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serve was expected in the person of a queen, and that the popular indignation was heightened by the alien meanness of her companion in guilt. Although it has been found impossible to exonerate entirely the character of the Britons from this degrading imputation, we may easily imagine that a custom so offensive to the simplicity of nature, was not held in universal practice. Genuine delicacy would, perforce, find its way to some bosoms; admiration and esteem would individuate affection, even amongst the half-civilized; and paterual love, one of the deepest and noblest feelings of the human breast, would prohibit the indul. gence of an intercourse so grossly promiscuous, amongst the more respectable classes of society.
Thus, even if the Druidical laws sanctioned a disgusting licentiousness of inanners, we may suppose that only families of little consideration and repute took full advantage of the freedom allowed. It will be remembered that the laws of the Koran permit a mussulman to have a plurality of wives, and as many concubines as his fortune will maintain; but only a comparative few, braniled with ill-fame for libertinism, seek gratification from the indulgence.
The art in which the Britons chiefly excelled, was that of war. The division of their country into numerous small principalities, produced continual struggles, which rendered a skill in the science of defence and attack, not only desirable but of vital necessity. They were, accordingly, trained to the practice of arms from the first dawn of adolescence; and the priests, who held so potent a tyranny over their feelings and understanding, encouraged them to believe that the fearless warrior was the character most acceptable to the gods. As the Britous were chiefly viewed when in a warlike attitude by the illustrious author, whose commentary forms the ground-work of the history of their manners; and as the enquiries of subsequent Roman writers were principally (from the complexion of the times) directed to the military circumstances of the island; we are enabled to present a more full and satisfactory picture of the Briton, when
armed for battle, than when engaged in civil, and more valuable avocations.
Although there is reason to believe that the population of ancient Britain was far from being extensive, yet, as society, independent of the priesthood, was confined to two ranks, the chieftain and his retainer; and as only few were employed in useful arts and manufactures; the armies poured forth on a public emergency, were unexpectedly strong in numbers; for nearly all who were capable of bearing arms were liable, and were ready, to appear with them in the field. It is evident that the army of the ancient Britons was not divided into distinct legions, but that each particolar clan fought round the person, and under the direction of, its immediate chieftain. These chiefs obeyed the cominands of the king of their petty state; and, on great occasions, the assembled kings employed their forces according to the will of the Pendragon, or head of the confederacy.
The troops consisted of infantry, cavalry, and warriors who fought from chariots.
The infantry, as is usual with the military of most nations, formed the chief strength of the army. They possessed no defensive armour, except small, and generally round, shields. Their offensive weapons were swords of copper, or brass, long, broad, and without points, which were attached to the right side, and suspended from a belt or chain, thrown over the left shoulder. Round the body was a girdle, sustaining a short dirk or dagger, also of copper, or brass. Some bore a spear, armed at the point with copper, which was used occasionally as a missile weapon; and others were armed with bows and arrows.* In the use of these latter weapons the Belgæ appear to have been peculiarly expert, as Cæsar dwells with emphasis on the annoyance which
• To this list of weapons used by the ancient British infantry, may be added the battle-axe, if indeed those instruments so frequently found in different parts of the island, and termed Celts by antiquaries, were intended for purposes of hostiliiy.
his troops experienced from the darts of those who opposed his invasion. At the butt-end of the spear was often placed a ball of brass, charged with stones, or pieces of metal, and intended to startle horses with its noise. The whole of the troops threw aside their garments, and disclosed full to the enemy their painted bodies, before they entered on action.
The cavalry were mounted on horses of a diminutive breed, but swift in motion, and equally spirited and hardy. If figures exhibited on British coins may be received as conclusive evidence, the riders were not provided with saddles of any description. They were arıned with shields; swords resembling those of the infantry; and long spears.
The war-chariots * formed the most remarkable feature in the military arrangement of the Britons, and were found, even by the firmest phalanx of the Romans, to be vehicles of tremendous operation. These were of two kinds, both having two wheels and being drawn by two horses. The chariots of the most destructive character were armed with sharp blades, or scythes, and hooks; and were driven furiously upon the ranks of an enemy, destroying or inaiming all who unsuccessfully endeavoured to interrapt their progress. The war-chariots of the second class contained the chieftains,
• The use of military chariots among the Britons appears to have been derived from the Gauls; but the custom was alınost entirely laid aside on the continent, previous to Cæsar's invasion of Britain. Mr. Polwhele, however, (Hist. of Devon. p. 174—176.) is of opinion that the practice was introduced to the Gauls by the Britons. Conjecture, rather than proof, is chiefly adduced by those who argue either on the side of Mr. Polwhele, or with the opposite party. In regard to the construction and character of these chariots, it may be remarked that Mr. King (Jupimenta Antiq. Vol. I. Chap. 1.) endeavours to degrade them to a level with the little, low, cart, or truck, still used in many parts of Wales. If it be allowed that he is, in some respects, supported by probability, as to the cars used by the ancient Britons for purposes of traffic, we cannot suppose that the war.cars, which alarmed the Roman veterans, were such contemprible carriages.
and most honourable persons in command, who cast their darts around, while they inspirited the respective troops to energy in the fight. The skilful mode in which the British charioteers conducted the assault, and managed their horses, is described by Cæsar, in words to the following effect: “They first drive their chariots on all sides, and throw their darts; often, by the noise of the wheels and horses, putting the foremost ranks of the enemy into disorder. When they have forced their way into the midst of the cavalry, they quit their chariots, and fight on foot. Meanwhile, the drivers retire a little from the combat, and place themselves in reserve, to favour the retreat of the warriors, should they be too much oppressed by the enemy. Thus, in action, they perform the part both of nimble cavalry and of stable infantry; and by practice they have arrived at such expertness, that in the most steep and difficult places they can stop their horses, when at full speed, turn them which way they please, run along the pole, rest on the harness, and throw themselves back into their chariots with surprising dexterity."*
It is allowed by Cæsar, that the most hardy of his veteran troops were disconcerted by this mode of attack; and, if we may rely on the testimony of the same writer, the number of the chariots used in war was truly formidable. Cæsar asserts that no less than four thousand war chariots were retained by Cassivellaunus, after that prince, hopeless of success in the field, had disbanded the remainder of his forces.
The accounts which have descended to us from their enemies, the Romans, afford sufficient evidence of the personal courage, discretion, and skill of the British chiefs. They usually chose their ground, with great judgment, on the ascent of a hill: and profited to the utmost in their operations, by a superior knowledge of the country which they defended. In drawing up their troops, (as we are informed by Tacitus) they commonly placed the infantry in the centre, in several lines and in distinct corps; each
. Cæsar de Bel. Gal. I. 4. c. 33.
division of warriors, consisting of thie members of one clan, coinmanded by its chieftain.
These bodies of infantry were so disposed that they could with ease support and relieve each other, as exigency miglit demand.
The cavalry and chariots were stationed on either side, with small detached parties spreading along the front of the live; and this part of the army, rushing forwards on a signal, commenced the action, encouraged by the war-cry of the whole power.
Accustomed to a limited theatre of warfare, amidst woodlands and morasses, with rival and contiguous tribes, the British commanders evinced a consummate skill in the arts of stratagein and surprise.
On such arts, indeed, depended their best hope, when they were opposed by the veteran legions. Their valour, however great, and their tactics, though far from contemptible, were not suficient to enable them to cope in the open field with the superior arms and refined discipline of the Romans.
The hasty and predatory character of the warfare to which they had been alone accustomed, likewise precluded a knowledge in one essential branch of military science. This was the art of fortification; which they appear to have practised only in the instance of the barriers that they constructed around their towns, or stationary places of retreat in times of public danger.
After allowing these deficiencies, even in the dreadful art in which they chiefly excelled, it is evident that the Britons, collectively, possessed more than the untutored tumultuary valour ascribed to them by many writers. The skill in stratagem and retreat displayed by the Belgic Britons, greatly perplexed, if it did not entirely baffle, the illustrious Cæsar, one of the most consummate generals of Rome, the victorious mistress of so many nations. And in after ages of that contest whence we date the commencement of our national annals, the arts of the Romans assisted, in no mean degree, the