All Posts (649)
Nos 211 to 220
2 two-part story
John Marsh
Stories in Short
The Knight’s Tale
Two noble youths of ancient Thebes fall for the same princess.
Based on the story by Geoffrey Chaucer
(?1343-1400)

ONCE upon a time, some widowed noblewomen begged Theseus, King of Athens, to avenge the death of their husbands by sacking the city of Thebes. Theseus obliged, and captured two wounded Theban youths, Arcite and Palamon, whom he imprisoned in Athens.

One day Emily, the Queen’s sister, passed by their prison. Arcite fell hopelessly in love with her on first sight, and his sighs brought Palamon to the window.

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No. 211
William Boyce
Character and Conduct
Sweet and Sour
The great Dr Johnson argues that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
By Samuel Johnson
(1709-1784)

THAT a precept of courtesy is by no means unworthy of the gravity and dignity of an apostolical mandate, may be gathered from the pernicious effects which all must have observed to have arisen from harsh strictness and sour virtue; such as refuses to mingle in harmless gaiety, or give countenance to innocent amusements, or which transacts the petty business of the day with a gloomy ferociousness that clouds existence.

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No. 212
Nikolai Medtner
Lives of the Saints
St Nicholas the Wet
Two frantic parents implore St Nicholas’s help in rescuing their baby boy.

IN the year 1091, a man took his wife and their baby son from Kiev to Vyshgorod a few miles up the River Dnieper for the feast of St Boris and St Gleb on July 24th.

On the return journey, the little boy’s mother dozed off in the boat, and her child fell into the river. After a long but fruitless search, the desolate parents went home praying fervently to St Nicholas.

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No. 213
Albert Ketèlbey
Poets and Poetry
Ring out the Old, Ring in the New
For Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Christmas was a time to let the dead past bury its dead.
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson
(1809-1892)

RING out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

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No. 214
2 two-part story
Charles Villiers Stanford
Sir Francis Drake
The Voyage of ‘Golden Hinde’
Elizabethan adventurer Sir Francis Drake combined sailing round the world with really annoying the King of Spain.

IT was no secret in Elizabeth I’s reign that King Philip of Spain coveted her crown.

He had never understood why it passed from his late wife, Mary, to her half-sister Elizabeth and not to him, and he resented Elizabeth giving refuge to dissidents fleeing bloody persecution in the Spanish Netherlands.

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No. 215
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Poets and Poetry
Christmas Bells
The sounds of an English country Christmas helped Tennyson in his deep mourning for an old friend.
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson
(1809-1892)

THE time draws near the birth of Christ:
The moon is hid; the night is still;
The Christmas bells from hill to hill
Answer each other in the mist.

Each voice four changes on the wind,
That now dilate, and now decrease,
Peace and goodwill, goodwill and peace,
Peace and goodwill, to all mankind.

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No. 216
Jan Ladislav Dussek
Mediaeval History
Wenceslaus: A Life for a Life
The murder of the ‘good king Wenceslas’ led to a flowering of Christian faith in Europe.

WENCESLAUS succeeded his father Vratislaus as Duke of Bohemia in 921, aged thirteen. At once, his mother Drahomíra reverted to pagan ways, and ruthlessly nullified the influence of her saintly mother-in-law, Ludmilla, by having her strangled.

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No. 217
Charles Villiers Stanford
Sport History
How Britain Brought Football to Chile
British expats in Valparaíso kicked off the Chilean passion for soccer.

DAVID Foxley Newton founded a football club in Cerro Alegre, Valparaíso, in 1909, which he named ‘Everton’ after the prestigious team from Liverpool back home.

Newton’s forebears had moved to Chile after Britain established a trading base in Valparaíso in 1826, and other British-heritage Chileans introduced football there shortly before the civil war of 1891.

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No. 218
John Playford
Mediaeval History
Gytha and Vladimir
Scandinavian tradition says that the daughter of King Harold was consort to one the great rulers of Kievan Rus’.

IN 862, just before the Great Heathen Army landed in England, the Scandinavian people known as the Rus’ settled in Novgorod and in Kiev. Yaroslav the Wise later united the two realms at Kiev, and his grandson Vladimir II Monomakh inherited the Kievan throne in 1113.

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No. 219
Muzio Clementi
Liberty and Prosperity
A Little Common Sense
William Pitt the Elder doubts the wisdom of letting experts run the country.
By William Pitt the Elder
(1708-1778)

THERE is one plain maxim, to which I have invariably adhered through life; that in every question, in which my liberty or my property were concerned, I should consult and be determined by the dictates of common sense.

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No. 220
Polywords (182)
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Latest: Path
Added on Monday December 11th, 2017
Doublets (34)
Turn one word into another, changing just one letter each time.
Latest: Stardust
Quickwords (46)
A mini-crossword of everyday vocabulary and general knowledge.
Triplets (23)
Find one common letter that will turn three words into three new ones.
Latest: Triplet No. 23
Guess these words letter by letter – before the cats are gone!
See how ingenious you can be in combining three randomly chosen words in one sentence.
Compose sentences showing the difference in meaning, grammar or usage between these words.
Practise your basic arithmetic, from multiplation tables to percentages.
Latest: Target Number
Take command of English grammar and composition with these traditional exercises.
Latest: Letters Game
A word search game with a dash of strategy.
Today in History
1878 The death of Alfred Bird, Birmingham pharmacist and confectioner
From our Archive
By John Locke
(1632-1704)
Some people are not more equal than others, nor are they entitled to more liberty.
The British encountered no stouter resistance in India than Mysore’s gifted commmander Hyder Ali and his son, Tipu.
King Philip V of Spain sent a second Spanish Armada against Britain, but it suffered much the same fate as the first.
The inhuman cruelty of the Nawab of Bengal’s men brought swift retribution on their master.
When Harrison won the Longitude Prize, fair and square, Parliament wouldn’t pay up.

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Polyword ‘Dune’
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.

More Word Games
A word search game with a dash of strategy.
Guess these words letter by letter – before the cats are gone!
Do you know ‘warm covering’ (7 letters), and ‘2,240 lb’ (3 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with MILE and finish with POST.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.