On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain
ne. 2, 3.] BEIT AIN—U S SITUATION.
§ 2. I will, therefore, if God be willing, endeavour to say a few words about the situation of Britain, her disobedience and subjection, her rebellion, second subjection and dreadful slavery—of her religion, persecution, holy martyrs, heresies of different kinds—of her tyrants, her two hostile and ravaging nations—of her first devastation, her defence, her second devastation and second taking vengeance—of her third devastation, of her famine, and the letters to Agitius * —of her victory and her crimes—of the sudden rumour of enemies—of her famous pestilence—of her counsels—of her last enemy, far more cruel than the first—of the subversion of her cities, and of the remnant that escaped ; and finally, of the peace which, by the will of God, has been granted her in these our times.
II. THE HISTORY.
§ 3. THE island of Britain, situated on almost the utmost border of the earth, towards the south and west, and poised in the divine balance, as it is said, which supports the whole world, stretches out from the south-west towards the north pole, and is eight hundred miles long and two hundred broad,* except where the headlands of sundry promontories stretch farther into the sea. It is surrounded by the ocean, which forms winding bays, and is strongly defended by this ample, and, if I may so call it, impassable barrier, save on the south side, where the narrow sea affords a passage to Belgio Gaul. It is enriched by the mouths of two noble rivers, the Thames and the Severn, as it were two arms, by which foreign luxuries were of old imported, and by other streams of less importance. It is famous for eight and twenty cities, and is embellished by certain castles, with walls, towers, well barred gates, and houses with threatening battlements built on high, and provided with all requisite
* Or JEtìw, see page 807. _
+ The description of Britain is given in very nearly the same terms, by OrosiuK, Bede, and others, but the numbers, denoting the length and breadth and other dimensions, are different in almost every MS. copy.