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

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

The First Gentleman in Europe

Even before Napoleon surrendered, the British and Prussian armies marched on to Paris, where they were joined by the Austrians and Russians, and placed Louis XVIII. again upon the throne. The war was now ended; but the British national debt was larger than ever, and the heavy taxes caused great discontent.

Besides, the regent was very extravagant, and spent such large sums of money upon his pleasures that the poor people began to be very indignant. They were especially angry because, owing to the corn laws,—laws that almost prevented the bringing in of grain from abroad,—they could not themselves get enough to eat. The regent had also treated his wife so unkindly that his unfeeling conduct had greatly added to his unpopularity. Still, when George III. died, at the age of eighty-two, after a reign of nearly sixty years, his son quietly succeeded him as George IV.

George IV. was handsome, well educated, and had such elegant manners that his courtiers called him the "First Gentleman in Europe." But he was a gentleman only in outward appearance. He is regarded as one of the worst of the English kings, because he never tried to do what he knew to be right, and because he was very selfish.

Fortunately for the English nation, he had two very able ministers, Peel and Canning, who had charge of public affairs during much of his ten years' reign. They opposed him when he tried to get a divorce from his ill-used wife, Caroline, and gradually brought about many important improvements in the laws.

For instance, Parliament changed a law which had been in force ever since the time of Charles II., and justly decided that Roman Catholics as well as Protestants should be allowed to have seats in Parliament and to hold office. This was demanded by the Irish, who had chosen one of their great men, O'Connell, as a member of Parliament. This new law, which is called the Catholic Emancipation Act, was soon followed by others; for the British were tired of old abuses, and the time, or era, of reform had begun.

During this reign, the British, who were now the first naval power in the world, joined France and Russia in protecting the Greeks from the Turks, and helped win the famous battle of Navarino (1827). Byron, one of the great English poets, took part in this Greek war. But he fell ill of fever at Missolonghi, and died before he had been able to do much for the country which he loved because it was once the home of many heroes, and of the great poets of antiquity.