| Our Island Story|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|A child's history of England from earliest legendary times delightfully retold. Beginning with the stories of Albion and Brutus, it relates all the interesting legends and hero tales in which the history of England abounds through the end of the reign of Queen Victoria. Ages 9-12 |
JAMES II. OF ENGLAND AND VII. OF SCOTLAND—THE FIERY CROSS
 WHEN Charles II. died, he left no sons who might succeed him,
so his brother James, Duke of York, came to the throne.
James was a Roman Catholic. During the reign of Charles
II., an Act had been passed forbidding
Roman Catholics to hold
any public office. Yet in spite of this law, James was made
James promised that he would not hurt the Protestant
churches. He allowed a bishop of the Church of England to
crown him, but part of the coronation service was
missed—that part at which the King used to receive a Bible and be
told to read and believe it.
The new King's cruel character soon began to show itself. By
his orders and in the name of religion, Claverhouse
continued to murder and torture the Scots in most terrible
ways because they refused again to accept the teaching of
the English Church. More wicked still, in England, a man
called Chief-Justice Jeffreys, by his cruelties made for
himself a name which has never been forgotten. He was a
monster; an ogre more fierce and terrible than in any fairy
But James was not allowed to take possession of the kingdom
without a struggle. In Holland, numbers of Protestants who
had been driven out of Britain in the reign of Charles
II. were gathered together. They felt
 that now was the time to
return and fight, for they knew that many of their fellow
countrymen must hate a Catholic King.
One of these exiled Protestants, a brave Scotchman called
the Earl of Argyle, agreed to raise an army in Scotland, and
an English noble, called the Duke of Monmouth, agreed to
raise one in England. Monmouth thought that he had a better
right to the throne than James, and with the help of Argyle
he hoped to be able to drive James from the throne and
become King himself. The English people knew and loved
Monmouth, and indeed during the life of Charles, there had
been a plot to set him upon the throne.
When everything was arranged, the Earl of Argyle sailed from
Holland with his little band of followers, and landed in
Scotland. He was one of the most powerful of the Scottish
nobles. Although, when he had fled from the country in the
reign of Charles, the King had taken his land and money from
him, he knew that he could trust to his clan to rise and
follow him as soon as he returned.
In those days there were no telegraphs and no postmen. There
were even few roads among the wild Highlands of Scotland and
few people could read. So when a chief had need of his men
he gathered them by means of a sign which all could
understand. This sign was the Fiery Cross.
A rough cross was made from the wood of a yew-tree. The ends
of this cross were set alight and afterwards the flames were
put out by being dipped in the blood of a goat. The chief
with his own hands then solemnly gave the cross to a swift
runner. This man took it and ran as swiftly as he could to
the next village. When the men of this village saw the Fiery
Cross, they said, "Our chief
 has need of us," and they at
once prepared for battle, while the Fiery Cross was put into
the hands of another swift runner, who carried it over hill
and glen to the next village.
On and on it went through all the countryside, the men in
each village and farmhouse understanding what was needed of
them and, without a word, gathering to their chief.
So it was that the Clan Campbell gathered round their
chieftain Mac Callum More, as they loved to call Argyle.
But although the Earl's men were loyal to him, those who had
come from Holland with him to serve as his captains would
not agree and would not obey. Their foolish jealousy of
their leader was so great that his army became disheartened
and was scattered almost before there had been any real
The Earl was once more forced to flee. Dressed as a peasant
and followed by only one faithful friend he tried to escape.
But as they were crossing a little river they were seized by
some of the King's soldiers. The Earl to save himself sprang
into the water, but the soldiers followed him. He was armed
only with pistols, and in his spring into the water the
powder had been wet and they would not fire. He was struck
to the ground and taken prisoner.
When Argyle saw that it was useless to struggle any more he
called out, "I am the Earl of Argyle." He knew what a great
name his was, and he hoped that even the King's soldiers
would tremble before it and let him go.
But his name could not save him, and he was led a prisoner
to Edinburgh. There the judges tried in vain to make him
tell who were with him in the rebellion. He would not tell
and he was condemned to death. Bravely
 and calmly he met his
fate. One of the last things he did was to write to his
"Dear Heart,—Forgive me all my faults; and now comfort
thyself in Him in whom only true comfort is to be found. The
Lord be with thee, bless and comfort thee, my dearest.—
On his grave were carved some lines which he himself wrote
the day before he died.
Although Argyle had refused to give the names of the other
leaders of the rebellion, many were seized and beheaded. To
one of them James said, "You had better be frank with me.
You know it is in my power to pardon you."
"It may be in
your power, sire," replied the man, "but it is not in your
nature." The man was right; James never forgave.
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