For learning. For inspiration. Or just for fun.
All Posts (664)
Nos 181 to 190
Gustav Holst
Extracts from Literature
King George V (1910-1936)
Collateral Damage
Richard Hannay reflects on the innocent lives lost, when the lust for power or the desire for revenge makes us less than human.
By John Buchan
(1875-1940)

THAT night I realized the crazy folly of war. When I saw the splintered shell of Ypres and heard hideous tales of German doings, I used to want to see the whole land of the Boche given up to fire and sword. I thought we could never end the war properly without giving the Huns some of their own medicine.

Continue reading
No. 181
Franz Joseph Haydn
Greek and Roman Myths
Heracles and the Birds of Lake Stymphalia
Our hero is sent to deal with some man-eating birds, but cannot reach their lakeside refuge.

A COLONY of birds had once sought refuge from wolves in marshy woods around Lake Stymphalia. Artemis took them for pets, and bred them to be ferocious, with bronze beaks and poisonous dung, and sharp quills they could shoot like darts. Now they ravaged crops, carried off beasts, and devoured townspeople.

Continue reading
No. 182
Charles Villiers Stanford
Lives of the Saints
St Nicholas and the Empty Granary
The saintly Bishop helped the captain of a merchant ship to cut through the red tape, and save his town from starvation.

IN 333, Lycia suffered one of the worst famines anyone could remember. It was especially bad in Myra, where St Nicholas was bishop, and the granary at the port of Andriaca, built by the Emperor Hadrian, stood empty.

Continue reading
No. 183
Sir John Blackwood McEwen
Lives of the Saints
Anglo-Saxon Britain (410-1066)
St Cuthbert and the Phantom Fire
The Northumbrian saint warned of an enemy who would stop at nothing to silence the good news.

CUTHBERT was once addressing a crowd gathered in the street of a small Northumbrian village, when he broke off in mid flow to say:

‘Whatever happens, never let yourselves be distracted by the devil’s trickery.’

Continue reading
No. 184
Charles Villiers Stanford
Extracts from Literature
Marooned!
Jim Hawkins, on a remote desert island, has escaped pirates only to be caught by a shadowy figure among the trees.
By Robert Louis Stevenson
(1850-1894)

“WHO are you?” I asked.

“Ben Gunn,” he answered, and his voice sounded hoarse and awkward, like a rusty lock. “I’m poor Ben Gunn, I am; and I haven’t spoke with a Christian these three years.”

Continue reading
No. 185
George Frideric Handel
Discovery and Invention
Queen Victoria (1837-1901)
India’s First Railway
The opening of the Bombay to Thane line was the real beginning of British India.

AT 3.30pm on April 16th, 1853, as the band played ‘God Save the Queen’, fourteen railway carriages carrying four hundred VIPs jolted, and left Bombay for Thane. It was the opening day of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway, India’s first passenger-carrying line, and ahead were twenty-one miles of 5'6" track, which the triple-headed train gobbled up in forty-five minutes.

Continue reading
No. 186
Frank Bridge
Discovery and Invention
Queen Victoria (1837-1901)
Britain’s Best Gift to India
Samuel Smiles reminds us that until we brought the railways to India, we had little to boast about as an imperial power.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)

WHEN Edmund Burke, in 1783, arraigned the British Government for their neglect of India, he said: “England has built no bridges, made no high roads, cut no navigations, dug out no reservoirs... Were we to be driven out of India this day, nothing would remain to tell that it had been possessed, during the inglorious period of our dominion, by anything better than the ourang-outang or the tiger.” But that reproach no longer exists.

Continue reading
No. 187
2 two-part story
George Frideric Handel
Tales from the Bible
The History of Susannah
A young Jewish woman in ancient Babylon falls victim to a heartless conspiracy.

IN the days when Daniel lived in Babylon, a wealthy Jewish man named Joachim had a lovely young wife named Susannah. The Jews of Babylon often visited the couple’s gracious home and garden, and when two new Babylonian judges were appointed, they held court sessions there.

Continue reading
No. 188
John Hebden
Modern History
The Battle of Flamborough Head
An American revolutionary harassed British commercial shipping off the Yorkshire coast, with mixed results.

IN September 1779, John Paul Jones, a commander in the American Continental Navy, led a makeshift flotilla of French ships around Scotland and down into the North Sea, harassing commercial shipping as far as Bridlington.

Continue reading
No. 189
Charles Villiers Stanford
Liberty and Prosperity
Queen Victoria (1837-1901)
Life’s Infantry
However obscure a man may apparently be, his example to others inevitably shapes the future of his country.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)

THOUGH only the generals’ names may be remembered in the history of any great campaign, it has been in a great measure through the individual valour and heroism of the privates that victories have been won.

Continue reading
No. 190
Polywords (183)
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Latest: Weir
Added on Sunday January 14th, 2018
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.
From our Archive
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
A young man from the Italian city on the Adige River demonstrates that class has nothing to do with wealth.
Based on a short story by Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)
Part One. The sly cat hatches a plan to get all the benefits of domestic life without any of the responsibilities.
Wilfrid Israel used his Berlin department store as cover for smuggling thousands of Jewish children to safety in Britain.
By Elfric of Eynsham
(955-1010)
The Victorian practice of hanging sugared nuts on a Christmas tree was bursting with Biblical symbolism.
Sir Walter’s dizzy life brought him fame and fortune in dangerous places, the most dangerous of which was Court.

A to Z Index

Top Topics
History (406)
Polywords (183)
Georgian Era (111)
Fiction (84)
Quickwords (46)
Doublets (34)
Railways (23)
Triplets (23)
Stuart Era (17)
Tudor Era (11)
Adam Smith (10)
Polyword ‘Melody’
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 ‘beg’ (7 letters), and ‘a single game in the sport of darts’ (3 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with SWORD and finish with PEACE.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.