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Omissions and errors will, therefore, be more readily excused by the candid reader. The author has endeavoured to unite propriety of remark, purity and force of language, with authenticity and correctness of statement; but he cannot boast of complete success. Every one is not a LIVY or a TACITUS, a DAVILA or a GUICCIARDINI, a HUME or a GIBBON.

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HISTORY

OF

ENGLAN D.

CHAPTER I.

Of the BRITONS before the arrival of the ROMANS.

Ir is fortunate for mankind, that those periods of his- Erste bez
tory which are the least serviceable, are the least dilbering.
known. It has been the study of many learned men
to rescue from obscurity, and throw light upon, those
early ages when the Britons were wholly barbarous,
and their country uncultivated. But these researches
have generally terminated in conjecture; so that whence
Britain was at first peopled, or took its name, is still
uncertain. The variety of opinions upon this head
serve to prove the futility of all.

It will, therefore, be sufficient to observe, that this
beautiful island, by some thought the largest in the
world, was called Britannia by the Romans long before
the time of Cæsar. It is supposed that this name was
originally given to it by the merchants who resorted hi-
ther from the continent. These called the inhabitants
by one common name of Briths, from the custom among
the natives of painting their naked bodies and small
shields with an azure blue, which in the language of

VOL. I.

B

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Britania.

the country was called brith, and which served to dis-
tinguish them from those strangers who came among
them for the purpose of trade or alliance.

Mind The Britons were very little known to the rest of the
Niederlassung
world before the time of the Romans. The coasts oppo-
site Gaul, indeed, 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 first been permitted to reside. There,
finding the country fertile, and commodiously situated
for trade, they settled upon the sea-side, and introduced
the practice of agriculture. But it was very different
with the inland inhabitants of the country, who consi-
dered themselves as the lawful possessors of the soil.
These avoided all correspondence with the new-comers,

britten.

whom they considered as intruders upon their property. beschreibung The inland inhabitants are represented as extremely ali numerous, living in cottages thatched with straw, and feeding large herds of cattle. Their houses were scattered all over the country, without observance of order or distance, being placed at smaller or greater intervals, as they were invited by the fertility of the soil, or the convenience of wood and water. 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 the body (as the arms, legs, and thighs) was left 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 savage nations is every where pretty much the same, being calculated rather to inspire terror than to excite love or respect.

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The commodities exported from Britain were chiefly handlung. hides and tin. This metal was then thought peculiar Fanaligan to the island, and was in much request abroad, both in britt Ruimus. nearer and remoter regions. Some silver mines were also known, but not in common use, as the inhabitants had little knowledge how to dig, refine, or improve them. Pearls also were frequently found on their shores, but neither clear nor coloured like the oriental, and therefore in no great esteem among strangers. They had little iron; and what they had, was used either for arms, or for rings, a sort of money current among them. They had brass money also; but this was all brought from abroad.

Their language, customs, religion, and government, Regi were generally the same with those of the Gauls, their i neighbours of the continent. As to their government, it consisted of several small principalities, each under its respective leader; and this seems to be the earliest mode of dominion with which mankind is acquainted, and deduced from the natural privileges of paternal authority. Whether these small principalities descended by succession, or the princes were elected in consequence of the advantages of age, wisdom, or valour in their families, is not recorded. Upon great or uncommon dangers a commander in chief 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, or leading to war. In the choice of a person to such power, it is easy to suppose that unanimity could not always be found; whence it often happened, that the separate tribes were defeated one after the other, before they could unite under a single leader for their mutual safety.

Their forces consisted chiefly of foot, and yet they ringswecht. could bring a considerable number of horse into the

field

upon great occasions. They likewise used chariots in battle, which, with short scythes fastened to the ends of the axle-trees, inflicted desperate wounds, spreading terror and devastation wheresoever they drove. Nor, while the chariots were thus destroying, were the warriors who conducted them unemployed. These darted their javelins against the enemy, ran along the beam, leaped on the ground, resumed their seat, stopped or turned their horses at full speed, and sometimes cunningly retreated to draw the enemy into confusion. Nothing can be more terrible than the idea of a charioteer thus driving furiously in the midst of dangers; but these machines seem to have been more dreadful than dan. gerous; for they were quickly laid aside when this brave people was instructed in the more regular arts of war. Religion. The religion of the Britons was one of the most conJa siderable parts of their government; and the Druids, who were the guardians of it, possessed great authority among them. These endeavoured to impress the minds of the people with an opinion of their skill in the arts of divination; they offered sacrifices in public and private, and pretended to explain the immediate will of Heaven. No species of superstition was ever more horrible than theirs. Besides the severe penalties which they were permitted to inflict in this world, they inculcated the eternal transmigration of souls, and thus extended their authority as far as the fears of their votaries. They sacrificed human victims, which they burned in large wicker idols, made so capacious as to contain a multitude of persons at once, who were thus consumed together. The female Druids plunged their knives into the breasts of the prisoners taken in war, and prophesied from the manner in which the blood happened to stream from the wound. Their altars consisted of four broad stones, three set edge-wise, and the fourth at top,

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