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THE EVOLUTION OF AN EMPIRE A BRIEF HISTORICAL SKETCH OF ENGLAND
BY MARY PARMELE
Will the readers of this little work please bear in mind the difficulties which must attend the painting of a very large picture, with multitudinous characters and details, upon a very small canvas! This book is mainly an attempt to trace to their sources some of the currents which enter into the life of England to-day; and to indicate the starting-points of some among the various threads--legislative, judicial, social, etc.--which are gathered into the imposing strand of English Civilization in this closing 19th Century.
The reader will please observe that there seem to have been two things most closely interwoven with the life of England. RELIGION and MONEY have been the great evolutionary factors in her development.
It has been, first, the resistance of the people to the extortions of money by the ruling class, and second, the violating of their religious instincts, which has made nearly all that is vital in English History.
The lines upon which the government has developed to its present Constitutional form are chiefly lines of resistance to oppressive enactments in these two matters. The dynastic and military history of England, although picturesque and interesting, is really only a narrative of the external causes which have impeded the Nation's growth toward its ideal of "the greatest possible good to the greatest possible number."
Ancient Britain--Caesar's Invasion--Britain a Roman Province--Boadicea --Lyndin or London--Roman Legions Withdrawn--Angles and Saxons-- Cerdic--Teutonic Invasion--English Kingdoms Consolidated
Augustine--Edwin--Caedmon--Baeda--Alfred--Canute--Edward the Confessor--Harold--William the Conqueror
"Gilds" and Boroughs--William II.--Crusades--Henry I.--Henry II.-- Becket's Death--Richard I.--John--Magna Charta
Henry III.--Roger Bacon--First True Parliament--Edward I.--Conquest of Wales--of Scotland--Edward II.--Edward III.--Battle of Crecy--Richard II.--Wickliffe
House of Lancaster--Henry IV.--Henry V.--Agincourt--Battle of Orleans-- Wars of the Roses--House of York--Edward IV.--Richard III.--Henry VII. --Printing Introduced
Henry VIII--Wolsey--Reformation--Edward VI--Mary
Elizabeth--East India Company Chartered--Colonization of Virginia-- Flodden Field--Birth of Mary Stuart--Mary Stuart's Death--Spanish Armada--Francis Bacon
James I--First New England Colony--Gunpowder Plot--Translation of Bible--Charles I--Archbishop Laud--John Hampden--_Petition of Right_-- Massachusetts Chartered--Earl Strafford--_Star Chamber_
Long Parliament--Death of Strafford and Laud--Oliver Cromwell--Death of Charles I.--Long Parliament Dispersed--Charles II.
Act of Habeas Corpus--Death of Charles II.--Milton--Bunyan--James II. --William and Mary--Battle of Boyne
Anne--Marlborough--Battle of Blenheim--House of Hanover--George I.-- George II.--Walpole--British Dominion in India--Battle of Quebec--John Wesley
George III.--Stamp Act--Tax on Tea--American Independence Acknowledged --Impeachment of Hastings--War of 1812--First English Railway--George IV.--William IV.--Reform Bill--Emancipation of the Slaves
Victoria--Famine in Ireland--War with Russia--Sepoy Rebellion--Massacre at Cawnpore
Atlantic Cable--Daguerre's Discovery--First World's Fair--Death of Albert--Suez Canal--Victoria Empress of India--Disestablishment of Irish Branch of Church of England--Present Conditions
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
The remotest fact in the history of England is written in her rocks. Geology tells us of a time when no sea flowed between Dover and Calais, while an unbroken continent extended from the Mediterranean to the Orkneys.
Huge mounds of rough stones called Cromlechs, have yielded up still another secret. Before the coming of the Keltic-Aryans, there dwelt there two successive races, whose story is briefly told in a few human fragments found in these "Cromlechs." These remains do not bear the royal marks of Aryan origin. The men were small in stature, with inferior skulls; and it is surmised that they belonged to the same mysterious branch of the human family as the Basques and Iberians, whose presence in Southern Europe has never been explained.
When the Aryan came and blotted out these races will perhaps always remain an unanswered question. But while Greece was clothing herself with a mantle of beauty, which the world for two thousand years has striven in vain to imitate, there was lying off the North and West coasts of the European Continent a group of mist-enshrouded islands of which she had never heard.
Obscured by fogs, and beyond the horizon of Civilization, a branch of the Aryan race known as Britons were there leading lives as primitive as the American Indians, dwelling in huts shaped like beehives, which they covered with branches and plastered with mud. While Phidias was carving immortal statues for the Parthenon, this early Britisher was decorating his abode with the heads of his enemies; and could those shapeless blocks at Stonehenge speak, they would, perhaps, tell of cruel and hideous Druidical rites witnessed on Salisbury Plain, ages ago.
[Sidenote: Caesar's Invasion, 55 B.C. Britain a Roman Province, 45 A.D. Boadicea 61 A.D.]
Rumors of the existence of this people reached the Mediterranean three or four hundred years before Christ, but not until Caesar's invasion of the Island (55 B.C.) was there any positive knowledge of them.
The actual conquest of Britain was not one of Caesar's achievements. But from the moment when his covetous eagle-eye viewed the chalk-cliffs of Dover from the coast of Northern Gaul, its fate was sealed. The Roman octopus from that moment had fastened its tentacles upon the hapless land; and in 45 A.D., under the Emperor Claudius, it became a Roman province. In vain did the Britons struggle for forty years. In vain did the heroic Boadicea (during the reign of Nero, 61 A.D.), like Hermann in Germany, and Vercingetorix in France, resist the destruction of her nation by the Romans. In vain did this woman herself lead the Britons, in a frenzy of patriotism; and when the inevitable defeat came, and London was lost, with the desperate courage of barbarian she destroyed herself rather than witness the humiliation of her race.
The stately Westminster and St. Paul's did not look down upon this heroic daughter of Britain. London at that time was a collection of miserable huts and entrenched cattle-pens, which were in Keltic speech called the "Fort-on-the-Lake"--or "Llyndin," an uncouth name in Latin ears, which gave little promise of the future London, the Romans helping it to its final form by calling it Londinium.
But the octopus had firmly closed about its victim, whose struggles, before the year 100 A.D., had practically ceased. A civilization which made no effort to civilize was forcibly planted upon the island. Where had been the humble village, protected by a ditch and felled trees, there arose the walled city, with temples and baths and forum, and stately villas with frescoed walls and tessellated floors, and hot-air currents converting winter into summer.
So Chester, Colchester, Lincoln, York, London, and a score of other
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