.  Here a very beautiful
woman is sitting at supper with a foreign-looking man and some of her
attendant ladies, and a guitar lies near them.  The principal lady
looks much agitated, for some figures have cautiously advanced to the
back of her favorite, and, with daggers in their hands, are trying to
pull him from his seat."

Edward's description was soon guessed by even the younger children, who
were well pleased at having an opportunity of shewing their learning.

Annie's turn came next, and she told of "a sea-engagement.  Numerous
and large ships seem to be taking shelter in a port, the white cliffs
near which correspond with those of our own shore at Dover.  The
vessels, smaller in number and size, appear to have the best of the
day; much explosion is going on amongst the enemy's fleet, whilst some
small ships bearing the English colors, have penetrated quite into the
midst of their opponents."

"I wish your sailors would talk, Annie," said Willie; "for if I knew
what language they spoke, I might tell what naval engagement you mean.
Was it the battle of Trafalgar?"

"No; that took place in the open sea."

"The battle of the Nile?" asked Mary.

"Much earlier than that, Mary."

"All battles are alike," said Willie.

"All battles are not fought under the shelter of chalk cliffs."

"Did you not say that those who were attacked by the English were thus
screening themselves?"

"I did."

"Then it could not be Dover or Deal.  Oh! they must have been
Frenchmen," continued Willie.

"Not Frenchmen," said Edward, seeing the others puzzled, "but the
natives of a country very close by."

Louisa then described a scene where "a platform, covered with black, is
surrounded by armed men, and a crowd of the populace.  A man of noble
appearance has his throat bared, his head laid on the block, and the
executioner stands ready to strike the fatal stroke; when his hand is
arrested by some one near, who points to a royal messenger riding at
full speed through the mob."

A long pause ensued after Louisa had finished; even the two mamas
looked puzzled.

"You may ask three questions and no more," said Louisa, triumphantly.

"Was the victim a king?" enquired Mary.

"Hush, Mary," cried Emily, as she saw the ardent little girl about to
open her mouth again.

"Had he a friend who was also reprieved at the same late hour?" asked
Mrs. Macdonald.

"You have guessed it, aunt, I see," replied Louisa.

"Not quite; at least I am not sure."

"Pray let me have the next question," interrupted Mrs. Arabin; "for
although I remember the accounts of many executions, I do not recollect
the circumstance of two friends being pardoned when the fatal axe was
hanging over them.  I am half afraid of wasting my question, therefore
I must be cautious."

The children clapped their hands when they saw their aunt puzzled, and,
as a great favor, Mrs. Arabin was allowed a fourth question, if she
would but be quick in saying something; to which Alfred cordially
added, "Please do, dear auntie."

"You are rather impatient, my dears, and I am sorry I cannot give you a
lesson in patience; but I neither need your third or your fourth
answers, as I have discovered your history to have taken place in the
reign of James the First."

Much disappointment was expressed when auntie was pronounced "_too

"My picture to-night," said Emily, "tells of a scheme very dreadful in
its motives as well as gloomy in its preparations for fulfilment; a
vaulted roof is scarcely to be distinguished through the dark shades.
A figure is walking through these gloomy passages, evidently seeking
something; opposite him is a figure with a dark lantern in his hand,
enveloped in a cloak."

"Gunpowder treason and plot should never be forgot," exclaimed Alfred;
following his ejaculation with a loud "Hurrah!"

Papa's knock at the door interrupted the historical game for this
evening, but mama promised to have them again on Monday evening during
the dark hour; a season now as much looked forward to, as it was
formerly dreaded.

1. Lady Jane Grey's accession announced to her.  A.D. 1553.

2. Death of Latimer and Ridley.  A.D. 1555.

3. Death of Rizzio.  A.D. 1563.

4. Defeat of the "Spanish Armada."  A.D. 1588.

5. Lord Cobham led to execution.  A.D. 1602.

6. Gunpowder Plot.  November 5th, 1605.


The next evening the children were agreeably surprised to hear their
father knock at the door, just as they had arranged themselves ready
for their favorite game.  He was soon up stairs, and was warmly thanked
for having returned so soon.

"I have," said he, "suffered much from headache this evening, and I
thought this cheerful group might do me more good than anything."

"We must tell soft stories," said Alfred; "and as papa likes to hear
you speak, mama, you had better begin."

The little boy's motive was so thoughtful, that Mrs. Macdonald agreed;
and called their attention to three persons, whom she represented
standing in a doorway.  The foremost appeared to have turned to speak
to the friend who followed him; their deportment showed perfect ease
and ignorance of the danger near them.  The third in the group is a man
of a melancholy but enthusiastic countenance: his arm is stretched over
the figure next to him, and he has plunged a dagger into the breast of
his companion.

"This is a very dreadful story, mama.  Was the wound fatal?"

"Yes.  It was a duke who was the victim.  The whole was so
instantaneous, that no one saw the blow.  He pulled the knife from the
wound, exclaiming, 'The villain has killed me;' and fell dead at Sir
Thomas Fryer's feet."

"That name ought to help us, aunt," said Edward.  "I fear we are all
very stupid; uncle, can you guess?"

"I think your aunt has described the death of a court favorite, in the
time of Charles I."

"If you have, mama," said Mary, "the murderer's name was Felton; was it

"Yes, my dear, you are quite right; now, perhaps, you can entertain us."

"My history," answered Mary, "relates to a very affecting scene.  A
family group meets for the last time on earth.  A father, with deep
grief depicted on his regular, handsome, although care-worn features,
has a little boy about seven years old on his knee: he seems anxious to
impress something of importance on the child's mind, who is listening
to his father with his eyes fixed on him.  An interesting little girl
stands by his side, crying bitterly."

"I think," said Mrs. Macdonald, "if we help him a little, Alfred might
name this subject.  When we first began this game, he was very anxious
to know more of this poor king, who was in prison; since then you have
passed on to other reigns, but this incident you cannot forget."

"I will tell you," answered the little boy.  "The poor dear little duke
of Gloucester said, when his father told him not to be made king when
he was dead, 'I will be torn in pieces first.'"

"You have answered quickly, dear child; and I am glad you remember so

Alfred was quite delighted, and begged that they would talk a long time
about this king, and all that happened to him; and when he was reminded
that this would not be agreeable to the rest of the party, he seemed a
little disappointed.  Mr. Macdonald noticing it, told him, as he had
not urged his entreaties, he would reward him by telling him a story
that would please him very much.

[Illustration: Cromwell and the Monkey.]

The little boy was instantly on his father's knee, who began to relate
the following fact:--

"A large monkey is seen dancing about on the roof of a house with a
baby in his arms.  From the child's dress, he has evidently taken the
infant from its cradle; the family seem greatly alarmed, and are
spreading feather beds, carpets, and everything that is soft enough to
break the violence of the child's fall.  The animal shews no
inclination to descend, and dances about with great glee."

"Oh, papa, did the poor child fall?"

"No; the monkey, which was quite tame, and a household favourite,
carried it carefully down the same way he went up."

"You have indeed told me a funny story," said Alfred; "please some one
make haste, and guess who it was."

"I think," said Mrs. Arabin, "that the baby became a very important
person, and was one of the instruments of Charles's later troubles."

"Your aunt has told you," said Mr. Macdonald; "and I am now expecting a
story from Edward."

"I have remembered a painful one, for the scene is a death-bed.  A
young and very beautiful woman is mustering her last strength, and
making a final effort to impress some words on a man who leans over
her.  His countenance expresses deep affection and distress; the
invalid is very dear to him, or he would not so patiently listen to
arguments, which formerly even from her lips would have exasperated
him; a family likeness may be traced between the two."

"Is it the death of a queen?"

"No, neither are royal, although the man rules the kingdom.  After the
circumstance I have just described, he never regained his cheerfulness."

"I think your hero was the baby whom the monkey danced on the roof of
the house; and the lady was his youngest and favourite daughter."

"You are quite right, Louisa; and perhaps you can now take your turn as

"I will speak first," said Mr. Macdonald; "I can so seldom join you,
that I must take double share.  You seem more inclined to show mercy
towards me than last time I played with you, therefore you shall be
rewarded.  My picture is a very awful one: the whole of London is
visited by a calamity; in every street, in every house, lie the dead
and the dying.  Grief is so settled in the hearts of all, that there
are few to attend the last breath of those who still linger on earth;
in one of the public thoroughfares some poor wretches have crawled out
to listen to a man, who braves infection, and preaches to his miserable
fellow-creatures.  Dead bodies are carried by, and fear and misery
hangs over all."

"Oh, papa!" cried the children, "we know what you mean; please do not
relate any more, it is so very dreadful."

"It was indeed an awful visitation, my dears; but although we are not
permitted to see why it was sent, we must not doubt the wisdom that
ordained the trial.  The following year was, you may remember, marked
by another horrible dispensation; but this we are allowed to see was,
in one respect, a blessing, for it entirely stopped the disease which
killed hundreds at the time I have just mentioned.  Louisa, I will no
longer prevent your story being heard; it will, I trust, be less dismal
than mine."

"I will endeavour to make it so," she replied.  "You must fancy you see
the coast of Dorsetshire, a place called Lyme.  A man of prepossessing
appearance has just landed; it is summer, and the sun shining on his
face animates him with hope.  He has only a hundred followers to fight
in his behalf; he seems to be a great favourite with them; and in the
distance may be seen small bodies of men advancing, it may be supposed,
to join his cause."

"Was it Bolingbroke?"

"No: he landed at Ravensburgh, in Yorkshire."

"Did your hero aim at conquering England?"

"He pretended he was heir to the crown."

"Then I think if you will tell me whether he marched straight to
London, or stayed to subdue the towns he passed through, I can say who
it was."

"He chose the latter, and thus lost all chance of success; had he gone
direct to the metropolis, he might have been victorious."

"The king, whom he wished to supplant," said Willie, "was, I think,
dethroned not long afterwards, and succeeded by some one else, better
able to conduct the affairs of England."

The subject was now known to all, and the game deferred until the next

"We have only two more evenings," remarked Emily, "before my aunt and
cousins go, and we have agreed we cannot play at it without them."

"I hope," answered her mother, "they will soon pay us another visit,
and we can then resume it, with, I trust, a better acquaintance with
past events."

1. Death of Buckingham.  A.D. 1628.

2. Charles I. taking leave of his children.  A.D. 1649.

3. Oliver Cromwell seized by a tame monkey.  A.D. 1593.

4. The death of Mrs. Claypole.

5. Solomon Eagle preaching during the Plague.  A.D. 1665.

6. Landing of the Duke of Monmouth.  A.D. 1685.


William asked leave to commence the historical entertainment this
evening, and the whole party begged for something very amusing, as the
cold snow without, gave a cheerless look to all within, and poor Alfred
complained of chilblains.

"I am going to describe a battle," said Willie; "the two contending
armies are drawn up on opposite sides of a river; the surrounding scene
bears marks of great poverty, nevertheless the inhabitants are a fine,
generous-looking people.  The principal figure in the group is standing
on the bank, taking a survey of the enemy; he is of the middle height,
with a high forehead, aquiline nose, fine eyes, and a very grave
countenance.  His thin form would give an idea of feebleness, were it
not for the energy of the mind within.  Two persons are lying dead by
his side, and he himself appears to be wounded in the shoulder, but
with the greatest composure is continuing to give his orders."

"That was a hero," said Edward; "I like to hear of mind overcoming
bodily pain.  Was it Edward III.?"


"The Duke of Marlborough?"

"You are getting nearer the time."

"Prince Eugene," said another.

"Prince Eugene was a cotemporary of the Duke of Marlborough."

"The person you mention was associated with some one else in the
government of England, was he not?" said Edward.

"Yes, my dear boy."

"Was he not very much attached to his wife?"

"Yes; and all historians agree in giving her an amiable character, and
in describing her person as pleasing."

"Did not William III. give Greenwich Hospital to disabled seamen?"
asked Willie.

"Yes, my dear; it was formerly a royal palace.  Queen Elizabeth was
nursed there when a child.  You young ladies can, perhaps, tell me what
Queen Mary introduced into England."

"You must give us a clue, mama."

"It is something which tended to make women more industrious; but the
revival of it in the present day, has, I fear, caused a great deal of
time to be employed on it which might have been devoted to more useful

"We know what you mean, mama; tent-stitch and cross-stitch; your last
remark has told us."

Louisa then described a bed-chamber: "a high four-post bedstead, the
canopy of which reaches to the ceiling: a coronet, surmounted by a
plume of feathers, is raised over the crimson curtains at the foot: it
is a bright and beautiful summer morning, but a pale, restless invalid
seems incapable of enjoying it.  She is wrapt in a loose robe, and
stands with her eyes fixed on a large clock, which now-a-days we
should, from its antique, cumbersome form, condemn to a staircase, or a
kitchen; there is almost a vacant expression in her eyes, and an
attendant lady looks enquiringly in her face.  Who is my poor heroine?"

"Catherine of Aragon?" asked Emily.

"No, she was but a queen consort; my heroine was a queen regnant."

"Was it bloody Mary, who had the poor little children burnt?" said

"No, my boy; but a similar circumstance, namely, that of leaving no
descendants, preyed equally on the minds of these two royal personages,
and hastened their deaths."

"I know," cried Willie; "but, dear mama, will you tell us what is the
difference between a queen consort and a queen regnant?"

"A queen consort is the wife of a king; a queen regnant is one who
reigns in her own right; a queen dowager is the widow of a king."

"Thank you, mama," said Willie; "now another story, if you please."

"You really give me no time to collect my thoughts; but it is a long
while since your aunt has described a picture, and I think it is now
her turn."

Mrs. Arabin then began:--"My scene is laid, where many of our scenes
have been laid before, within the cold walls of a prison; but a strange
circumstance is there taking place, very different to any you have yet
depicted.  A great interchange of clothing seems to be taking place.
Three figures occupy the apartment; one lady is attiring herself in a
riding dress, whilst another is assisting a dark man to put on a lady's
costume; much anxiety is pourtrayed in the face of the latter lady, and
none of them seem to think it as good a joke as Alfred does, to judge
by his smiling face; the lady who is disrobing has a fair complexion
and yellow hair."

"I suppose the gentleman intended to pass for the lady whose clothes he
assumed," said Edward; "but how did they contrive to hide his dark

"By putting on a woman's wig of yellow hair, painting his eye-brows the
same colour, and adding white and red paint to his cheeks."

"Your hero stands confessed, aunt," said Annie; "but what a courageous
woman his wife must have been."

"True, my dear; but you must remember that the life of the dearest
being she had on earth was at stake; and surely she would rather have
died with him, than have left untried any plan which might offer a
possibility of saving him, however dangerous it might be to herself."

"I am glad we do not live in such times now," said Louisa.

"You have reason to be so," replied Mrs. Arabin, "and we ought all to
be deeply grateful for it; but I fear we take our blessings too much as
matters of course; we seem to view them as our right, and only learn to
appreciate them when justly deprived of them, or when we hear of the
sufferings of others."

"Well, mama," added Edward, "if no other good arise from our perusal of
history than that of making us more grateful for the blessings of peace
and quiet times, we shall not have studied in vain."

"Edward, you do speak so like a book," exclaimed Willie, half impatient
at this digression.

"Like a good book, however," answered Mrs. Macdonald; "for what your
cousin has said is quite true.  But, Emily, you have been silent a long
time: let us now have a picture from you."

Emily complied.  "The scene of my picture appears to be onboard a
man-of-war.  The numerous masts of other vessels near seem to indicate
a harbour.  An elderly man, dressed in an admiral's uniform, is
kneeling down; some one stands behind him binding a handkerchief over
his eyes; those immediately around appear to be his friends, judging by
the sorrow depicted on their countenances.  The admiral is in the act
of raising his hand, as a signal to some soldiers arranged at the
further end of the deck, and who have their muskets pointed at him."

All were puzzled by Emily's narration; and finding none of the children
able to guess, Mrs. Arabin ventured to solve the mystery.

"I never clearly understood the exact cause of the Admiral's
punishment, mama," said Willie; "will you explain it to me?"

"I will, my dear, as well as I can; but I think papa would be able to
tell you better.  During the war between France and England, in the
reign of George II., Admiral Byng was sent out with ten ships of war to
relieve Minorca, taking with him orders to throw a body of troops into
the garrison.  This he thought was venturing too much; and being
surprised by the appearance of a French fleet, he gave orders to form
in line of battle, and act on the defensive, instead of obeying the
commands he had brought out.  A part of the English fleet engaged, but
the admiral still kept in the background.  The French slowly sailed
away, and no other opportunity offered of their coming to a closer
engagement.  But six o'clock strikes; therefore go, my darlings, and do
not keep nurse waiting."

1. Battle of the Boyne.  A.D. 1690.

2. Death of Queen Anne.  A.D. 1714.

3. Escape of Lord Nithsdale.  A.D. 1715.

4. Execution of Admiral Byng.  A.D. 1758.


The children remembered, with much regret, that this was the last
evening they could enjoy their historical game; the idea that their
aunt and cousins would not be there to assist them, made it impossible
for them to continue it after their departure.  Alfred had been wishing
in vain that an earthquake, thunder-storm, or some impossible
catastrophe, would take place, to prevent their leaving them.  The
following evening the rest of the party, although more reasonable in
their desires, sincerely wished they might be detained; and they seated
themselves round their mothers with long and dismal faces.  Alfred was
of opinion that the game had better not be attempted, and then the last
time would have been over the preceding evening without their knowing
it; but this did not suit some of the others, who thought it was the
only amusement that could make the time pass pleasantly.  Mrs.
Macdonald promised to do her best to enliven them, reminding them how
useless, and ungrateful for past enjoyment in each other's society it
would be to repine, now it was over; had they known their mother's
private feelings, they would have found that she also suffered from the
idea of losing her sister, even for a short time.  The children
promised to be as cheerful as the circumstances would allow, and their
kind mother consented to tell the first story:--

"You have all heard of the House of Peers; and I shall now describe
this important body collected on an interesting occasion.  A speaker
has been supported into the house, who appears to have risen from a bed
of sickness; for the time he has regained strength, and is giving
utterance to a powerful speech with the greatest animation."

"You have not," said the children, "given us much detail, mama."

"I will add, then, that this eloquent orator spoke of America and her

"And I think," said Mrs. Arabin, "that before he left the meeting, he
was seized with a fit, and carried out lifeless."

"Then, aunt," replied Willie, "you have mentioned a public character to
whom Pitt was related, and to whom he succeeded, as one of the king's
chief ministers."

"I am glad you are not too unhappy to guess so well; perhaps you can
now describe a picture."

"That I will, dear aunt; and it shall shew you the death of a brave
man.  He is commanding a large fleet, and fights against an enemy with
the most determined courage.  At the moment I have selected, he has
received his death-blow, and has hastily covered the stars and
different orders on his breast with his handkerchief; fearing the
sailors might be appalled if they knew their commander had fallen.  A
friend stands by, and holds out his arm to support him."

"You so often give us battles," said Alfred; "and they all seem so much

"What was this gallant seaman in appearance?" asked Mary.

"He was a pale, emaciated looking man, and had lost an arm."

"You have told us now, Willie; and I think mama is ready to speak next."

"If you like, my dears, I will do so; and shall give you an account of
a royal levee.  It did not take place in London, although it was held
by an English king, and he was surrounded by his own people.  The place
in which the scene is laid is an old palace, and is a most interesting
building, although there is nothing grand in its appearance.  The old
walls in every part of the edifice seem to have been beautified for the
reception of the present tenant.  The hardy forms and strongly marked
features of the assembled crowd, soften into an expression of the
deepest satisfaction as they welcome their sovereign; and his gracious
manner and friendly attentions, shew that he is much gratified by his

It was a long time before the children could give a satisfactory
answer, and they begged their mother to describe the person of her hero.

"He was remarkably handsome; and I remember my mother describing him
the first time she ever saw him, when he was quite a young man."

"Stop, mama; if grandmama saw him, we know who it must be."

Mary next asked leave to speak; and, after a few whispers to her mama,
she related the particulars of a dreadful fire.  "The buildings
destroyed were some of the oldest senate-houses in the world; they
stood on the banks of a wide river, and the glare in the water was
terrific.  Crowds collected, and great anxiety was shewn to prevent the
flames from spreading.  A beautiful, sacred pile was so close, that for
some time it was feared this would share the same fate; but happily,
the prompt means to conquer the furious element saved this, and even
houses still nearer.  The accident took place at night."

"You have described it with as much animation, Mary, as if you had been

Their sister laughed, and seemed much entertained with all their
mistakes.  Mrs. Arabin told them that she had had the whole explained
to her by their father, who had been an eye-witness.

"Oh, aunt, we can now guess," cried the elders of the party.  "How
clever of Mary to tell us of what took place during our own lives, and
yet contrive that we should not know what she meant."

"You were all so young," said Mrs. Macdonald, "that you could not very
well understand what passed, or what was talked about.  We have only
time for one more anecdote, and I shall relate it.  I have described
the coronation of a king for you before; I now wish to represent that
of a young and graceful queen.  She has just been crowned, and sits
with royal dignity on the throne to receive the homage of the peers.
They approach one by one to claim her gracious reception.  An aged lord
is of the number; and as he totters forward, he stumbles on the steps
of her seat.  The royal lady instantly lays aside the formality of a
queen, and with the natural kindness of her disposition, rises and
holds out her hand to assist him."

"How pleased all the people must have been, mama," said Alfred.

"Yes; they felt that they had one to rule them, who is well worthy the
love that I hope we all bear her."

"Indeed, mama, we cannot think what you mean; we do not know who the
queen was."

"You will, I trust, all, as you grow older, learn your duties to her
better than you do now."

"Mama, you have cheated us again," interrupted the children.

Alfred thought this was very good fun, and promised to be a very loyal

"I am sure he is on the twenty-fourth of May," said Willie, "and drinks
Queen Victoria's health till we are nearly deaf."

"Although I am not sure that there is much loyalty in this act, he
shall have an opportunity to do so to-night.  You know your aunt has
begged that you may all dine with us to-day, and you shall have some
wine at dessert."

The children were now so much elated at the idea of remaining with
their parents, that all gloom vanished.  Mr. Macdonald entered in the
midst of their noisy demonstrations of joy, and they directly informed
him of the agreeable arrangement.  Alfred rode to the cellar on papa's
shoulder; and the evening passed so pleasantly that they all said "good
night," more cheerfully than they had expected.  Mrs. Arabin and her
children left at so early an hour the following morning, that only Mr.
and Mrs. Macdonald saw them go.  Their cousins comforted themselves
with the hope that they should before long meet again, and be able to
resume their game.  Their future historical anecdotes may another time
be related to those who are interested, and to those little boys and
girls who wish to follow their example, and pass their spare hours
pleasantly and instructively.

1. Death of Lord Chatham.  A.D. 1778.

2. Death of Lord Nelson.  A.D. 1805.

3. George the Fourth's Visit to Scotland.  A.D. 1822.

4. Destruction of the Houses of Parliament.  A.D. 1834.

5. Queen Victoria raising Lord Rolle at her Coronation.  A.D. 1830.

The End.

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