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CALEDONIANS DEFEATED BY AGRICOLA. 23
their predecessors into the spacious highways which united the most distant portions of their domains.*
§ 12. While these great operations were in progress; while towns, or at least villages, were rising round the camps, and settlers were arriving from foreign countries; while woods were disappearing, and the simple coracle, or canoe, of the native islander was replaced upon the lakes and estuaries by fishing-boats of larger and more scientific build, Agricola was engaged on the northern outskirt of his territory in curbing the incursions of the barbarians of Caledonia. These occupied the mountainous districts to the north of the great embankments that had been erected uniting the Forth and Clyde. All the land up to Edinburgh and the site of the present Glasgow, had been subdued and quiet for some years. The same process was going on of gradual refinement, under the control of law, upon the banks of the Tweed, the Forth, and the Esk, as on those of the Thames, the Trent, and the Severn. But beyond that quiescent boundary, wild tribes still roved unreclaimed, and boasted of their freedom from all restraint, which was typified, perhaps, by their want of clothes. A nation intolerant of trousers could disdain to yield to the Roman yoke. We need not, therefore, waste much sympathy or admiration on a naked savage defending his unadorned independence, in spite of all that patriotism and poetry have done for Galgacus, the Caledonian chief. Galgacus, at the head of clans of unknown name and lineage, was defeated and slain in a great battle near the Grampians, and Agricola finished his seventh and last campaign by a voyage round the north head
The great lines were four-the Fosse, Watling-street, Ermine-street, and the Ichenild.
The Fosse began at Totness, in Devonshire, and went to Lincoln. Watling-street (so called from its foundation of wattles or hurdles) began at Dover, and went through London into Durham, crossing the Fosse at Bosworth, in Leicestershire.
The Ermine-street began at St. David's, in Wales, and went to Southampton; and the Ichenild-so called from the Romanized name of the men of Norfolk and Suffolk (the Iceni), went in a straight course through Dunstable from the east coast to the west.
lands of Scotland and the discovery of the Orkney isles. This was the first positive proof of the insular character of the whole of Britain, for Roman galleys had now visited every portion of the coast.
§ 13. "Happy is the land," says the proverb, "whose annals are not worth recording;" for all national annals consist of little but sufferings and battles. This happy state existed in Britain for many years after the withdrawal of Agricola. Attempts, indeed, were made in various parts of England, and particularly by the inhabitants of the borders. of Wales, to resume the stormy liberty they had formerly enjoyed. But these were probably risings of discontent at the labour exacted of the natives on the public works of their masters. Galgacus had professed himself the champion of the unfortunate Britons who were compelled to clear away woods, and drain morasses, and level roads. A hateful thing, he thought, for a gentleman of ancient descent, as all his countrymen even then were, to exert his strength in such degrading employments, although paid for his work in Roman coin. In all likelihood, the Celtic families in England were of the same opinion, and occasionally longed for the time when no impertinent Roman lictor interfered with their forays on each other's huts, and no brutal centurion put a spade and pickaxe into their hands instead of the old-fashioned dagger or stone hatchet, with which they had slaughtered their enemies. Rebellions of this sort were easily put down, and in the course of time the Gael, having ceased to preponderate in the population of the south and east of England, yielded to what they considered the miseries of their position, and became as helpless and abject in their dependent state as they had been furious and boastful in the time of their so-called freedom. They sank to be the hewers of wood and drawers of water, and left the protection of the country, the building of houses, the trade of the towns, and the commerce of the sea, to the more enterprising colonists, or to those of their countrymen
A D. 121-273.]
THE PICTS' WALL.
who had amalgamated with the Roman settlers. The Britons, properly so called, had gradually accumulated in the mountainous regions to the west. Accessions had come to them from all parts of the lower country of families who feared or disdained submission to the Romans, and a line was clearly drawn between the populations.
Now, more than ever, it became necessary to prevent incursions by those embittered exiles on the seats they had lately left, and castles, walls, and ditches were multiplied along all the border. On the north, the former embankments against the Caledonians were strengthened, and an inner rampart was drawn by the Emperor Hadrian, in 121, from the Solway to the Tyne-a military work which remains to the present day, and is known as the Picts' Wall. For fifty, or even a hundred years, the condition of the respective parties continued unchanged-progress, peace, and safety within the Roman bounds, and a furious, hungry, agitated population seething and storming on the outside. The curious incident of the nomination of Albinus, the general of the British army, to the imperial throne, scarcely interrupted the usual tenor of affairs; for Albinus was speedily conquered and slain, when he carried over some of his forces into Gaul, and Severus, now sole emperor, renewed the plans of his predecessors, and augmented the strength of his outward fortifications. It seems, however, to connect the Britain of that remote period more closely with the better known fortunes of Rome, when we read that one emperor (Severus), died, and another (Constantine), was born at York (Eboracum, 273). It could be no obscure city which, in so short an interval, beheld the grave and the cradle of two of the masters of the world. § 14. The fame of Constantius is founded on his recovery of Britain from the hands of an usurper, no less than for the birth of his son. One of the Roman generals, a Belgian by birth, of the name of Carausius, rebelled against the authority of the Empire in 286. For eight years he resisted all the
power of Rome, and has ensured himself a place in the memory of the English, by the successful efforts he made to found a navy. By the aid of his ships, in which he placed his sole defence, he prevented a landing on the shore; and, as he retained the support of the army and the confidence of the people, combining the characters of king and patriot, coining money and establishing courts of law, it is impossible to say how long he might have lived in safety behind his wooden walls, if the treachery of his lieutenant had not terminated his career in 294. In two years after this, Constantius effected a landing on the island, overthrew the forces of Alectus, the murderer, who had assumed the name of Emperor, and restored the power of the Romans to all its ancient extent. This was, in fact, little more than a military revolt; for the population took no part in support either of Carausius or Alectus; they were too busy with their peaceful occupations to engage in transactions for which they were disqualified by the disarmed condition in which the jealousy of the conquerors kept them, and sighed for nothing so much as for a powerful government to secure their civil liberties and the safety of their possessions.
§ 15. But there was a more powerful instrument of
national civilization than Roman laws and the increase of commercial wealth, which had for many years been silently at work among the populations of our island. From the earliest years of Christianity, we have said, some of its professors were inhabitants of Britain. The excusable credulity of our ancient chroniclers dwells on the name of Pudens-described as a noble British lady in the poetry of Martial-and recognises her in the higher character of a Christian convert in the Epistle of St. Paul. The oratorical flourish of Tertullian, who boasts that Christianity had penetrated to regions inaccessible to the Roman arms, is fondly taken as a historical statement that the Gospel was known beyond the ramparts against the Picts and Scots. Other vague hints are seized on with the purpose of claiming our uninterrupted descent from
A.D. 273–294.] ROMAN PANTHEISM AND CHRISTIANITY. 27
the earliest holders of the true faith, but the first proof both of the numbers and the sincerity of the Christian flock is the persecution they endured in the reign of Diocletian, in which it is reported that St. Alban, the first martyr, and seventeen thousand of his co-religionists, were cruelly put to death. This is, of course, an exaggerated estimate of the numbers, but the great fact of persecution for the Christian faith remains beyond dispute. Roman pantheism was the dominant and political faith of the Empire, as Roman Catholicism was in later times, and both were tolerant and benign as long as their wealth and influence were left unassailed. Neither Flamen nor Pontiff resorted to persecution till their authority and possessions were in danger. The lowly places of worship resorted to by the converted Britons were looked on with benignant contempt by the priests of the great temple of Minerva which stood on the elevation now crowned with the noble cathedral of St. Paul's; but when the followers of the new faith preached against the rapacity and avarice of the officials of the shrine, and invited the people to bend at altars where the waters of more than heathen lustration were offered without money and without price, the priests of Apollo and Venus felt their craft in danger; they denounced their assailants as false to the nation's gods and refusers of divine honours to the brutalized tyrant who swayed the Roman world; and fire and sword were plied as irresistible arguments against the preachers of such subversive and revolutionary ideas. But swords are always blunted against ideas, however sharp they may be against flesh and blood. And the great idea, the greatest that God has ever vouchsafed to mankind, of a brotherhood of all peoples and kindreds through the uniting and purifying influence of a divine and yet a human Saviour, maintained its ground against the sword of Diocletian and the priesthood of Jupiter.
§ 16. Two years after the persecution had ceased, Constantius Chlorus, who had married a noble British lady, (or, aş