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London: Published by the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge. 1849.




From B.c. 55. to A.D. 409.

ABOUT fifty-five years before the birth of our blessed Saviour, Julius Cæsar, who at that time commanded the Roman armies in Gaul, resolved on attempting the conquest of the country now called England. Its name at that time was Britannia. The Romans had become masters of a great part of the world then known; and the ambition of Cæsar made him desirous of such glory as could be gained in the opinion of his countrymen, by adding another province to their empire. It is thus that God brings to pass his own gracious purposes, by the very schemes in which men engage for their own selfish ends. The extent of the Roman empire was very favourable to the spreading of . that holy faith which was then about to be preached: inasmuch as it made distant nations acquainted with each other's language, and introduced the customs of civilized life where they had been before unknown. When we look back, therefore, on this invasion of the Romans, we may regard it as one means by which God began to break up the cruel superstition which then prevailed in this island, and secretly prepared the way for his great design, of planting one branch of his holy Church in this favoured country.

At the time of Cæsar's invasion, England was inhabited by rude and warlike tribes, who were governed in a great degree by priests, called Druids. Their religious rites, remarkable for the veneration of the misletoe, were chiefly practised in the groves of oak that then covered the country; and were abominable for the cruelty with which


prisoners taken in war were burnt at their sacred places in vast cases or frames of basket-work. The Druids also possessed temples of rude and gigantic construction, ruins of which still remain in different parts of England. of the most famous of these is Stonehenge, which stands on Salisbury Plain. It is composed of vast masses of rock, placed in circles; within it is an altar, and around it, for some distance, are barrows or mounds of earth, to mark the spots where chieftains or warriors have been buried.

Trained to disregard danger and resist attack, the rude inhabitants of Britain opposed the landing of Cæsar with great courage; and though defeat was generally the issue of such battles as they engaged in from time to time with the disciplined Romans, yet the country could not properly be called a Roman province before the time of Agricola, who was sent here by the Emperor Vespasian, and who succeeded in subduing the southern division of the island, about one hundred and thirty years after the first invasion of Cæsar, and eighty-four years after the birth of Jesus Christ.

During the latter part of that period, Caractăcus and Boadicea are recorded as persons who gave proof of the manliness and energy of the British character. Caractăcus, king of the Silures', after a noble resistance to the Romans, was taken prisoner in battle, A.D. 50. Being sent to Rome, and observing the splendour of that city, he exclaimed, “How could a people possessed of such magnificence at home envy me a humble cottage in Britain?" When brought in chains before Claudius, he disdained to yield to the abject despair which was usual in captives; and the emperor was so struck by the manly demeanour of the British king, that he at once restored him to liberty.

Boadicea, queen of the Icēni 2, had received the deepest outrage at the hands of the Roman governor. By an impassioned statement of her wrongs, she succeeded in kindling in her people the indignation against their tyrants which burnt in her own bosom; and leading them forth to battle, she defeated the Romans with great slaughter in Essex. She was, however, afterwards conquered by

1 The Silures inhabited Radnorshire, Glamorganshire, and the adjoining counties.

2 The Icēni, Norfolk, Suffolk, &c.

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