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DANES IN ENGLAND.
Nature of the Country. -Earlier Inhabitants : Britons, Romans, and
Anglo-Saxons. The greater part of England consists of flat and fertile lowland, particularly towards the southern and eastern coasts, where large open plains extend themselves. Smiling landscapes, with well-cultivated fields, beautiful ranges of forest, and small clear lakes everywhere meet the eye. One would often be led to fancy oneself in some Danish province, if the splendid country seats, with their extensive parks, the numerous towns, the smoking factories, and the locomotive engines, with their trains darting continually to and fro, did not remind one of being in that land, which, with regard to riches and commerce, stands first in Europe. The plains are watered by noble and smooth-flowing rivers, which receive in their protecting embraces the thousands of ships which from all quarters seek the coasts of England. The winter is considerably milder than in our northern regions; and the sea air, not permitting the snow to lie for any length of time, renders the climate, on the whole, warmer. In summer the fields are clothed with the most luxuriant verdure. The leafy woods, with their numerous oaks, are filled with singing birds. The charm that is
extended over English scenery, united with that freshness of life that stirs itself on all sides, cannot fail to make a deep impression on every foreigner. One feels in its full extent that the nature of the country presents all the requisites for greatness to a powerful and undegenerate people; and one no longer requires an explanation why it was not till after a desperate struggle that the ancient Britons relinquished it, or why, in after times, various nations strove with their utmost efforts for the possession of such a land.
The farther one travels towards the north or west of England, the mountains become higher, the valleys narrower, and the streams more rapid. In the north, however, the mountains rather resemble high hills. They do not tower in broken masses like the granite cliffs of Scandinavia. Their forms are softer and more undulating, and they are, too, clothed with a rich vegetation, and frequently overgrown with wood. In Cumberland and Westmorland are inwreathed those charming lakes whose beauties constantly attract a number of tourists. Even the ridge of the Cheviot Hills is not much more than about two thousand feet above the level of the sea : but stretching from east-north-east to west-south-west, with the river Tweed on one side, and the Solway firth on the other, they form a natural boundary between England and Scotland.
Farthest towards the west rise the mountains of Wales, England's real highland. The valleys here are short and narrow, yet the country has not the wildness of mountain tracts. Although it contains England's highest mountain, Snowdon, whose summit is nearly three thousand five hundred feet above the sea, still it unites the charms of plain and mountain. The whole of Wales may be regarded as a knot of mountains opposed by nature to the enormous waves of the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea. The middle is the highest part, whence rivers flow towards the east and west; the latter of which, after a short and foaming course, discharge themselves into the sea. The extent of
the country, both in length and breadth, is, on the whole, inconsiderable.
This little mountain tract, which, in comparison with England, is poor as regards fertility, but all the richer in natural beauties, contains the last remains of the former masters of England, the Celtic Britons. By its remote situation, its rocks and narrow mountain passes, the characteristics of its former inhabitants have been preserved to our times. The people speak the ancient Welsh language, a branch of the Celtic stock; and have also inherited no small share of that burning hatred which their forefathers nourished against the English, who gained possession of their original fatherland by force.
Wales was united to England as early as the close of the thirteenth century; yet for ages later the Britons knew how to keep their country almost closed against the intrusion of strangers; whilst the harpers, by their ancient songs, kept alive the remembrance of past exploits and past disasters, and thus, as it were, still more hedged in and protected the language and nationality of the people. It was not till later times, when high roads, and at present railroads, began to open a more frequent intercourse between Wales and England, that the tones of the harp became almost entirely mute. The Welsh language gave way more and more to the English, and the time can hardly be far distant when the Celtic will become entirely extinct in Wales, as it has long been in Cornwall.
The people, whose scanty remnant thus spend the last days of their old age among the Welsh mountains, formerly belonged, both by possessions and kinship, to the most powerful in Europe. Not only were the Scotch and the Irish of the same origin with them, but on the other side of the channel, throughout Gaul, or France, Spain, and the middle and south of Europe, dwelt tribes of the Celtic race. Until about the time of the birth of Christ there was no people north of the Alps, which, with regard to power, agriculture, commerce, skill in the arts, and civiliza
tion in general, could equal, much less surpass, the Celts. Yet they were not strong enough to clip the wings of the Roman eagle, when it began to extend them over the Alps. The superior military skill and higher civilization of the Romans, triumphed over the various Celtic tribes, which were torn by internal dissensions, and could not once, even under the danger which menaced them, faithfully unite together. Shortly after the birth of Christ, therefore, the Roman hosts had already gained a footing in Britain, and, notwithstanding the violent and repeated attacks of the natives, soon made themselves masters of the country. They even fought their way to Scotland ; where, however, the wild highlands, and their brave inhabitants, the Caledonians, arrested their victorious march. The Romans were now obliged to erect walls, ramparts, and towers, in order to prevent the highland Scots from uniting with the Britons, and to avert the speedy loss of the land which they had already won. Throughout Britain they laid the foundations of a civilization till then unknown there. They promoted agriculture, commerce, and trade; they made roads, and built towns and castles; and, as they had not immigrated in any great multitudes, they left the inhabitants in tolerably quiet possession of the soil of their forefathers.
But the Roman power fell in turn. It was natural that their dominion in so distant and sequestered a land as Britain should decay sooner and more easily than elsewhere, especially as the British chiefs did not fail immediately to revive the old disputes. Their rude neighbours in Scotland, the Picts and Scots, no longer restrained by fear of the Romans, made serious and devastating inroads upon the northern provinces of England, where no slight degree of riches and splendour already prevailed. The Britons, moreover, under the dominion of the Romans, had, like their kinsmen across the channel, already begun to grow cowardly and effeminate. Long oppression had given the power of the Celts a death-blow: and they were conse