« PreviousContinue »
302. King John and the Papal | Hums.
1.-CÆSAR'S INVASION OF BRITAIN.
Dion Cassius. The conquest and colonization of Britain by the Romans is the beginning of our real history. All before this is obscure and fabulous. Although Milton “determined to bestow the telling over even of these reputed tales," he avows that, “ of British affairs, from the first peopling of the island to the coming of Julius Cæsar, nothing certain, either by tradition, history, or ancient fame, hath hitherto been left us." In Dr. J. Lappenberg's “England under the Anglo-Saxon Kings,” translated by Mr. Thorpe, we have the following general remarks on what may be termed our Mythic period :
For the earliest notice of its existence among nations, Britain is indebted to that spirit of commerce, through which it was itself one day to become so great. More than a thousand years before the birth of our Saviour, Gades and Tartessus had been founded by the Phænicians, whose fearless traders we behold, in our dim vision of those remote times when tin was brought in less abundance from the ports of Spain, after a tedious coasting voyage of four months, fetching that metal from the islands which Herodotus denominates the Cassiterides, or islands producing tin (kasoitepos), and which now bear the name of the Scilly Islands. Herodotus was unable to ascertain the position of these islands, nor does he even mention the name of Britain. It is probable that the Phænicians never sailed thither direct from their own coast, though Midacritus, the individual who is recorded as having first brought tin from the Cassiterides, seems by his name to have been a Phænician. The earliest mention of the British islands by name is made by Aristotle, who describes them as consisting of Albion and Terne. The Carthaginian Hisinlio, who, between the years 362 and 350 A.C., had been sent by his government on a voyage of discovery, also found the tip islands, which he calls Oestrymnides, near Albion, and two days sail from Terne, in Mount's Bay. His example was some years after followed by a citizen of the celebrated colony of the Phocians, the Massilian Pytheas, to the scanty fragments of whose journal, preserved by Strabo and other ancient authors, we are indebted for the oldest accounts concerning the inhabitants of these islands. The Massilians and Narbonnese traded at in early period, (by land journies to the northern coast of Gaul), with the island Titis, (Wight, or St. Michael's Mount), and with the coasts of Britain. This early commerce was carried on both for the sake of the tin—an article of great importance to the ancients—and of lead ; though these navigators extended their commerce to other productions of the country, such as slaves, skins, and a superior breed of hunting dogs, which the Celts made use of in war. British timber was employed by Archimedes for the mast of the largest ship of war which he had