« НазадПродовжити »
themselves of the peculiarities of climate, these people formed the British streets and buildings after models of their own cities, and did not discover that the more temperate air of this island, precluded the necessity of such buildings, as in Rome, to skreen the inhabitants from the heat of the sun. We deduce from this circumstance, the narrowness of most of the streets in the ancient cities of Britain.
The foundations of brick and stone were evidently Roman additions to the British buildings, and the round holes in the roofs of their cabins, were by the former elegantly altered into cupola chimnies. The coverings of these huts, formerly of long reeds, now gave way to the more convenient mantling of straw thatch; and of such materials was the roofing of buildings in London, within these four centuries. The respectable structures were, however, more conveniently covered with scindulæ, or shingles, and some with tegulæ, or tiles. Another kind of covering was that species of light-coloured stones abounding in Britain, deno. minated glatta, or slate. Some Roman buildings in Britain, appear by their remains, to have been actually roofed with this useful material, “ which was," as Hearne informs us in his account of the Stunsfield pavement,
" fastened to the roofs with nails of iron, hooked, long, and large*."
Similar to the modern temporary windows of unfinished houses, was the defence against the intrusion of weather, and the medium for the admission of light to the dwellings of our ancestors. Neither the Britons nor Romans had found out the obvious, necessary, convenient, and agreeable application of the metal whence glass is obtained. The windows + of the gentry were furnished merely with lattices of wood, or sheets of linen ; even the windows of our cathedrals in the seventh century, were composed of only substitutes I.
It * Leland, vol. viii. p. 30.
+ Window is provincially pronounced Windor, or Wind-door, from the Welsh, Uynt Dor, signifying the passage for the wind.-Whitaker. # Polybius gives us the following description of a Roman intrenchThe prætorium or square for the general's tent was two hun,
been fully justified by the event. “ Rising on a gentle de. clivity, in the heart of a fertile soil and wholesome climate, at a commodious distance from the sea, and washed by a beautiful, deep and broad river, navigable by vessels of every form and size, it seemed in immediate contact with every port on the continent; and as experience has demonstrated, with every port and shore of the globe.”
It was in London therefore, that the Romans fixed their grand emporium, and wisely incorporated the original settlers with the mass of Roman citizens ; this was about A. D. 54.
The progress of cultivation was slow but determinate; the necessary attention, however, which its encouragement produced, stimulated the powers of invention and ingenuity, and of course created employment for the active mind, Thus the vast attractives of health, pleasure, and tlie hope of riches, combined in alluring fresh inhabitants to the municipium, that so early as the beginning of Nero's reign, it had increased to such a degree, as to be deemed the largest, the most populous, and the most opulent city in the British, island. We are informed also by the future testimony of Tacitus, in bis Annals *, that “ London, so called from its situation, and Augusta from its magnificence, was now ilJustrious for the vast number of merchants who resorted to it for widely extended commerce, and the abundance of every species of commodity which it could supply."
Another grand mark of the consequence which ancient London had acquired at this early period, is, that in the fa.. mous Itinerary of Antoninus, no less than seren of the fifteen iters commence or terminate here; a very satisfactory proof that it was considered by the Romans as the metropolis of the country; and this is further established by another circumstance, marking the distinction and superiority of this metropolis, that it was the residence of the vicar of Britain under the Roman emperors, and of his retinue, who maintained the dignity of his office in great splendour, The
* Lib, xiv. c. 33.
to fill up the measure of wretchedness, famine and pestilence threatened the British colony with extermination ; and there is little doubt but that London, from its consequence in the state, must have peculiarly felt the utmost force of these national disasters; but happily for the feeling mind, history has drawn a veil over such scenes of horror, and excludes the pain of contemplating the distressed Londinum Augusta, a vast field of rapine, bloodshed, and disease.
The admission of the Saxons was peculiarly calamitous to Britain; a sanguinary and unremitting contention of massacre and plunder for nearly one hundred and fifty years was the consequence, which terminated in the subjugation of the British spirit, and nearly of the British name. Under the Roman government, twenty-eight considerable cities, besides many villages, &c. had been raised, and the inhabitants had made great progress in arts and sciences; but the fierce barbarians, whom they had invited over as protectors, profaned their contract; thus the country was again put into confusion, and such of the native Britons as they did not immolate, they reduced to the most absolute servitude. Ruinous neglect, and destructive violence levelled the elegant fabrics raised by the conquerors of the world.; the beautiful and venerable productions of Grecian and Roman architecture were levelled with the dust: and London, even at this day, among other favourite residences of Imperial government, has to deplore the loss of edifices sacred to religion, to science, and to virtue.
A very curious description of Roman London is given in a letter to Hearne the antiquarian, in 1714, from the ingenious and elaborate Mr. John Bagford, who made the research into the antiquities of this city his peculiar study: from which the following is extracted:
" When the Romans came first into this island, they landed near Dover, and from thence proceeded by easy journies towards this city, raising their military ways, and at every ten miles distance fixing their stations or camps.
“ Their approach was by several ways both on the right hand and left, as will appear from the following observations,