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

Nelson's Last Signal

After Napoleon left Egypt, the British gained possession of it, and brought back to the British Museum the large collection of antiquities which had been gathered by the French men of science.

Soon after, in 1802, a short peace was made between France and Great Britain at Amiens. On this occasion, when Napoleon and the English statesman Fox met, some one pointed to a globe, and remarked that England occupied a very small space upon it. "Yes," retorted Fox, promptly; "our island is indeed a small country that island in which the Englishman is born, and in which he would fain that his bones should repose when he is dead. But," added he, advancing to the globe and spreading his arms round it, over both oceans and both Indies, "while the Englishmen live, they overspread the whole world and clasp it in a circle of power."

A peace between England and France, two nations then so jealous of each other, could not last long. It was barely a year, indeed, before Napoleon reopened hostilities. In 1804, being now Emperor of the French, he planned to invade England. He had an army of over one hundred thousand men encamped at Boulogne, ready to cross the Channel. But how were they to be taken across, in the face of the vigilant Nelson and his fleet? Napoleon knew that all depended on that, and said "Let us be masters of the Channel for six hours, and we are masters of the world." Fortunately for England, he never gained this mastery of the Channel, for the French and Spanish fleets, with which he had hoped to control it, were defeated by Sir Robert Calder, and soon afterwards were almost destroyed by Nelson in the battle of Trafalgar (1805 ), one of the most famous of sea fights.

It seems that Admiral Nelson had cornered the French and Spanish fleets at Cadiz. Although the enemy had seven vessels more than the British, Nelson took his measures so carefully that he hoped to succeed. He finally bade his officers signal to the fleet these famous words: "England expects every man to do his duty."

Death of Nelson


Then the men set up a deafening shout, and began the fight bravely. Nelson soon fell, mortally wounded; but he covered up his face, lest his men, seeing he was dying, should lose courage. He was carried below, where he lived long enough to hear that the victory had been won, and died saying, "Thank God, I have done my duty."

This great English hero had already been in many battles, and had won many victories. On one occasion he lost an eye; on another he was shot in the arm. As none of the medicines now used to deaden pain were then known, he suffered greatly while the doctors were cutting off his arm. Having found that the pain was made keener because the instruments were cold, Nelson ever after had them put in hot water before they were used on his men; for he was as thoughtful of their comfort as he was brave.

[Illustration] from The Story of the English by Helene Guerber


The glorious victory of Trafalgar is commemorated in London by Trafalgar Square, in the centre of which there is a tall column surmounted by a statue of Lord Nelson. The hero himself is buried in Westminster Abbey, where England's greatest warriors, statesmen, men of letters, and men of science have beautiful monuments, as well as most of the English kings.