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two months they should hold possession of
the city of London, and Stephen Langton of
the Tower; and that five-and-twenty of their
body, chosen by themselves, should be a
lawful committee to watch the keeping of
the charter, and to make war upon him if he
broke it.

All this he was obliged to yield. He signed
the charter with a smile, and, if he could
have looked agreeable, would have done so,
as he departed from the splendid assembly.
When he got home to Windsor Castle, he was
quite a madman in his helpless fury. And
he broke the charter immediately afterwards,

He sent abroad for foreign soldiers, and
sent to the Pope for help, and plotted to take
London by surprise, while the Barons should
be holding a great tournament at Stamford,
which they had agreed to hold there as a
celebration of the charter. The Barons, however,
found him out and put it off. Then, when
the Barons desired to see him and tax him
with his treachery, he made numbers of
appointments with them, and kept none, and
shifted from place to place, and was constantly
sneaking and skulking about. At last he
appeared at Dover, to join his foreign soldiers
of whom numbers came into his pay; and
with them he besieged and took Rochester
Castle, which was occupied by knights and
soldiers of the Barons. He would have
hanged them every one; but the leader of
the foreign soldiers, fearful of what the
English people might afterwards do to him,
interfered to save the knights; therefore the
King was fain to satisfy his vengeance with
the death of all the common men. Then, he
sent the Earl of Salisbury, with one portion
of his army, to ravage the eastern part of
his own dominions, while he carried fire and
slaughter into the northern part; torturing,
plundering, killing, and inflicting every
possible cruelty upon the people; and, every
morning, setting a worthy example to his
men by setting tire, with his own monsterhands,
to the house where he had slept last
night. Nor was this all; for, the Pope,
coming to the aid of his precious friend, laid
the kingdom under an Interdict again, because
the people took part with the Barons. It did
not much matter, for the people had grown
so used to it now, that they had begun to
think about it. It occurred to them
perhaps to Stephen Laugtontoo that they could
keep their churches open, and ring their bells,
without the Pope's permission as well as with
it. So, they tried the experiment and found
that it succeeded perfectly.

It being now impossible to bear the country,
as a wilderness of cruelty, or longer to hold
any terms with such a forsworn outlaw of a
King, the Barons sent to Louis, son of the
French monarch, to offer him the English
crown. Caring as little for the Pope's
excommunication of him if he accepted the offer, as
it is possible his father may have cared for
the Pope's forgiveness of his sins, he landed
at Sandwich (King John immediately running
away from Dover, where he happened to be)
and went on to London. The Scottish King,
with whom many of the Northern English
Lords had taken refuge; numbers of the
foreign soldiers, numbers of the Barons, and
numbers of the people; went over to him
every dayKing John, the while, continually
running away in all directions. The career
of Louis was checked, however, by the
suspicions of the Barons, founded on the
dying declaration of a French Lord, that
when the kingdom was conquered he was
sworn to banish them as traitors, and to give
their estates to some of his own Nobles.
Rather than suffer this, some of the Barons
hesitated: others even went over to King

It seemed to be the turning point of King
John's fortunes, for, in his savage and
murderous course, he had now taken some towns
and met with some successes. But, happily
for England and humanity, his death was near.
Crossing a dangerous quicksand, called the
Wash, not very far from Wisbeach, the tide
came up and nearly drowned his army. He
and his soldiers escaped; but, looking back
from the shore when he was safe, he saw the
roaring water sweep down in a torrent, overturn
the wagons, horses, and men, that carried
his treasure, and engulf them in a raging
whirlpool from which nothing could be

Cursing, and swearing, and gnawing his
fingers, he went on to Swinestead Abbey,
where the monks set before him quantities of
pears, and peaches, and new cidersome say
poison too, but there is very little reason to
suppose soof which he ate and drunk in an
immoderate and beastly way. All night, he
lay ill of a burning fever, and haunted with
horrible fears. Next day, they put him in a
horse-litter, and carried him to Sleaford
Castle, where he passed another night of pain
and horror. Next day, they carried him,
with greater difficulty than on the day before,
to the castle of Newark-upon-Trent; and
there, on the eighteenth of October, in the
forty-ninth year of his age, and the seventeenth
of his vile reign, was an end of this
miserable brute.

Now Ready, price 2d.,

Also, Price 3s. 6d.,
To be completed in three Volumes, of the same size and price.
Collected and Revised from "Household "Words,"
With a Table of Dates.

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