This website uses cookies to provide a rich user experience. Please consult our Cookie Policy to learn about what cookies this website uses, or to control the cookies you receive. You need do nothing if you are happy to receive cookies.
Look and Learn History Picture Library License images from £2.99 Pay by PayPal for images for immediate download Member of British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies (BAPLA)

Archive for March, 2012

All of these articles and images are available for licensing: click on an image to see further details and licensing options; contact us about licensing textual content.

Cochise, the Apache chief who avenged the theft of tribal lands

Posted in America, Historical articles, History, War on Thursday, 29 March 2012

This edited article about the Apaches originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 679 published on 18 January 1975.

Jeffords and Cochise, picture, image, illustration

Thomas Jeffords rode fearlessly into Chiracahua territory and struck a bargain with the ferocious Cochise, by Severino Baraldi

The Apaches were supreme guerrilla fighters. They were a group of small tribes who rarely mustered more than a few hundred warriors, even when they were united against a common foe. But in the spectacular desert country of Arizona and New Mexico they were almost invincible.

They could run 40 miles a day, ride 80, and live off the desert while their enemies fought hunger and thirst. Their children were trained to run several miles in burning heat with a mouthful of water, and then spit it out to prove that they had not swallowed it.

In 1853, the Apaches’ land had been ceded by Mexico to the United States – nobody consulted the Apaches! The Mexicans were the tribe’s deadly enemies, and the Americans, greedy for land and gold, often seemed little better. But Chief Cochise saw that the only hope of survival for his small tribe was to live in peace with them.

So, while other Apaches fought, the Chiricahuas kept the peace.

Then, in 1860, a catastrophe occurred. A white boy was kidnapped by another tribe.

The boy’s step-father reported the theft at the nearest military post and claimed that Cochise’s Chiricahuas were responsible. So early in 1861 a young lieutenant, George Bascom, fresh from West Point Military Academy, led out a detachment to find Cochise and demand the return of the boy.

They reached Apache Pass and Bascom summoned the chief, who strolled down with some of his family, expecting a friendly reception from the new white officer.

Read the rest of this article »

The man who foretold the assassination of Spencer Perceval

Posted in Famous crimes, Famous news stories, Historical articles, History, Oddities, Politics on Thursday, 29 March 2012

This edited article about premonition originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 679 published on 18 January 1975.

Spencer Perceval's assassination, picture, image, illustration

The assassination of the Prime Minister, Spencer Perceval, by John Bellingham. Picture by C L Doughty

The stream of sunlight pouring in through the bedroom window made John Williams blink into awareness. He was glad that it was morning at last. His night had been far from comfortable. The disarray of his bed provided ample evidence of the disturbing nature of the dream that had upset his slumber. Normally, as he dressed, he would listen to the sounds of spring – the cockerel trumpeting its morning alarm, the young lambs bleating in the fields below the farmhouse, and the cuckoo calling repeatedly from the nearby wood. But this morning his ears were not attuned to his surroundings, for the thought of a nightmare that had made his sleep a torment blocked out everything else.

As he breakfasted in the neat, white-walled kitchen. Williams told his son of the nightmare: “I dreamed I was in the lobby of the House of Commons in London when the Prime Minister, wearing a blue coat and a white waistcoat, came through the door. Suddenly another man, dressed in a brown coat and having bright gold buttons, jumped forward brandishing a pistol. He fired at the Prime Minister, who fell to the ground with blood gushing from his chest. Several men then pounced on the assassin and dragged him from the room. It was so real – not like a dream at all. I am rather frightened by it.”

Read the rest of this article »

Never underestimate the higher intelligence of insect life

Posted in Insects, Nature, Science on Thursday, 29 March 2012

This edited article about insects originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 679 published on 18 January 1975.

Safari ants, picture, image, illustration

South African Safari Ants have a formidable reputation for killing and eating everything in their path that does not have the sense to flee for its life

Unless they pollinate our flowers, sting us, provide us with honey or spread disease, we pay little heed to a vast horde of living creatures which outnumber humans and other mammals. These are the insects of which there are thought to be three million different species.

Most of them are ignored by us. But is this a wise approach to the wonderful but slightly sinister world of insects?

Professor Moore Hogarth of the Institute of Micro-Biology warned some years ago, “Unless the increase of the insects can be checked, they will ultimately wipe out our civilisation!”

Is this prophecy far-fetched? In Biblical times, marauding locusts were regarded as a plague. Driver ants in Africa march in columns destroying many living things in their path.

Their sole intention is to find food, but it needs little imagination to conceive what it would be like if humanity itself should ever become the target for such insect armies.

Several millions of human deaths each year are attributable to the bites of such seemingly insignificant insects as mosquitoes and gnats. To what figure would this total rise if some urge should cause the insects to declare war on the human population?

We do not know. Neither do we know whether such aggression is a possibility. But we do know that an insect is a very remarkable creature.

Read the rest of this article »

Speleology is the exploration of subterranean caves

Posted in Exploration, Geography, Geology, Prehistory on Thursday, 29 March 2012

This edited article about caves originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 679 published on 18 January 1975.

Dunold Mill hole, picture, image, illustration

Dunold Mill hole near Lancaster

A new hobby has grown up in recent years – the hobby of cave exploring, or “speleology.” Speleologists are the people who brave the dark wilderness beneath the earth.

This wilderness is a hidden world of caves big enough to hold an ocean liner, of vertical “pot-holes” that plunge through solid rock to depths of thousands of feet and of lakes bigger than cricket pitches.

Over fifty thousand years ago, when the last Ice Age began to come to an end, primitive man used these caves as his home for protection from bitter weather and dangerous animals. As the cold weather disappeared, he left the caves for the plains, and learned to build huts.

But the beginning of the caves goes back farther than the days of early man. They go back to the forgotten days of pre-history, when the only life on this Earth consisted of myriads of microscopic animals living in the sea.

As the centuries passed, the limestone skeletons of these animals drifted down to the sea bed. In their billions they piled up to form layers of limestone rocks. Then, as the earth suffered huge and violent upheavals, the limestone rocks were split up and forced into layers.

Read the rest of this article »

Did Shakespeare distort the truth about Macbeth?

Posted in Historical articles, History, Politics, Royalty, Scotland, Shakespeare on Thursday, 29 March 2012

This edited article about Macbeth originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 679 published on 18 January 1975.

Macbeth and the Three Witches, picture, image, illustration

Macbeth and the Three Witches by Pat Nicolle

One of Shakespeare’s most famous plays is Macbeth. It is an action-packed thriller with several murders, ghosts, witches, battles and even a forest which marches up Dunsinane Hill.

But just how accurate is it?

Our knowledge about this great king of Scotland, who reigned for 17 years (1040-57) in comparative peace and prosperity, is scarce, and much of the evidence for and against him is derived from later historians who read the earlier writings but formed their own opinions, often prejudiced against him from the start.

Three main sources of information may, however, be regarded as relatively reliable. They are the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the chronicle of a monk named Florence of Worcester (contemporary), and Prior Andrew Wyntoun’s chronicle (fourteenth century).

The first reference to Macbeth in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is in 1031, when Canute of England visited Scotland to receive the homage of Malcolm II and two lesser northern kings, one of whom was Macbeth. He belonged to the royal family of Scotland and began his career as king of a small dominion called Alban.

Macbeth was first cousin to Duncan I, who ruled Scotland from 1034 to 1040. The law of succession in Scotland at that time was a peculiar one. Sons did not automatically succeed to their father’s thrones, and for some time the succession passed to and fro between cousins.

Consequently, whilst Duncan had two sons, Malcolm and Donald, custom dictated that Duncan’s heir would in the first instance be Macbeth. This simple fact, then, disposes of Shakespeare’s story that Macbeth murdered Duncan and dispossessed his sons to usurp the throne, because the throne would have become his in any case.

Read the rest of this article »

Man’s need to domesticate animals for food and labour

Posted in Ancient History, Animals, Farming, Historical articles, History on Thursday, 29 March 2012

This edited article about animal power originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 679 published on 18 January 1975.

Ox cart, picture, image, illustration

A pair of oxen pulling an ox-cart in Turkey by Clive Uptton

About 10,000 years ago, human beings realised that certain animals could be useful to them. The dog was the first creature to be tamed and later, in Iraq, which has been called “the cradle of civilization”, the sheep, the goat, the pig and the ox were also domesticated.

Eventually, primitive man discovered that these animals could be used to lighten his work-load. The ox and the dog were found to be willing workers and were harnessed to sleds. On mosaic panels found in the tomb of one of the ancient kings of Ur. drawings have been unearthed, showing chariots. These vehicles were depicted as being drawn by Asiatic wild asses.

In ancient times, wild horses ranged from the forests of Germany, across the Russian steppes to the arid plains of Turkestan and Mongolia. They were very different from our modern equine race, having big heads, bulging noses and standing only 4 feet high.

We are all familiar with the cowboy and his mustang riding the ranges of the Wild West, but for many thousands of years, there were no horses in the Americas. The horse originated in North America and evolved from creatures who were the size of small dogs and lived about fifty million years ago. From there, they spread to South America, Asia and Africa.

Read the rest of this article »

Ceramic transfer-printed storage jars are now collectors’ items

Posted in Arts and Crafts, Historical articles, History, Medicine on Wednesday, 28 March 2012

This edited article about pottery originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 678 published on 11 January 1975.

Mr Ross's showroom, picture, image, illustration

Mr Ross’s showroom in Bishopsgate Street which purveyed ceramic storage jars and pots
and more decorative glassware

Pottery is the last thing you think of when packaging is mentioned. Cardboard boxes, cans or plastics are more likely to spring to mind. Yet pottery, in all varieties from stoneware to porcelain, has been used for packaging a variety of products, from the eighteenth century to the twentieth.

Some present-day “pots” turn out on close examination to be made of plastics or opaque glass. But in mid-Victorian times transfer-printed pots and pot lids were among the most colourful of package designs. They were even spectacular, by the standards of their day.

Examples are now eagerly sought by collectors, who will pay more pounds for an empty pot of this kind than their great-grandparents paid in pence for the same pot, when it was full of good things.

In Elizabethan times, small ointment pots and pill pots, often decorated with blue rings or stripes, were made in Britain in some numbers. But these could hardly be called packaging, as they had no inscriptions or distinctive symbols on them. The truly commercial use of pots for named products cannot be traced back further than the second half of the eighteenth century.

From that period, there survive – mostly in museum collections – a few examples of pots for Wyatt’s mustard, Singleton’s eye ointment and Stewart’s “Pomade – for restoring decayed hair”.

Another hair dressing, which was packed in a variety of interesting-looking pots over a century or more, was bear’s grease. To modern ears it sounds an unattractive product. But at the time when wigs went out of fashion, both men and women took to the use of bear’s grease as a way of adding lustre to their locks. The earliest known bear’s grease pot, over two hundred years old, is now in the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge. It has a picture of a bear on one side, and on the other the wording “prepared by T. Townshend and sold only by C. King Chymist Haymarket”.

Read the rest of this article »

Fascist tyrannies were followed by Stalin’s reign of terror

Posted in Bravery, Communism, Historical articles, History, Literature, Politics, War, World War 2 on Wednesday, 28 March 2012

This edited article about the Thirties originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 678 published on 11 January 1975.

Spanish Civil War, picture, image, illustration

The Spanish Civil War by Graham Coton

As the jack-booted Fascist troops of Benito Mussolini’s pre-war Italy crushed under foot the defenceless independent African state of Abyssinia, the 54 member states of the League of Nations met at their Geneva headquarters. Upon their decision that autumn day in 1935 hung the fate of the world.

The League, a kind of parliament of nations and the forerunner of the present-day United Nations, had come into being after the First World War, in 1920. For 11 years it had prospered. Then came the turning point.

It happened when a body of Japanese conspirators suddenly invaded Chinese Manchuria against the orders of their government. The year was 1934 – a year when the world was weakened and preoccupied by economic depression.

If the members of the League had acted quickly, they might have stopped the Japanese. Instead, they hesitated. While they dithered, the Japanese wrested four provinces from China.

And those nations who nurtured secret plans to expand, suddenly saw that the mighty League of Nations was just a paper tiger. It presented absolutely nothing to be afraid of.

Nothing seemed to go right for the League of Nations after the Japanese fiasco. The disarmament conference it had called in Geneva collapsed pathetically. In 1934 Hitler contemptuously withdrew Nazi Germany from League membership. The next year, Italy’s dictator Mussolini launched his attack on Abyssinia in the certain knowledge that he had nothing to fear from the League of Nations.

Read the rest of this article »

Napoleon faced military defeat, abdication and exile on St Helena

Posted in Famous battles, Historical articles, History, Royalty, War on Wednesday, 28 March 2012

This edited article about Napoleon originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 678 published on 11 January 1975.

Napoleon on St Helena, picture, image, illustration

Napoleon in exile on the island of St Helena by Severino Baraldi

Napoleon had achieved his dream of becoming Emperor. Now all that was left for him to do was to conquer Europe for France.

The King of Spain, said the latest decree from Paris signed by the Emperor Napoleon, must resign his crown. In his place there would be a new king – Joseph I of Spain. Everyone knew who the king was – none other than Napoleon’s own brother.

For the new Emperor of France elected kings as other people elect town councillors, and signed decrees of enormous importance as if they were postcards.

To brother Jerome went the Kingdom of Westphalia, to his brother-in-law, Joachim Murat, the Kingdom of Naples, and to brother Louis, the Kingdom of Holland. The dukes and princes, who are a necessary appendage of any royal court, were created out of veteran officers of the Napoleonic battles.

For all his swaggering dictatorship, Napoleon could not conquer Britain. So he decided to force her into submission by signing the Berlin and Milan decrees which organised the Continental System, by which the nations of Europe were forbidden to trade with Britain.

The Spanish, who were upset when Napoleon imposed his brother upon them as King, had declared war on France and their appeal for aid from Britain was met with promptitude. To help the Spanish in their fight against the Napoleonic armies in this long campaign, which was called the Peninsular War, Britain sent soldiers under Sir Arthur Wellesley. He was the great British general who was to become Duke of Wellington.

Read the rest of this article »

William Huskisson MP – the first railway fatality

Posted in Famous news stories, Historical articles, History, Railways, Transport on Wednesday, 28 March 2012

This edited article about railways originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 678 published on 11 January 1975.

William Huskisson, picture, image, illustration

The death of William Huskisson by Harry Green

To the directors of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway it was like a glimpse into the future, as epoch-making as man’s first trip to the moon. Their new railway, approved by Parliament in 1826, was going to be powered by the startlingly new propulsive force of cables hauled by fixed steam engines.

The proposal seemed the last word in modernity to the directors. But to one engineer, with his sights set very firmly on the future, it was a step back into yesterday.

His name was George Stephenson, and he was not only very able at his job, he was also possessed of a very persuasive tongue. A few years earlier, in 1822, he had talked the directors of the Stockton and Darlington Railway out of using horses to haul their trains. “Use steam locomotives instead,” he had said. And to prove that it was possible, Stephenson had set up his own locomotive works in Newcastle. The result was that on 27th September, 1825, the first public passenger train in the world was drawn by Stephenson’s Locomotion No. 1 which he drove himself.

The success of this railway encouraged the directors of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway to go ahead with the plans for their service. Stephenson tried to discourage them from cables and fixed locomotives. But they needed convincing.

Read the rest of this article »