Imágenes de páginas

glish rule no very long time ago. The towns were entirely peopled by the conquerors: they alone were capable of holding municipal privileges or power : and the country was covered with the houses of gentry and landholders, who were all either descended from the old conquerors or new settlers. The peasantry only were British, — that class who were in ancient times equally slaves under one race of rulers or another, and who were only spurred into insurrection by political agitators or by foreign invasions. The destruction of one half of the Brigantes by Lollius Urbicus - which no doubt annihilated the chiefs of the tribe — is a fact made known to us only by accident; though we cannot doubt but that similar events must have occurred repeatedly in other parts of the country, until probably scarcely any of the British aristocracy was left. Still, as in Ireland, the peasantry, having no attachment to their lords, were easily excited to revolt; and a successful inroad of the Caledonians would always be attended by a corresponding agitation among the Britons. Let us look at the state of the county of Wexford in the rebellion of 1798, and we shall have an exact picture of what Britain must have been under the later inroads of the Picts and Scots. When the latter succeeded in penetrating into the interior of the country, the British peasantry no doubt rose in every direction, not with any united plan or object, but for the mere purpose of sharing in the plunder and devastation. It was the principle of the military force of the towns rather to defend their several homes than to join with one another in one common effort. When they were taken by surprise and the legions were not at hand to oppose the insurrection in the field, théy shut themselves up within their walls: and left the invaders and insurgents to range over the country at will, burning the houses of the gentry and slaughtering all who had not succeeded in making their escape. We find abundant traces of these devastations in the remains of Roman villas, which are from time to time uncovered by the excavations of antiquaries, and which present all the marks of having been burnt in a hostile inroad. Here and there, as in the Wexford insurrection in Ireland, towns, when too weak to resist, or which were delivered up by treason, will have shared the fate of private houses. Proof of this occurs in our subterraneous researches. The northern invaders appear to have entered usually by the western extremity of the Wall, where they were perhaps joined by marauders froin Hibernia. In their way south, upon more than one occasion they must have taken by storm the Roman town which occupied the site now called Maryport. Mr. Bruce informs us from Lysons what aspect it pre

pene of the S.whatse rebel Let uitend

Ofaring in an unitish pon


Excavations at Maryport and Ribchester.


determiy proved the bed fag-stonmodern repres the followint

sented, upon a partial excavation during the last century. • The workmen found the arch of the gate beat violently down and broken; and, on entering the great street, discovered evident marks of the houses having been more than once burnt to the ground and rebuilt: an event not unlikely to have • happened on so exposed a frontier. The streets had been

paved with broad flag-stones, much worn by use, particularly • the steps into a vaulted room, supposed to have been a temple. • The houses had been roofed with Scotch slates, which, with

the pegs which fastened them, lay confusedly in the streets. • Glass vessels, and even mirrors were found, and coals had

evidently been used in the fire-places.' In one of the last incursions of the barbarians, the town of Coccium had experienced a similar fate. Dr. Whitaker gives the following account of excavations in its modern representative, Ribchester. The inscribed flag-stone found in 1811 having suf'ficiently proved the existence of a temple, further search was determined upon, and, in the summer of 1813, leave having been obtained to dig in the adjoining gardens between the river and the churchyard, the first appearances, at the depth of about three feet, were a stratum of charcoal, evidently formed by the conflagration of the roof, and nearly in the * centre a cavity in the earth had been made, by the uniting of

the ends of the beams at their fall, large enough to contain a man sitting. Beneath this was a confused mass of large amphoræ, some almost entire at first, and many beautiful . remnants of pateræ in the red Samian ware, mingled with which lay several human skeletons, all of the largest size, in every direction. Every appearance about the place indicated that it had been taken by storm, and that the defenders had been buried in the ruins of the roof. We seem to be reading the story of the capture of Camulodunum by the Britons under Boadicea, when the veterans were destroyed in their last asylum — the temple of Claudius.

For many years before they abandoned the island, the Roman rulers had been courting the alliance of the Saxons, — partly perhaps to avoid their hostility — and had no doubt allowed them to settle on the coast extending from the south of Kent to the Wash; for this, we think, is implied in the term littus Saxonicum, which the Romans now applied to it. Antiquarian discoveries in these districts seem to show that the Saxons lived there intermixed with the Roman population; partook their manner of life; were buried side by side with them; and succeeded them as citizens. There are many reasons for believing that, when the Roman legions withdrew

is thich layers very big

brother wey the Brit their

be story of then the recitaudius. ndoned the islasons, -a

to . S The Dory to uvi

lems the Free Hentian, and the other fortresses

ate S

e ssion of Saxon soldiers. &

Isme Ostricts are chiefly found the

S S SIE ned wznimi, and which seem IÉE S SPS the Roman money. The

UT I SE Possession of the fortresses of - S

e t, si the earliest period to * Se ona writers. Thus a new J

e r population, on the same DE DE Roman towns. The Saxons

Sus fim abroad, better fitted perem E mat Spot even than the Roman

* E SUS Tourally led to a struggle for M SE me SIE S. The latter would often S

I E SE mnd would thus be induced to * RE: ALTES DE cuidericies, which would expose 20 r ue demii. Besides, many of the auxiliary

PRI ZITRID me been drawn from different parts T: These wunt readily fraternise with the new

Frient at the hostilities to which this new w us que nse, vere of long duration; for the towns S

. Then used to war, and (unlike the later Britons) 1. Neither the soil or the spirit to defend themselves. In "FALSE 1 Ime: sme, mken by assault, were plundered and - : Es sought terms and surrendered upon condition.

UND WRging tire absolute sovereignty of the Saxon chiefs, but "reserving memily their own municipal existence and laws. Taica, vai me thus become the foundation of our corporate COWES he Roman population was no longer recruited from Loront, si therefore it gradually died away or merged into the S202 The rich and powerful city of London must often have an attacked; but it seems to have repulsed its assailante IDÀ Sore preserved its independence after all the other towna had embed. Like the city of Paris among the Franks, it WAPI have stood among the Angro- On States, without Landbras "sage the sovereignty of an oben. - free-trading p o which only acknowledge that sairaMAET of the

* Bottes 2 much buter perioW, DB PUHTUS Saxon - Dess, urged into one.

the art of the Roman in Britain, as far as it . then

we wen t from the monuments which modern - 2r

a The books before us are well calW

of these researches, and how R Rasung knowledge they are opening


Palgrave and Mackintosh.


Sir F. Palgrave has already made excellent use of the discoveries which preceded the date of his English Commonwealth, in the chapter where he describes the condition of the country as a Roman province. His account of the Roman buildings is very striking, and some of our readers may be surprised at their size and duration. · The country was replete with “the monuments of Roman magnificence. Malmsbury ap

peals to those stately ruins as testimonies of the favour which Britain had enjoyed; the towers, the temples, the theatres, and the baths, which yet remained undestroyed, excited the wonder and admiration of the chronicler and the traveller; and even in the fourteenth century, the edifices raised by the Romans were so numerous and costly, as almost to excel any others on this side of the Alps. Nor were these *structures amongst the least influential means of establishing

the Roman power. Architecture, as cultivated by the ancients, was not merely presented to the eye; the art spake also to the mind. The walls, covered with the decrees of the legislature, engraved on bronze or sculptured in the marble; the triumphal arches, crowned by the statues of the princes who governed the province from the distant quirinal; the tesselated Hoor, pictured with the mythology of the State, whose sovereign was its pontiff; all contributed to act upon the feelings of the ' people, and to impress them with respect and submission; the

conquered shared in the fame, and were exalted by the splendour of the victors.' Sir F. Palgrave is equally confident in his political conclusions ; 'As the fragments of the capital and * the mutilated cornice, enable us to judge that the forum of ** Aquæ Solis," was surrounded by edifices, erected according * to the rules which were exemplified at Treves or Arles ; so with an equal degree of moral certainty, we are enabled to reconstruct the fabric of the State, from vestiges of institutions, which formed part of a consistent and uniform plan.'

Sir James Mackintosh, however, in a calmer tone, if with -less appropriate knowledge, warns us not to draw too wide an inference from the character of the buildings of the Romans in Britain, any more than from that of their military roads. The Roman remains' (he says) seem rather to in

dicate the luxury of the military stations, than any desire to " adorn their province by civil architecture. ... Roman cul'tivation was extended to it in a less degree than Spain or Gaul. The writers of the latter province were respectable.

Those of the former, the most famous of their age. Roman * Britain did not produce a single literary name.' The notion that the causidici Britanni might have made sufficient progress

tivation The Artiters of the most famous

from the island, Rutupia, Regulbium, and the other fortresses on the Saxon coast, were left in possession of Saxon soldiers. At Richborough and the adjoining districts are chiefly found the coins which numismatists have termed minimi, and which seem to be very early Saxon copies of the Roman money. The Saxons were certainly in peaceful possession of the fortresses of East Kent and of Canterbury itself, at the earliest period to which we can trace them by their own writers. Thus a new element was brought into the general population, on the same footing with the population of the Roman towns. The Saxons could soon bring assistance from abroad, better fitted perhaps to contend with Pict and Scot even than the Roman legionaries, but their success naturally led to a struggle for power between them and the towns. The latter would often have their separate interests; and would'thus be induced to form separate leagues and confederacies, which would expose them to the Saxons in detail. Besides, many of the auxiliary cohorts established in Britain had been drawn from different parts of Germany; and these would readily fraternise with the new comers. It is evident that the hostilities to which this new state of things gave rise, were of long duration; for the towns themselves had been used to war, and (unlike the later Britons) wanted neither the skill nor the spirit to defend themselves. In course of time some, taken by assault, were plundered and destroyed; others sought terms and surrendered upon condition, acknowledging the absolute sovereignty of the Saxon chiefs, but preserving internally their own municipal existence and laws, which will have thus become the foundation of our corporate towns. The Roman population was no longer recruited from abroad, and therefore it gradually died away or merged into the Saxon race. The rich and powerful city of London must often have been attacked; but it seems to have repulsed its assailants, and to have preserved its independence after all the other towns had succumbed. Like the city of Paris among the Franks, it appears to have stood among the Anglo-Saxon States, without submitting to the sovereignty of any of them, - a free-trading corporation, which only acknowledged the supremacy of the monarch when, at a much later period, the various Saxon kingdoms had merged into one.

Such is the history of the Romans in Britain, as far as it can be made out at present from the monuments which modern antiquaries have disinterred. The books before us are well calculated to show the importance of these researches, and how interesting a prospect of increasing knowledge they are opening to us.

interited to show disintered from the mornim Britain, a

« AnteriorContinuar »