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(55 B.C.)

MANY hundred years ago our Island of Great Britain was full of forests, and there were vast herds of deer and cattle living in the woods, together with hares and foxes, bears, wolves, and wild boars.

Here and there, amidst the thick trees, there were clusters of huts, made cf rough logs or of basketwork, plastered over with mud; these were the villages and towns. In all the more open spots, on the heaths and moors, and green downs which sloped to the sea, there were thousands of sheep feeding; and the people lived by hunting, or upon the milk and flesh of their flocks. Some were fishermen ; and their little boats, made of wickerwork covered with skins, floated lightly upon the lakes and rivers. But there were neither orchards nor gardens, and nowhere, excepting in the south-east of the island, was there any corn to be seen growing.

The people who lived in that part of Britain knew more about the arts and comforts of life than the rest of the islanders. They built better houses, they sowed and reaped, and dug pits in the ground in which to store up their harvests, and they made the wool of their sheep into warm thick garments. The other Britons covered themselves with skins, or were contented to


go without clothing, only painting their bodies blue with the juice of woad (a plant which grew in the woods); and by way of ornament they tattooed themselves with strange figures, as the natives of some savage countries do at this day.

Quite in the south-west of Britain, the people wrought in the mines, and merchants from far countries came to the Land's End, bringing with them salt and potter's ware, that they might get in exchange the tin of Cornwall.

The natives of Britain were divided into a number of different tribes, and were very often at war with one another. Each tribe had its chief; but the priests (who were called Druids) had more power than the chiefs, and were very much feared and reverenced by the people. The Druids could not teach them to worship the One True God, for they knew Him not themselves; but they taught some true and useful things, mixed with others that were false and mischievous. They knew how to cure several diseases by means of the plants which grew wild about the woods; and they understood how to make arms and tools of wood, and iron, and copper. They made laws for the people; and some of the Druids composed verses about the chief things which had happened in Britain, and about the sun and moon and stars, and sang them to the music of their harps.

The great circles of stones, which are still in part standing at Stonehenge and other places, are believed to be the remains of Druid temples; but, in general, the priests lived in the deep retirement of the forests. There they offered up their prayers, under the shade of the oaks, which were accounted sacred trees.



If any mistletoe was found growing on an oak tree, a solemn feast was held. The chief Druid, clothed in his long white robes, ascended the tree in sight of all the people, and cut off the mistletoe with a golden sickle. It was laid up with care, as a most precious medicine; and then white bulls were sacrificed, and there was great rejoicing. But some of the Druid customs were frightfully cruel: they offered up human beings in sacrifice, and sometimes a number of living men were all burned together, while the loud songs of the priests drowned the cries and shrieks of the sufferers. It was well that such horrors as these should be put an end to, even if it could not be done without Britain being conquered by a foreign nation; and this was what happened at last.



(From 55 B. c. to 350 A.D.)

THE most powerful people in the world at that time were the Romans. They had conquered nearly all the nations of the west and middle of Europe; and in the year 55 B. C., one of their generals, named Julius Cæsar, attacked Britain. But he did not meet with much success; and it was not till the year 43 A.D. (nearly one hundred years after Cæsar's time) that the Romans really set about conquering Britain. I cost them a great deal of hard fighting; for the Britons were brave, and loved their country; but the Roman soldiers were brave too, and they were much better armed than the Britons. And, besides this, the Romans were very well disciplined, and accustomed

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