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English Language and History

The brief stories below are taken from history, myth or fiction. Each one is accompanied by games and exercises in essential grammar and free composition, based on old school textbooks.

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Why England’s ‘Revolution’ was Glorious
Music: Henry Purcell
Edmund Burke argues that England’s ‘revolution’ of 1688 worked because we changed the Government, not the Constitution.
By Edmund Burke
(1729-1797)

IN truth, the circumstances of our revolution (as it is called) and that of France, are just the reverse of each other in almost every particular, and in the whole spirit of the transaction.

With us it was the case of a legal monarch attempting arbitrary power — in France it is the case of an arbitrary monarch, beginning, from whatever cause, to legalize his authority.

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Four Posts
Man was not made for the Government
Music: Franz Joseph Haydn
Good government is not about enforcing uniform order, but about maximising liberty among a particular people.
By Edmund Burke
(1729-1797)

LIBERTY, too, must be limited in order to be possessed. The degree of restraint it is impossible in any case to settle precisely.

But it ought to be the constant aim of every wise public council to find out by cautious experiments, and rational, cool endeavours, with how little, not how much, of this restraint the community can subsist.

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There is no Liberty without Self-Control
Anti-Christian governments don’t make us free, they just impose their own, illiberal morality.
By Edmund Burke
(1729-1797)

MEN are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites, - in proportion as their love to justice is above their rapacity, - in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption, - in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves.

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A Pledge to the People
Music: John Marsh
Edmund Burke pleaded with Parliament to emerge from behind closed doors and reconnect with the British public.
By Edmund Burke
(1729-1797)

LET the commons in parliament assembled, be one and the same thing with the commons at large. Let us identify, let us incorporate ourselves with the people. At present all is troubled and cloudy, and distracted, and full of anger and turbulence, both abroad and at home: but the air may be cleared by this storm, and light and fertility may follow it.

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The Bond of Liberty
Music: John Stanley
Britain’s ‘empire’ owed its existence not to her armies or politicians but to her merchants and her unique brand of liberty.
By Edmund Burke
(1729-1797)

AS long as you have the wisdom to keep the sovereign authority of this country as the sanctuary of liberty, the sacred temple consecrated to our common faith, wherever the chosen race and sons of England worship freedom, they will turn their faces towards you. The more they multiply, the more friends you will have; the more ardently they love liberty, the more perfect will be their obedience.

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See a complete A-Z List of all the stories on this website.

Featured Topic
Tagged ‘The Blessed Virgin Mary’ (12 posts)
page 1
1 The Voice of an Angel
Based on a
Byzantine Tradition
A tenth-century Greek monk is joined by a total stranger for Mattins.
2 The Six Leaps of Faith
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
The eighth-century English bishop and poet Cynewulf explores a prophecy from the Song of Solomon.
3 At Heaven’s Gate
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
The eighth-century English bishop and poet Cynewulf takes us to the threshold of God’s holy city, and gives us a choice.
4 Annunciation
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
Cynewulf reflects on the mystery of the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Mary.
5 Candlemas
A February celebration for which the faithful have brought candles to church since Anglo-Saxon times.
6 Redeemed for Five Shillings
By Elfric of Eynsham
(955-1010)
Elfric, the tenth-century English abbot, suggests a practical way of thinking about the Presentation of Christ in the Temple.
page 2
7 Aaron’s Rod
By Elfric of Eynsham
(955-1010)
The Victorian practice of hanging sugared nuts on a Christmas tree was bursting with Biblical symbolism.
8 With Hymns and Sweet Perfumes
By
Elfric of Eynsham
Elfric imagines how the Virgin Mary went to her eternal home.
9 Stick and Carrot
Based on a
Byzantine Tradition
The Virgin Mary and her son team up to get the best out of some careless monks.
10 The Miracle of Piso Livadi
Three fishermen let their tongues run away with them, and were left counting the cost.
11 The Sacred Snakes of Kefalonia
Once a year, regular as clockwork, the little snakes slither into the convent for a Feast of the Virgin Mary.
12 The Keeper of the Gate
Based on a
Byzantine Tradition
A widow cast her precious icon into the sea rather than see it dishonoured by government agents, but that wasn’t the end of the story.
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Active or Passive?

Use each of the verbs below in either the active or the passive form. Can you use both forms?

Succeed. Like. Follow.

The unsung surveyor from Cheshire, who built railways and made friends across the world.
By William Ewart Gladstone
(1808-1898)
William Gladstone explains that a truly ‘exceptional nation’ respects the equality and rights of all nations.
By William Ewart Gladstone
(1808-1898)
William Gladstone warns voters not to leave foreign policy in the hands of interventionist politicians.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
George Stephenson won the admiration of French navvies by showing them how a Geordie works a shovel.
Cut
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Polyword ‘Gold’
Make as many words as you can with the letters below. All your words must be at least four letters long, and must also include the highlighted letter. What’s the nine-letter word?

SEE how many words you can make using the letters below. All your words must be at least 4 letters long, and must include the letter (change).

We found commonly used words, plus one 9-letter word. Can you do better?

Use each letter only once. But if there are e.g. two As, you can used them both.

Don’t count proper nouns such as April, Zeus, or Newcastle (pretty much anything that has to be spelled with a capital letter at the start), or acronyms like HMRC.

Don’t just add -S for plurals or third person singular verbs, e.g. CAT → CATS or SPEAK → SPEAKS.

Note: You can find more Polywords and other games on our Nine Lives puzzle page, and most of our stories are accompanied by games with words, grammar and numbers.

More Puzzles
Suggest opposites for these words, and illustrate them with example sentences.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with GOAT and finish with HERD.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Multiply two numbers together. See how quickly you can solve the sums.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FISH and finish with CAKE.
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
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letters game

What is the longest word you can make using these letters?

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numbers game

Work across from the number on the left, applying each arithmetical operation to the previous answer. What’s the final total?

Tip: Click any of the four inner squares to check your running total.

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