50. Victoria, A.D. 1860—1872
One more chapter, which, however, does not finish the history of good Queen Victoria, and these Stories of the History of England will be over.
All the nation rejoiced very much when the queen's eldest son, Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales, married Alexandra, daughter to the king of Denmark. Her father and mother brought her to England, and the prince met her on board ship in the mouth of the Thames; and there was a most beautiful and joyous procession through London. When they were married the next day, in St. George's Chapel at Windsor, the whole of England made merry, and there were bonfires on every hill, and illuminations in every town, so that the whole island was glowing with brightness all that Spring evening.
There is a country in Abyssinia, south of Egypt. The people there are Christians, but they have had very little to do with other nations, and have grown very dull and half savage; indeed they have many horrid and disgusting customs, and have forgotten all the teaching that would have made them better. Of late years there had been some attempt to wake them up and teach them; and they had a clever king named Theodore, who seemed pleased and willing to improve himself and his nation. He allowed missionaries to come and try to teach his people what Christianity means a little better than they knew before, and invited skilled workmen to come and teach his people. They came; but not long after Theodore was affronted by the English Government, and shut them all up in prison. Messages were sent to insist upon his releasing them, but he did not attend or understand; and at last an army was sent to land on the coast from the east, under General Napier, and march to his capital, which was called Magdala, and stood on a hill.
General Napier managed so well that there was no fighting on the road. He came to the gates of Magdala, and threatened to fire upon it if the prisoners were not given up to him. He waited till the time was up, and then caused his troops to begin the attack. The Abyssinians fled away, and close by one of the gates Theodore was found lying dead, shot through. No one is quite sure whether one of his servants killed him treacherously, or whether he killed himself in his rage and despair. England did not try to keep Abyssinia though it was conquered; but it was left to the royal family whom Theodore had turned out, and Theodore's little son, about five years old, was brought to England; but, as he could not bear the cold winter, he was sent to a school in India.
This, which was in the year 1868, was the last war the English have had. There has been fighting all round and about in Europe, especially a great war between France and Prussia in 1870; but the only thing the English had to do with that, was the sending out of doctors and nurses, with all the good things for sick people that could be thought of, to take care of all the poor wounded on both sides, and lessen their suffering as much as possible. They all wore red crosses on their sleeves, and put up a red-cross flag over the houses where they were taking care of the sick and wounded, and then no one on either side fired upon them.
An Act of Parliament has given the right to vote, at the election of the House of Commons, to much poorer men than used to have it. It is to be hoped that they will learn to use wisely this power of helping to choose those who make the laws and govern the country. To give them a better chance of doing so, a law has been made that no child shall be allowed to grow up without any teaching at all, but that those who are too poor to pay for their own schooling shall be paid for by the State, and that their parents shall be obliged to send them. The great thing is to learn to know and do one's duty. If one only learns to be clever with one's head, without trying to be good at the same time, it is of very little use. But I hope you will try to mind your duty—first to God and then to man; and if you do that, God will prosper you and bless you.