Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…


Part 5 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

shields, and prefer travelling on foot, and excel in swiftness. Usages
these, all widely differing from those of the Sarmatians, who live on
horseback and dwell in waggons. In wonderful savageness live the nation of
the Fennians, and in beastly poverty, destitute of arms, of horses, and of
homes; their food, the common herbs; their apparel, skins; their bed, the
earth; their only hope in their arrows, which for want of iron they point
with bones. Their common support they have from the chase, women as well
as men; for with these the former wander up and down, and crave a portion
of the prey. Nor other shelter have they even for their babes, against the
violence of tempests and ravening beasts, than to cover them with the
branches of trees twisted together: this a reception for the old men, and
hither resort the young. Such a condition they judge more happy than the
painful occupation of cultivating the ground, than the labour of rearing
houses, than the agitations of hope and fear attending the defence of
their own property or the seizing that of others. Secure against the
designs of men, secure against the malignity of the Gods, they have
accomplished a thing of infinite difficulty; that to them nothing remains
even to be wished.

What further accounts we have are fabulous: as that the Hellusians and
Oxiones have the countenances and aspect of men, with the bodies and limbs
of savage beasts. This, as a thing about which I have no certain
information, I shall leave untouched.


Amongst the Ancients, it was common to transmit to posterity the
characters and exploits of memorable men: nor in truth in our own times
has the Age, however indifferent about what concerns itself, failed to
observe the like usage, whenever any spirit eminent for great and signal
virtue has vanquished and triumphed over the blindness of such as cannot
distinguish right from wrong, as well as over the spite of malignants;
for, spite and blindness are evils common to great States and to small.
But, as in those early times there was found greater propensity to feats
of renown, and more scope to perform them; so whoever excelled in a happy
genius was naturally led to display the merits and memory of the virtuous
dead, without all view to court favour, or to gain advantages, but only by
the motives and recompense flowing from a benevolent and conscientious
mind. Indeed there were several who, in recounting their own lives,
concluded, that they thence showed rather a confidence in their own
integrity and demeanour than any mark of arrogance. Neither was the
account which Rutilius and Scaurus gave of themselves, thence the less
credited or the more censured. So true it is, that the several virtues are
best understood and most prized, during the same times in which they are
most easily produced. But to myself, who am going to relate the life of a
person deceased, I find pardon necessary; which I should not have asked,
were I not about to revive and traverse times so sanguinary, and baneful
to all virtue.

We find it recorded, that for celebrating the praises of Paetus Thrasea,
Arulenus Rusticus suffered a deadly doom; as did Herennius Senesce, for
those of Helvidius Priscus. Nor upon the persons of the authors only was
this cruelty inflicted, but also upon the books themselves; since to the
Triumvirate of Justice orders were sent, that in the Forum and place of
popular elections, the works of men so illustrious for parts and genius
should be burned. Yes, in this very fire they imagined, that they should
abolish the voice and utterance of the Roman People, with the liberty of
the Senate, and all the ideas and remembrances of humankind. For, they had
besides expelled all the professors of philosophy, [Footnote: When
Vespasian's worthless son "cleared Rome of what most sham'd him:" Domitian
banished Epictetus, and the other philosophers.] and driven every laudable
science into exile, that nought which was worthy and honest might anywhere
be seen. Mighty surely was the testimony which we gave of our patience;
and as our forefathers had beheld the ultimate consummation of liberty, so
did we of bondage, since through dread of informers and inquisitions of
State, we were bereft of the common intercourse of speech and attention.
Nay, with our utterance we had likewise lost our memory; had it been
equally in our power to forget, as to be silent.

Now indeed at length our spirit returns. Yet, though from the first dawn
of this very happy age begun by the reign of Nerva, he blended together
two things once found irreconcilable, public liberty and sovereign power;
and though Trajan his adopted successor be daily augmenting the felicity
of the State; insomuch that for the general security not only hopes and
vows are conceived, but even firm assurance follows these vows, and their
full accomplishment is seen; such however is the frailty of man and its
effects, that much more slow is the progress of the remedies than of the
evils; and as human bodies attain their growth by tedious degrees, and are
subject to be destroyed in an instant, so it is much easier to suppress
than to revive the efforts of genius and study. For, upon the mind there
steals a pleasure even in sloth and remissness, and that very inactivity
which was at first hated, is at last loved. Will it not be found that
during a course of fifteen years (a mighty space in the age of mortal man)
numbers perished through fortuitous disasters, and all men noted for
promptness and spirit were cut off by the cruelty of the Emperor? Few we
are, who have escaped; and if I may so speak, we have survived not only
others but even ourselves, when from the middle of our life so many years
were rent; whence from being young we are arrived at old age, from being
old we are nigh come to the utmost verge of mortality, all in a long
course of awful silence. I shall however find no cause of regret from
having framed an historical deduction of our former bondage, as also a
testimony of the public blessings which at present we enjoy; though, in
doing it, my style be negligent and unpolished. To the honour of Agricola
my wife's father, this present book is in the meantime dedicated; and, as
'tis a declaration of filial duty and affection, will thence be commended,
at least excused.

* * * * *

A.D. 40. Cnaeus Julius Agricola was born in the ancient and illustrious
Colony of Forojulium, [Footnote: Frejus.] and both his grandfathers were
Procurators to the Emperors; a dignity peculiar to the Equestrian Order.
His father Julius Graecinus was a Senator, and noted for eloquence and
philosophy. By these his virtues, he earned the wrath of Caligula. For, he
was by him ordered to accuse Marcus Silanus, and put to death for
refusing. His mother was Julia Procilla, a lady of singular chastity.
Under her eye and tender care he was reared, and spent his childhood and
youth in the continual pursuit and cultivation of worthy accomplishments.
What guarded him from the allurements of the vicious (besides his own
virtuous disposition and natural innocence) was, that for the seat and
nursery of his studies, whilst yet very little, he had the city of
Marseilles; a place well tempered and framed, as in it all the politeness
of the Greeks and all the provincial parsimony are blended together. I
remember he was wont to declare, that in his early youth he studied
Philosophy and the Law with more avidity than was allowable to a Roman and
a Senator; till the discretion of his mother checked his spirit, engaged
with passion and ardour in the pursuit. In truth, his superior and
elevated genius thirsted, with more vehemence than caution, after the
loveliness and lustre of a name and renown so mighty and sublime. Reason
and age afterwards qualified his heat; and, what is a task extremely hard,
he satisfied himself with a limited measure of philosophy.

A.D. 59-62. The first rudiments of war he learnt in Britain, under that
prudent and vigilant commander Suetonius Paulinus; by whom he was chosen
and distinguished, as his domestic companion. Neither did Agricola behave
licentiously, after the manner of young men, who turn warfare into riot;
nor assumed the title and office of a Tribune without the sufficiency, in
order to use it slothfully in feats of pleasure and absence from duty, but
to know the Province, to be known to the army, to learn of such as had
experience, to follow such as were worthy and brave, to seek for no
exploits for ostentation, to refuse none through fear, and in all his
pursuits was equally zealous and active. Indeed at no time had Britain
been under greater combustions, nor our affairs there more precarious. Our
veterans were slaughtered, our colonies burned down, our armies surprised
and taken. At that juncture the struggle was for life; afterwards, for
victory. Now though all these affairs were transacted by the counsels and
conduct of another than Agricola, and though the stress of the whole, with
the glory of recovering the Province, accrued to the General; they all
however proved to the young man matters of skill, of experience and
stimulation; and there seized his soul a passion for military glory, a
spirit disgustful to the times, when of men signally eminent a malignant
opinion was entertained, and when as much peril arose from a great
character as from a bad.

A.D. 62-68. Departing from hence to Rome for the exercise of public
dignities, he there married Domitia Decidiana, a lady splendid in her
descent; and to him, who was aspiring to higher honours, this marriage
proved a great ornament and support. In marvellous unanimity they also
lived, in a course of mutual tenderness and mutual preference; a temper
commendable in both, only that the praise of a good wife rises in
proportion to the contumely of a bad. His lot as Quaestor fell upon Asia,
where he had Salvius Titianus for Proconsul. But neither the Province nor
the Proconsul corrupted his probity, though the country was very rich,
nay, prepared as a prey for men corruptly disposed; and Titianus, a man
bent upon all acts of rapine, was ready, upon the smallest encouragement,
to have purchased a mutual connivance in iniquity. In Asia he was enriched
by the birth of a daughter, tending at once to his consolation and the
support of his family; for the son born to him before, he very soon lost.
The interval between his bearing the office of Quaestor and that of
Tribune of the People, and even the year of his Tribuneship, he passed in
repose and inactivity; as well aware of the spirit of the times under
Nero, when sloth and heaviness served for wisdom. With the like indolence
he held the Praetorship, and in the same quiet and silence. For upon him
the jurisdiction of that dignity fell not. The public pastimes and the
empty gaieties of the office, he exhibited according to the rules of good
sense and to the measure of his wealth, in a manner though remote from
prodigality, yet deserving popular applause. As he was next appointed by
Galba to make research into the gifts and oblations appertaining to the
temples, he proceeded with such diligence and an examination so strict,
that the State suffered from no sacrilege save that of Nero.

A.D. 69 and 70. In the year following he suffered a grievous blow in his
spirit and family. For, Otho's fleet, which continued roving upon the
coast and pursuing rapine, whilst they were ravaging Intemelium [Footnote:
Vinitimiglia.] (a part of Liguria) slew the mother of Agricola upon her
estate there, and plundered the estate itself with a great part of her
treasure, which had indeed proved the cause of the murder. As he therefore
went from Rome to solemnise her funeral, he had tidings upon the road that
Vespasian was pursuing the sovereignty, and instantly espoused his party.
In the beginning of this reign all the exercise of power and the
government of the city, were entirely in the hands of Mucianus; for,
Domitian was yet extremely young, and, of the Imperial fortune of his
father, assumed nothing further than a latitude for debauchery. Mucianus,
who had despatched Agricola to levy forces, and found him to have acted in
that trust with uprightness and magnanimity, preferred him to the command
of the twentieth legion; as soon as he was informed, that he who commanded
it before was engaged in seditious practices. Indeed that legion had with
great slowness and reluctance been brought to swear allegiance to
Vespasian, nay, was grown over mighty and even formidable to the
commanders-in-chief: so that their own commander was found void of
authority to control them; though it is uncertain whether from the temper
of the man or from that of the soldiers. Thus Agricola was chosen, at once
to succeed him, and to punish delinquency in them; and exercising
moderation altogether rare, would rather have it thought, that he had
found them unblamable than made them so.

A.D. 72. Over Britain at that juncture Vettius Bolanus bore rule, but with
more complacency than suited a province so fierce and untamed. Hence
Agricola restrained his own heat, and held within bounds the ardour of his
spirit, as he was well skilled how to show his obedience, and had
thoroughly learned to blend what was honourable with what was profitable:
soon after this, Britain received for its Governor Petilius Cerialis, one
of Consular quality. The virtue and abilities of Agricola had now ample
space for producing suitable effects. But to him at first Cerialis
communicated only the dangers and fatigues: with him anon he likewise
shared the glory; frequently, for trial of his prowess, committed to his
conduct a part of the army; sometimes, according to the measure of his
success, set him at the head of forces still larger. Nor did Agricola ever
vaunt his exploits to blazon his own fame. To his general, as to the
Author of all, he, as his instrument and inferior, still ascribed his good
fortune. Thus from his bravery in the execution of his orders, from his
modesty in recounting his deeds of bravery, he escaped envy, yet failed
not to gain glory.

A.D. 73-78. Upon his return from commanding a legion, the deified
Vespasian raised him to the rank of a patrician, and afterwards invested
him with the government of the Province of Aquitaine; a government of the
foremost dignity, and given as previous to the Consulship, to which that
Prince had destined him. There are many who believe, that to military men
subtilty of spirit is wanting; for that in camps the direction of process
and authority, is rather rough and void of formality; and that where hands
and force are chiefly used, there the address and refinements usual to
Courts are not exercised. Yet Agricola, assisted by his natural prudence,
though he was then engaged only with men of peace and the robe, acquitted
himself with great facility and great uprightness. He carefully
distinguished the seasons of business and the seasons of recess. Whenever
he sat in Council or upon the Tribunals of justice, he was grave,
attentive, awful, generally addicted to compassion. The moment he had
fulfilled the duties of his office, he personated no longer the man of
power: he had then cast off all sternness, all airs of State, and all
rigour. Nay, what is very rarely to be seen, his complaisance neither
weakened his authority, nor did his severity make him less amiable. It
were an injury to the virtues of so great a man, to particularise his just
dealings, his temperance, and the cleanness of his hands. [Footnote:
"Integritatem atque abstinentiam referre."] In truth glory itself was what
he pursued, not by any ostentation of bravery, nor by any strain of
artifice or address; though of that pursuit even the best men are often
fond. Thus he was far from maintaining any competition with his equals in
station, far from any contest with the Procurators of the Prince: since,
to conquer in this contention he judged to be no glory; and to be crushed
by them were disgrace. His administration here lasted hardly three years,
ere he was recalled to the present possession of the Consulship. With this
employment there accrued the public opinion, that for his province Britain
would be assigned him, from no words which had dropped from him about it,
but because he was deemed equal to the office. Common fame does not always
err; sometimes it even directs the public choice. To myself yet very
young, whilst he was Consul, he contracted his daughter, a young lady even
then of excellent hopes, and, at the end of his Consulship, presented her
in marriage. He was then forthwith promoted to the government of Britain,
as also invested with the honour of the Pontificate.

The account which I shall here present of the situation and people of
Britain, a subject about which many authors have written, comes not from
any design of setting up my own exactness and genius against theirs, but
only because the country was then first thoroughly subdued. So that such
matters as former writers have, without knowing them, embellished with
eloquence, will by me be recounted according to the truth of evidence and
discoveries. Of all the islands which have reached the knowledge of the
Romans, Britain is the largest. It extends towards Germany to the east,
towards Spain to the west. To the south it looks towards Gaul. Its
northern shore, beyond which there is no land, is beaten by a sea vast and
boundless. [Footnote: "Belluosus, qui remotis Obstrepit Oceanus
Britannis."] Britain is by Livy and Fabius Rusticus, the former the most
eloquent of the ancient historians, the latter of the moderns, compared in
shape to an oblong shield, or a broad knife with two edges. And such in
effect is its figure on this side Caledonia, whence common opinion has
thus also fashioned the whole. But a tract of territory huge and
unmeasurable stretches forward to the uttermost shore, and straitening by
degrees, terminates like a wedge. Round the coast of this sea, which
beyond it has no land, the Roman fleet now first sailed, and thence proved
Britain to be an island, as also discovered and subdued the Isles of
Orkney till then unknown. Thule was likewise descried, hitherto hid by
winter under eternal snow. This sea they report to be slow and stagnate,
difficult to the rowers, and indeed hardly to be raised by the force of
winds. This I conjecture to be because land and mountains, which are the
cause and materials of tempests, very rarely occur in proportion to the
mighty mass of water, a mass so deep and uninterrupted as not to be easily
agitated. An inquiry into the nature of the ocean and of the tide, is not
the purpose of this work, and about it many have written. One thing I
would add, that nowhere is the power of the sea more extensive than here,
forcing back the waters of many rivers, or carrying them away with its
own; nor is its flux and ebbings confined to the banks and shore; but it
works and winds itself far into the country, nay forms bays in rocks and
mountains, as if the same were its native bed.

For the rest; who were the first inhabitants of Britain, whether natives
of its own, or foreigners, can be little known amongst a people thus
barbarous. In their looks and persons they vary; from whence arguments and
inferences are formed. For, the red hair of the Caledonians and their
large limbs, testify their descent to be from Germany. The swarthy
complexion of the Silures, and their hair, which is generally curled, with
their situation opposite to the coast of Spain, furnish ground to believe,
that the ancient Iberians had arrived from thence here, and taken
possession of the territory. They who live next to Gaul are also like the
Gauls; whether it be that the spirit of the original stock from which they
sprang, still remains, or whether in countries near adjoining, the genius
of the climate confers the same form and disposition upon the bodies of
men. To one who considers the whole, it seems however credible, that the
Gauls at first occupied this their neighbouring coast. That their sacred
rites are the same, you may learn from their being possessed with the same
superstition of every sort. Their speech does not much vary. In daring and
dangers they are prompted by the like boldness, and with the like affright
avoid them when they approach. In the Britons however superior ferocity
and defiance is found, as in a people not yet softened by a long peace.
For we learn from history, that the Gauls too flourished in warlike
prowess and renown: amongst them afterwards, together with peace and
idleness, there entered effeminacy; and thus with the loss of their
liberty they lost their spirit and magnanimity. The same happened to those
of the Britons who were conquered long ago. The rest still continue such
as the Gauls once were.

Their principal force consists in their foot. Some nations amongst them
make also war in chariots. The more honourable person always drives: under
his leading his followers fight. They were formerly subject to Kings. They
are now swayed by several chiefs, and rent into factions and parties,
according to the humour and passions of those their leaders. Nor against
nations thus powerful does aught so much avail us, as that they consult
not in a body for the security of the whole. It is rare that two or three
communities assemble and unite to repulse any public danger threatening to
all. So that whilst only a single community fought at a time, they were
every one vanquished. The sky from frequent clouds and rain is dull and
hazy. Excessive cold they feel not. Their days in length surpass ours.
Their nights are very clear, and at the extremity of the country, very
short; so that between the setting and return of the day, you perceive but
small interval. They affirm, that were it not for the intervention of
clouds, the rays of the sun would be seen in the night, and that he doth
not rise and fall, but only pass by: for that the extremities of the
earth, which are level, yielding but a low shadow, prevent darkness from
rising high and spreading; and thence night is far short of reaching the
stars and the sky. The soil is such, that except the olive and the vine,
and other vegetables, which are wont to be raised in hotter climes, it
readily bears all fruits and grain, and is very fertile. It quickly
produces, but its productions ripen slowly; and of both these effects
there is the same cause, the extreme humidity of the earth and of the sky.
Britain yields gold and silver, with other metals, all which prove the
prize and reward of the Conquerors. The sea also breeds pearls, but of a
dark and livid hue, a defect by some ascribed to the unskilfulness of such
as gather them. For, in the Red Sea they are pulled from the rocks alive
and vigorous. In Britain they are gathered at random, such as the sea
casts them upon the shore. For myself; I am much apter to believe, that
nature has failed to give the pearls perfection, than that we fail in
avarice. [Footnote: "Ego facilius crediderim naturam margaritis de esse;
quam nobis avaritiam."]

The Britons themselves are a people who cheerfully comply with the levies
of men, and with the imposition of taxes, and with all the duties enjoined
by Government; provided they receive no illegal treatment and insults from
their governors: those they bear with impatience. Nor have the Romans any
further subdued them than only to obey just laws, but never to submit to
be slaves. Even the deified Julius Caesar, the first of all the Romans who
entered Britain with an army, though by gaining a battle he frightened the
natives, and became master of the coast; [Footnote: Caesar conquered to
the north of the Thames.] yet may be thought to have rather presented
posterity with a view of the country, than to have conveyed down the
possession. Anon the civil wars ensued, and against the Commonwealth were
turned the arms of her own chiefs and leaders. Thus Britain was long
forgot, and continued to be so even during peace. This was what Augustus
called _Reason of State_, but what Tiberius styled the _Ordinance of
Augustus_. That Caligula meditated an invasion of Britain in person, is
well known: but he possessed a spirit, as precipitate and wild, so
presently surfeited with any design whatever; besides that all his mighty
efforts against Germany were quite baffled. The deified Claudius
accomplished the undertaking; having thither transported the legions, with
a number of auxiliary forces, and associated Vespasian into the direction
of the design: an incident which proved the introduction to his
approaching fortune. There, nations were subdued, Kings taken captive, and
Vespasian placed to advantage in the eye of the Fates.

The first Governor of Consular quality, was Aulus Plautius, then Ostorius
Scapula, both signal in war: and by degrees the nearest part of Britain
was reduced into the condition of a Province. To secure it, a colony of
veterans was likewise settled. To the British King Cogidunus certain
communities were given, a Prince who even till our times continued in
perfect fidelity to us. For, with the Roman People it is a custom long
since received, and practised of old, that for establishing the bondage of
nations, they are to employ even Kings as their instruments. Afterwards
followed Didius Gallus, and just preserved what acquisitions his
predecessors had made; only that further in the island he raised some
forts, and very few they were, purely for the name and opinion of having
enlarged his government. Next to Didius came Veranius, and died in less
than a year. Then immediately succeeded Suetonius Paulinus, who during two
years commanded with success, subdued fresh nations and established
garrisons. Trusting to these he went to assail the Isle of Anglesey, as a
place which supplied the revolters with succours, and thus left the
country behind him exposed to the enemy.

For, the Britons, when through the absence of the Governor they were eased
of their fear, began to commune together concerning the miseries of
bondage, to recount their several grievances, and so to construe and
heighten their injuries as effectually to inflame their resentments.
"Their patience," they said, "availed them nothing, further than to invite
the imposition of heavier burdens upon a people who thus tamely bore any.
In times past they had only a single King: they were now surrendered to
two. One of these the Governor-General, tyrannised over their bodies and
lives; the Imperial Procurator, who was the other, over their substance
and fortunes. Equally pernicious to their subjects was any variance
between these their rulers, as their good intelligence and unanimity.
Against them the one employed his own predatory bands, as did the other
his Centurions and their men; and both exercised violence alike, both
treated them with equal insults and contumely. To such height was
oppression grown, that nothing whatever was exempt from their avarice,
nothing whatever from their lust. He who in the day of battle spoiled
others, was always stronger than they. But here it was chiefly by the
cowardly and effeminate that their houses were seized, their children
forced away, and their men obliged to enlist; as if their country were the
only thing for which the Britons knew not how to die. In truth, what a
small force would all the soldiers arrived in the island appear; would the
Britons but compute their own numbers? It was from this consideration that
Germany had thrown off the same yoke, though a country defended only by a
river, and not like this, by the ocean. To animate themselves to take
arms, they had their country, their wives, their parents; whilst these
their oppressors were prompted by nothing but their avarice and
sensuality: nor would they fail to withdraw from the island, as even the
deified Julius had withdrawn, would the natives but imitate the bravery of
their forefathers, and not be dismayed with the issue of an encounter or
two. Amongst people like themselves reduced to misery, superior ardour was
ever found, as also greater firmness and perseverance. Towards the
Britons, at this juncture even the Gods manifested compassion, since they
thus kept the Roman General at such a distance, thus held the Roman army
confined in another island. Nay, already they themselves had gained a
point the most difficult to be gained, that they could now deliberate
about measures common to all: for, doubtless more perilous it were to be
discovered forming such counsels, than openly to put them in execution."

When with these and the like reasons they had instigated one another, they
unanimously took arms under the leading of Boudicea, [Footnote: Boadicea.]
a woman of royal descent; for, in conferring sovereignty, they make no
distinction of sexes. They then forthwith assailed on every side the
soldiers dispersed here and there in forts, and having stormed and sacked
the several garrisons, fell upon the colony itself, as the seat and centre
of public servitude: nor was any kind of cruelty omitted, with which rage
and victory could possibly inspire the hearts of Barbarians. In truth, had
not Paulinus, upon learning the revolt of the Province, come with notable
speed to its relief, Britain had been lost. Yet by the success of a single
battle, he reduced the country to its old subjection, though several
continued in arms, such namely as were conscious of inciting the
rebellion, and under personal dread from the spirit of the Governor. He,
though otherwise a signal commander, yet treated such as had surrendered
themselves in a manner very imperious; and, as one who likewise avenged
his own particular injury, thence exerted the greater rigour. Insomuch
that in his room Petronius Turpilianus was sent, as one whose behaviour
would prove more relenting, one who being unacquainted with the
delinquencies of the enemies, would be more gentle in accepting their
remorse and submission. Turpilianus, when he had quite appeased the late
commotions, ventured upon nothing further, and then delivered the Province
to Trebellius Maximus. He, still more unwarlike and inactive than his
predecessor, and nowise trained in camps and armies, maintained the
tranquillity of the Province by a method of softness and complaisance. The
Barbarians had now likewise learned to forgive such vices as humoured them
in pleasure and ease. Moreover, the civil wars which then intervened,
furnished a proper excuse for the lazy behaviour of the Governor. But he
found himself greatly embarrassed with faction and discord; for that the
soldiers, who had ever been inured to expeditions and feats in the field,
were through idleness grown turbulent and licentious. Trebellius, by
flight and lurking, escaped the present fury of the army: he afterwards
resumed the command, but with an authority altogether precarious, without
all spirit and destitute of all dignity; as if between him and them
articles had been settled, that the soldiers should retain their
licentious behaviour, and the General be permitted to enjoy his life.
During this mutiny no blood was spilled. Neither did Vettius Bolanus, as
the civil war yet subsisted, exert any discipline in Britain. Towards the
enemy there still remained the same sloth and negligence, with the same
insolent spirit in the camp: this difference only there was, that Bolanus
was a man perfectly innocent; and being subject to no hate, as he was free
from all crimes, he had instead of authority over them, only gained their

But, when Vespasian had, with the possession of the world, also recovered
Britain, in it were seen great commanders, noble armies, and the hopes of
the enemy quite abated, Petilius Cerialis, particularly, at his first
entrance, struck them at once with general terror, by attacking the
community of the Brigantes, reckoned the most populous of the whole
Province. There followed many encounters, such as sometimes proved very
bloody. So that he held most part of their country as his conquest, or
continued to ravage it by war. In truth, though the exploits of Cerialis
would have eclipsed the vigilance and fame of any other successor, yet
Julius Frontinus sustained in his turn the mighty task; and, as he was a
man as great and able as he found scope and safety to be, he by the sword
utterly subdued the powerful and warlike nation of the Silures; though
besides the bravery of the enemy, he was likewise obliged to struggle with
the difficulties of places and situation.

A.D. 78. Such was the condition in which Agricola found Britain, such to
have been the vicissitudes of the war there, upon his arrival about the
middle of summer, a time when the Roman soldiers, supposing the service of
the season to be concluded, were securely bent upon inaction and repose,
as were the enemy upon any opportunity to annoy the Romans. The Community
of the Ordovicans had not long before his coming slaughtered, almost
entirely, a band of horse stationed upon their confines; and by an essay
so notable the Province in general became roused; while such as were
intent upon present war, commended the action as an example and a call to
the whole, and others were for delaying till they had discovered the
spirit of the new Lieutenant-General. Now though the summer was over,
though the troops were severed and lay dispersed over the Province, though
the soldiers had assured themselves of rest for the residue of the year (a
heavy obstacle and very discouraging to one who is commencing war), nay,
though many judged it better only to guard the places which were
threatened and precarious; yet Agricola determined to meet the danger.
Hence drawing together the choice bands of the legions, with a small body
of auxiliaries, he led them against the Ordovicans; and as these dared not
descend into equal ground, he, who by sharing equal danger, would inspire
his men with equal courage, marching in person before his army, conducted
them to the encounter upon the ascent. Almost the whole nation was here
cut off; but as he was well aware, that it behoved him to urge and
maintain this his fame, and that with the issue of his first attempts all
the rest would correspond, he conceived a design to reduce the Isle of
Anglesey, a conquest from which Paulinus was recalled by the general
revolt of Britain, as above I have recounted. But, as this counsel was
suddenly concerted, and therefore ships were found wanting, such was the
firmness and capacity of the General, that without ships he transported
his men. From the auxiliaries he detached all their chosen men, such as
knew the fords, and according to the usage of their country were dexterous
in swimming, so as, in the water, at once to manage themselves, and their
horses and arms. These, unencumbered with any of their baggage, he caused
to make a descent and onset so sudden, that the enemy were quite struck
with consternation, as men who apprehended nothing but a fleet and
transports, and a formal invasion by sea, and now believed no enterprise
difficult and insurmountable to such as came thus determined to war. Thus
they sued for peace and even surrendered the island; and thence Agricola
was already considered as a very great and even renowned commander: for
that, at his first entrance into the Province, a time which other
governors are wont to waste in show and parade, or in courting compliment
and addresses, he preferred feats of labour and of peril. Nor did he apply
this his good fortune and success to any purpose of vainglory: so that
upon the bridling of such as were vanquished before, he would not bestow
the title of an expedition or of victory; nor in truth would he so much as
with the bare honour of the laurel distinguish these his exploits. But
even by disguising his fame, he enlarged it; as men considered how vast
must be his future views, when he thus smothered in silence deeds so

For the rest; as he was acquainted with the temper of the people in his
Province; as he had also learned from the conduct and experience of
others, that little is gained by arms where grievances and oppressions
follow, he determined to cut off all the causes of war. Beginning
therefore with himself and those appertaining to him, he checked and
regulated his own household; a task which to many proves not less
difficult than that of governing a province. By none of his domestics,
bond or freed, was aught that concerned the public transacted. In raising
the soldiers to a superior class, he was swayed by no personal interest or
partiality, nor by the recommendation and suit of the Centurions, but by
his own opinion and persuasion, that the best soldiers were ever the most
faithful. All that passed he would know; though all that was amiss he
would not punish. Upon small offences he bestowed pardon; for such as were
great he exercised proportionable severity. Nor did he always exact the
punishment assigned, but frequently was satisfied with compunction and
remorse. In conferring offices and employments he rather chose men who
would not transgress, than such as he must afterwards condemn for
transgressing. Though the imposition of tribute and of grain had been
augmented, yet he softened it by causing a just and equal distribution of
all public burdens; since he abolished whatever exactions had been devised
for the lucre of particulars, and were therefore borne with more regret
than the tribute itself. For, the inhabitants were forced to bear the
mockery of attending at their own barns, locked up by the publicans, and
of purchasing their own corn of the monopolists, nay, of selling it
afterwards back again at a poor price. They were moreover enjoined to take
long journeys, and carry grain across the several countries to places
extremely distant; insomuch that the several communities, instead of
supplying the winter-quarters which lay adjoining, must furnish such as
were remote and difficultly travelled, to the end, that what was easy to
be had by all, might produce gain to a few.

A.D. 79. By suppressing these grievances immediately in his first year, he
gained a high character to a state of peace; a state which, either through
the neglect or connivance of his predecessors, was till then dreaded no
less than that of war. But, upon the coming of summer, he assembled his
army; then proceeded to commend such of the men who in marching observed
their duty and rank, and to check such as were loose and straggling. He
himself always chose the ground for encamping: the salt marshes, friths,
and woods he himself always first examined, and to the enemies all the
while allowed not a moment's quiet or recess, but was ever distressing
them with sudden incursions and ravages. Then, having sufficiently alarmed
and terrified them, his next course was to spare them, thus to tempt them
with the sweetness and allurements of peace. By this conduct, several
communities which till that day had asserted a state of equality and
independence, came to lay down all hostility, gave hostages, and were
begirt with garrisons and fortresses, erected with such just contrivance
and care, that no part of Britain hitherto known escaped thenceforward
from being annoyed by them.

The following winter was employed in measures extremely advantageous and
salutary. For, to the end that these people, thus wild and dispersed over
the country, and thence easily instigated to war, might by a taste of
pleasures be reconciled to inactivity and repose, he first privately
exhorted them, then publicly assisted them, to build temples, houses and
places of assembling. Upon such as were willing and assiduous in these
pursuits he heaped commendations, and reproofs upon the lifeless and slow.
So that a competition for this distinction and honour, had all the force
of necessity. He was already taking care to have the sons of their chiefs
taught the liberal sciences, already preferring the natural capacity of
the Britons to the studied acquirements of the Gauls; and such was his
success, that they who had so lately scorned to learn the Roman language,
were become fond of acquiring the Roman eloquence. Thence they began to
honour our apparel, and the use of the Roman gown grew frequent amongst
them. [Footnote: "Inde etiam habitus nostri honor, et frequens toga."] By
degrees they proceeded to the incitements and charms of vice and
dissoluteness, to magnificent galleries, sumptuous bagnios, and all the
stimulations and elegance of banqueting. Nay, all this innovation was by
the unexperienced styled politeness and humanity, when it was indeed part
of their bondage.

A.D. 80. During the third year of his command, in pursuit of his conquests
he discovered new people, by continuing his devastations through the
several nations quite to the mouth of the Tay: so the frith is called.
Whence such terror seized the foe, that they durst not attack our army
though sorely shaken and annoyed by terrible tempests: nay, the Romans had
even time to secure possession by erecting forts. It was observed of
Agricola by men of experience, that never had any captain more sagely
chosen his stations for commodiousness and situation; for that no place of
strength founded by him, was ever taken by violence, or abandoned upon
articles or despair. From these their strongholds frequent excursions were
made; for, against any long siege they were supplied with provisions for a
year. Thus they passed the winter there without all apprehension: every
single fort defended itself. So that in all their attempts upon them the
enemies were baffled, and thence reduced to utter despair; for that they
could not, as formerly they were wont, repair their losses in the summer
by their success in the winter; since now whether it were winter or
summer, they were equally defeated. Neither did Agricola ever arrogate to
himself the glory of exploits performed by others: were he a Centurion or
were he Commander of a legion, in the General he was sure to find a
sincere witness of his achievements. By some he is said to have been over
sharp in his reproofs, since he was one who, as to them that were good he
abounded in courtesy, appeared withal stern and unpleasant to the bad. But
from his anger no spleen remained. In him you had no dark reserves, no
boding silence to fear. More honourable he thought it to give open offence
than to foster secret hate.

A.D. 81. The fourth summer was employed in settling and securing what
territories he had overrun: indeed would the bravery of the armies and the
glory of the Roman name, have suffered it, there had been then found in
Britain itself a boundary to our conquests there. For, into the rivers
Glota and Bodotria [Footnote: The Clyde and Forth.] the tide from each
opposite sea flows so vastly far up the country, that their heads are
parted only by a narrow neck of land, which was now secured with
garrisons. Thus of all on this side we were already masters; since the
enemy were driven as it were into another island.

A.D. 82. In the fifth year of the war, Agricola passing the Frith, himself
in the first ship that landed, in many and successful encounters subdued
nations till that time unknown, and placed forces in that part of Britain
which fronts Ireland, more from future views than from any present fear.
In truth Ireland, as it lies just between Britain and Spain, and is
capable of an easy communication with the coast of Gaul, would have proved
of infinite use in linking together these powerful limbs of the Empire. In
size it is inferior to Britain, but surpasses the islands in our sea. In
soil and climate, as also in the temper and manners of the natives, it
varies little from Britain. Its ports and landings are better known,
through the frequency of commerce and merchants. A petty King of the
country, expelled by domestic dissension, was already received into
protection by Agricola, and under the appearance of friendship, reserved
for a proper occasion. By him I have often heard it declared, that with a
single legion and a few auxiliaries Ireland might be conquered and
preserved; nay, that such an acquisition were of moment for the securing
of Britain, if, on all sides the Roman arms were seen, and all national
liberty banished as it were out of sight.

A.D. 83. For the rest; on the summer which began the sixth year of his
administration, as it was apprehended, that the nations forward would
universally take arms, and that the ways were all infested with the
enemy's host, his first step was to coast and explore the large
communities beyond Bodotria [Footnote: The Forth.] by the means of his
fleet, which was from the beginning employed by him as part of his forces,
and in attending him at this time made a glorious appearance, when thus by
sea and land the war was urged. In truth, the same camp often contained
the foot and the horse and the marines, all intermixed, and rejoicing in
common, severally magnifying their own feats, their own hazards and
adventures: here were displayed the horrors of steep mountains and dismal
forests; there the outrages of waves and tempests. These boasted their
exploits by land and against the foe: those the vanquished ocean; all
vying together according to the usual vaunts and ostentation of soldiers.
Upon the Britons also, as from the captives was learned, the sight of the
fleet brought much consternation and dismay; as if, now that their
solitary ocean and recesses of the deep were disclosed and invaded, the
last refuge of the vanquished was cut off. To action and arms, the several
people inhabiting Caledonia had immediate recourse, and advanced with
great parade, made still greater by common rumour (as usual in things that
are unknown), for that they daringly assailed our forts, and by thus
insulting and defying us, created much fear and alarm. Nay, there were
some who covering real cowardice under the guise of prudence and counsel,
exhorted a return to the nether side of Bodotria, [Footnote: To retreat
south of the Forth.] for that it were more eligible to retire back than to
be driven. He was apprised the while, that the enemy meant to attack him
in divers bands: so that, as they surpassed him in numbers and in the
knowledge of the country, he too divided his army into three parts, and
thus marched, to prevent their surrounding him.

As soon as this disposition of his was known to the enemy, they suddenly
changed theirs, and all in a body proceeded to fall upon the ninth legion
as the least sufficient and weakest of all; and, as the assault was in the
night they slew the guards and entered the trenches, aided by the general
sleep or general dismay there. They were already pursuing the fight in the
camp itself, when Agricola having from his spies learnt what route the
enemy had taken, and closely following their track, commanded the lightest
of his foot and cavalry to charge them, whilst yet engaged, in the rear,
and the whole army presently after to give a mighty shout. Moreover at
break of day, the Roman banners were beheld refulgent. Thus were the
Britons dismayed with double peril and distress; and to the Romans their
courage returned. Hence seeing their lives secure, they now maintained the
conflict for glory. They even returned the attack upon the enemy: insomuch
that in the very gates of the camp a bloody encounter ensued, till the
enemy were quite routed; for both these our armies exerted their might,
the one contending to show that they had brought relief, the other to
appear not to have wanted assistance. Indeed, had not the woods and
marshes served for shelter to the fugitives, by this victory the war had
been determined.

By this success, with such valour gained, and followed with such renown,
the army was become elated and resolute. With fierce din they cried, "That
to their bravery nothing could prove insurmountable. They must penetrate
into the heart of Caledonia, and advance in a continual succession of
battles, till they had at last found the utmost limits of Britain." Thus
it was that they, who a little before had been so wary and so wise, were
now, after the event was determined, grown full of boasts and intrepidity.
Such is the lot of warfare, very unequal and unjust: in success all men
assume part: the disasters are all imputed to one. Now the Britons,
conjecturing the victory to proceed not from superior courage, but from
circumstances improved and the address of our General, lost nothing of
their spirit and defiance, but armed their young men, removed their wives
and children into places of security, and in general conventions of their
several communities engaged them in a league ratified by solemn
sacrifices. And thus they mutually retired for the winter, with minds on
both sides abundantly irritated.

During the same summer, a cohort of Usipians levied in Germany and thence
transported to Britain, adventured upon a feat very desperate and
memorable. When they had slain the Centurion and soldiers placed amongst
them for training them in discipline, and to serve them for patterns and
directors, they embarked in three pinnaces, forcing the pilots to conduct
them; and since one of these forsook them and fled away, they suspected
and therefore killed the other two. As the attempt was not yet divulged,
their launching into the deep was beheld as a wonder. Anon they were
tossed hither and thither at the mercy of the waves: and, as they often
engaged for spoil with several of the Britons, obliging them to defend
their property thus invaded, in which conflicts they frequently proved
victorious, and were sometimes defeated, they were at last reduced to want
so pressing, as to feed upon one another, first upon the weakest, then
upon whomsoever the lot fell. In this manner were they carried round about
Britain, and having lost their vessels through ignorance how to manage
them, they were accounted robbers and pirates, and fell into the hands
first of the Suevians, afterwards of the Frisians. Nay, as they were
bought and sold for slaves, some of them, through change of masters, were
brought over to our side of the Rhine, and grew famous from the discovery
of an adventure so extraordinary.

A.D. 84. In the beginning of the summer, Agricola suffered a sore blow in
his family, by losing his son born about a year before. A misfortune which
he neither bore with an ostentation of firmness and unconcern, like many
other men of magnanimity, nor with lamentations and tears worthy only of
women. Besides that for this affliction, war proved one of his remedies.
When therefore he had sent forward the navy, which by committing
devastations in several places, would not fail to spread a mighty and
perplexing terror, he put himself at the head of his army lightly
equipped, and to it had added some of the bravest Britons, such as had
been well proved through a long course of peace. Thus he arrived at the
Grampian Hills, upon which the enemy were already encamped. For, the
Britons, nothing daunted by the issue of the former battle, and boldly
waiting either to take vengeance or to suffer bondage, taught withal at
last, that a general union was the best way to repel common danger, had by
embassies and confederacies drawn together the forces of all their
communities. Even then were to be seen thirty thousand men in arms, and
their youth from every quarter were still continuing to flock in, as were
also such of their elderly men as were yet vigorous and hale, they who
were signal in war, and now carried with them their several ensigns of
honour formerly gained in the field. And now Galgacus, he who amongst
their several leaders surpassed all in valour and descent, is said to have
spoke in this strain to the multitude all very pressing for battle,

"Whenever I contemplate the causes of the war, and the necessity to which
we are reduced, great is my confidence that this day and this union of
yours will prove the beginning of universal liberty to Britain. For,
besides that bondage is what we have never borne, we are so beset that
beyond us there is no further land; nor in truth is there any security
left us from the sea whilst the Roman fleet is hovering upon our coasts.
Thus the same expedient which proves honourable to brave men, is to
cowards too become the safest of all others, even present recourse to
battle and arms. The other Britons, in their past conflicts with the
Romans, whence they found various success, had still a remaining source of
hope and succour in this our nation. For, of all the people of Britain we
are the noblest, and thence placed in its innermost regions, and, as we
behold not so much as the coasts of such as are slaves, we thus preserve
even our eyes free and unprofaned by the sight of lawless and usurped
rule. To us who are the utmost inhabitants of the earth, to us the last
who enjoy liberty, this extremity of the globe, this remote tract unknown
even to common fame, has to this day proved the only protection and
defence. At present the utmost boundary of Britain is laid open; and to
conquer parts unknown, is thought matter of great pomp and boasting.
Beyond us no more people are found, nor aught save seas and rocks; and
already the Romans have advanced into the heart of our country. Against
their pride and domineering you will find it in vain to seek a remedy or
refuge from any obsequiousness or humble behaviour of yours. Plunderers of
the earth these, who in their universal devastations finding countries to
fail them, investigate and rob even the sea. If the enemy be wealthy, he
inflames their avarice; if poor, their ambition. They are general
spoilers, such as neither the eastern world nor the western can satiate.
They only of all men thirst after acquisitions both poor and rich, with
equal avidity and passion. To spoil, to butcher, and to commit every kind
of violence, they style by a lying name, _Government_; and when they have
spread a general desolation, they call it _Peace_. [Footnote: "Ubi
solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant."]

"Dearest to every man are his children and kindred, by the contrivance and
designation of nature. These are snatched from us for recruits, and doomed
to bondage in other parts of the earth. Our wives and sisters, however
they escape rapes and violence as from open enemies, are debauched under
the appearance and privilege of friendship and hospitality. Our fortunes
and possessions they exhaust for tribute, our grain for their provisions.
Even our bodies and limbs are extenuated and wasted, while we are doomed
to the drudgery of making cuts through woods, and drains in bogs, under
continual blows and outrages. Such as are born to be slaves are but once
sold, and thenceforward nourished by their lords. Britain is daily paying
for its servitude, is daily feeding it. Moreover, as in a tribe of
household slaves, he who comes last serves for sport to all his fellows;
so in this ancient state of slavery to which the world is reduced, we, as
the freshest slaves and thence held the most contemptible, are now
designed to destruction. For, we have no fields to cultivate, nor mines to
dig, nor ports to make; works for which they might be tempted to spare us
alive: besides that ever distasteful to rulers is magnanimity and a daring
spirit in their subjects. Indeed our very situation, so solitary and
remote, the more security it affords to us, does but raise the greater
jealousy in them. Seeing therefore you are thus bereft of all hopes of
mercy, rouse now at last all your courage, both you to whom life is
dearest, and you to whom glory. The Brigantes, even under the leading of a
woman, burned their colony, stormed their entrenchments, and, had not such
success degenerated into sloth, might have quite cast off the yoke of
slavery. Let us who still preserve our forces entire, us who are still
unsubdued, and want not to acquire liberty but only to secure it, manifest
at once, upon the first encounter, what kind of men they are that
Caledonia has reserved for her own vindication and defence.

"Do you indeed believe the Romans to be equally brave and vigorous in war,
as during peace they are vicious and dissolute? From our quarrels and
divisions it is that they have derived their renown, and thus convert the
faults of their enemies to the glory of their own army; an army compounded
of many nations so different, that as it is success alone which holds them
together, misfortunes and disasters will surely dissolve them. Unless you
suppose that the Germans there, that the Gauls, and many of the Britons
(whom with shame I mention), men who however have been all much longer
their enemies than their slaves, are yet attached to them by any real
fidelity and affection, whilst presenting their blood to establish a
domination altogether foreign and unnatural to them all. What restrains
them is no more than awe and terror, frail bonds of endearment; and when
these are removed, such who cease to fear, will immediately begin to
manifest their hate. Amongst us is found whatever can stimulate men to
victory. The Romans have no wives to hearten and to urge them. They have
here no fathers and mothers to upbraid them for flying. Many of them have
no country at all, or at least their country is elsewhere. But a few in
number they are, ignorant of the region and thence struck with dread,
whilst to their eyes, whatever they behold around them, is all wild and
strange, even the air and sky, with the woods and the sea; so that the
Gods have in some sort delivered them enclosed and bound into our hands.

"Be not dismayed with things of mere show, and with a glare of gold and of
silver: this is what can neither wound, nor save. In the very host of the
enemy we shall find bands of our own. The Britons will own and espouse
their own genuine cause. The Gauls will recollect their former liberty.
What the Usipians have lately done, the other Germans will do, and abandon
the Romans. Thereafter nothing remains to be feared. Their forts are
ungarrisoned; their colonies replenished with the aged and infirm; and
between the people and their magistrates, whilst the former are averse to
obedience, and the latter rule with injustice, the municipal cities are
weakened and full of dissensions. Here you see a general, here an army:
there you may behold tributes and the mines, with all the other train of
calamities and curses ever pursuing men enslaved. Whether all these are to
be for ever imposed, or whether we forthwith avenge ourselves for the
attempt, this very field must determine. As therefore you advance to
battle, look back upon your ancestors, look forward to your posterity."

They received his speech joyfully, with chantings, and terrible din, and
many dissonant shouts, after the manner of barbarians. Already too their
bands moved, and the glittering of their arms appeared, as all the most
resolute were running to the front: moreover the army was forming in
battle array; when Agricola; who indeed saw his soldiers full of alacrity,
and hardly to be restrained even by express cautions, yet chose to
discourse to them in the following strain. "It is now the eighth year, my
fellow-soldiers, since through the virtue and auspicious fortune of the
Roman Empire, and by your own services and fidelity you have been pursuing
the conquest of Britain. In so many expeditions that you have undertaken,
in so many battles as you have fought, you have still had constant
occasion either to be exerting your bravery against the foe, or your
patience and pains even against the obstacles of nature. Neither, during
all these struggles, have we found any cause of mutual regret, I to have
conducted such soldiers, or you to have followed such a captain. We have
both passed the limits which we found, I those known to the ancient
governors, you those of former armies; and we possess the very extremity
of Britain, not only in the bruitings of fame and vulgar rumour, but
possess it with our camps and arms. Britain is entirely discovered, and
entirely subdued. In truth, as the army has been marching, whilst in
passing morasses and mountains and rivers you have been fatigued and
distressed, I was wont to hear every man remarkably brave ask, _When shall
we see the enemy, when be led to battle?_ Already they are come, roused
from their fastnesses and lurking holes. Here you see the end of all your
wishes, here scope for all your valour, and all things promising and
propitious, if you conquer; but all cross and disastrous, should you be
vanquished. For, as to have thus marched over a tract of country so
immense, to have passed through gloomy forests, to have crossed arms of
the deep, is matter of glory and applause whilst we advance against the
enemy; so if we fly before them, whatever is now most in our favour, will
then prove most to our peril. We know not the situation of the country so
well as they know it; we have not provisions so abundant as they have: but
we have limbs and arms; and in these, all things. For myself; it is a rule
long since settled by me, that safety there is none either to the army or
to the general, in turning their backs upon the foe. Hence it is not only
more eligible to lose life honourably than to save it basely, but security
and renown both arise from the same source. Neither would it be a fate
void of glory to fall in this the utmost verge of earth and of nature.

"Were the people now arrayed against you such as were new to you, were you
to engage with bands never before tried, I should animate you by the
examples of other armies. At present, only recollect and enumerate your
own signal exploits, only ask and consult your own eyes. These are they
whom but the last year you utterly discomfited, only by the terror of your
shouting, when, trusting to the darkness of the night, they by stealth
attacked a single legion. These are they who of all the Britons are the
most abandoned to fear and flight, and thence happen thus long to survive
all the rest. It is with us as with those who make inroads into woods and
forests. As beasts of the greatest strength there, are driven thence by
the superior force of such as pursue them, and as the timorous and
spiritless fly even at the cry of the pursuers: in like manner, all the
bravest Britons are long since fallen by the sword. They that remain are
only a crowd, fearful and effeminate: nor can you consider them as men
whom you have therefore reached, because they have persisted to oppose
you, but as such whom you have surprised as the last and forlorn of all,
who struck with dread and bereft of spirit, stand benumbed in yonder
field, whence you may gain over them a glorious and memorable victory.
Here complete all your expeditions and efforts: here close a struggle of
fifty years with one great and important day, so that to the army may not
be imputed either the procrastination of the war, or any cause for
reviving it."

Apparent, even whilst Agricola spoke, was the ardour of the soldiers,
mighty their transport and applause at the end of his speech, and
instantly they flew to their arms. Thus inflamed and urging to engage, he
formed them so that the strong band of auxiliary foot, who were eight
thousand men, composed the centre. The wings were environed with three
thousand horse. The legions without advancing stood embattled just without
the entrenchment; for that mighty would be the glory of the victory, were
it, by sparing them, gained without spilling any Roman blood; and they
were still a sure stay and succour, should the rest be repulsed. The
British host was ranged upon the rising grounds, at once for show and
terror, in such sort that the first band stood upon the plain, and the
rest rose successively upon the brows of the hills, one rank close above
another, as if they had been linked together. Their cavalry and chariots
of war filled the interjacent field with great tumult and boundings to and
fro. Agricola then, fearing from the surpassing multitude of the enemy,
that he might be beset at once in the front and on each flank, opened and
extended his host. Yet, though thence his ranks must prove more relaxed,
and many advised him to bring on the legions, he, who rather entertained a
spirit of hope, and in all difficulties was ever firm, dismissed his horse
and advanced on foot before the banners.

In the beginning of the onset the conflict was maintained at a distance.
The Britons, they who were possessed at once of bravery and skill, armed
with their huge swords and small bucklers, quite eluded our missive
weapons, or beat them quite off, whilst of their own they poured a torrent
upon us, till Agricola encouraged three Batavian cohorts and two of the
Tungrians, to close with the enemy and bring them to an engagement hand to
hand; as what was with those veteran soldiers a long practice, and become
familiar, but to the enemy very uneasy and embarrassing, as they were
armed with very little targets and with swords of enormous size. For, the
swords of the Britons, which are blunt at the end, are unfit for grapling
and cannot support a close encounter. Hence the Batavians thickened their
blows, wounded them with the iron bosses of their bucklers, mangled their
faces, and, bearing down all who withstood them upon the plain, were
already carrying the attack up to the hills: insomuch that the rest of the
cohorts, incited by emulation and sudden ardour, joined with those and
made havoc of all whom they encountered. Nay, such was the impetuosity and
hurry of the victory, that many were left behind but half dead, others not
so much as wounded. In the meantime their troops of cavalry took to
flight: the chariots of war mingled with the battalions of foot; and
though they had so lately struck terror, were now themselves beset and
entangled with our thick bands, as also with the unevenness and intricacy
of the place. Of a combat of cavalry this bore not the least appearance:
since here, standing obstinately foot to foot, they pressed to overthrow
each other by the weight and bodies of their horses. Moreover the war-
chariots, now abandoned and straggling, as also the horses destitute of
managers and thence wild and affrighted, were running hither and thither
just as the next fright drove them; insomuch that all of their own side,
who met them or crossed their way, were beaten down by them.

Now those of the Britons who were lodged upon the ridges of the hills and
had hitherto no share in the encounter, like men yet pressed by no peril
looked with scorn upon our forces as but few in number, and began to
descend softly and to surround them in the rear, whilst they were urging
their victory. But Agricola, who had apprehended this very design,
despatched to engage them four squadrons of horse, such as he had reserved
near him for the sudden exigencies of the field; and by this providence of
his, the more furiously they had advanced, the more keenly were they
repulsed and utterly routed. Thus against the Britons themselves their own
devices were turned; and by the order of the General, the squadrons of
cavalry which charged in front, wheeled about and assailed the enemy
behind. Then in truth, all over the open fields was to be seen a spectacle
prodigious and tragical, incessant pursuits, wounds and captivity, and the
present captives always slaughtered, as often as others occurred to be
taken. Now the enemy behaved just as they happened to be prompted by their
several humours. Sometimes they fled in large troops with all their arms,
before a smaller number that pursued them: others, quite unarmed, rushed
into peril, and desperately presented themselves to instant death. On all
sides lay scattered arms and carcasses, and mangled limbs, and the ground
was dyed with blood. Nay, now and then even by the vanquished was exerted
notable wrath and bravery. When once they drew near the woods, they
rejoined and rallied, and thus circumvented the foremost pursuers, such
as, without knowing the country, had rashly ventured too far. Whence we
must have suffered some notable disaster, from such confidence void of
caution, had not Agricola who was assiduously visiting every quarter,
ordered the stoutest cohorts lightly equipped to range themselves in the
form of a toil [Footnote: A net or web, to encompass them; such as
Herodotus describes, for clearing out a vanquished enemy.] to invest them,
also some of the cavalry to dismount, and enter the strait passes, and the
rest of the horse, at the same time, to beat the more open and passable
parts of the woods. Now, as soon as they perceived our forces to continue
the pursuit with ranks regular and close, they betook themselves to open
flight, in no united bands as before, no one man regarding or awaiting
another; but quite scattered, and each shunning any companion, they all
made to places far remote and desert. What ended the pursuit was night and
a satiety of slaughter. Of the enemy were slain ten thousand. There fell
of our men three hundred and forty, amongst these Aulus Atticus, commander
of a cohort; one by his own youthful heart, as also by a fiery horse,
hurried into the midst of the enemies.

It was indeed a night of great joy to the conquerors, both from victory
and spoil. The Britons, who wandered in despair, men and women uttering in
concert their dismal wailings, dragged along their wounded, called to such
as were unhurt, deserted their houses, nay, in rage even set them on fire;
made choice of lurking holes, then instantly forsook them; then met to
consult, and from their counsels gathered some hope: sometimes, upon
beholding their dearest pledges of nature, their spirits became utterly
sunk and dejected; sometimes, by the same sight, they were roused into
resolution and fury. Nay, 'tis very certain, that some murdered their
children and wives, as an act of compassion and tenderness. The next day
produced a more ample display of the victory; on all sides a profound
silence, solitary hills, thick smoke rising from the houses on fire, and
not a living soul to be found by the scouts. When from these, who had been
despatched out every way, it was learnt, that whither the enemy had fled
no certain traces could be discovered, and that they had nowhere rallied
in bodies; when the summer was likewise passed and thence an impossibility
of extending the operations of war, he conducted his army into the borders
of the Horestians. After he had there received hostages, he ordered the
Admiral of the Fleet to sail round Britain. For this expedition he was
furnished with proper forces, and before him was already gone forth the
terror of the Roman power: he himself the while led on his foot and horse
with a slow pace, that thus the minds of these new nations might be awed
and dismayed even by prolonging his march through them: he then lodged his
army in garrisons for the winter. The fleet too having found a favourable
sea, entered with great fame, into the harbour of Rhutupium: [Footnote:
Supposed to be Sandwich Haven.] for, from thence it had sailed, and
coasting along the nethermost shore of Britain, thither returned.

With this course and situation of things Agricola by letters acquainted
the Emperor; tidings which, however modestly recounted, without all
ostentation, or any pomp of words, Domitian received as with joy in his
countenance, so with anguish in his soul: such was his custom. His heart
indeed smote him for his late mock triumph over the Germans, which he knew
to be held in public derision; as to adorn it he had purchased a number of
slaves, who were so decked in their habits and hair, as to resemble
captives in war. But here a victory mighty and certain, gained by the
slaughter of so many thousands of the enemy, was universally sounded by
the voice of fame, and received with vast applause. Terrible above all
things it was to him, that the name of a private man should be exalted
above that of the Prince. In vain had he driven from the public tribunals
all pursuits of popular evidence and fame, in vain smothered the lustre of
every civil accomplishment, if any other than himself possessed the glory
of excelling in war: nay, however he might dissemble every other distaste,
yet to the person of the Emperor properly appertained the virtue and
praise of being a great General. Tortured with these anxious thoughts, and
indulging his humour of being shut up in secret, a certain indication that
he was fostering some sanguinary purpose, he at last judged it the best
course, upon this occasion, to hide and reserve his rancour till the first
flights of fame were passed, and the affection of the army cooled. For,
Agricola held yet the administration of Britain.

To him therefore he caused to be decreed in Senate the triumphal
ornaments, a statue crowned with laurel, with whatever else is bestowed
instead of a real triumph, and heightened this his compliment with many
expressions full of esteem and honour. He directed moreover a general
expectation to be raised, that to Agricola was destined the Province of
Syria, a Government then vacant by the death of Atilius Rufus, a man of
Consular quality, since the same was reserved only for men of illustrious
rank. Many there were who believed, that an Imperial freedman, one much
trusted with the secret designs of his master, was by him despatched to
carry the instrument appointing Agricola Governor of Syria, with orders to
deliver it to him, were he still in Britain; that the freedman met
Agricola crossing the Channel, and without once speaking to him, returned
directly to Domitian. It is uncertain whether this account be true, or
only a fiction framed in conformity to the character and genius of the
Prince. To his successor, in the meantime, Agricola had surrendered the
Province now settled in perfect peace and security. Moreover, to prevent
all remarks upon the manner of his entry into Rome, from any popular
distinction paid him, and any concourse of people to meet him, he utterly
declined this observance of his friends, and came into the city by night;
and by night, as he was directed, went to the palace. He was there
received by the Emperor, with a short embrace, but without a word said;
then passed, undistinguished, amongst the crowd of servile courtiers. Now
in order to soften with other and different virtues the reputation of a
military man, a name ever distasteful to those who live themselves in
idleness, he resigned himself entirely to indolence and repose. In his
dress he was modest; in his conversation courteous and free, and never
found accompanied with more than one or two of his friends. Insomuch that
many, such especially as are wont to judge of great men by their retinue
and parade, all calculated to gain popular admiration, when they had
beheld and observed Agricola, sought to know whence proceeded his mighty
fame: there were indeed but few who could account for the motives of his

Frequently, during the course of that time, was he accused in his absence
before Domitian, and in his absence also acquitted. What threatened his
life was no crime of his, nor complaint of any particular for injuries
received, nor aught else save the glorious character of the man, and the
spirit of the Emperor hating all excellence and every virtue. With these
causes there concurred the most mischievous sort of all enemies, they who
extolled him in order to destroy him. Moreover in the Commonwealth there
ensued such times as would not permit the name of Agricola to remain
unmentioned: so many were the armies which we had lost in Moesia, in
Dacia, in Germany, in Pannonia; all by the wretched conduct of our
Generals, either altogether impotent or foolhardy: so many withal were the
brave officers, with so many bands of men overthrown and taken. Neither
was the question and contest now about maintaining the limits of the
Empire and guarding the rivers which served for its boundaries, but about
defending the standing encampments of the legions and preserving our own
territories. Thus, when public misfortunes were following one another in a
continual train, when every year was become signal for calamities and
slaughters, Agricola was by the common voice of the populace required for
the command of our armies. For, all men were comparing his vigour, his
firmness, and his mind trained in war, with the sloth and timidity of the
others. With discourses of this strain, it is certain that even the ears
of Domitian himself were teased; whilst all the best of his freedmen
advised and pressed him to this choice, out of pure affection and duty, as
did the worst out of virulence and envy; and to whatever appeared most
malignant that Prince was ever prone. In this manner was Agricola, as well
through his own virtues as through the base management of others, pushed
upon a precipice even of glory.

A.D. 90. The year was now arrived when to the lot of Agricola was to fall
the Proconsulship of Asia or of Africa: and, as Civica had been lately
murdered (even whilst Proconsul of the former Province), Agricola was
neither unprepared what course to pursue, nor Domitian unfurnished with an
example to follow. It happened too, that certain persons, men apprised of
the secret purposes of the Prince, made it their business to accost
Agricola and ask him, whether he meant in earnest to take possession of
his Province. Nay, they began, at first indeed with some reserve, to extol
a life of tranquillity and repose; anon they proffered their good offices
to procure his demission and excuse: at last, throwing off all disguise,
and proceeding at once to dissuade and to intimidate him, they prevailed
with him to be carried, with this as his suit, to Domitian. He, already
prepared to dissemble his sentiments, and assuming a mien of haughtiness,
not only received the petition of Agricola to be excused, but when he had
granted it, suffered himself to be presented with formal thanks, Nor was
he ashamed of conferring a grace so unpopular and odious. To Agricola
however he gave not the salary which was wont to be paid to Proconsuls,
and which he himself had continued to some. Whether he were affronted that
it was not asked, or whether restrained by his own guilty mind, lest he
might seem to have purchased with money what he had hindered by his
interposition and power. It is the nature of men, that whomsoever they
injure they hate. Now Domitian was in his temper apt to be suddenly
transported into rage, and, in proportion as he smothered his vengeance,
the more irreconcilable he always certainly proved. Yet by the prudence
and moderation of Agricola, he was softened. For, by no contumacy of his,
nor by any vain ostentation of a spirit of liberty ill-timed, did he court
fame or urge his fate. Let such who are wont to admire things daring and
forbidden, know, that even under evil Princes great men may be produced,
and that by the means of modesty and observance, provided these be
accompanied with application and vigour, they may rise to an equal measure
of public estimation and praise with that of many, who through a conduct
very stubborn and precipitate, but of no advantage to the Commonweal, have
distinguished themselves by dying only to gain a great name.

A.D. 93. Afflicting to us his family proved the end of his life, sorrowful
to his friends; and even to foreigners and such as knew him not, matter of
trouble and condolence. The commonalty likewise, and such people as were
void of employment, [Footnote: Or it may be thus translated: "The body of
the people though chiefly intent upon such affairs as concerned not the
State."--GORDON. Burnouf is better: "Ce peuple, qu'occupent d'autres
interets."] were not only frequent in their visits to his house, but in
all public places, in all particular companies made him the subject of
their conversation. Nor, when his death was divulged, was there a soul
found who either rejoiced at it, or presently forgot it. What heightened
the public commiseration and concern, was a prevailing rumour that he was
despatched by poison. That there was any proof of this, I dare not aver.
Yet it is true, that during the whole course of his illness, Domitian
caused frequent visits to be made him, indeed much more frequent than
Princes are wont to make, both by his favourite freedmen and most trusty
physicians; whether through real concern for his health, or solicitude to
learn the probability of his death. It is well known that on the day in
which he expired, continual accounts were, by messengers purposely placed,
every instant transmitted to the Emperor, how fast his end was
approaching; and no one believed, that he would thus quicken such tidings,
had he been to feel any sorrow from hearing them. In his face however and
even in his spirit, he affected to show some guise of grief; for, he was
now secure against the object of his hate, and could more easily dissemble
his present joy, than lately his fear. It was abundantly notorious how
much it rejoiced him, upon reading the last will of Agricola, to find
himself left joint heir with his excellent wife and tender daughter. This
he took to have been done out of judgment and choice, and in pure honour
to himself. So blind and corrupt was his mind rendered by continual
flattery, as not to know, that to no Prince but a bad one will any good
father bequeath his fortune.

Agricola was born on the 13th of June, during the third Consulship of the
Emperor Caligula. He died on the 24th of August, during the Consulship of
Collega and Priscus, in the fifty-sixth year of his age. If posterity be
desirous to know his make and stature; in his person he was rather genteel
and regular than tall. [Footnote: Decentior quam sublimior fuit.] In his
aspect there was nothing terrible. His looks were extremely graceful and
pleasing. A good man you would have readily believed him, and been glad to
have found that he was a great man. Nay, though he was snatched away
whilst his age was yet in full vigour, if however his life be measured by
his glory, he attained to a mighty length of days. For, every true
felicity and acquisition, namely, all such as arise from virtue, he had
already enjoyed to the full. As he had been likewise dignified with the
Consular and triumphal honours, what more could fortune add to his lustre
and renown? After enormous wealth he sought not: an honourable share he
possessed. As behind him he left surviving his daughter and his wife, he
may be even accounted happy; since by dying whilst his credit was nowise
impaired, his fame in its full splendour, his relations and friends yet in
a state of security, he escaped the evils to come. For, as before us he
was wont to express his wishes, that he might survive to see this truly
blessed Age, and Trajan swaying the sovereignty, wishes which he uttered
with presages as of what would surely ensue; so it was a wondrous
consolation attending the quickness of his death, that thence he evaded
the misery of the latter times, when Domitian, who had ceased to exert his
tyranny by starts only and intermissions, was come now to rend the
Commonwealth by cruelties without all respite, and to overthrow it as it
were by one great and deadly stroke.

For, Agricola saw not the Court of the Senate besieged, nor the Senate
enclosed by armed men, nor the butchery of so many men of Consular
dignity, nor the flight and exile of so many ladies of the prime nobility,
all effected in one continued havoc. Till then Carus Metius, the accuser,
was only considerable for having been victorious in one bloody process;
till then the cruel motions of Messallinus rang only within the palace at
Alba; [Footnote: A country palace of Domitian.] and in those days Massa
Bebius (afterwards so exercised in arraigning the innocent) was himself
arraigned as a criminal. Presently after we, with our own hands, dragged
Helvidius to prison and execution: we beheld the melancholy doom of
Mauricus and Rusticus: we found ourselves besprinkled with the innocent
blood of Senecio. Even Nero withheld his eyes from scenes of cruelty, he
indeed ordered murders to be perpetrated, but saw not the perpetration.
The principal part of our miseries under Domitian, was to be obliged to
see him and be seen by him, at a time when all our sighs and sorrows were
watched and marked down for condemnation; when that cruel countenance of
his, always covered with a settled red, whence he hardened himself against
all shame and blushing, served him to mark and recount all the pale
horrors at once possessing so many men. Thou therefore, Agricola, art
happy, not only as thy life was glorious, but as thy death was seasonable.
According to the account of such who heard thy last words, thou didst
accept thy fate cheerfully and with firmness, as if thou thus didst thy
part to show the Emperor to be guiltless. But to myself and thy daughter,
besides the anguish of having our father snatched from us, it proves a
fresh accession of sorrow, that we had not an opportunity to attend thee
in thy sickness, to solace thy sinking spirits, to please ourselves with
seeing thee, please ourselves with embracing thee. Doubtless, we should
have greedily received thy instructions and sayings, and engraved them for
ever upon our hearts. This is our woe, this a wound to our spirit, that by
the lot of long absence from thee thou wast already lost to us for four
years before thy death. There is no question, excellent father, but that
with whatever thy condition required thou wast honourably supplied, as
thou wast attended by thy wife, one so full of tenderness for her husband:
yet fewer tears accompanied thy course, and during thy last moments
somewhat was wanting to satisfy thine eyes.

If for the _Manes_ of the just any place be found; if, as philosophers
hold, great spirits perish not with the body, pleasing be thy repose.
Moreover, recall us thy family from this our weakness in regretting thee,
and from these our effeminate wailings, to the contemplation of thy
virtues, for which it were unjust to lament or to mourn. Let us rather
adorn thy memory with deathless praises and (as far as our infirmities
will allow) by pursuing and adopting thy excellencies. This is true
honour, this the natural duty incumbent upon every near relation. This is
also what I would recommend to thy daughter and thy wife, so to reverence
the memory of a father, and a husband, as to be ever ruminating upon all
his doings, upon all his sayings, and rather to adore his immortal name,
rather the image of his mind than that of his person. Not that I mean to
condemn the use of statues, such as are framed of marble or brass. But as
the persons of men are frail and perishing, so are likewise the
portraitures of men. The form of the soul is eternal, such as you cannot
represent and preserve by the craft of hands or by materials foreign to
its nature, nor otherwise than by a similitude and conformity of manners.
Whatever we loved in Agricola, whatever we admired, remains, and will for
ever remain implanted in the hearts of men, through an eternity of ages,
and conveyed down in the voice of fame, in the record of things. For, many
of the great ancients, by being buried in oblivion, have thence reaped the
fate of men altogether mean and inglorious: but Agricola shall ever
survive in his history here composed and transmitted to posterity.

Book of the day: