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CELTS. -- TRIBE-LIFE IN THE HIGHLANDS.--ROMAN RULE IN
BRITAIN.-SOME WILL NOT SUBMIT.--BRITISH WAR-KINGS. -CARACTACUS AT ROME. --BOADICEA.
THE Romans magnified what they had done; and called Britain a province of their empire when but a few tribes had submitted and paid tribute to them. It was a hundred years and more after the landing of Julius Cæsar, that the Roman general Agricola really completed the conquest. Much blood had been shed by this time. The poor painted bodies of vast numbers of Celts had been stretched dead on battle-fields. Many tribes had fled to the mountains, both of Wales and Scotland. There, among the steep rocks, and in deep valleys and caves, they hid themselves, and took every opportunity to rush out upon their enemies and trouble them to the utmost of their power. The Romans could not root them out of these
valleys, neither could the Saxons when they came; and their descendants live there to this day. Among the highlands of Scotland they have even kept to the ancient tribelife. A tribe with them is called a clan. The chieftain of the clan is looked up to by every member of it, not as the ruler only, but as the father of them all. However poor any member may be, he feels that he has a protector and a friend in the chief, and that he may reckon on receiving brotherly kindness from the more wealthy members of the tribe. This, we may believe, was always very much the feeling in tribe-life. It was one of those points in which tribes excelled nations. The neglected, despised, unpitied, and forlorn, such as exist in so great numbers in the narrow crowded streets of large towns, and suffer unknown distress, hidden much away from their richer neighbours, whether in heathen or Christian cities, were not to be found among the tribes. It is true that there might be often great suffering from want, when a weaker tribe was plundered by a stronger; but when sufferings were to be endured, all the clan suffered together; and when there were enjoyments, they all rejoiced together. Such is the brighter picture of tribe-life. In heathen times it had its dark side. Unrestrained evil passions were frequently at work. Where loyalty to the ruler, and brotherly love to one another warmed all hearts, privation could be bravely borne.
The numerous Celtic clansmen who lived in the highlands of Scotland, and among the Welsh mountains (guided by their own laws and following their own customs), long entertained a hope that they should at one time or other dispossess their enemy, and often made the attempt to do so by sudden and furious attacks. These men had refused, on any terms, to submit to Rome and pay tribute to the emperor. But almost all the British population of England, and of the south of Scotland were under Roman government. They had resisted so far as a disunited people could, and at times had set aside their own quarrels, and under a warking, chosen from among their chiefs, fought furious battles, in some of which they had even gained the victory. Cassibelaunus was their war-king when they fought against Julius Cæsar. Caractacus was another chosen chief who opposed the Romans at a later date. The Britons under him fought bravely, but he was at length captured and carried to Rome.
It was the pride of the Roman emperors to make the kings of conquered countries walk through the streets of Rome, chained and degraded, and this they called a triumph. Caractacus was carried to Rome for the purpose. He was wonderstruck at the grandeur of the city, he saw buildings and furniture, apparel and decorations, such as in his country, and among his people, had never been dreamt of. He wondered at the magnificence of the imperial city. It was to him, we may suppose, what London would be now to a New Zealand chief. He said: "How is it that a nation possessed of such magnificence should envy me my poor hut in Britain.”
But the Romans by this time had seen how rich a province Britain would be, if added to their empire; how capable the land was of cultivation, and how it would repay the toil of man.
The Roman soldiers were also labourers. Their masters were wise enough to keep them employed (when they were not fighting) in cultivating land, and building walls, fortresses, and cities.
The Roman poets had been accustomed, to speak of Britain as “utterly divided from all the world,” and the people, they said, behaved as “mere savages to those who visited their shores.”
They had, it is true, many faults, many sad and cruel ways, yet some stories have come down to us, which show that they had some good left in them, a sense of justice, a strong love of their country, loyalty towards their chiefs, respect for their women. Women among them sometimes ruled the clans. Boadicea was one of their queens.
A Roman governor treated her with in