I. THE ABORIGINES.
The aboriginal period is wrapped in darkness, and I cannot with certainty say whether the system that prevailed was Celtic and Tribal. An old French customary, in a MS. treating upon the antiquity of tenures, says: "The first English king divided the land into four parts. He gave one part to the ARCH FLAMENS to pray for him and his posterity. A second part he gave to the earls and nobility, to do him knight's service. A third part he divided among husbandmen, to hold of him in socage. The fourth he gave to mechanical persons to hold in burgage." The terms used apply to a much more recent period and more modern ideas.
Caesar tells us "that the island of Britain abounds in cattle, and the greatest part of those within the country never sow their land, but live on flesh and milk. The sea-coasts are inhabited by colonies from Belgium, which, having established themselves in Britain, began to cultivate the soil."
Diodorus Siculus says, "The Britons, when they have reaped their corn, by cutting the ears from the stubble, lay them up for preservation in subterranean caves or granaries. From thence, they say, in very ancient times, they used to take a certain quantity of ears out every day, and having dried and bruised the grains, made a kind of food for their immediate use."
Jeffrey of Monmouth relates that one of the laws of Dunwalls Molnutus, who is said to have reigned B.C. 500, enacted that the ploughs of the husbandmen, as well as the temples of the gods, should be sanctuaries to such criminals as fled to them for protection.
Tacitus states that the Britons were not a free people, but were under subjection to many different kings.
Dr. Henry, quoting Tacitus, says, "In the ancient German and British nation the whole riches of the people consisted in their flocks and herds; the laws of succession were few and simple: a man's cattle, at death, were equally divided among his sons; or, if he had no sons, his daughters; or if he had no children, among his nearest relations. These nations seem to have had no idea of the rights of primogeniture, or that the eldest son had any title to a larger share of his father's effects than the youngest."
The population of England was scanty, and did not probably exceed a million of inhabitants. They were split up into a vast number of petty chieftainries or kingdoms; there was no cohesion, no means of communication between them; there was no sovereign power which could call out and combine the whole strength of the nation. No single chieftain could oppose to the Romans a greater force than that of one of its legions, and when a footing was obtained in the island, the war became one of detail; it was a provincial rather that a national contest. The brave, though untrained and ill- disciplined warriors, fell before the Romans, just as the Red Man of North America was vanquished by the English settlers.