May 26, 2017
In the days of colonization, both people in the North and people in the South kept slaves. Little by little the northern States became industrialized and slavery was gradually abolished.
The South, on the contrary, remained essentially rural, and the landowners, who needed slaves to cultivate the land and chiefly to produce cotton, didn’t want to abolish slavery.
In 1860 Abraham Lincoln became the sixteenth President of the United States of America. He was a well-known lawyer who had always fought against slavery and so it happened that the southern States, which needed negro slaves, withdrew from the Union and elected their own President, Jefferson Davis.
Civil war was inevitable and, in fact, it broke out a few months later, and lasted four years. In the end the southern commander, General Lee, had to surrender to the northern General Grant.
In this war thousands of soldiers died and a great number of houses and farms were set on fire chiefly in the South. But slavery was abolished at last.
May 22, 2017
The settlement of Australia by the Aborigines is at least 25,000 – 40,000 years old. They immigrated from South East Asia and there were about 300,000 of them when Europeans arrived.
The Dutch came in 1616, and in 1644 Australia was called New Holland. The British first arrived in 1688. It Was in 1770 that James Cook, a British explorer, took scientists to study the plants, animals and native people, in his first ship, the Endeavour. He wanted to claim the land for Britain and, in April 1770, he charted the east coast of Australia, and named it New South Wales. There was a scientist on the ship, Joseph Banks who was so fascinated by the range of plants in a bay, that the British named it Botany Bay.
Sailing north, the ship was damaged when it ran into coral on the Great Barrier Reef. After repairing the ship they sailed back to Britain, arriving in July
1771. In London, Joseph
Banks suggested that Botany Bay would be a very good place to start a colony.
In 1788 the first feet of eleven ships from Britain landed in Botany Bay to establish the colony of New South Wales. There were about 1,050 people, mostly prisoners from British prisons sent to begin a colony. They moved from Botany Bay to Sydney Cove where there was fresh water and better soil. The settlers called the place The Rocks. Later free settlers began to arrive from Britain wanting to start a new life. Most immigrants to Australia for the next 150 years were of British origin.
Source: Excursion, an old Italian book.
May 20, 2017
May 18, 2017
Sport plays an important part in many British people’s lives. Most towns, cities and villages have their own sports centres, cricket clubs and football clubs, and many big firms have their own sports facilities. Sport is also considered important in children’s education, for developing important qualities such as team spirit and as a way of keeping physically fit.
Many secondary schools in Britain have a gym, playing fields and some have a swimming pool. Most school children spend about half a day a week playing games. In the past boys learned football, or cricket, while girls played hockey or netball. Now this is changing and children have more choice. Many schools offer other sports such as badminton, tennis, boxing, judo and rugby.
Apart from practising a sport, British people also like watching sporting events live, or staying at home and watching them on TV.
For sports in which people want to participate, Britain offers facilities for almost every sport and leisure activity. Around the coasts and lakes there are opportunities for swimming, surfing, sailing and water-skiing; in the mountainous regions there is skiing, climbing, and hiking; rivers are very good for fishing; while pony-trekking, riding and walking are very popular.
Source: Excursion, an old Italian book.
May 14, 2017
Prospero, Duke of Milan, deposed from his throne by his brother Antonio, has been shipwrecked on a lonely island with his daughter Miranda. Thanks to his knowledge of magic, Prospero has released the spirit Ariel who was imprisoned by a witch called Sycorax, and who now becomes Prospero’s servant. He also has another servant, Caliban, the witch’s own son. Caliban is a monstrous creature and was the sole inhabitant of the island until Prospero’s arrival. Prospero has spent twelve years on the island and during these years he has perfected his knowledge of magic.
The play begins with a storm raised by Prospero’s magic which causes the ship carrying Antonio, Alonso King of Naples, his brother Sebastian as well as Alonso’s son Ferdinand to be shipwrecked off the island. The passengers are miraculously saved but are dispersed about the island in different groups. The members of each group believe themselves to be the only survivors. This gives rise to three sub-plots:
1) Ferdinand meets Miranda and the couple fall in love but Prospero puts a spell on Ferdinand to protect his daughter’s virtue before finally permitting the couple to marry at the end of the play.
2) Meanwhile on another part of the island Antonio and Sebastian, the villains of the play, are planning to kill Alonso and his honest counsellor Gonzalo, but they fail.
3) Caliban persuades two Of the ship’s crew, Stefano, a drunken hurler, and Trinculo, a jester, to try to murder Prospero and take control of the island. This plot forms a comic counterpoint to Antonio’s conspiracy.
At the end of the play, after Prospero has used the spirit Arid to manipulate events and defeat the various conspiracies, all the characters are finally reunited. Prospero forgives Antonio on the condition that he returns his dukedom to him, and before they all embark tot Italy, he sets Caliban and Ariel free, renouncing both his political and magic powers.
Features of the play
The text probably derives from more than one source. Some passages echo the English translations of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, while among its other influences are Montaigne’s Essays as well as travel literature, particularly the accounts of the shipwreck of the Sea-Adventure off the coast of the Bermudas in 1609, before its passengers arrived safely in Virginia.
The Tempest is a complex play where illusion and reality intermingle. It is a play about power in all its forms: the power of European culture over non-European cultures, the power of language and the power of the artist to create illusion. The relationship between Prospero and Caliban reflects the power of the colonisers over colonised peoples, while the figure of Ariel stands as a metaphor for the powers of art and language that the artist may borrow to create his works but can never master completely. Just as Prospero must set Ariel free at the end of the play, so too must Shakespeare set his play free once it is complete, thus relinquishing his control over its ultimate meaning. Art and language have a life of their own, beyond the author.
On a different level, Prospero’s release of Caliban at the end of the play is accompanied by an acknowledgement that he too contains something of Caliban’s savage uncontrollable nature. This has been much commented on, particularly in post-colonial readings of the play.
Source: Thomson – Maglioni, Literary Links. Literature in time and space, Cideb, an old Italian book 2000.
May 10, 2017
England and Spain had been at war for several years when in
1588 a mighty fleet sailed
from Spain to conquer England. On that occasion the Island was saved by her
ships and brave seamen.
The Spanish Armada, which was composed of 130 ships, sailed up the Channel to meet the English fleet which was waiting at Plymouth.
The English ships were as numerous as the Spanish galleons but the former were smaller than the latter and therefore they could steer more rapidly to escape the enemy’s fire. Moreover, the English were led by Lord Howard of Effingham and by many famous seamen such as Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Hawkins.
The two fleets fought against one another for nine days but in the end the Spaniards had to take shelter in Calais. There they were attacked by six English ships loaded with gun powder and sent to drift among the enemy fleet. The final battle was fought off Gravelines where most Spanish ships were destroyed by the English and the others were driven away by a strong south-west wind. Spain was no longer a sea power.
May 6, 2017
The victory of the thirteen American colonies over their mother country in 1781 and the declaration of their independence were followed by a long period of organization for the new nation. In 1789 the constitution of the United States was ratified and George Washington was elected first President.
The first half of the 19th century was marked by considerable territorial expansion: Louisiana was bought from Napoleon for $ 14,500,000 and Florida from Spain for $ 5,000,000. Texas and California were annexed from Mexico.
The Far West was explores and reports of rich gold mines in California started the famous “Gold Rush” which is one of the most colourful pages in the history of the Far West. People began moving westwards. Pioneers packed their families and furniture into big covered wagons, crossed the Appalachians and set out to the West. This Expansion was marked by a long and bitter conflict against the Redskin Indians, who attempted bravely to defend their hunting grounds from the invaders. Many were the great Indian chiefs who led their people against the white men: Black Hawk was the hero of the resistance to the Palefaces east of the Mississippi; Sitting Bull was the great Sioux leader who defeated Colonel Custer; and Cochise at the head of his warlike tribe, the Apaches, spread terror among the Whites in Arizona.
But the Indians’ struggle was a vain one. They were practically exterminated by the white men and only a few survived the massacre. Their descendants can still be found in the reservations of Arizona, Utah, Nevada and Oregon, where they are nothing but a tourist attraction. They welcome foreign visitors and entertain them with their colourful dances, their rainbow-hued costumes, the beat of their drums and their ancient chants. Some are willing to pose for photographs.
This is all that is left of the culture, the customs, the beliefs of a proud and ancient people.
Source: R. Colle – I. Vay, L’esame di inglese, Lattes, an old Italian book 1974.
May 2, 2017
During the reign of the Catholic King James I the Puritans were persecuted because they wanted to purify the English Church. In September
1620 a group of them, being
tired of persecution, sailed from the port of Plymouth on board the Mayflower,
a three-masted ship. These Puritans, called The
Pilgrim Fathers, were in search of a new land to settle in. It was a very
long and difficult voyage across the stormy Atlantic Ocean and many times the
ship was on the point of sinking. Nine weeks later, the Pilgrims reached Cape Cod
in North America. That spot was rocky and bare but some Pilgrims went ashore
all the same, hoping to find a good place where to live. One month later, those
who had landed discovered a good natural harbour where all the Pilgrims settled
at last. The colony they founded was named New Plymouth. Many other English
colonies were funded after this one and all of them were called New England.
These settlers together with others coming from many European countries were
the founders of the United States of America.