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Geoffrey of Monmouth History of the Kings of Britain

 
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Geoffrey of Monmouth
History of the Kings of Britain
page 36



ploughman often the father of a soldier, and a soldier of a ploughman? Does not the same diversity happen in a mechanic and a soldier? Since then, in this manner, one produces another, I cannot think it possible for manhood to be lost among them. As then you are men, behave yourselves like men: call upon the name of Christ, that he may inspire you with courage to defend your liberties.” No sooner had he concluded his speech, than the people raised such a shout, that one would have thought them on a sudden inspired with courage from heaven.

Chapter 3. The Britons are again cruelly harassed by Guanius and Melga.

After this the Romans encouraged the timorous people as much as they could, and left them patterns of their arms. They likewise commanded towers, having a prospect towards the sea, to be placed at proper distances along all the south coast, where their ships were, and from whence they feared the invasions of the barbarians. But, according to the proverb, “It is easier to make a hawk of a kite, than a scholar of a ploughman;” all learning to him is but as a pearl thrown before swine. Thus, no sooner had the Romans taken their farewell of them, than the two leaders, Guanius and Melga, issued forth from their ships, in which they had fled over into Ireland, and with their bands of Scots, Picts, Norwegians, Dacians, and others, whom they had brought along with them, seized upon all Albania as far as the very wall. Understanding likewise that the Romans were gone, never to return any more, they, now, in a more insolent manner than before, began their devastations in the island. Hereupon the country fellows upon the battlements of the walls sat night and day with quaking hearts, not daring to stir from their seats, and readier for flight than making the least resistance. In the meantime the enemies ceased not with their hooks to pull them down headlong, and dash the wretched herd to pieces upon the ground; who gained at least this advantage by their speedy death, that they avoided the sight of that most deplorable calamity, which forthwith threatened their relations and dearest children. Such was the terrible vengeance of God for that most wicked madness of Maximian, in draining the kingdom of all its forces, who, had they been present, would have repulsed any nation that invaded them; an evident proof of which they gave, by the vast conquests they made abroad, even in remote countries; and also by maintaining their own country, in peace, while they continued here. But thus it happens when a country is left to the defence of country clowns. In short, quitting their high wall and their cities, the country people were forced again to fly, and to suffer a more fatal dispersion, a more furious pursuit of the enemy, a more cruel and more general slaughter than before; and like lambs before wolves, so was that miserable people torn to pieces by, the merciless barbarians. Again, therefore, the wretched remainder send letters to Agitius, a man of great power among the Romans, to this effect. “To Agitius, thrice consul, the groans of the Britons.” And after some few other complaints they add:— “The sea drives us to the barbarians, and the barbarians drive us back to the sea: thus are we tossed to and fro between two kinds of death, being either drowned or put to the sword.” Notwithstanding this most moving address they procured no relief, and the ambassadors returning back in great heaviness, declared to their countrymen the repulse which they had suffered.

Chapter 4. Guethelin desires succours of Aldroen.

Hereupon, after a consultation together, Guethelin, archbishop of London, passed over into Lesser Britain, called then Armorica, or Letavia, to desire assistance of their brethren. At that time Aldroen reigned there, being the fourth king from Conan, to whom, as has been already related, Maximian bad given that kingdom. This prince, seeing a prelate of so great dignity arrive, received him with honour, and inquired after the occasion of his coming. To whom Guethelin:— “Your majesty can be no stranger to the misery which we your Britons, have suffered (which may even demand your tears), since the time that Maximian drained our island of its soldiers, to people the kingdom which you enjoy, and which God grant you may long enjoy in peace. For against us the poor remains of the British race, all the people of the. adjacent islands, have risen up, and made an utter devastation in our country, which then abounded with all kinds of riches; so that the people now are wholly destitute of all manner of sustenance, but what they can get in hunting. Nor had we any power or knowledge of military affairs left among us to encounter the enemy. For the Romans are tired of us, and have absolutely refused their assistance. So that now, deprived of all other. hope we come to implore your clemency, that you would furnish us with forces, and protect a kingdom, which is of right your own, from the incursions of barbarians. For who but yourself, ought, without your consent, to wear the crown of Constantine and Maximian,


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