| 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 VI. OF SCOTLAND, I. OF ENGLAND—THE STORY OF GUY FAWKES
 FOR hundreds of years the kings of England had tried to
conquer Scotland, and make Scotland and England one kingdom
under one king. Many dreadful battles had been fought, many
brave people had been killed. The Scots had lost many
battles, but they had never been conquered, and at last the
kings of England had almost given up hope of ever being able
to conquer them. But now, what they had longed for, and
fought for in vain, happened quite quietly and naturally,
although not at all in the way that they had expected.
Instead of an English King conquering and ruling over
Scotland, a Scottish King came to rule over England.
Elizabeth Tudor, Queen of England, being dead, James Stuart,
King of Scotland, was the rightful heir to the throne.
James VI. of Scotland was the son of the beautiful and
unhappy Mary, Queen of Scots; was descended from Margaret
Tudor, the sister of Henry VIII., and was Elizabeth's
nearest relative. At the Queen's death there was no man nor
woman left in England who had any right to the throne, so
the English sent to Scotland and asked the Scottish King to
come to be their King too.
 He came, and since 1603 A.D., England and Scotland have
formed one kingdom with Wales and Ireland.
So now we will talk no longer of England but of Britain, for
long ago the old hatred has been forgotten, and we are all
James had been King of Scotland for many years before he
became King of England too. He was a very little boy when he
was first made King, and Scotland had been ruled by a
Regent. James had been carefully taught, but unfortunately
his teachers had thought more of making him clever, than of
teaching him things which would have made him a great ruler.
Some people called him the "British Solomon," but because he
was such a mixture of wisdom and foolishness he has also
been called the "Wisest fool in Christendom."
Although his mother, Queen Mary, was a Roman Catholic, James
had been brought up a Protestant. The English Roman
Catholics thought however that, in memory of his mother,
James would be kinder to them than Elizabeth had been.
Elizabeth had not burned and tortured the Roman Catholics as
her sister Mary had burned and tortured the Protestants,
still they were not quite kindly treated. They had not equal
rights with the Protestants, and were sometimes looked down
The Roman Catholics soon found out that James had no
intention of being kind to them, and they became very angry.
So angry did they become that they formed a plot to kill the
King and all the chief Protestants in the country. Having
done this, they intended to place James's little daughter,
Elizabeth, upon the throne, and make Britain a Roman
Catholic country once more.
Princess Elizabeth was, of course, being brought up
 as a
Protestant, but she was such a little girl that the
Catholics knew she would only be a make-believe queen. Until
she grew up, the country would really be ruled by the
Catholic gentlemen, and meantime they would have time, they
thought, to teach her to be a Roman Catholic.
The first thing to be done was to kill the King and all the
chief Protestant gentlemen. To do this the conspirators, as
the people who form a plot are called, thought of a very
dreadful plan. They decided to wait until Parliament was
sitting, until the King and all his wise men were gathered
together in one place, and then they would blow them up with
Underneath the Houses of Parliament there were cellars.
These cellars were let to merchants and other people who
wished to store goods. It was quite easy for the
conspirators to rent one of these cellars, and into it they
carried thirty-six barrels of gunpowder.
Besides the gunpowder, sticks and firewood were piled into
the cellars by the conspirators. This was done partly to
hide the barrels, and partly, no doubt, to help to burn the
Houses of Parliament when they were set on fire. Nobody paid
much attention to the barrels as they were being taken in,
and nobody thought of asking with what they were filled.
For a year and a half the plot went on. Very few people knew
of it, and those who did were bound by an oath never to talk
of it. They met secretly at night, speaking only in
At last everything was ready. Guy Fawkes, one of the most
fearless of the band, was chosen for the most difficult and
dangerous part. He was to set fire to the gunpowder. Having
done so, he meant to try to escape, but if he could not, he
was quite ready to die
 in what he thought was a good cause.
The day was fixed for the 5th of November, when Parliament
would be opened.
A gentleman, called Francis Tresham, had joined the plot. He
had a friend, a Roman Catholic nobleman, who was sure to be
among the lords who would attend this Parliament.
Tresham could not bear to think of his friend being killed,
so he wrote a letter to him in a disguised hand, warning him
not to go to this Parliament. "My lord," said the letter,
"out of the love I bear to some of your friends, I have a
care for your life. Therefore, I advise you, if you love
your life, to make some excuse so that you need not go to
this Parliament. God and man are agreed to punish the
wickedness of this time. Do not think lightly of this
warning, but go away into the country where you may be safe.
For, although there is no sign of any stir, yet, I say, they
shall receive a terrible blow this Parliament, and yet they
shall not see who hurts them."
Tresham's friend was very much disturbed by this letter. He
took it to Lord Salisbury, who took it to the King.
The King, who was afterwards very proud of his cleverness,
said that the terrible blow which was to be given, without
the person being seen, must mean "gunpowder." It was clever
of the King to think of this, but some people say that
Salisbury had already found out about the plot, and perhaps
he put the idea of gunpowder into the King's head.
About midnight, on the 4th of Novemeber, the day before
Parliament was to meet, the cellars under the Houses were
searched. With hushed voices, drawn swords, and dim
lanterns, the searchers moved from
 cellar to cellar. All
seemed empty, silent and dark, till in a far corner, a faint
light was seen, and near it the dark figure and pale face of
STERN MEN WITH DRAWN SWORDS CLOSED IN UPON HIM.
In a moment they were upon him. He tried to defend himself,
but it was useless. Stern men with drawn swords closed in
upon him, and he was soon a prisoner.
He could not deny his guilt. Round him were the barrels; in
his pockets were those things which he needed to set fire to
the gunpowder. He knew he must die. "Oh, would I had been
quicker," he said, "would I had set fire to the powder.
Death would have been sweet had some of my enemies gone with
Guy Fawkes was taken to the Tower. In the cruel manner of
those days he was tortured to make him tell the names of the
others who were with him in the plot. But Guy Fawkes was
very brave, although he was wrong, and he would not tell.
The others, seeing that part of their plot had failed, hoped
still to succeed in gaining possession of the Princess
Elizabeth. So they hastily rode to the country house where
she was living.
But part of the gunpowder which they took with them was set
on fire and exploded by accident. It hurt some, and
frightened all of them, for they thought that it was a
punishment sent upon them because of what they had intended
to do to others.
The Roman Catholics in the country did not rise to help the
conspirators as they had expected, and soon all hope of
success was lost. The chief of the conspirators were seized,
and were put to death, along with Guy Fawkes.
After this the Protestants hated the Roman Catholics more
than ever, and their lives were made very hard.
 There was great rejoicing at the discovery of the plot.
Bells rang, and bonfires blazed, and even now, after three
hundred years, the day is not forgotten. On the 5th of
November people still have fireworks, and bonfires on which
they burn a figure made of straw and old clothes, which is
meant to represent Guy Fawkes.
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