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attention of mankind. Neglecting, therefore, all traditions or rather tales, concerning the more early history of Britain. we shall only consider the state of the inhabitants as it appeared to the Romans on their invasion of this country : we shall briefly run over the events which attended the conquest made by that empire, as belonging more to Roman than British story: we shall hasten through the obscure and uninteresting period of Saxon annals; and shall reserve a more full narration for those times, when the truth is both so well ascertained, and so complete, as to promise entertainment and instruction to the reader.
All ancient writers agree in representing the first inhabitants of Britain as a tribe of the Gauls or Celtæ, who peopled that island from the neighboring continent. Their language was the same, their manners, their government, their superstition; varied only by those small differences which time or a communication with the bordering nations must necessarily introduce. The inhabitants of Gaul, especially in those parts which lie contiguous to Italy, had acquired, from a commerce with their southern neighbors, some refinement in the arts, which gradually diffused themselves northwards, and spread but a very faint light over this island. The Greek and Roman navigators or merchants (for there were scarcely any other travellers in those ages) brought back the most shocking accounts of the ferocity of the people, which they magnified, as usual, in order to excite the admiration of their countrymen. The south-east parts, however, of Britain had already, before the age of Cæsar, made the first and most requisite step towards a civil settlement; and the Britons, by tillage and agriculture, had there increased to a great multitude. The other inhabitants of the island still maintained themselves by pasture : they were clothed with skins of beasts : they dwelt in huts, which they reared in the forests and marshes, with which the country was covered: they shifted easily their habitation, when actuated either by the hopes of plunder or the fear of an enemy: the convenience of feeding their cattle was even a sufficient motive for removing their seats: and as they were ignorant of all the refinements of life, their wants and their possessions were equally scanty and limited.
The Britons were divided into many small nations or tribes; and being a military people, whose sole property was their arms and their cattle, it was impossible, after they had acquired a relish of liberty, for their princes or chieftains to establish any despotic authority over them. Their goveinments, though monarchical,* were free, as well as those of all the Celtic nations; and the common people seem even to have enjoyed more liberty among them, than among the nations of Gaul, from whom they were descended. Each state was divided into factions within itself :s it was agitated with jealousy or animosity against the neighboring states : and while the arts of peace were yet unknown, wars were the chief occupation, and formed the chief object of ambition, among the people.
* Cæsar, lib. iv.
The religion of the Britons was one of the most considerable parts of their government; and the druids, who were their priests, possessed great authority among them. Besides ininistering at the altar, and directing all religious duties, they presided over the education of youth; they enjoyed an immunity from wars and taxes; they possessed both the civil and criminal jurisdiction; they decided all controversies among states as well as among private persons, and whoever refused to submit to their decree was exposed to the most severe penalties. The sentence of excommunication was pronounced against him : he was forbidden access to the sacrifices or public worship: he was debarred all intercourse with his fellow-citizens, even in the common affairs of life : his com. pany was universally shunned, as profane and dangerous : he was refused the protection of law : || and death itself became an acceptable relief from the misery and infamy to which he was exposed. Thus the bands of government, which were naturally loose among that rude and turbulent people, were happily corroborated by the terrors of their superstition.
No species of superstition was ever more terrible than that of the druids. Besides the severe penalties, which it was in the power of the ecclesiastics to inflict in this world, they incul. cated the eternal transmigration of souls; and thereby extended their authority as far as the fears of their timorous votaries. They practised their rites in dark groves or other secret recesses; 9 and in order to throw a greater mystery over their religion, they communicated their doctrines only to the initiated, and strictly forbade the committing of them to writing, lest they should at any time be exposed to the examı. nation of the profane vulgar. Human sacrifices were practised among them : the spoils of war were often devoted to their divinities; and they punished with the severest tortures whoever dared to secrete any part of the consecrated offering : these treasures they kept in woods and forests, secured by no other guard than the terrors of their religion ;* and this steady conquest over human avidity may be regarded as more signal than their prompting men to the most extraordinary and most violent efforts. No idolatrous worship ever attained such an ascendant over mankind as that of the ancient Gauls an! Britons; and the Romans, after their conquest, finding ! impossible to reconcile those nations to the laws and institu tions of their masters, while it maintained its authority, wers at last obliged to abolish it by penal statutes; a violence which had never, in any other instance, been practised by those tolerating conquerors.t
* Diod. Sic. lib. iv. Mela, lib. iii. cap. 6. Strabo, lib. iv. + Dion Cassius, lib. lxxv. I Cæsar, lib. vi.
$ Tacit. Agr. Cæsar, lib. vi. Strabo, lib. iv.
9 Plin. lib. xii. cap. 1.
The Britons had long remained in this rude but independent state, when Cæsar, having overrun all Gaul by his victories, first cast his eye on their island. He was not allured either by its riches or its renown; but being ambitious of carrying the Roman arms into a new world, then mostly unknown, he took advantage of a short interval in his Gaulic wars, and made an invasion on Britain. The natives, informed of his intention, were sensible of the unequal contest, and endeavored to appease him by submissions, which, however, retarded not the execution of his design. After some resistance, he landed, as is supposed, at Deal, [Anno ante, C. 55;] and having obtained several advantages over the Britons, and obliged them to promise hostages for their future obedience, he was constrained, by the necessity of his affairs, and the approach of winter, to withdraw his forces into Gaul. The Britons relieved, from the terror of his arms, neglected the performance of their stipulations; and that haughty conqueror resolved next summer to chastise them for this breach of treaty. He landed with a greater force; and though he found a more regular re. sistance from the Britons, who had united under Cassivelaunus, one of their petty princes, he discomfited them in every action. Ile advanced into the country; passed the Thames in the face of the enemy; took and burned the capital of Cassivelaunus; * Cæsar, lib. vi.
† Sueton. in vita Claudii.
established his ally, Mandubratius, in the sovereignty of the Trinobantes; and having obliged the inhabitants to make him new submissions, he again returned with his army into Gaul, and left the authority of the Romans more nominal than rea in this island.
The civil wars which ensued, and which prepared the way for the establishment of monarchy in Rome, saved the Britons from that yoke which was ready to be imposed upon them. Augustus, the successor of Cæsar, content with the victory obtained over the liberties of his own country, was little ambitious of acquiring fame by foreign wars; and being apprehensive lest the same unlimited extent of dominion, which had subverted the republic, might also overwhelm the empire, he recommended it to his successors never to enlarge the territories of the Romans. Tiberius, jealous of the fame which might be acquired by his generals, made this advice of Augustus a pretence for his inactivity.* The mad sallies of Caligula, in which he menaced Britain with an invasion, served only to expose himself and the empire to ridicule; and the Britons had now, during almost a century, enjoyed their liberty unmolested, when the Romans, in the reign of Claudius, began to think seriously of reducing them under their dominion. Without seeking any more justifiable reasons of hostility than were employed by the late Europeans in subjecting the Africans and Americans, they sent over an army, [A. D.•43,] under the command of Plautius, an able general, who gained some victories, and made a considerable progress in subduing the inhabitants. Claudius himself, finding matters sufficiently prepared for his reception, made a journey into Britain, and received the submission of several British states, the Cantii, Atrebates, Regni, and Trinobantes, who inhabited the south-east parts of the island, and whom their possessions and more cultivated manner of life rendered willing to purchase peace at the expense of their liberty. The other Britons, under the command of Caractacus, still maintained an obstinate resistance, and the Romans made little progress against them; till Ostorius Scapula was sent over to command their armies. [A. D. 50.] This general advanced the Roman conquests over the Britons ; pierced into the country of the Silures, a warlike nation, who inhabited the banks of the Severn; defeated Caractacus in a great battle ; took him prisoner, and sent him to Rome, where his ráagnanimous behavior procured him better treatment than those conquerors usually bestowed on captive princes.*
* Tacit. Agr.
Notwithstanding these misfortunes, the Britons were not subdued ; and this island was regarded by the ambitious Romans as a field in which military honor might still be acquired. [A. D. 59.] Under the reign of Nero, Suetonius Paulinus was invested with the command, and prepared to signalize his name by victories over those barbarians. Finding that the island of Mona, now Anglesey, was the chief seat of the druids, he resolved to attack it, and to subject a place which was the centre of their superstition, and which afforded protection to all their baffled forces. The Britons endeavored to obstruct his landing on this sacred island, both by the force of their arms and the errors of their religion. The women and priests were intermingled with the soldiers upon the shore; and running about with flaming torches in their hands, and tossing their dishev. elled hair, they struck greater terror into the astonished Romans by their howlings, cries, and execrations, than the real danger from the armed forces was able to inspire. But Suetonius, exhorting his troops to despise the menaces of a superstition which they despised, impelled them to the attack, drove the Britons off the field, burned the druids in the same fires which those priests had prepared for their captive enemies, destroyed all the consecrated groves and altars; and having thus triumphed over the religion of the Britons, he thought his future progress would be easy in reducing the people to subjection. But he was disappointed in his expectations. The Britons, taking advantage of his absence, were all in arms; and headed by Boadicea, queen of the Iceni, who had been treated in the most ignominious manner by the Roman tribunes, had already attacked, with success, several settlements of their insulting conquerors. Suetonius ḥastened to the protection of London, which was already a flourishing Roman colony; but found, on his arrival, that it would be requisite for the general safety, to abandon that place to the merciless fury of the enemy. London was reduced to ashes; such of the inhabitants as remained in it were cruelly massacred; the Romans and all strangers, to the number of seventy thousand, were every where put to the sword without distinction; and the Britons, by rendering the war thus bloody, seemed determined to cut off all hopes of peace or composition with the enemy. But this
* Tacit. Ann lib. xü.