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Lord Chiet Justice the ShaksPere.

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339. Battle of Evesham OLD ENGLAND.
343. Chronological History of Events.

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Old Play.

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OF

ENGLISH HISTORY.

BOOK I.

THE ROMAN PERIOD.

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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 (raocirepos), 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 tin 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

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caused to be built at Syracuse. Gold and silver are said to have been found there; also an inferior sort of pearl, which is still to be met with. This country and its metals soon became an object of scientific enquiry to the Greeks, as is proved by a work upon the subject by Polybius, the loss of which must be painfully felt by every one acquainted with the acuteness and sound judgment of that historian.

The Romans first became acquainted with Britain through their thirst after uni. versal dominion. Scipio, to his enquiries concerning it among the merchants of the three most distinguished Celtic cities, Massilia, Narbo, and Corbelo, had received no satisfactory answer; and Publius Crassus is named as the first Roman who visited the Cassiterides; and who observing that the metals were dug from but a little depth, and that his men at peace were voluntarily occupying themselves on the sea, pointed out this course to such as were willing to take it. This was probably the officer of that name, who, by Cæsar's command, had achieved the conquest of the Gaulish nations inhabiting along the shores of the British Channel.

Through Cæsar's conquest of the south of England, and the later sway held over it by the Roman emperors, wo are first enabled to form an idea of the country. Well might the goddess of science and of war appear to the Greeks and Romans under one form, (for it was the Macedonian and Roman swords that fixed for antiquity the limits both of the earth and of historic knowledge), though their idea of Britain is, it must be confessed, a very obscure one, and stands much in need of the reflecting light of modern scientific research. To Strabo, as well as to Cæsar and Ptolemy, even the figure and relative position of the British Islands were uncertain. According to Strabo, Ireland lies to the north of Britain ; while to the

l last, the northern coasts of Ireland and Scotland appear on the same latitude. These errors must necessarily occasion numberless mistakes with regard to the positions of tribes and territories, when given according to the degrees of longitude and latitude. Our knowledge too with regard to the inhabitants is rendered extremely unsatisfactory by the circumstance, that in the islands and their severa. districts very different degrees of civilization were met with, which have by authors been too generally applied, and in the most opposite senses. The inhabitants of the Cassiterides, whose position even Strabo seeks off Gallicia, are described by Pytheas in almost the same words as the Iberians are in other passages. Besides mining of a very simple description, they applied themselves to the rearing of cattle, and exchanged tin, lead, and hides with the traders, against salt, pottery, and brass ware. They appeared rambling about their tin islands with long beards like goats, clad in dark garments reaching to their heels, and leaning upon staves. It is not improbable that these accounts are also applicable to the neighbouring coast of Cornwall

, perhaps even to the tribe of the Silures in South Wales ; but it is uncertain whether in these mountaineers we are to recognise Iberian settlers, or an original native population identical with that of the rest of South Britain. Navigation along the coasts, though only in small boats of twisted osier covered with leather, had, for a length of time, been very lively. The tin, formed into square blocks, was brought to the Isle of Wight, where it was purchased by merchants and carried over to Gaul, and then, in a journey of about thirty days, conveyed on horses to Marseilles, Narbonne, and the mouths of the Rhone. A commerce of this kind, by exciting individual industry, had long rendered the inhabitants of the southern coast of Britain active, docile, and friendly to strangers ; yet was their spirit sunk in a slumber which held them to their native soil, until, through the calamity of a most unjust hostile invasion, from being a country not reckoned among the nations of Europe, the land of British barbarians, known only to a few daring mariners, became a province closely connected with imperial Rome, and at length that state, which, more than any other of the European nations, has

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