The Courage of the Crisis


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The Victoria CrossThe Victoria Cross – Everybody knows that the Victoria Cross is the supreme reward which England gives for distinguished valor on the field of battle.  But this reward is not given to the man who simply does his duty, even in the face of death. Every man is expected to do his duty.  When a man goes out of his way to do a splendid thing which he did not need to do, and does it splendidly, he wins the  Victoria Cross. 

This man’s father won the cross in the Sepoy Rebellion at the siege of Chunderi.  Chunderi was a stout and moated fortress.  The stones of its walls were twelve feet thick, and the water of its moat was twelve feet deep.  And in this fortress, when the Indian Mutiny began, were English women and children.  And they had to be got out. 

Now, this man’s father had gone fishing in the moat of Chunderi and had found a place where the moat was partly filled with rubbish, so that in that place the water was only two feet deep instead of twelve.  And he volunteered to lead a company of soldiers over the moat against the walls.  And this he did successfully. Over they went, in the face of the guns of the garrison, and scaled the walls and took the fort.  And he was given the Victoria Cross.  But that which especially interested me was this: The hero wrote a book for the reading of his grandchildren, containing the story of his life.  And in this book of eighty printed pages he gave to the adventure of the Victoria Cross just two lines, about twenty words, the length of two frugal telegrams;  while he gave some twenty pages to the record of his administrative work as governor of one of the central provinces of India.  There, you see, is the same thing over again. The emphasis is put, as in the word of God to the captain of the host of Israel, and as in the answer of the Lord to the question of the rich young ruler, upon the common life. 

The contrast is between two kinds of courage: the courage of the crisis and the courage of the commonplace.  The hero gives twenty words to the courage of the crisis, and twenty pages to the courage of the commonplace.

Excerpt from The Columbia University Quarterly – 1906

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Sir Charles Lyttelton


Sir Charles Littleton – Governor and founder of the first town of Port Royal Jamaica in 1662

LYTTELTON or LITTLETON, Sir CHARLES (1629 – 1716), governor of Jamaica, born in 1629, was a younger son of Sir Thomas Lyttelton (1696-1650) q. v., first baronet, of Frankley, Worcestershire. He was a subaltern in the royal forces at the defence of Colchester against the parliamentarians in June-August 1648, and after the surrender escaped to France.   On 25 Oct. 1650 he was appointed cupbearer to Charles II.  He returned to England about 1659, and joined prominently in the rising in Cheshire that year, under Sir George Booth q. v. Lyttelton was committed to the Gatehouse, Westminster, on the warrant of the Lord Protector (Richard Cromwell), but was soon set at liberty.  He appears to have been employed on various secret missions between the king and his friends in England about the time of the Restoration (Carte, vol. ii.).  In December 1661 he received 600l ‘as a free gift’.

In 1662 Lyttelton was knighted and went to Jamaica as lieutenant-governor with Lord Windsor, and on the return of the latter to England succeeded him as governor.  He founded the first town of Port Royal, destroyed by the earthquake in 1692, and summoned the first legislative assembly, ‘fairly and indifferently drawn by the votes of all the inhabitants,’ which met at St. Jago de la Vega, now Spanish Town, 24 Jan. 1664. He left the island in May of the same year.  On 5 Nov. 1664 he was appointed major, with a company, and on 18 July 1665 lieutenant-colonel in the lord admirals regiment. This was the yellow-coated ‘maritime’ regiment, which was the precursor of the marine forces, and ranked as the 3rd foot. Twenty-three years later its place was filled by the Holland regiment or buffs.

Lyttelton’s company, which arrived at Portsmouth in November 1664, is described at containing ‘some very sightly men, who will do good service when used to the sea’ (State Paper, Dom. cv. 60).  On 6 April 1666 a warrant from Monck, duke of Albemarle, directs the payment to Lyttelton of 218l 5s. for 606 privates at 8l, twenty-one corporals and one drummer at 1l., and seven sergeants at 1s. 6d., lately brought from Ireland.

Excerpts taken from The Dictionary of National Biography – Volume 12 – 1909

The Earthquake at Port Royal Jamaica


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Encyclopedia of Latin America – 1917

 Port Royal Jamacia 1902Port Royal – That town, once a place of great wealth and importance, was ruined by repeated calamities.  “On 7 June 1692 happened that earthquake which swallowed up a great part of  Port Royal,” says Edwards, who explains that the town “was chiefly built on a bank of sand, adhering to a rock in the sea, and a very slight concussion, aided by the weight of the buildings, would probably have accomplished its destruction.  “Hurricanes in 1712 and 1722, and a conflagration 13 July 1815, completed the work of obliteration.

Toward the close of the 18th Century the island was occupied by large plantations, and was exceedingly productive.   Before that time 610,000 slaves had been landed at Port Royal.  The freeing of the negroes resulted in the abandonment of the island by many landlords.  The effort to regain the lost prosperity through diversified agriculture has already been mentioned.  In August 1903 a hurricane inflicted great injury at several points in Jamaica, and on the Cayman Islands. On 14 Jan. 1907 Jamaica was visited by a disastrous earthquake which (“in ten seconds,” Treves says) almost entirely destroyed Kingston.

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Martin Luther writes to Henry VIII

The Life and Letters of Martin Luther

by Reserved Smith PH.D. 1911

Martin Luthers Letter to Henry VIII – September 1, 1525

September 1 he dispatched the following missive:

Wittenberg, September 1, 1525.

Grace and peace in Christ, our Lord and Saviour.  Amen.  Indeed, Most Serene and Illustrious King, I ought greatly to fear to address your Majesty in a letter, as I am fully aware that your Majesty is deeply offended at my pamphlet, which I published foolishly and precipitately, not of my own motion but at the hest of certain men who are not your Majesty’s friends.  But daily seeing your royal clemency, I take hope and courage; I will not believe that a mortal can cherish immortal hatred.  I have learned from credible authority that the book published over your Majesty’s name was not written by your Majesty, but by crafty men of guile who abused your name, especially by that monster detested of God and man, that pest of your kingdom, Cardinal Wolsey.  They did not see the danger of humiliating their king.  I am ashamed to raise my eyes to your Majesty because I allowed myself to be moved by this despicable work of malignant intriguers, especially as I am the offscouring of the world, a mere worm who ought only to live in contemptuous neglect.

What impels me to write, abject as I am, is that your Majesty has begun to favor the Evangelic cause and to feel disgust at the abandoned men who oppose us.  This news was a true gospel ie: tidings of great joy to my heart;  If your Serene Majesty wishes me to recant publicly and write in honor of your Majesty, will you graciously signify your wish to me and I will gladly do so….

Your Majesty’s most devoted,
MARTIN LUTHER, with his own hand.

Henry VIII

This letter naturally did no good.  Indeed, though Luther was certainly sincere in his desire to conciliate, he never displayed greater lack of tact than in dispraising the King’s book and favorite minister.  After a long delay, Henry replied in a fiercer work than before, printing Luther’s missive with mocking comments, and taunting him with having caused the Peasants’ Revolt and with living in wantonness with a nun.

The King sent his epistle, which reached the proportions of a small book, to Duke George, and it was promptly published in Germany at his instigation under the title, ‘Luther’s Offer to Recant in a letter to the King of England.’

Diet of Worms

The Diet of Worms from

The Life and Letters of Martin Luther

by Reserved Smith PH.D. 1911

Martin Luther etching 1521

The DIET OF WORMS. 1521 From Cologne Charles V proceeded to Mayence and thence to Worms, where he was about to open his first diet. The varied programme of the national assembly included the drafting of a constitution for the Empire and the formulation of grievances against the tyranny of the Roman hierarchy.  It could hardly hope to avoid the religious question then agitating the whole nation, but the unprecedented course of summoning the heretic to answer before the representatives of his nation was not decided on until after the estates had been sitting for a month.

Luther himself, in appealing to the Emperor, did not expect to be called before the Diet; he hoped to be allowed to defend his doctrines before a specially appointed tribunal of able and impartial theologians.  This plan was pressed quietly but vigorously by Erasmus, the foremost living man of letters.  Besides his action in urging Frederic to insist on such a trial for his subject, the great humanist had, at Cologne, handed to the counsellors of the Emperor a short memorial, Advice of One heartily wishing the Peace of the Church, proposing the appointment of such a commission.  He partly won over the Emperor’s confessor, Glapion, but Chievres and Gattinara, the real powers behind the imperial throne, remained in opposition.   A little later at Worms, John Faber, a Dominican friar, came forward with a similar plan, composed with the help of Erasmus.

Such a solution of the difficulty would have been most distasteful to the Curia.  Regarding the Wittenberg professor’s opinions as res adjudicates, the Romanists saw no reason for giving him a chance to defend them, and wished only to punish the man already condemned.  This course was urged by Aleander, an extremely able and unscrupulous diplomat.  His chief support was the young emperor, whose formal, backward mind failed to comprehend and even detested any variation from the faith in which he had been brought up.

Granville Sharp

 Granville Sharp and the African Institution founded upon the passing of the Anti-Slavery Act of 1807championed by William Wilberforce.

Slave Trade Abolished Medal 1807
Slave Trade Abolished Medal 1807

 SHARP, GRANVILLE (1735-1813), philanthropist, pamphleteer, and scholar, born at Durham on 10 Nov. 1735 (old style), was ninth and youngest son of Thomas Sharp (1693-1758) q. v. and grandson of John Sharp q. v. archbishop of York. He was educated at Durham grammar school, but his father, though archdeacon of Northumberland, was possessed of small means and a large family, and in May 1750 Granville was apprenticed to one Halsey, a quaker linendraper of Tower Hill, London. He served successively under a quaker, a Presbyterian, an Irish Roman catholic, and an atheist.  During his scanty leisure he taught himself Greek and Hebrew, and in August 1757 he became a freeman of the city of London as a member of the Fishmongers’ Company. In June 1758 he obtained a post in the ordnance department, and in 1764 was appointed a clerk in ordinary, being removed to the minuting branch. In the following year he published ‘Remarks’ on Benjamin Kennicott’s ‘Catalogue of the Sacred Vessels restored by Cyrus,’ etc., defending ‘the present text of the old Testament’ against the charge of corruption in the matter of proper names and numbers; a second edition of Sharp’s work was published in 1775. This was followed in 1767 by a ‘Short Treatise on the English Tongue’ (two editions), and in 1768 by ‘Remarks on several very important Prophecies, in five parts’ (2nd ed. 1775). In 1767 his uncle, Granville Wheler, offered him the living of Great Leek, Nottinghamshire, but Sharp refused to take orders.

Meanwhile he had become involved in the struggle for the liberation of slaves in England. In 1766 he befriended a negro, Jonathan Strong, whom he found in a destitute condition in the streets, where he had been abandoned by his master, one David Lisle. Two years later Lisle threw Strong into prison as a runaway slave, but Sharp procured his release and prosecuted Lisle for assault and battery.

During the last years of his life Sharp took a prominent part in founding the British and Foreign Bible Society. He helped to found the African institution in 1807 – founded upon the passing of the Anti-Slavery Act of 1807 championed by William Wilberforce.

Excerpts taken from the Dictionary of National Biography Volume 17 – 1907



William Wilberforce

The Dictionary of National Biography – Volume 21, 1909

William Wilberforce
William Wilberforce

William Wilberforce – A Leader of the Movement to Abolish the Slave Trade

William WilberforceWILBERFORCE, WILLIAM (1769-1833), philanthropist, born in the High Street, Hull, on 24 Aug. 1769, was the only son of Robert Wilberforce by his wife Elisabeth, daughter of Thomas Bird of Barton, Oxfordshire. Of three other children a daughter alone reached maturity. The family had long been settled in Yorkshire, and took their name from the township of Wilberfoss, eight miles east of York…

…Wilberforce was re-elected for Yorkshire without opposition in July 1802, and in 1804 again brought forward the abolition of the slave trade. Conditions had become more favourable. The anti-Jacobill sentiment which had animated the last parliament was no longer a dominant factor in the situation. The Irish members introduced by the union were almost unanimously against the slave trade, and public opinion nad been greatly altered. The abolition committee again became active, and was joined by Brougham, Z. Macaulay, and James Stephen and in the next year Clarkson was again able to take part in the agitation, after a long illness.

The new government of Fox and Grenville was generally in favour of abolition, though the opposition of two members prevented it from being adopted by the cabinet. Resolutions in favour of abolition were carried by 116 to 14 on 10 June 1806.  On the dissolution of parliament Wilberforce was again returned without opposition for Yorkshire in November, and afterwards finished a book upon the slave trade.  It was published on 31 Dec., and had a marked effect.   The bill for abolishing the slave trade was introduced in the House of Lords in January 1807, and, though still opposed by a few bigots, the second reading was carried by 100 to 36, and it was sent to the House of Commons on 10 Feb.  Counsel was heard against it during the following week. On 23 Feb. the chief debate took place, when Romilly, as solicitor-general, made an eloquent comparison between Napoleon and the ‘honoured man who would that day lay his head upon his pillow and remember that the slave trade was no more.’  Wilberforce was too much affected to be conscious of the cheers with which the house greeted him, and the motion was carried by 283 to 16.

The bill finally received the royal assent on 26 March 1807 just before the resignation of the ministry.  The ‘African Institution’ was founded upon the passing of the act, in order to promote the effective application of the measure and the suppression of the slave trade in foreign countries.

Wilberforce was henceforth the object of unique respect.

Pilgrimage of Grace


The Pilgrimage of Grace from

The History of the Catholic Church Volume II- 1914

By Rev James MacCaffrey – Professor of Ecclesiastical History, St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth

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Monasteries of England and Wales in the time of Henry VIIIThe Pilgrimage of Grace in the north was destined to prove a much more dangerous movement. Early in October 1536 the people of York, determined to resist, and by the middle of the month the whole country was up in arms under the leadership of Robert Aske, a country gentleman and a lawyer well-known in legal services in London. Soon the movement spread through most of the counties of the north. York was surrendered to the insurgents without a struggle. Pomfret Castle, where the Archbishop of York and many of the nobles had fled for refuge, was obliged to capitulate, and Lord Darcy, the most loyal supporter of the king in the north, agreed to join the party of Aske. Hull opened its gates to the rebels, and before the end of October a well trained army of close on 40,000 men led by the principal gentlemen of the north lay encamped four miles north of Doncaster, where the Duke of Norfolk at the head of 8,000 of the king’s troops awaited the attack. The Duke, fully conscious of the inferiority of his forces and well aware that he could not count on the loyalty of his own soldiers, many of whom favoured the demands of the rebels, determined to gain time by opening negotiations for a peaceful settlement (27th Oct.). Two messengers were dispatched to submit their grievances to the king, and it was agreed that until an answer should be received both parties should observe the truce. The king met the demands for the maintenance of the old faith, the restoration of the liberties of the Church, and the dismissal of ministers like Cromwell by a long explanation and defence of his political and religious policy, and the messengers returned to announce that the Duke of Norfolk was coming for another conference. Many of the leaders argued that the time for peaceful remonstrances had passed, and that the issue could be decided now only by the sword. Had their advice been acted upon the results might have been disastrous for the king, but the extreme loyalty of both the leaders and people, and the fear that civil war in England would lead to a new Scottish invasion, determined the majority to exhaust peaceful means before having recourse to violence.

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Debasement of the Coinage


Debasement of the Coinage from

The Labor Problem

by Richard Theodore Ely, James A. Waterworth, Fred Woodrow – 1866

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The Coining ProcessDebasement of the Coinage – The infamous act which destroyed resistance to the enforcement of the statutory wages was the debasement of the coinage, begun under  Henry VIII and continued under the Protectorate. 

Debasing the currency is the last and gravest political crime a government can commit against its people. It is especially a crime against the laborer, whose margin of income over expenditure is of the smallest.  Up to this time the penny in which his wages were paid contained 11.1 grains of pure silver. In 1543 Henry debased it to 8.3 grains; in 1545 to 5 grains; in 1546 to 3.3 grains; and under Somerset’s protectorate it was further debased in 1551 to 1.6 grains!  In those days of slow and imperfect communication it was some time before the fraud began to operate on prices, and the laborer was the last to perceive how he was being robbed.  Slowly but surely, however, the workman found that his wages were losing their purchasing power. One can imagine the terror of the ignorant laborer as he saw the value of his money disappearing, till at last the vile trash which represented his week’s wages would not purchase two days provisions. This was an enemy be could not fight. The lately prosperous and independent workman found himself a beggar, and his children starving. Wherever he turned for relief he met only disappointment. The desolate halls of the monastery mocked his misery. Its hospitable ambry was empty, its hearth-stone cold.  In his cottage, lately so joyous, he saw only starvation and despair. Men who had hitherto been industrious and honest now roamed the country either as open robbers or as “sturdy beggars.”

Savage laws were enacted to repress these crimes.  By the first Edward VI. it was enacted that the landless and destitute poor be reduced to slavery, branded, and made to work in chains. An act was passed prohibiting “all confederacies, and promises of workmen concerning their work or wages, or the hours of the day when they should work.”  Any violation of this statute was to be punished: for a first offence by a fine of £10, or twenty days imprisonment; for a second offence by a fine of £20, or the pillory; for a third offence by a fine of £40, the pillory, the loss of the left ear, and judicial infamy. This statute was not repealed till 1824.

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Across the Gulf by Rail to Key West


The National Geographic Magazine June 1896

Across the Gulf by Rail to Key West

by Jefferson B Browne – Collector of Customs of the Port of Key West

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Key West Railroad RouteAcross the Gulf by Rail to Key West – The Government is now engaged in deepening the northwest passage to 21 feet, and when this is completed ships trading in the gulf will pass through the harbor of Key West, coming in at one of the main channels and passing out over the northwest bar, thus saving 70 miles and avoiding the dangerous reefs around the Tortugas islands. 

That Key West will within a short time be connected with the mainland by a railroad, no one who has noted the trend of railroad building in Florida can doubt. The ultimate object of all railroad construction in this state is obviously to reach deep water at an extreme southern point, and Key West meets these requirements to the fullest degree.

The first survey of a railroad route to  Key West was made by Civil Engineer J.C. Bailey for the International Ocean Telegraph Company as long ago as 1866. General W.F. Smith, better known as “Baldy” Smith, at that time president of the company, obtained from the Spanish Government an exclusive landing for a cable on the coast of Cuba for forty years. The company had under consideration two plans for reaching Key West with its telegraph system. One contemplated a land line to Punta Rassa, Florida, and thence by cable to Key West;  the other a continuous land line along the keys.  It was proposed to drive iron piles into the coral rock in the waters separating the keys, and to socket them about 10 feet above high-water mark with wooden poles, and Mr Bailey was employed to make the survey.  While engaged in this work he surveyed the route for a railroad to Key West, and embodied in his report to the company his opinion of its feasibility and cheapness as compared with the popular idea of what such a road would cost. When the Western Union Telegraph Company obtained control of the International Ocean Telegraph Company this report came into its possession, and it is still on file in its offices in New York.

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