Thursday, 5 November 2009

Sketches of Scottish History (2)

.. the chariots is this : in the first place they drive
round to all quarters and cast darts, and with the
very terror caused by their horses, and the rumb-
ling noise of their wheels, they generally disorder
 the ranks, and having wrought themselves in
 betwixt the troops of the cavalry, they jump out
u of their chariots and fight on foot. Their drivers,
 in the meantime, retire a little from the action
 and so station the chariots, that in case they be
overpowered by the enemies' numbers, they may
 have a free retreat to their friends. Thus in
 battles they act with the swiftness of cavalry
 and the firmness of infantry ; and by daily expe-
 rience and practice become so expert, that they
 use on declining and sloping ground to check their
 horses at full gallop and quickly manage and turn
 them and run along the pole and rest on the
lt harness and from thence, with great nimbleness,
leap back into the chariots."

The Romans remained undisputed masters of all
the southern parts of Great Britain, for one hundred
and fifty years after Caesar's victory on the Kentish
shore. At this period the celebrated General Julius
Agricola led his army across the border which then
divided the conquered from the unconquered part
of Britain, and began to hew and cut his way into the
dense forest of Caledonia. After a great deal of
hard fighting he at last, built a chain of strong torts
between the firths of Clyde and Forth but all
the country to the north of these forts or what is
called The Highlands of Scotland could never be
conquered or subdued ; hence the Romans were in
continual alarm and trouble from the incursions of
these hardy Picts and Scots which continued till
the last legions of Home left the Island nearly
four hundred years after Caesar's victory at the
Chalk Cliffs of Dover.

We cannot close this short account of the occupation
by the Romans of Britain's Isle without
inserting the following poem of Cowper on this
It is supposed that an ancient Druid is speaking
to the British Queen and foretelling the greatness
and the grandeur of that Empire upon which the
sun never sets in his celestial circuit.

" When the Romans landed in Britain, Boadicea was queen of a
tribe of Britons living on the eastern coast, Her husband, shortly
before his death, had made a will dividing his property between
his two daughters and the emperor of Rome ; by which means he
expected to make the Roman government friendly. But the plan
entirely failed. After his death, his kingdom was plundered, and
his family abused and maltreated in a most outrageous manner.
Boadicea, rendered frantic by the injuries inflicted on herself and
her daughters, gathered an 'army, and took the field against the
Romans. Before the battle she rode along the ranks in a war
chariot with her daughters behind her, and harangued the soldiers
as she passed along the lines, denouncing the tyranny and
the crimes of the Romans, and urging them to fight bravely in
the coming conflict, and thus at onee avenge her wrongs and save
their common country. All, however, was vain. The battle was
fiercely fought, but the Romans were victorious."

When the British warrior Queen,
Bleeding from the Roman rods,
Sought, with an indignant mien,
Counsel of her country's gods :
Sage beneath the spreading oak
Sat the Druid, hoary chief5
Every burning word he spoke
Full of rage and full of Grief:-

" Princess ! if our aged eyes
Weep upon thy matchless wrongs,
Tis because resentment ties
All the terrors of our tongues.
 Rome shall perish ! write that word
In the blood that she has spilt !
Perish, hopeless and abhorred,
Deep in ruin as in guilt.
Rome, for empire far renowned,
Tramples on a thousand states ;
Soon her pride shall kiss the ground
Hark ! the Goth is at her gates !
 Other Romans shall arise,
Heedless of a soldier's name ;
Sounds, not arms, shall win the prize,
Harmony the path to fame.
 Then the progeny that springs
From the forests of our land,
Armed with thunder, clad with wings,
Shall a wider world command.
Regions Caesar never knew
Thy posterity shall sway ;
Where his eagles never flew
None invincible as they.
Such the bard's prophetic words,
Pregnant with celestial fire,
Bending as he swept the chords
Of his sweet but awful lyre.
She, with all a monarch's pride,
Felt them in her bosom glow ;
Rushed to battle, fought, and died,
Dying, hurled them at the foe :
 Ruffians ! pitiless as proud.
Heaven awards the vengeance due ;
Empire is on us bestowed,
Shame and ruin wait for you !

At this period, all over France as well as Britain,
prevailed that terrible and bloody religion which
is known as the Druid. These Druids or men of the
Oaks worshipped a supreme God or as he was styled
The Ruler of the World. They worshipped the
sun also under the name of Bel and made him the
God of Medicine, because by his rays and heat the
healing plants and all the shrubs which they required
in their arts and incantations were made to
grow. They taught the doctrine of a future life but
held like the Hindoos that before the soul reached
a state of happiness, it had to undergo a series of
transmigrations, becoming the inhabitant of a succession
of brute bodies. The oak tree was their
sacred tree. Their places of worship were called
Henges and their altars styled Kromlachs. They
offered human victims in sacrifice. Plunging the
sacrificial knive into the bosom of the poor wretch,
they drew signs and omens from the manner in
which it fell the convulsions of the limbs and the
spurting and flowing of the victim's blood. Sometimes
they made huge wicker work figures of men
filled them with human beings afterwards burning
both the figure and its contents to ashes. They..........

No comments:

Post a Comment