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

Madcap Harry

As we have seen, Henry IV. was often troubled by remorse. He suffered greatly, and had so many worries that, if the poet Shakespeare is to be believed, he once said, "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown." Besides his remorse, his disease, and his wars, Henry had another source of anxiety, for his son, Prince Hal, was a very wild young fellow.

He was not altogether bad, for he had proved himself very brave as a soldier and had even shown a great deal of wisdom in his father's council; but the gay life of London was too tempting, and in the company of noisy, bragging companions, Madcap Harry, as the prince was often called, indulged in all manner of unprincely occupations. He even went so far, it is said, as to waylay and rob peaceful travellers. In doing this he was, of course, breaking the law, which, as prince, he should have been the first to respect.

After one of these highway robberies, so the story runs, some of his companions were arrested and brought before Judge Gascoigne. He tried them, and, finding them guilty, sentenced them to the usual punishment. Prince Hal, who was present at the trial, strove to beg them off; and when the judge refused to grant his request, the indignant prince struck him.

The judge, knowing that the majesty of the law is greater than that of any prince, now ordered Madcap Harry off to prison. This made the young man realize how wrong he had been, so he apologized to the judge, and accepted his punishment submissively. When this was told to King Henry he joyfully exclaimed: "Happy is the king who possesses a judge who is not afraid to do his duty, and a son who is wise enough to submit to the law!"

In the end of Henry's reign troops were sent to France to side with one of the parties engaged in civil war there. But although the king had been a mighty fighter, he no longer took great interest in the war, for he was rapidly growing worse.

During one of his prolonged fainting fits it is said that Prince Hal came into the room, and, fancying he was dead, carried off the crown. As soon as Henry recovered, he asked for it, and when the prince brought it back, he said: "Alas, fair son! what right have you to the crown, when you know your father had none?"

"My liege," answered the prince, firmly, "with your sword you won it, and with the sword I will keep it."

A few days later the king had another fainting fit, while he was at prayers in Westminster Abbey. He was carried into the abbot's room; there he opened his eyes and asked where he was. They told him he was in the "Jerusalem Chamber." Suddenly he remembered an old prophecy that he should die in Jerusalem, and, refusing to be removed, he breathed his last in that apartment.

Perhaps the most famous man in Henry's reign was Whittington, whose name you may have heard in nursery rhymes. He was the son of a nobleman; but as his father had lost all his money, he went off to London to make his fortune. He became the apprentice of a cloth merchant, but grew discouraged because he had no friends, and left London.

But, so runs the story, when he got outside the city and sat down to rest, his only friend, a cat, rubbing against his knees, he suddenly heard the Bow bells ring. The sound came to his ears, loud and clear, and the bells seemed to say: "Turn again, Whittington, thrice Lord Mayor of London." Encouraged by such prospects, Whittington picked up his cat and went back to London. There he tried so hard that he became a good and rich man, and was actually elected three times Lord Mayor of London. When Whittington died, ten years after Henry IV., he left all his immense fortune to the poor, to found several charitable institutions.

Some people, however, say that Whittington's fortune was all made by a ship called the Cat, which brought coal from Newcastle to London to be sold at great profit. Others say that Whittington's cat was his old friend the real pussy, which he sent away to be sold in the East; there it brought a large price, and thus proved the beginning of his fortune.