Early Britain—Roman Britain eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 242 pages of information about Early Britain—Roman Britain.
his purpose.  The mishap of the previous year had been repeated.  Once more the gentle breeze had changed to a gale, and the fleet which he had left so smoothly riding at anchor was lying battered and broken on the beach.  His own presence was urgently needed on the scene of the misfortune, and it would have been madness to let the campaign go on without him.  So the pursuers, horse and foot, were hastily recalled, and, doubtless, were glad enough to encamp, like their comrades, on the ground so lately won, where they took their well-earned repose.

F. 2.—­But for Caesar there could be no rest.  Without the loss of a moment he rode back to the landing-place, where he found the state of things fully as bad as had been reported to him.  Forty ships were hopelessly shattered; but by dint of strenuous efforts he succeeded in saving the rest.  All were now drawn on shore, and tinkered up by artificers from the legions, while instructions were sent over to Labienus for the building of a fresh fleet in Gaul.  The naval station, too, was this time thoroughly fortified.

F. 3.—­Ten days sufficed for the work; but meanwhile much of the fruit of the previous victory had been lost.  The Britons, finding the pursuit checked, and learning the reason, had rallied their scattered force; and when Caesar returned to his camp at Barham Down he found before it a larger patriot army than ever, with Caswallon (who is now named for the first time) at its head.  This hero, who, as we have said, may have been brought to the front through the series of inter-tribal wars which had ruined the foreign supremacy of Divitiacus in Britain, was by this time acclaimed his successor in a dignity corresponding in some degree to the mythical Pendragonship of Welsh legend.[106] His own immediate dominions included at least the future districts of South Anglia and Essex, and his banner was followed by something very like a national levy from the whole of Britain south of the Forth.  When we read of the extraordinary solidarity which animated, over a much larger area, the equally separate clans of Gaul in their rising against the Roman yoke a year later, there is nothing incredible, or even improbable, in the Britons having developed something of a like solidarity in their resistance to its being laid upon their necks.  Burmann’s ‘Anthology’ contains an epigram which bears witness to the existence amongst us even at that date of the sentiment, “Britons never shall be slaves.”  Our island is described as “Libera non hostem non passa Britannia regem."[107]

F. 4.—­Even on his march from the new naval camp to Barham Down Caesar was harassed by incessant attacks from flying parties of Caswallon’s chariots and horsemen, who would sweep up, deliver their blow, and retire, only to take grim advantage of the slightest imprudence on the part of the Roman cavalry in pursuit.  And when, with a perceptible number of casualties, the Down was reached, a stronger attack was delivered

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Early Britain—Roman Britain from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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