Early Britain—Roman Britain eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 242 pages of information about Early Britain—Roman Britain.
excellent at scenting out their game and tackling it when found—­like our present otter-hounds.  The native name for this strain was Agasseus.  Nemesianus[245] [A.D. 280] sings the swiftness of British hounds; and Claudian[246] refers to a more, formidable kind, used for larger game, equal indeed to pulling down a bull.  He is commonly supposed to mean some species of mastiff; but, according to Mr. Elton[247] mastiffs are a comparatively recent importation from Central Asia, so that a boarhound of some sort is more probably intended, such as may be seen depicted (along with its smaller companion) on the fine tesselated pavement preserved in the Corinium Museum at Cirencester.[248] Whatever the creature was, it is probably the same as the Scotch “fighting dog,” which figures in the 4th century polemics as a huge massive brute of savage temper[249] and evil odour,[250] to which accordingly controversialists rejoice in likening their ecclesiastical opponents.[251] Jerome incidentally tells us that “Alpine” dogs were of this Scotch breed, which thus may possibly be the original strain now developed into the St. Bernard.

C. 16.—­But the existence of such tracts of forest, even when very extensive, is quite compatible (as the present state of France shows us) with a highly developed civilization, and a population thick upon the ground.  And that a very large area of our soil came to be under the plough at least before the Roman occupation ended is proved by the fact that eight hundred wheat-ships were dispatched from this island by Julian the Apostate for the support of his garrisons in Gaul.  The terms in which this transaction is recorded suggest that wheat was habitually exported (on a smaller scale, doubtless) from Britain to the Continent.  At all events enough was produced for home consumption, and under the shadow of the Pax Romana the wild and warlike Briton became a quiet cultivator of the ground, a peaceful and not discontented dependent of the all-conquering Power which ruled the whole civilized world.

C. 17.—­In the country the husbandman ploughed and sowed and reaped and garnered,[252] sometimes as a freeholder, oftener as a tenant; the miller was found upon every stream; the fisher baited his hook and cast his net in fen and mere; the Squire hunted and feasted amid his retainers (who were usually slaves); his wife and daughters occupied themselves in the management of the house.  The language of Rome was everywhere spoken, the literature of Rome was read amongst the educated classes; while amongst the peasantry the old Celtic tongue, and with it, we may be sure, the old Celtic legends and songs, held its own.  Intercourse was easy between the various districts; for along every great road a series of posting-stations, each with its stud of relays, was available for the service of travellers.  In the towns were to be found schools, theatres, and courts of justice, with shops of every sort and kind, while travelling pedlars

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