, intelligence of a pearl fishery, attracted their avarice
In this single instance, the successors of Caesar and Augustus were persuaded to follow the example of the former,
rather than the precept of the latter.
The proximity of its situation to the coast of Caul seemed to invite their arms ;
the pleasing, though doubtful, intelligence of a pearl fishery, attracted their avarice ;2 and as Britain was viewed in the light of a distinct and insulated world, the conquest scarcely formed any exception to the general system of continental measures.
After a war of about forty years, undertaken by the most stupid,3 maintained by the most dissolute, and terminated by the most timid of all the emperors, the far greater part of the island submitted to the Roman yoke.
4 The various tribes of Britons possessed 1 Germanicus, Suetonius, Paulinus, and Agricola were checked and recalled in the course of their victories. Corbulo was put to death. Military merit, as it is admirably expressed by Tacitus, was, in the strictest sense of the word, imperatoria virtus. - Caesar himself conceals that ignoble motive;
but it is mentioned by Suetonius, c. 47. The r.ritish pearls proved,
however, of little value, account of their dark and livid colour.
Tacitus observes, with reason (in Agricola, c. 12), that it was an inherent defect.
“Ego facilius crediderim, naturam margaritis deesse quam nobis avaritiam.”
3 Claudius, Nero, and Domitian.
A hope is expressed by Pomponius Mela, 1. iii. c. G (he wrote under Claudius), that, by the success of I lie Eoman arms, the island and its savage inhabitants would soon be better known. It is amusing enough to peruse such passages in the midst of London.
4 Bee the admirable abridgment given by Tacitus, in the life of Agricola, and copiously, though perhaps not completely, illustrated by our own antiquarians, Camden and Horsley.
valour without conduct, and the love of freedom without the spirit of union.
They took up arms with savage fierceness ; they laid them down, or turned them against each other, with wild inconstancy ; and while they fought singly, they were successively subdued. Neither the fortitude of Caractacus, nor the despair of Boadicea, nor the fanaticism of the Druids, could avert the slavery of their country, or resist the steady progress of the Imperial generals, who maintained the national glory, when the throne was disgraced by the weakest, or the most vicious of mankind. At the very time when Domitian, confined to his palace, felt the terrors which he inspired, his legions, under the command of the virtuous Agricola, defeated the collected force of the Caledonians, at the foot of the Grampian hills; and his fleets, venturing to explore an unknown and dangerous navigation displayed the Roman arms round every part of the island. The conquest of Britain was considered as already achieved; and it was the design of Agricola to complete and ensure his success, by the easy reduction of Ireland, for which, in his opinion, one legion and a few auxiliaries were sufficient.1 The western isle might be improved into a valuable possession, and the Britons would wear their chains with the less reluctance, if the prospect and example of freedom were on every side removed from before their eyes.
But the superior merit of Agricola soon occasioned his removal from the government of Britain ; and for ever disappointed this rational,* though extensive, scheme of conquest. Before his departure, the prudent general had provided for security as well as for dominion.
He had observed that the island is almost divided into two unequal parts by the opposite gulfs, or, as they are now called, the Friths of Scotland. Across the narrow interval of about forty miles, he had drawn a line of military stations, which was afterwards fortified in the reign of Antoninus Ptus, by a turf rampart, erected on founda
The earliest bronze axes were flat plates of the shape of polished stone axes.
More of these specimens are found in Ireland and England than anywhere in Europe, testifying to the importance of the Wicklow gold-field and the density of the population here in the early metal ages.
Some years ago Mr. O. G. S. Crawford prepared a map of the finds of flat axes made in this country.
Most discoveries were made in open chalk or limestone districts such as Salisbury Plain and Mendip, but further, many axes were strung out along lines of great length which appear to indicate ancient trade routes.
One such route runs from the region of Southampton, through Winchester, Newbury, Cirencester, Worcester, and Shrewsbury, to Warrington, where other routes join it.
There is reason to believe that the chief port for the Irish gold-fields was in the neighbourhood of Warrington.