The earliest periods of English History are obscure, and even the origin of its inhabitants is still a subject of discussion. The first authentic information which we possess with regard to them is derived from their conqueror. Julius Caesar remarked their resemblance to the Gauls, and modern researches have confirmed his testimony. Every thing seems to show that the inhabitants of Britain were Celts, or Gaels, a name which the population of the highlands of Scotland retain to this day. On the Southern Coasts, an invasion of Cimrys, or Belgians, appears to have mingled with the Celtic population and to have brought with it some elements of civilization. Long before the advent of Cæsar, the Phoenicians and Greeks established at Marseilles, had entered into relations of commerce with the Scilly Isles, which they called the Cassiterides, and also with the extremity of the County of Cornwall, where the tin-mines were situated. Pytheas, who lived at Marseilles at the commencement of the Fourth Century B.C., has related his voyage along the coast of Britain; but it is with the invasion of the Romans that the history of England commences. It is here that we penetrate for the first time into those islands which, though separated from the rest of the world, sent to the Gauls, who were struggling for their independence, succor, which furnished Cæsar with a pretext for the attempt to conquer them. After his fourth campaign in Gaul, about the year 55 B.C., the great Roman general set sail on the 26th of August for Britain. He had brought with him the infantry of two legions,about twelve thousand men, and he disembarked near the point where the town of Deal is now situated. The Britons had gathered in a mass upon the shore. A great number were on horseback, urging their horses into the waves, and insulting and defying the foreigners. They were almost entirely naked, having cast off the clothing of skins with which they were ordinarily covered, in order to prepare for the combat. Their war chariots were driven rapidly along the shore. For a moment the Roman soldiers hesitated, troubled by the unaccustomed sight, perhaps from a dread of offending the unknown gods of people celebrated among their Gaulish brethren for the devotion with which they surrounded the Druidical faith. The standard-bearer of the tenth legion was the first to precipitate himself into the sea. "Follow me, my fellow-soldiers," said he, "unless you will give up your eagle to the enemy. I at least will do my duty to the Republic and to our general." His comrades followed his example, and the savage inhabitants of Britain retired in disorder, driven back, in spite of their bravery, after a short engagement.
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