The fleet moved on until, at length, after sailing about eight miles, they came to a part of the coast where there was a tract of comparatively level ground, which seemed to be easily accessible from the shore. Here Caesar determined to attempt to land; and drawing up his vessel, accordingly, as near as possible to the beach, he ordered the men to leap over into the water, with their weapons in their hands. The Britons were all here to oppose them, and a dreadful struggle ensued, the combatants dyeing the waters with their blood as they fought, half submerged in the surf which rolled in upon the sand. Some galleys rowed up at the same time near to the shore, and the men on board of them attacked the Britons from the decks, by the darts and arrows which they shot to the land. Caesar at last prevailed; the Britons were driven away, and the Roman army established themselves in quiet possession of the shore.
[Sidenote: Caesar’s popularity at Rome.]
Caesar had afterward a great variety of adventures, and many narrow escapes from imminent dangers in Britain, and, though he gained considerable glory by thus penetrating into such remote and unknown regions, there was very little else to be acquired. The glory, however, was itself of great value to Caesar. During the whole period of his campaigns in Gaul, Rome and all Italy in fact, had been filled with the fame of his exploits, and the expedition into Britain added not a little to his renown. The populace of the city were greatly gratified to hear of the continued success of their former favorite. They decreed to him triumph after triumph, and were prepared to welcome him, whenever he should return, with greater honors and more extended and higher powers than he had ever enjoyed before.
[Sidenote: Results of his campaigns.]
Caesar’s exploits in these campaigns were, in fact, in a military point of view, of the most magnificent character. Plutarch, in summing up the results of them, says that he took eight hundred cities, conquered three hundred nations, fought pitched battles at separate times with three millions of men, took one million of prisoners, and killed another million on the field. What a vast work of destruction was this for a man to spend eight years of his life in performing upon his fellow-creatures, merely to gratify his insane love of dominion.
While Caesar had thus been rising to so high an elevation, there was another Roman general who had been, for nearly the same period, engaged, in various other quarters of the world, in acquiring, by very similar means, an almost equal renown. This general was Pompey. He became, in the end, Caesar’s great and formidable rival. In order that the reader may understand clearly the nature of the great contest which sprung up at last between these heroes, we must now go back and relate some of the particulars of Pompey’s individual history down to the time of the completion of Caesar’s conquests in Gaul.