A Child's History of England

A Child's History of England is a book by Charles Dickens which appeared first in serial form in Household Words, running from January 25, 1851 to December 10, 1853. It was published in three-volume book form from 1852 to 1854.

  • When the people found that they were none the better for the blessings of the Druids, and none the worse for the curses of the Druids, but, that the sun shone and the rain fell without consulting the Druids at all, they just began to think that the Druids were mere men, and that it signified very little whether they cursed or blessed. After which, the pupils of the Druids fell greatly off in numbers, and the Druids took to other trades.
    • Ch. I: Ancient England and the Romans
  • Some became Crusaders for the love of change; some, in the hope of plunder; some, because they had nothing to do at home; some, because they did what the priests told them; some, because they liked to see foreign countries; some, because they were fond of knocking men about, and would as soon knock a Turk about as a Christian.
  • Courtiers are not only eager to laugh when the King laughs, but they really do enjoy a laugh against a Favourite.
  • In the year of our Lord one thousand one hundred and eighty-nine, Richard of the Lion Heart succeeded to the throne of King Henry the Second, whose paternal heart he had done so much to break. He had been, as we have seen, a rebel from his boyhood; but, the moment he became a king against whom others might rebel, he found out that rebellion was a great wickedness. In the heat of this pious discovery, he punished all the leading people who had befriended him against his father. He could scarcely have done anything that would have been a better instance of his real nature, or a better warning to fawners and parasites not to trust in lion-hearted princes.
    • Ch. XIII: England under Richard the First, Called the Lion-Heart
  • King Richard... was a strong, restless, burly man, with one idea always in his head, and that the very troublesome idea of breaking the heads of other men.
    • Ch. XIII: England under Richard the First, Called the Lion-Heart
  • So fell Wat Tyler. Fawners and flatterers made a mighty triumph of it, and set up a cry which will occasionally find an echo to this day. But Wat was a hard-working man, who had suffered much, and had been foully outraged; and it is probable that he was a man of a much higher nature and a much braver spirit than any of the parasites who exulted then, or have exulted since, over his defeat.
  • There were two Popes at this time (as if one were not enough!), and their quarrels involved Europe in a great deal of trouble.
    • Ch. XIX: England under Richard the Second
  • It is much easier to burn men than to burn their opinions.
  • War is a dreadful thing; and it is appalling to know how the English were obliged, next morning, to kill those prisoners mortally wounded, who yet writhed in agony upon the ground; how the dead upon the French side were stripped by their own countrymen and countrywomen, and afterwards buried in great pits; how the dead upon the English side were piled up in a great barn, and how their bodies and the barn were all burned together. It is in such things, and in many more much too horrible to relate, that the real desolation and wickedness of war consist. Nothing can make war otherwise than horrible. But the dark side of it was little thought of and soon forgotten; and it cast no shade of trouble on the English people, except on those who had lost friends or relations in the fight. They welcomed their King home with shouts of rejoicing, and plunged into the water to bear him ashore on their shoulders, and flocked out in crowds to welcome him in every town through which he passed, and hung rich carpets and tapestries out of the windows, and strewed the streets with flowers, and made the fountains run with wine, as the great field of Agincourt had run with blood.
    • Ch. XXI: England under Henry the Fifth: First Part
  • When men unnaturally fight against their own countrymen, they are always observed to be more unnaturally cruel and filled with rage than they are against any other enemy.
  • We now come to King Henry the Eighth, whom it has been too much the fashion to call ‘Bluff King Hal,’ and ‘Burly King Harry,’ and other fine names; but whom I shall take the liberty to call, plainly, one of the most detestable villains that ever drew breath.
    • Ch. XXVII: England under Henry the Eighth, Called Bluff King Hal and Burly King Harry
  • The Queen was very popular, and in her progresses, or journeys about her dominions, was everywhere received with the liveliest joy. I think the truth is, that she was not half so good as she has been made out, and not half so bad as she has been made out. She had her fine qualities, but she was coarse, capricious, and treacherous, and had all the faults of an excessively vain young woman long after she was an old one.
    • Ch. XXXI: England under Elizabeth: Third Part
  • On the anniversary of the late King’s death, the bodies of Oliver Cromwell, Ireton, and Bradshaw, were torn out of their graves in Westminster Abbey, dragged to Tyburn, hanged there on a gallows all day long, and then beheaded. Imagine the head of Oliver Cromwell set upon a pole to be stared at by a brutal crowd, not one of whom would have dared to look the living Oliver in the face for half a moment!
  • The Fire was a great blessing to the City afterwards, for it arose from its ruins very much improved — built more regularly, more widely, more cleanly and carefully, and therefore much more healthily. It might be far more healthy than it is, but there are some people in it still — even now, at this time, nearly two hundred years later — so selfish, so pig-headed, and so ignorant, that I doubt if even another Great Fire would warm them up to do their duty.
    • Ch. XXXV: England under Charles the Second, Called the Merry Monarch

External linksEdit

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Last modified on 19 September 2009, at 18:22