The best thing that was done was the setting the slaves free. Look at the map of America, and you will see a number of islands—beautiful places, where sugar-canes, and coffee, and spices grow. Many of these belong to the English, but it is too hot for Englishmen to work there. So, for more than a hundred years, there had been a wicked custom that ships should go to Africa, and there the crews would steal negro men, women and children, or buy them of tribes of fierce negroes who had made them captive, and carry them off to the West Indies Islands, where they were sold to work for their masters, just as cattle are bought and sold. An English gentleman—William Wilberforce—worked half his life to get this horrible slave trade forbidden; and at last he succeeded, in the year 1807, whilst George III. was still reigning. But though no more blacks were brought from Africa, still the people in the West Indies were allowed to keep, and buy and sell the slaves they already had. So Wilberforce and his friends still worked on until the time of William IV., when, in 1834, all the slaves in the British dominions were set free.
This reign only lasted seven years, and there were no wars in it; so the only other thing that I have to tell you about it is, that people had gone on from finding that steam could be made to work their ships to making it draw carriages. Railways were being made for trains of carriages and vans to be drawn by one steam engine. The oldest of all was opened in 1830, the very year that William IV. began to reign, and that answered so well that more and more began to be made, and the whole country to be covered with a network of railways, so the people and goods could be carried about much quicker than ever was dreamt of in old times; while steam-ships were made larger and larger, and to go greater distances.
Besides this, many people in England found there was not work or food enough for them at home, and went to settle in Canada, and Australia, and Van Dieman’s Land, and New Zealand, making, in all these distant places, the new English homes called colonies; and thus there have come to be English people wherever the sun shines.
William IV. died in the year 1837. He was the last English king who had the German State of Hanover. It cannot belong to a woman, so it went to his brother Ernest, instead of his niece Victoria.
Victoria. A.D. 1837—1855.
The Princess Victoria, daughter of the Duke of Kent, was but eighteen years old when she was Queen of England.
She went with her mother, the Duchess of Kent, to live, sometimes at Buckingham Palace and sometimes at Windsor Castle, and the next year she was crowned in state at Westminster Abbey. Everyone saw then how kind she was, for when one of the lords, who was very old, stumbled on the steps as he came to pay her homage, she sprang up from her throne to help him.