Where wages are high, we shall always find the workmen more active, diligent, and expeditious, than where they are low.
Adam Smith (1723-1790)
‘Wealth of Nations’
Historic textile machinery in Burnley, Lancashire.
33 / 58
Stories
Two-minute tales and grammar games
Puzzles
Games with words and numbers
John Playford
Christian Customs
For November 28th OS (Dec 11th NS)
Stir Up Sunday
The Return of Plum Pudding
The Puritans said it was unfit for God-fearing men, but George I thought it fit for a King.

RICH and luxurious plum pudding was banned as “unfit for God-fearing people” by the republican Puritans in 1647, prompting riots in Kent.

Christmas celebrations returned with Charles II in 1660, and in 1714 King George I requested plum pudding for his first Christmas in England, making it fashionable once again.

Continue reading
No. 1
Henry Purcell
Stuart Era
For December 11th
The abdication of James II
The ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688
King James II was forced off the throne in favour of his daughter Mary, and a new English constitution was born.

LIKE his father Charles I, James II believed that as King he had a divine right to govern the country without Parliament’s blessing.

Sensationally, Charles was executed for that belief in 1649; and though England’s eleven years as a Republic had been a disaster, Parliament was unwilling to turn back the clock so far.

Continue reading
No. 2
Sir George Macfarren
Liberty and Prosperity
A Nation’s Wealth
It is not politicians and their policies that create wealth, but the hard work and ingenuity of ordinary people.
By Richard Cobden
(1804-1865)

HOW can protection, think you, add to the wealth of a country? Can you by legislation add one farthing to the wealth of the country?

Continue reading
No. 3
2 two-part story
Sir John Blackwood McEwen
Stuart Era
The Darien Scheme
The Parliament of Scotland tried to liberate itself from London’s strangling single market.

IN 1603, King James VI of Scotland became James I of England too, and he and his son Charles I held two crowns and summoned two Parliaments, Westminster and Edinburgh, until 1649 when Westminster had Charles summarily executed.

Two years later, the newly republican English Parliament then passed the first Navigation Act, shutting out Dutch competition in the belief that imports made the country poorer.

Continue reading
No. 4
Anonymous (English)
Christmastide
His Bright Nativity
Northumbrian poet Cynewulf wonders at the mystery of the Bethlehem manger, where all the light of heaven was shining.
By Cynewulf
(8th century)

O EÄRENDEL! Brightest messenger sent to men of middle-earth, radiance of the Sun, steadfast and true, outshining the stars, ceaselessly lighting from thyself the ebb and flow of all things!

Shine thy bright Sun upon us, come thyself and light us, who have sat in darkness, in gloom of endless night, these long years, wrapped in sin, enduring the dark shadow of death.

Continue reading
No. 5
2 two-part story
William Byrd and John Dowland
Modern History
The Voyage of ‘Mayflower’
A crackdown on dissent in England’s established Church drove a band of Nottinghamshire townspeople to seek new shores.

AT the Hampton Court Conference in 1604, King James I insisted that the English Church would never adopt the more extreme views of Swiss reformer John Calvin. Some hardliners dubbed ‘Puritans’ were bitterly disappointed, and resolved to leave the country.

Continue reading
No. 6
2 two-part story
Francesco Geminiani
Liberty and Prosperity
The Empire of Enterprise
Adam Smith credited the British Empire’s success not to the policy of her Government, but to the character of her people.
By Adam Smith
(1723-1790)

THE policy of Europe has very little to boast of, either in the original establishment, or, so far as concerns their internal government, in the subsequent prosperity of the colonies of America.

The conquest of Mexico was the project, not of the council of Spain, but of a governor of Cuba; and it was effectuated by the spirit of the bold adventurer to whom it was entrusted.

Continue reading
No. 7
Francesco Geminiani
Liberty and Prosperity
Folly and Freedom
Britain’s colonies were founded to supply her Government with gold, but instead they supplied her people with liberty.
By Adam Smith
(1723-1790)

FOLLY and injustice seem to have been the principles which presided over and directed the first project of establishing those colonies; the folly of hunting after gold and silver mines, and the injustice of coveting the possession of a country whose harmless natives, far from having ever injured the people of Europe, had received the first adventurers with every mark of kindness and hospitality.

Continue reading
No. 8
John Garth
Georgian Era
Portrait of a Lady
Edmund Burke takes time off from campaigning for liberty to reflect on the delights of captivity.
By Edmund Burke MP
(1729-1797)

SHE has a face that just raises your attention at first sight; it grows on you every moment, and you wonder it did no more than raise your attention at first.

Her eyes have a mild light, but they awe you when she pleases; they command, like a good man out of office, not by authority, but by virtue.

Continue reading
No. 9
George Frideric Handel
Extracts from Literature
At a Solemn Musick
John Milton shows his appreciation for noble words and music in uplifting harmony.
By John Milton
(1632-1704)

BLEST pair of Sirens, pledges of Heav’ns joy,
Sphear-born harmonious Sisters, Voice, and Vers,
Wed your divine sounds, and mixt power employ
Dead things with inbreath’d sense able to pierce,
And to our high-rais’d phantasie present,
That undisturbed Song of pure concent,
Ay sung before the saphire-colour’d throne
To him that sits theron.

Continue reading
No. 10
Polywords (181)
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Latest: Earl
Added on Wednesday November 29th, 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
1688 In the ‘Glorious Revolution’, James II abdicates and William and Mary take the crown
Today in the Church
November 28 ‘English Style’ ?
Stir Up Sunday
From our Archive
John Kapodistrias had an instinct for how a long-oppressed people might think.
The proof of Thomas Ferres’s rags-to-riches tale is quite literally written in stone, but popular lore adds some tantalising and romantic detail.
Railway enthusiast, music lover, and the man who gave us stereo sound.
Sixteen-year-old John Wesley Hackworth brought a locomotive over to St Petersburg, and Russia’s railway revolution was ready for the off.
By Théophile Gautier
(1811-1872)
A cat’s affection is not easy to win, but the rewards make the effort worthwhile.

A to Z Index

Top Topics
History (394)
Polywords (181)
Georgian Era (107)
Fiction (83)
Quickwords (46)
Doublets (34)
Railways (23)
Triplets (23)
Stuart Era (16)
Adam Smith (10)
Polyword ‘Loft’
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 ‘princes and princesses, kings and queens’ (7 letters), and ‘jump up and down on one foot’ (3 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with BEEF and finish with STEW.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.