THE view presented in the picture is that of an island in the Thames River, England, near Windsor Castle. It is noted for an important event that happened there many hundred years ago, and is still visited by most travelers who pass through England. John I., who was king of England in the thirteenth century, was a very cruel man, and oppressed his subjects so severely that the nobles raised an army to fight against him, and finally succeeded in capturing the city of London. After defeating the king's forces several times, they wrote out a paper, which they called a charter, granting certain liberties to the people, and then sent word to the king that, if he would sign it, they would stop fighting and go back to their homes. The king knew that he was beaten, at least for the time being, and promised to grant their request. Both armies then advanced to the River Thames, the king's forces on one side and those of his nobles on the other, with the island, shown in the picture, between them. The king, accompanied by some of his ministers, rowed over from his side of the river to the island, while some of the nobles came from the opposite side, and there, in the presence of the opposing armies on either hand, the king placed his name to the charter, on the fifteenth day of June, 1215. A small hut now stands on the island, within which, is the stone whereon it is said the paper was placed for the king's signature. 

Though the king, after signing the charter, hired foreign soldiers to come and help him subdue his rebellious subjects, yet he died before he accomplished his object, and his successors, for many years, were obliged to place their names to the same paper. This charter is as much reverenced by the English as the Declaration of Independence is by the Americans, and is considered the foundation stone of British liberty. It is always referred to as the Magna Charta, or Great Charter, and the island where it was signed is called Magna Charta Island. It was originally written in the Latin language, and a copy can be seen at the present day in the British museum. 

S. T. S. 



MANY pieces of old paper are worth their weight
in gold. I will tell you of one that you could not
buy for even so high a price as that. It is now in
the British Museum in London. It is old and worn,
and is more than 666 years old.
It is not so easy to realize how old that is.
Kings have been born and died, nations have grown
up and have wasted away during that long time.
There was no America (so far as the people who
lived at that time knew) when this old paper was
written upon. America was not discovered for
nearly three hundred years after it. A king wrote
his name on this old paper; and although he had
written his name on many other pieces of paper,
and they are lost, this was very carefully kept
from harm, though once it fell into the hands of a
tailor, who was about to cut it up for patterns, and
at another time it was almost destroyed by fire.
Visitors go to look at it with great interest.
They find it a shriveled piece of paper, with the King's
name and the great seal of England on it;
but they know that it stands for English liberty,
and means that " Britons never shall be slaves."
It is called the "Magna Charta," which means
simply the "Great Paper." There have been other
great papers, and other papers that have been called
"charters," but this is the one known the world
over as the "Great Paper."