Young Folks' History of England HTML version
1. Julius C&Aelig;Sar, B.C. 55
Nearly two thousand years ago there was a brave captain whose name was
Julius Cæsar. The soldiers he led to battle were very strong, and conquered
the people wherever they went. They had no gun or gunpowder then; but
they had swords and spears, and, to prevent themselves from being hurt,
they had helmets or brazen caps on their heads, with long tufts of horse-hair
upon them, by way of ornament, and breast-plates of brass on their breasts,
and on their arms they carried a sort of screen, made of strong leather. One
of them carried a little brass figure of an eagle on a long pole, with a scarlet
flag flying below, and wherever the eagle was seen, they all followed, and
fought so bravely that nothing could long stand against them.
When Julius Cæsar rode at their head, with his keen, pale hook-nosed face,
and the scarlet cloak that the general always wore, they were so proud of
him, and so fond of him, that there was nothing they would not do for him.
Julius Cæsar heard that a little way off there was a country nobody knew
anything about, except that the people were very fierce and savage, and that
a sort of pearl was found in the shells of mussels which lived in the rivers. He
could not bear that there should be any place that his own people, the
Romans, did not know and subdue. So he commanded the ships to be
prepared, and he and his soldiers embarked, watching the white cliffs on the
other side of the sea grow higher and higher as he came nearer and nearer.
When he came quite up to them, he found the savages were there in earnest.
They were tall men, with long red streaming hair, and such clothes as they
had were woollen, checked like plaid; but many had their arms and breasts
naked, and painted all over in blue patterns. They yelled and brandished their
darts, to make Julius Cæsar and his Roman soldiers keep away; but he only
went on to a place where the shore was not quite so steep, and there
commanded his soldiers to land. The savages had run along the shore too,
and there was a terrible fight; but at last the man who carried the eagle
jumped down into the middle of the natives, calling out to his fellows that
they must come after him, or they would lose their eagle. They all came
rushing and leaping down, and thus they managed to force back the savages,
and make their way to the shore.
There was not much worth having when they had made their way there.
Though they came again the next year, and forced their way a good deal
farther into the country, they saw chiefly bare downs, or heaths, or thick
woods. The few houses were little more than piles of stones, and the people
were rough and wild, and could do very little. The men hunted wild boars,
and wolves and stags, and the women dug the ground, and raised a little
corn, which they ground to flour between two stones to make bread; and
they spun the wool of their sheep, dyed it with bright colors, and wove it into