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-q/brit Ain, from the Invasion of Julius Cæfar/a tit Abdication of the Romans.
BRITAIN wasbut very little known to the. rest of the world besore the time of the Romans. The coasts oppofite Gaul were frequented by merchants who traded thither for such commodities as the natives were able to produce. These, it is thought, after a time, possessed themselves of all the maritime places where they had at full been permitted to refide. 1 here,finding thecountry . B sertile, sertile, and commodioufly fituated for trade,they settled upon the sea-fide, and introduced the practice of agriculture. But it was very difserent with the inland inhabitants of the country, who confidered themselves as the lawsul possessors' of the foil. These avoided all corres. pondence with the new-comers, whom they confidered .as intruders upon their property.
The inland inhabitants are represented as extremely numerous, living in cottages thatched with straw, and seeding large herds of cattle. They lived mostly upon milk, or flesh procured by the chase. What clothes they wore, to cover any part of their bodies, were usually the skins of beasts; but much of their bodies, as the arms, legs, and thighs, was lest naked, and those parts were usually painted blue. Their hair, which was long, flowed down upon their backs and shoulders, while their beards were kept close shaven, except upon the upper lip, where it was suffered to grow. The dress of favage nations is every where pretty much the fame, being calculated rather to inspire terror than to excite love or respect.
As to their government, it confisted of several small principalities, each under its respective leader: and this seems to be the earliest mode of dominion with which mankind are acquainted, and deduced from the natural privileges of paternal authority. Upon great and uncommon dangers, a commander in chies was chosen by 'common consent, in a general assembly ; and to him was committed the conduct of the general interest, the power of making peace, orTeading to war.
Their forces confisted chiefly of foot, and yet they could bring a confiderable number of horse into the field upon great occafions. They likewise used chariots in battle, which, with short scythes fastened to the ends of the axle-trees,inflicted terrible wounds,spreading terror and devastation wheresoever they drove. Nor while the chariot6 were thus destroying, were the warriors who conducted them unemployed; these darted their javelins against the enemy, ran along the beam, leapt on the ground, resumed their seat, stopt, or turned their horses at sull speed, and fometimes cunningly retreated, to ,draw the enemy into consufion. ' The
The religion of the Britons was one of the most confiderable parts of their government; and the Druids, who were the guardians of it,- possessed great authority among them. No species of superstition was ever more terrible than their's; befides the severe penalties which they were permitted to inflict in this world, they inculcated the eternal transmigration of fouls, and thus extended their authority as far as the sears of their votaries. They facrificed human vict 1ms, which they burned in large wicker idols, made fo capacious as to contain a multitude of perfons at once, who were thus consumed together. To these rites, tending to impress ignorance with awe, they added the austerity of their manners, and the fimplicity of their lives. They lived in woods, caves, and hollow trees ; their food was acorns and berries, and theirdrink water; by these arts, they were not enly respected, but almost adored by the people.
It may be eafily supposed, that the manners of the people took-a tincture from the discipline of their teachers. Their lives were fimple, but they were marked with cruelty and fierceness ; their courage was great, but nei. iher dignified by mercy nor perseverance.
The Britons had long remained in this rude but independent state, when Cæfar, having over-run Gaul with his victories, and willing still farther to extend his fame, determined upon the conquest of a country that seemed to promise an easy triumph. When the troops destined lor the expedition were embarked, he set fail for Britai» about midnight, and the next morning arrived on the coast near Dover, where he sew the rocks and cliffs co« vered with armed men to oppose his landing.
The Britons had chosen Cassibelaunus tor their commander in chies; but the petty princes, under his command, either defiring his station, or suspecting his fidelity, threw off their allegiance. Some of them fled with their forces into the internal parts of the kingdom, others submitted to Cæfar, till at length Caffibeiaunug himself, weakened by fo. many desertions, refolved upoa making what terms he was able while he yet had power to keep the field. The conditions offered by Cæfar, and accepted by him, were, that he should send to the contiB 2 nent jient double the number of hostages at first demanded, and that he should acknowledge subjection to the Romans. •Cæfar, however, was obliged to return once more to' compel the Britons to complete their stipulated treaty.
Upon the accession of Augustus, that emperor had formed a defign of vifiting Britain, but was diverted from it by an unexpected revolt of the Pannonians.
Tiberius, wisclyjudging the empire already too exten£re, made no attempt upon Britain. From that time the natives began to improve in all the arts which contri. bute to the advancement of human nature.
The wild extravagancies of Caligula, by which he threatened Britain with an invafion., served rather to expose him to ridicule than the island todanger. At length, the Romans., in the reign of Claudius, began to think se. riously of reducing them under their dominion. The expedition for this purpose was conducted in the beginxiing by Plautius and other commanders, with that sue. ctss which usually attended the Roman arms.
Caractacus was the first who seemed willing., by a vi. porous effotij to rescue his country, and repel its insulting and rapacious conquerors.. This rude foldier, tho* with inserior forces, continued, for above nine years, to oppose and harrass the Romans; till at length he was totally routed, and taken prifoner by Ostorius Scapula, who sent him in triumph to Rome. While Caractacus was leading through Rome, he appeared no way dejected at the amazing concourse of spectators that were gathered upon this occafion, but casting his eyes on the splendours that surrounded him, "Alas, cried he, how is it possible, that a people possessed of such magnificence at home could envy me an humble cottage in Britain.!" The emperor was affected with the British hero's misfortunes, and won by his address. He ordered him to be unchained upon the spot, and set at liberty with the rest of the captives.
The cruel treatment of Boadicea, queen of the Iceni, drove the Britons once more into open rebellion. Prafatagus, king of the Iceni, at his death, had bequeathed one half of his dominions to the Romans, and the other to his daughters, thus hoping, by the facrifice of a part, to secure tbe rest in bis family: but it had a different effect;