Our Island Story - H. E. Marshall


Besides the civil war, Britain had other wars to fight. France, England's old enemy was still the enemy of Britain. Once again there was war between them, and this time the fighting was not in France, nor in England, nor on the seas, but in far-off lands.

Long ago in the days of Elizabeth, you remember that Englishmen sailed over the seas to the newly-discovered country of America, and made their home there. You remember how Raleigh claimed Virginia for England, and how later the stern Puritans sailed away in the Mayflower, and founded a new Plymouth and a New England over the sea. Little by little these colonies (as such new countries which are peopled by an old country are called) grew. Towns sprang up, harbours were built, and the colonies became a rich and powerful part of Great Britain.

In another country, called India, Britain had also possessions, and trade with India had become of great importance, and was carried on chiefly by a company called the East India Company.

But France, too had colonies in India and in America, and the French and the British became so jealous of each other that war broke out in both countries. The French were much stronger in India at this time than the British, and they made up their minds to drive the British away altogether. They might have succeeded too, but for the cleverness of a young man called Robert Clive. He was a clerk in the East India Company's office, and not a particularly good clerk either, because the work he had to do was not at all the kind of work for which he was fitted.

When war broke out Robert Clive gave up being a clerk and became a soldier, and he soon showed that he was a clever one. Some of the native Indians fought for the French and some for the British. But Clive and his sepoys, as the native soliders were called, won, and the French governor was obliged to leave the country.

A few years later, one of the native princes who had fought for the French, attacked the British who were living in Calcutta. He killed many of them, destroyed their houses and factories, and those who were left alive he shut up in a horrible prison called the Black Hole.

There were one hundred and forty-six prisoners, and the Black Hole was so small that there was hardly room in it for them to stand. The windows were so tiny that hardly any air could come through them. When the prisoners were told that they were all to go into this dreadful place they could not believe it. They thought at first that the Prince meant it as a jest. But they soon found out that it was no jest, but horrible, sinful earnest. In spite of their cries and entreaties, they were all driven in and the door fastened.

It was a hot summer night. What little air came through the tiny windows was soon poisoned by being breathed over and over again. People fainted, went mad, died. The cruel Indians held torches to the windows and, looking in, laughed at the terrible sufferings of the poor prisoners, who cried for mercy as they beat upon the door trying vainly in their agony to break it down. In the morning only twenty-three came out from the dreadful Hole alive.

When Clive heard of this horrible deed, he marched against the native Prince, and utterly defeated him in a battle called Plassey. He drove him from his throne, and placed another Prince, who was friendly to the British, upon it; he drove the French from their fortress there, and ever since then the power of Britain has grown and grown in India, until to-day our King, the King of Great Britain and Ireland, is also the Emperor of India.


Front Matter

Albion and Brutus
The Coming of the Romans
The Romans Come Again
Caligula Conquers Britain
The Story of Boadicea
The Last of the Romans
The Story of St. Alban
Vortigern and King Constans
Hengist and Horsa
Hengist's Treachery
The Giant's Dance
The Coming of Arthur
Founding of the Round Table
Gregory and the Children
King Alfred Learns to Read
Alfred and the Cowherd
More About Alfred the Great
Ethelred the Unready
Edmund Ironside
Canute and the Waves
Edward the Confessor
Harold Godwin
The Battle of Stamford Bridge
The Battle of Hastings
Hereward the Wake
Death of the King
The Story of William the Red
The Story of the "White Ship"
The Story of King Stephen
Henry II—Gilbert and Rohesia
Thomas a Becket
The Conquest of Ireland
Richard Coeur de Lion
How Blondel Found the King
The Story of Prince Arthur
The Great Charter
Henry III and Hubert de Burgh
Simon de Montfort
The Poisoned Dagger
The War of Chalons
The Lawgiver
The Hammer of the Scots
King Robert the Bruce
The Battle of Bannockburn
The Battle of Sluys
The Battle of Crecy
The Siege of Calais
The Battle of Poitiers
Wat Tyler's Rebellion
How Richard Lost His Throne
The Battle of Shrewsbury
Prince Hal Sent to Prison
The Battle of Agincourt
The Maid of Orleans
Red Rose and White
Margaret and the Robbers
The Story of the Kingmaker
A King Who Wasn't Crowned
Two Princes in the Tower
The Make-Believe Prince
Another Make-Believe Prince
The Field of the Cloth of Gold
Defender of the Faith
The Six Wives of Henry VIII
The Story of a Boy King
The Story of Lady Jane Grey
Elizabeth a Prisoner
A Candle Lit in England
Elizabeth Becomes Queen
A Most Unhappy Queen
Saved from the Spaniards
Sir Walter Raleigh
The Queen's Favourite
The Story of Guy Fawkes
The Story of the Mayflower
A Blow for Freedom
King and Parliament Quarrel
The King Brought to Death
The Adventures of a Prince
The Lord Protector
How Death Plagued London
How London was Burned
The Fiery Cross
The Story of King Monmouth
The Story of the Seven Bishops
William the Deliverer
William III and Mary II
A Sad Day in a Highland Glen
How the Union Jack was Made
Earl of Mar's Hunting Party
Bonnie Prince Charlie
Flora MacDonald
The Black Hole of Calcutta
How Canada Was Won
How America Was Lost
A Story of a Spinning Wheel
Every Man Will Do His Duty
The Battle of Waterloo
The First Gentleman in Europe
Two Peaceful Victories
The Girl Queen
When Bread was Dear
Victorian Age: Peace
Victorian Age: War
The Land of Snow
The Siege of Delhi
The Pipes at Lucknow
Under the Southern Cross
From Cannibal to Christian
Boer and Briton
List of Kings