Parthagica Directory 09
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The two years which followed John's return from Ireland, from August, 1210 to August 1212, form the period of his highest power. No attempt at resistance to his will anywhere disturbed the peace of England. Llewelyn, Prince of north Wales, husband of John's natural daughter Joanna, involved in border warfare with the Earl of Chester, was not willing to yield to the authority of the king, but two expeditions against him in 1211 forced him to make complete submission. A contemporary annalist remarks with truth that none of John's predecessors exercised so great an authority over Scotland, Wales, or Ireland as he, and we may add that none exercised a greater over England. The kingdom was almost in a state of blockade, and not only was unauthorized entrance into the country forbidden, but departure from it as well, except as the king desired. During these two years John's relations with the Church troubled him but little. Negotiations were kept up as before, but they led to nothing. On his return from the Welsh campaign the king met representatives of the pope at Northampton, one of whom was the Roman subdeacon Pandulf, whom John met later in a different mood. We have no entirely trustworthy account of the interview, but it was found impossible to agree upon the terms of any treaty which would bring the conflict to an end. The pope demanded a promise of complete obedience from John on all the questions that had caused the trouble, and restoration to the clergy of all their confiscated revenues, and to one or both of these demands the king refused to yield. Now it is that we begin to hear of threats of further sentences to be issued by the pope against John, or actually issued, releasing his subjects from their allegiance and declaring the king incapable of ruling, but if any step of that kind was taken, it had for the present no effect. The Christmas feast was kept as usual at Windsor, and in Lent of the next year John knighted young Alexander of Scotland, whose father had sent him to London to be married as his liege lord might please, though "without disparagement."

I dare say you notice that all the birds in this picture have long beaks. We may be sure from this that they live in places and seek for their food in ways in which long beaks are just what they want. The fact is they are all marsh birds, and the soil of marshes being wet and soft, and full of worms, these long beaks enable them to probe it, and so get at the worms. I think the beaks of birds afford a striking example of how good God is in adapting creatures to the mode of life He has appointed for them. The eagles and hawks, you know, are provided with strong, short bills to enable them to seize and tear flesh. Those of canaries and all the finches are just the very instruments to crack seeds with. Parrots, with their tremendous weapons, can crush the hardest nuts of the tropic forest. The crossbill is fitted with a wonderful tool for tearing fir-cones to pieces. Robins and the other warblers have soft bills, which are all they want for eating insects and grubs.

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