« AnteriorContinuar »
Agricola and his legions first penetrated into the Caledonian forests. The twenty-one native tribes were, from constitutional bravery, their passionate love of dear life and liberty, and long practice in quarrelling among each other, enabled to resist for a time the battalions of Rome, terrible even in their decay. The history of the campaign of Agricola is written by Tacitus, his son-in-law, the great Roman historian. In his vigorous pages the first light breaks on the darkness of Albania, and he is the first to call its inhabitants Caledonii. He tells us that the Romans and the Britains met in desperate conflict at Mons Grampius, the latter led by their heroic chief Galgacus. In this conflict, generally called the Battle of the Grampians,1 the Romans were victorious, and they then settled down in the country south of the Forth. Agricola built a line of forts from the Forth to the Clyde, and his fleet, sailing along the coast, discovered that Britain was an island, and lighted upon the Orcades, the Orkneys of later days, which they annexed to the Empire. In the year 120 the Emperor Hadrian commenced the erection of the great wall, which having been added to or completed by the Emperor Severus, in the beginning of the third century, is sometimes called the Wall of Severus. This magnificent triumph of military engineering, vast portions of which still remain, crossed the country from the Tyne to the Solway, shutting out the barbarian north. It consisted of two great ditches or fosses, of a stone wall, and three earthen mounds or ramparts, and at regular distances were towers and strong fortresses or barracks. The breadth of the stone wall varied between six and nine feet, and 'if,' says the historian who thus minutely describes it, 'we suppose it to have been from eighteen to twenty feet high, and allow from ten to twelve feet for the ditch which accompanies it on flat ground, there
1 The site of the battle of the Grampians is unknown.
was here some thirty feet of perpendicular rampart facing the barbarian who came to assail the marches of the Empire.'1 About the year 139, in the reign of the Emperor Antonine, Lollius Urbicus, the Roman lieutenant in Britain, built another rampart from the Forth to the Clyde, known as the Wall of Antonine, or Grime's Dyke. Within these great walls the five Romanized British tribes—the Ottadini, the Gadini, the Selgovae, the Novantes, and the Damnii— lived in tolerable security in their large territory of Valentia, which afterwards came to be called Cumbria or Strathclyde. From the time of the invasion of Agricola, in A.D. 80, to the beginning of the fifth century, when all intercourse with Imperial Rome ceased, is called the Roman Period—the period of actual Roman occupation, when 'Rome, her mark,' was impressed, although but lightly, in Albania. In Valentia was established a measure of the civilisation and the glittering depravity of the Empire, and these new manners and ways, good and evil, with the knowledge of arts and sciences, spread more or less throughout the accessible regions of the country. Military Roman remains are found as far as the Grampians, and in Valentia there are still the Roman roads, and what were once the Roman camps. There are also traces of human abodes, of domestic utensils of classic mould, and there have been found a few lachrymatories or phials for containing the tears of mourners for the dead. Yet we can discover no remains of those extra appliances of luxurious comfort and elegance which were indispensable to the permanent existence of noble Romans. The indelible stamp is wanting which would have implied that the highest social life of the Italians took a very firm root in Caledonia during any portion of the long period of Roman occupation. We can imagine the Roman lords bringing their wives and daughters to enjoy the cool
1 Burton's Hist, of Scotland, vol. i. pp. 20, 22.
climate of the new world for a month or two in one summer of a lifetime, but it is not probable that a great number of the rich inhabitants of the south would .have made a lasting exchange from their own delicious climate for any region beyond Northumberland. The great change and vast blessing that befell our country in the Roman period infinitely exceeds in magnitude every event of Scottish history. It was the introduction of the religion of Jesus Christ, and the overthrow of the mythology of the Caledonians. We are told that in the beginning of the third century a native king was converted, but certainly the exact date and circumstances of the first appearance of Christianity are not known. One of the legends about it is this :—In the year 307, Saint Regulus, or Rule, set sail from Achaia in Asia, accompanied by a priest, two deacons, eight hermits, and three devoted virgins,1 and carrying with them, in obedience to a vision by night, part of the relics of the apostle Saint Andrew, who was crucified at Patras in Achaia. After a tempestuous voyage, in which they were deprived of all save the blessed relics, their frail boat was driven on the Scottish shore, and they landed where the city of St. Andrews now stands, and lived for some time among the cliffs of St. Andrews bay, where St . Rule's ocean cave, a rough oratory hewn out of the solid rock, is still his memorial. Their arrival having been made known to the king of the Picts, he presented them with lands, and permitted them to disseminate the Gospel along the eastern coast. They built a church near the site of the mediaeval cathedral ; and at all events this legend accounts for the national veneration for St. Andrew, who is the patron saint of Scotland.
1 One of these virgins, Triduana, led an eremitic life at Rescoby in Forfarshire, and has left her name in various districts.
ST. NINIAN AND ST. PATRICK.
'Faith is fresh of hue.'
THE first apostle of the Picts of whom we have any certain information is Saint Ninian. He was the son of a Christian Prince, and was born at Whithern in Galloway, some time in the fourth century. He lived a very holy youth, being early called by God to devote himself unreservedly to His service. At twenty years old he went to study at Rome, the head-quarters of Christianity and of civilisation, and during the long probation he passed there, he had opportunities of seeing and learning much, of 'proving all things.' The Roman Empire was falling, and the power of the Roman See was on the rapid increase. St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, St. Chrysostom and St. Jerome, were spreading around them the varied influence of their ' noble lives,' and were combating Arianism, a frightful heresy, which denied the divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Ninian was consecrated bishop by Siricius, Bishop of Rome ; and then we may imagine what a wealth of faith and love was needed to tear himself from the churches and books, the city full of life, and holding out many an allurement to work and to self-devotion,—the delightful climate, the beautiful nature all around praising and loving God, the holy friends, to return to his barbarian fatherland. He however bade them all good-bye for ever in this world, that he might go away alone with his God, to labour in that bleak country, which was the part of the great vineyard that He had allotted to his keeping. On his way home he visited St. Martin of Tours, 'the glory of Gaul,' who hailed in Ninian the future saint, 'perceiving by prophetic light that he would be the instrument of salvation to many.' On Ninian discovering to him the desire of his heart—to rear a church in his own land,—the aged bishop promised his son skilled artificers, and then with prayers and tears they parted, and Ninian went 'forth to his work, and to his labour until the evening.' That work was the evangelization of the southern Picts, who inhabited the country between the Forth and the Grampians. He chose for a place of occasional retreat and study, and which, though without the scene of his active toil, became really the centre to the mission, a promontory near the Solway, where he erected a church called Candida Casa, or the White House, because, as the Venerable Bede tells us, it was built of stone, in a manner unusual among the Britons. In 397 St. Martin died, and the news of this event reaching Ninian, he dedicated his church to him, and 'in many a rough wild heart the sight of that fair church, conspicuous on its promontory, may have produced the first perceptions of the beauty and stability of the new faith, brought by a British prince from a city heretofore associated with legions, ramparts, and iron-hearted repression.'1 St. Ninian's work was blessed in the conversion of the southern Picts. By the stories about him in the account of his life, the singular beauty of his character is exhibited, and though so brave and so sternly in earnest, he was as simple as a child. The legend of the Rain teaches us a great deal. One day