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the Britons are described as constituting, at this juncture, a timid, disorderly multitude, ready to become an easy prey to the first bold invader. The Scots and Picts, as might be expected, took advantage of their helpless situation; and, passing the Firths of Forth and Clyde, plundered the contiguons districts. In this melancholy condition, the Britons supplicated assistance of Rome; and the Emperor Honorius, now more at leisure, in consequence of some successes over the Goths, and probably calculating on the benefits to be derived from future levies of recruits, if the islanders remained tributary, acceded to their petition, and sent a legion to their aid. The Roman arms were again victorious on the theatre of former exploit. The Scots and Picts were compelled to retire with precipitation and great loss. The triumphant legion having thus honourably performed its allotted task, returned to the continent before the expiration of the year in which it entered Britain ;-the year 416.
The departure of the veterans was the signal for fresh com-' motions. Eager for spoil, the tribes to the north of Antoninus's wall again passed the boundary, penetrated the province, and spread the miseries of sword and fire in their progress. Incapable of self defence, the Britons, as before, looked for succour to the head of the empire. The embassadors who now approached the Emperor are said to have appeared before him with rent garments, and other voluntary tokens of humiliation and distress. Their intreaties met with attention, and a legion was sent to the aid of South Britain, under the command of Gallio of Ravenna.
It was again proved that the tribes of the north, so formidable to the South Britons in these ayes, were unable to cope with the Roman veterans. Their straggling, predatory bands were defeated with great slaughter; and the survivors fled to their woods and mountainous fastnesses, in dismay. After clearing the south from these ferocious invaders, the legion remained nearly two years in Brilain, for the purpose of contributing, by instruction
and active assistance, all practicable aid to the future security of the inhabitants.
In pursuit of this object, Gallio, couvinced that the wall of Antoninus was an insufficient barrier, and that a diminution of territory must be desirable to a weak people, directed that the whole of Valentia (or the space between the walls) should be resigned to the northern nations. The wall of Severus he ordered to be thoroughly repaired, with stone; and this work was per. formed by the united labours of the legion and the Britons of the south. Having completed the defensible state of the frontier in this direction, he built many forts, and towers of observation, on the coasts towards the south; as that part of the island was often infested by the piratical visits of the Franks and Saxons. He then impressed on the Britons, so long the tributaries of Rome, and still her willing adherents, a knowledge of the military tactics which had enabled a single legion to render them efficient assistance; and, having performed these friendly offices, he exhorted them to exert the courage of free men, and to rely, as such, on their own efforts, since no further assistance could be expected from the distracted government of their former masters.
In the leading particulars of the above narrationi, Gildas and Bede are followed by Camden, and by several modern writers, amongst whom may be noticed Dr. Heury; but Mr. Turner, in the history of the Anglo-Saxons, dissents from the propriety of an appeal to the “querulous” Gildas, and takes a very different view of the affairs of this important era. According to Mr. Turner, the Britons were so far from renewing a timid allegiance to Honorius, after the death of Constantine, that, “ in this extremity, they displayed a magnanimous character; they remembered the ancient independence of the island, and their brave ancestors, who still lived ennobled in the verses of their bards ; they armed themselves, threw off the foreign yoke, deposed the imperial magistrates, proclaimed their insular independence, and, with the successful valour of youthful liberty and endangered existence, they drove the fierce invaders" (barbarians, stimu- , lated to the invasion of Gaul and Britaiu by the traitorous Geron. tius,) “from their cities.
“ Thus," continues Mr. Turner, " the authentic history from 407, is, that the barbarians, excited by Gerontius, burst in terror upon Gaul and Britain; that Constantine could give no help, because his troops were in Spain; that Honorius could send none, because Alaric was overpowering Italy; that the Britons, thus abandoned, armed themselves, declared their country independent, and drove the barbaric invaders from their cities; that Honorius sent letters to the British states, exhorting them to protect theniselves; and that the Romans never again recovered the possession of the island."*
It is justly noticed by the above historian, that the narrative of Gildas consists chiefly of declamation, and that the declaimet is less entitled to notice as he has stated nothing concerning the Emperors, or regular succession of transactions, after Maximus; but, as the operating point of his own remarks is founded on individual opinion, ideas of a contrary tendency may, perhaps, arise in the mind of some readers,
Mr. Turner appears to consider it as granted that the Britons were desirous of severing their country from a connexion with Rome, although he admits that they had, in times very briefly precedent, supplicated succour from the empire; and had, indeed, been accustomed to rely for defence on its soldiers. Such a reliance was, in truth, almost unavoidable, when we remember that the policy of the Romans denied military exercise to all proviucials, except such as they wished to attach to the legions of the empire on foreign service.
It is very probable that the taxes exacted by the Romans were oppressively heavy; and it is certainly natural for a people possessed of energetic habits, and conscious of sufficient resources, to aspire after, and to seek, independence on foreign control. But it does not distinctly appear that the South Britons were
• Turner's Hist. of the Anglo-Saxons, Vol. I. p. 77.
actuated by so noble an energy; and, if destitute of a thirst after liberty, frona an inspiriting sense of the moral value of that blessing, they were likely, in common prudence, to consider independence as a source of national danger, rather than a public advantage. Harassed by the Saxons, the Francs, and other piratical invaders; and convinced, by long experience, of the evils to be apprehended from the ferocious incursions of the Scots and Picts; a people trained to habits of peace would, politically, court the aid of some warlike, patronising state.
Such was, indubitably, the conduct of the Britons at this trying period. It is not denied that they supplicated assistance from Rome; and, in the absence of any positive proof to the coutrary, it will, perhaps, be deemed likely that they obtained it, and that they were greatly indebted to the experienced troops of the empire for the expulsion of their barbarous foes. There had previously occurred many favourable opportunities, from the weakness of the Roman power in Britain, if the inhabitants had been desirous of throwing off that “ yoke,” which, in the effeminacy of their pacific habits, they appear to have deemed necessary for their safety.
In regard to that “deposition of the imperial magistrates," which is noticed by Mr. Turner, it must be recollected that these officers were appointed by Constantine; and that the removal of them was, therefore, far from indicating a determination not to acknowledge allegiance to the lawful Emperor. It does not appear that we have any direct evidence of the defection of the Britons; and, considering their peaceful habits; their dangerous situation, in regard to surrounding warlike and hostile nations; and their various motives for desiring a continued connexion with a people supposed to be capable of affording protection, and to whom they were attached from ties of intermarriage, and from a lony nurtured similarity of customs; the reader will, probably, con, clude that they were abandoned to their aftliction, rather than • that they seceded in triumph. I must not, however, quit a subject on which I differ in opinion
with so respectable an authority as the historian of the AngloSaxons, without observing that Mr. Turner, in a subsequent chapter, allows it to be possible that the statement of Gildas is correct, if applied, not to South Britain at large, but merely to particular districts. The following are the words in which he adinits this possibility :-" We can conceive, that when the strength of the country was not directed to its protection, but was wasted in civil conflicts, the hostilities of the Picts and Scots may have met with much success; not opposed by the force of the whole island, but by the local power of the particular civitas, or district invaded, they may have defeated the opposi. tion, and desolated the land of the northern borders : with equal success, from the same cause, the western regions of Britain may kave been plundered by the Scots, and the southern by the Saxons. Some of the maritime states, abandoned by their more powerful countrymen, may have sought the aid of Ætius, as they afterwards accepted that of the Saxons; but we think the account of Gildas applicable only to particular districts, and not to the whole island."*
It is uniformly supposed, by writers best entitled to credit, that the Romans finally quitted Britain in the year of the Chris. tjan æra 446; which was five hundred and one years after their first descent upon the island, and four hundred and three years after their first settlement in the country.t
From the above compendious view of the military operations of the Romans in Britain, it will appear that their greatest difficulties in effecting a settlement in this island, occurred in the first stages of their ambitious enterprise. And, from this circumstance, it may be justly inferred, that their ultimate success depended more on the efforts of mind than on the exercise of the sword.
• Turner's Hist, of the Anglo-Saxons, Vol. I. p. 86. + See some conclusive remarks on this subject in Whitaker's History of Manchester, Ho. edit. Vol. II. ; and Horsley's Britannia Romana, p. 75.