C H A P T E R XVII.
THE BATTLE OF MONS GRAMPIUS.
Agricola was aware that a storm was gathering on the north hills. Intelligence had been communicated to him that embassies were passing betwixt tribe and tribe, that chieftains formerly at feud were now knit together on bonds of amity, that thirty thousand armed men were now available, and still recruits were pouring into the native camps, that a combination of the states had been formed, blessed by the priests, and that the Caledonians, their fierce and warlike enthusiasm roused to the highest pitch, were prepared to stake all on a supreme effort for freedom.
This cloud in the north, which was growing bigger every hour, made the Roman commander not a little uneasy. He had now been seven years in Britain, but the Roman arms had been unable to advance beyond the line of the Forth. For five years they had remained stationary. The legions had passed the summer in skirmishes, reaping the inglorious trophies of villages burned, and their inhabitants slaughtered. The tempests of the northern sky had furnished them with an excuse for resting in camp during winter, and refreshing themselves after the toils of the summer campaign. Agricola saw that he could no longer make the war an affair of skirmishes. He must attempt operations on a larger scale. He must strike a blow for the subjugation of the whole of Caledonia, otherwise he should find himself overpowered by numbers and be driven out of the country.1
Accordingly, forming his army into three divisions, and commanding his fleet to cruise on the coast, and strike terror by devastating the parts within its reach, he began his march to the north. He traversed the territory lying betwixt the Forth and the Tay, without, so far as appears, seeing the enemy or meeting opposition. As the legions climbed Moncreiff Hill-for it lay upon their routethey had their first view of the valley of the Tay. As they beheld the strath running far to the north, with the Tay issuing from the bosom of the distant Grampians, much as the Tiber appears to do from the Sabines to one looking from the Capitol at Rome, the soldiers burst out in the exclamation, so often attributed to them since, "Ecce Tiberim!" For the valley of the Tay, in its general arrangements of city, river, and mountains is the valley of the Tiber over againbut without its sky. There is one other point of difference betwixt the two. The Tay rolls along in a crystal clearness, which the Tiber, as it issues from Etrurian fountain, and sweeps onward through the Clitumnus vale with "yellow wave," might well envy.
Beyond the Tay, stretching almost from side to side of Scotland, is the "Great Strath," bounded on the south by the Sidlawssoft as Apennineand walled in on the north by the lofty Grampians. Across this plain lay the march of the legions. The Romans might a second time have exclaimed, "Ecce Campaniam," for the region they were now traversing, the modern Strathmore, in the vastness of its open bosom, and the magnificence of its mountain boundary, may not unworthily be compared with the great champaign around the eternal cityanother Campania, but without its "Rome," and also without that rich garniture of Patrician villa and olive-grove which clothed the Italian plain in the days of the Romans. Somewhere on the northern boundary of this great Strath, where the level ground merges with the hills, at a place which Tacitus designates "Mons Grampius," the Caledonians had assembled their forces, and there waited for Agricola in the resolution of offering him battle. The historian does not identify the locality where this first great Scottish battle was fought, beyond placing it at the foot of the Grampian chain. It has been the subject of many conjectures since. The long line of country, extending from the Tay to the shores of the German Ocean, has been anxiously but fruitlessly searched, if haply a spot could be found that fulfils all the conditions of the famous "Mons." Some have found this battlefield, as they believed, at Ardoch, on the north slope of the Ochils, near Dunblance. Their reason for fixing on a spot so far from the Grampian chain is that at Ardoch there occurs the most perfect example of a Roman camp that is to be seen in all Scotland: an excellent reason for concluding that the Romans were here, but no proof that here they engaged the Caledonians. Besides, the stay of a night, or even of a few nights, would hardly have resulted in the construction of entrenchments, which, after eighteen centuries, would be found so complete and beautiful as are the Roman remains at Ardoch.
Others have found the site of this famous battle on the plain betwixt Meigle and Dunkeld, near the foot of the mountains. Others place the Mons Grampius of the historian far to the eastward at Fettercairn above Laurencekirk. There the Grampians swell up into lofty rolling masses, and by a long descent merge into the plain. The supporters of this view rest it mainly on the statement of the historian, that the battle was fought in the sight of the ships. This however, is rather the inference of historians than the statement of Tacitus, who only says that the fleet kept pace with the advance of the army. The ships could not have been in sight at either of the first two mentioned places, unless, indeed, the fleet had sailed up the Tay. But if the action took place toward the eastern extremity of the Grampian chain, the German Sea would be on the right flank of the Roman army, and ships moored off the shore would be quite in sight. Agricola had given orders for the fleet to sail along the coast northwards, keeping equal pace with the progress of his troops on land, to give, if need were, mutual succour. After the battle the army fell back, as we shall see, on its line of fortresses, but the ships held on their way to the north, and entering the Pentland Firth, sailed westward into the Atlantic. The discovery that followed belongs to peace rather than to war.
"By Agricolas order," says Tacitus, "The Roman fleet sailed round the northern point, and made the first certain discovery that Britain was an island. The cluster of islands called the Orcades, till then wholly unknown, was in this expedition added to the Roman empire. Thule, which had lain concealed in the gloom of winter and a depth of eternal snows, was also seen by our navigators."2
Every hour the tide of war was rolling nearer to the foot of the great mountains. From the tops of their frontier hills the Caledonians looked down on the great strath at their feet, and watched the progress of the armed host across it. Goodlier sight, yet one more terrible, had never before greeted their eyes. They had seen their clans go forth to battle, armed with the simple weapons which their limited knowledge of art had taught them to fabricate. But here was war in all the panoply and pomp with which Rome, in the noon of her power, was accustomed to carry it on. Here were her cohorts, marshalled under their ensigns and eagles, clad in the panoply of mail, the gleam of their brazen shields lighting up the moors through which their track lay with an unusual but terrible spendour. To the Caledonians how inscrutable the motive which had brought these men from a country whose plains poured out corn and who hills were purple with the grape, to the very ends of the earth, to a land of nakedness and hunger, where no glory was to be won by conquest, and no profit was to be reaped from possession! But whatever the motives or hopes of the invaders, to the Caledonian, his brown moors and naked hills were dear, and he was prepared to defend them to the last drop of his blood. The signal is given from the hill-top that the enemy is near. It flashes quickly along the whole Grampian chain, from where Ben More lifts its giant head in the west, to where the range sinks into the German Sea on the east.
The summons finds the warrior tribes not unprepared. From the shore of dark lake, from the recesses of deep glen, from moor and wood, the sons of the mountain hurry forth to meet and measure swords with the invaders of their native land. Gathering in marshalled ranks on the plain, their great hills towering behind them, they stand fact to face with the legions of Rome. The chief takes his place at the head of his tribe. For lacking control, and left to itself, the wild valour of the mountains, like the tempests that gather and burst on their summits, would have dashed itself against the mail-clad phalanxes, and been annihilated. The supreme command of the confederate Caledonian tribes was assumed by a leader whom history has handed down to us by the name of Galgacus. The pen of Tacitus has ascribed to him the glory of valour and the virtue of patriotism. A stout and patriotic heart he must in very deed have possessed, to stand up at the head of his half-naked warriors against the conquerors of the world, and do battle for the dark mountains and heathery straths in his rear, and which were all that was now left of him of his once free native land. This first of Scottish heroesthe pioneer of the Wallace and the Bruce of an after-ageappears for a moment, and passes almost entirely out of view. We hear little of him after the battle in which he lost victory but not honour.
The Caledonian army was thirty thousand strong. So does Tacitus say, repeating, probably, the rough guess of his father-in-law Agricola. The Romans were twenty-six thousand; and their number would be known to man. Numerically the two hosts were not very equally matched; but in point of discipline, and especially of equipments the overwhelming superiority lay with the Romans; and when one thought of the vast disparity between the two armies in this respect, it was not difficult to forecast the nature of the tidings which would fly fast and far through glen and strath at the close of the day. Meanwhile, the muster for battle goes on with spirit. The Caledonians will go back to their hills as victors, or they will die on the moor on which they stand.
There is an open space betwixt the two armies, and the Caledonians take advantage of it, before battle is joined, to show off their war chariots in the presence of the Romans. It is an early and eastern mode of fighting, which one hardly expects to find practized in Agricolas day, at the foot of the Grampians. Yet so it was. The Caledonians fight after the same fashion as the heroes before Troy. They fight as did the five kings of Syria when they crossed Mount Hermon in their war chariots, and assembled by the waters of Merom, to do battle with Joshua. The country is rough: probably there are no roads: but the nature of the surface has been taken into account in the construction of these cars. The wheel is a disk of metal, it is fixed on a revolving axle-tree, and the seat is placed between the two wheels. The machine, skillfully handled, could be driven with great rapidity over uneven ground, with but small risk of being upset. The chariots flashed to and fro in the open ground in presence of the armies, the chief acting as charioteer, and the combatants seated in the car. To see their sharp, naked scythes projecting from the axle and glittering in the sun, one could imagine with a shudder the red furrow they would plough in the packed ranks of battle, driven swiftly over the field. But in actual fight these war chariots lost much of their terrors. A thrust of the sword or of the spear brought the steeds, to which they were yoked, to the ground, and the chariot with its apparatus of slaughter lay stranded on the battlefield. The Roman soldiers, it is probable, contemplated this exhibition with more of curiosity than of dismay. They had encountered these engines of destruction in eastern campaigns, and knew that they were not altogether so formidable as they looked.
It was the recognised duty of the historian in those days not to permit battle to be joined till first the leaders on both sides had, in fitting phrase, harangued their troops. Tacitus gives us the speeches delivered on this occasion by Agricola to the legions, and by Galgacus to the Caledonians. He does not state in what language the latter spake, or who reported and interpreted his words to him, but nothing could be finer or more fitting than the speech of the barbarian leader to his soldiers. In terse, yet burning words, Galgacus denounces the ambition of Rome, and paints the miserable condition of the nations enslaved to her yoke: a condition, he adds, which they, the noblest of all the Britons, had never beheld, much less undergone.3 "There is now no nation beyond us," continues the Caledonian leader, "nothing save the billows and the rocks, and the Romans, still more savage, whose tyranny you will in vain appease by submission and concession. The devastators of the earth, when the land has failed to suffice their universal ravages, they explore even the ocean. If an enemy be wealthy, they are covetous; if he be poor, they become ambitious. Neither East nor West has contented them. Alone, of all men, they covet with equal rapacity the rich and the needy. Plunder, murder, and robbery, under false pretences they call empire, and when they make a wilderness, they call it peace."4
Tacitus himself might have pronounced this oration in the Forum. He could not in terser phrase or in more burning words have denounced the crimes of an empire which, built up in blood, was spreading effeminacy and serfdom over the earth. And had he ventured on so scathing a denunciation, the nations, east and west, would have clanked their chains in sympathetic response. But not a syllable of all this durst any one at that hour have uttered at Rome. If spoken but in a whisper, its echoes would speedily have reached the ears of the gloomy Domitian in the Palatine, and before the sound of the last words had died away, the head of the speaker would have rolled on the floor of the Mamertine. Tacitus, therefore, puts the speech into the mouth of Galgacus, and thunders it forth to the world from the foot of the Grampians.
Agricola also addressed his soldiers. His speech was that of a general who contends for conquest alone. It is more remarkable for the topics which are left out than for those which the speaker introduces and dwells upon. It was hardly possible for the Roman soldier to feel the sentiment of patriotism. He fought not for country but for the worldfor his empire embraced the worldand this object was far too vast and vague to awaken or sustain patriotism: and Agricola made no appeal to a feeling which he knew did not exist in his soldiers. The uppermost idea in the mind of a Roman, and the phrase that came readiest to his lips, was the greatness and glory of Rome. It was this that formed the key-note of Agricolas address to his army. He flatters their pride, by glancing back on the toils of their past marches, so patiently borne, and the glory of their many victories, so bravely won. He next turns to the battle about to be joined, and holds out the hope of a victory by a consideration not very complimentary, one should think, to their courage, even that the bravest of the Caledonians were now in the grave, slain by the Roman sword, and that there remained only the feeble and the timid; one great day more, and the perils of the campaign would be ended, and the limits of the empire would be completed by the inclusion of the territory on the north of the hills at the foot of which they stood, and which was not almost the only portion of the habitable globe over which Rome did not sway her sceptre. The speech, Tacitus adds, fired the soldiers, and they flew at once to arms.5
The two armies were now drawn up in order of battle. Agricola formed his soldiers into two lines. The first consisted of auxiliary infantry, with three thousand horse disposed as wings. The second line was formed of the Roman legionaries, the flower of his army; for it was a maxim of the Romans in their wars to expose their foreign troops to the brunt of battle, and while lavish of the blood of the mercenary, to be sparing of that of the Roman soldier. It was a proud boast when a general could say that he had won a battle without the loss of so much as one native life. The main body of the Caledonian army was drawn up on the plain in front of the Romans. The reserves were stationed on the heights behind, rising row on row, and overlooking the scene of action. They were to watch the progress of the battle, and, at the critical moment, rush down and decide the fortune of the day.
At its commencement the battle was waged from a distance. The Caledonians let fly showers of flint arrow-heads, and the Romans replied by a discharge of their missiles, which however, were less effective than the "dense volleys" of the enemy. Galled by the shower of flints, the Romans were losing in the fight. When Agricola perceived that his men were giving way, he ordered three cohorts of Batavians and two of Tungrians to close with the foe and bring the encounter to the sword. The Caledonians met them, shouting their war-cry, but the change in the battle placed them at great disadvantage. They carried long swords, the downward stroke of which did terrible execution, but at quarters the length of the weapon made is unserviceable. It got entangled and could not be easily raised to deal a second stroke, and having no point it was useless to thrust with. His little round shield, moreover, left great part of the body of the Caledonian exposed to the weapon of his adversary. What made the conditions of the fight more unfavourable for the Caledonian, was that the armour of the Roman legionary was admirably adapted for a hand to hand encounter. He always carried into battle a short, sharp sword; he covered his person with a large oblong shield, and when the Caledonian approached him with his long sword, the Roman received the weapon in its murderous descent of the rim of his brazen buckler, and before his adversary had time to repeat the blow, he had despatched him with his sharp dagger-like sword. From the moment that the fight became a close one, the chances were against the native army: for what availed the brawny hand of the Caledonian when the weapon that filled it was so ill adapted to its work. That was no equal combat in which half-armed and half-naked men contended with mailed legionaries, whose daily work was battle, and who fought with what we should now style "weapons of precision."
The fight was fierce and sanguinary, and went on hour after hour. The Batavians, dashing the knobs of their bucklers in the faces of the Caledonians, and stabbing them with their short swords, forced them back over the dead-encumbered plain towards the hills. Other cohorts, catching the fury of the Batavians, rushed to that part of the field, and throwing themselves on the ranks of the hill men, and striking with sword and buckler, increased the butchery. Pressing forward in their eagerness for victory, they bore to the earth, and left in their rear, numbers who had received no hurt from the sword. To increase the confusion, the chariots became entangled with the masses of fighting infantry, and the affrighted horses, left without charioteers, careered wildly over the field, their terrible scythes mowing down friend and foe along their blood-marked track. 6
The reserves posted on the heights had been quiet observers of the fight so far. But now they rushed down with intent to outflank the Romans and assail them on the rear. If they had been able to execute their manoeuver, they might even yet have retrieved the fortunes of the day. But Agricola had foreseen and provided against this contingency. Four battalions of cavalry, kept in reserve till this moment, met them as they advanced, and put them to rout. And now the Roman general had recourse to the same stratagem which the Caledonians had attempted against himself. He ordered the wings of the van to push forward past the flanks of the Caledonian host, and fall upon its rear, thus enclosing it before and behind with walls of steel. "And now," says the historian of the battle, "a strange and awful scene presented itself on the open plain. They pursued, they stabbed, they made prisoners, and ever as a new relay of captives was brought in, the former batch was put to the sword. Here a company of armed men would be seen in flight, there unarmed natives, not knowing what they did, would charge the foe and rush upon death.
Weapons and bodies and mangled limbs lay everywhere, and the ground ran blood."7
The day was lost. Overpowered and broken the Caledonians now began to leave the field, where they had so stoutly resisted, but where further resistance was vain. The soaked plain behind them, steaming with fresh, warm gore, and dotted with ghastly heaps of stiffened corpses, of bodies still palpitating with life, of dissevered limbs, broken swords shivered lances, and the multifarious wreck of battle, showing where the fiercest struggles had taken place, was an awful monument of the bravery of the men who had dared to battle with Rome for country and liberty. "Barbarians!" So did the Romans call the men whose corpses lay strewed upon the red moor. It might be so, yet their haughty foe could not withhold from them the tribute of heroism and the higher praise of patriotism.
There are few now who will have much difficulty in deciding which of the two, the barbarian of the Grampians, or the imperial slayer from the banks of the Tiber, was the nobler being. Those who could make such a stand for their fathers graves and their childrens homes, showed that they had elements in them which needed only to be disciplined and developed to take the place in the world now occupied by those who were trampling them down as if they were the vilest and most worthless of the nations. Had Agricola encountered on the south of the Tweed anything like the obstinate valour that met him on this moor, neither he nor his soldiers would ever have got within sight of those mountains at the base of which they offered this smoking holocaust to Rome.
The flight of the Caledonians was now general. They could flee but in one direction, to their great hills even, the woods and glens of which offered them escape from the sword of their cruel foe. The Romans followed them, but they were severely punished for their temerity; for the fugitives would turn suddenly at times on detached parties of their pursuers, and cut them off. Night fell, and the darkness put an end to the carnage on both sides, the Romans desisting from the pursuit, and the survivors of the Caledonian host making their way without further molestation to their mountain fastnesses. Tacitus says that they left ten thousand dead on the field and in the flight, and that the loss of the Romans was three hundred and forty men.8 The difference of numbers is startling, even making allowance for the great inferiority of weapons on the part of the Caledonians, and we have great difficulty in believing that the numbers have not been diminished on the side of the victors. In a hand-to-hand encounter, lasting for many hours, it could hardly be that the loss was so unequal. The Caledonian dead would, of course, not be counted, but only roughly guessed at; but if half the number the historian says lay on the field, what a trophy, ghastly yet noble, of the resolution and devotion of the natives, and, alas! What a sumptuous banquet for the wolves of the woods and the eagles of the hills!
Agricola and his men passed the night on the battlefield. The general was not able to assure himself that the victory was his, or that the battle might not have to be renewed on the morrow. With ten thousand of the enemy dead around him, and his own army comparatively intact, one would have thought that he would have felt more at his ease. But the terror of the Caledonians was still upon him. But if the general was anxious, his soldiers were not so. Tacitus tells us that the camp was a scene of jubilation. The victory had brought the soldiers store of booty, and as regards the horrors around them, they were accustomed to such sights, and had learned to regard them with indifference. Nevertheless, despite the elation of the camp, the historian hints that the hours of the night were made doleful with "the mingled lamentations of men and women.," who stole back to the field to search for and carry off their dead or wounded relatives. With the first gleam of dawn on the summit of the Grampians, these mourners desisted from their melancholy task, and vanished. When day fully broke, "it disclosed," says the historian, "more broadly the features of the victory: the silence of desolation all round, the lonely hills, the smoking ruins in the distance, and no human being visible to the scouts."9
The silence that brooded around Agricolas camp, so emphatically marked by the historian, was deep, doubtless, and it would be felt to be all the deeper by contrast with the shouts, the clash of arms, and the shrieks of terror of pain with which it had rung the day before. Now that terrible noise had subsided into a yet more terrible stillness. The dead were at rest. The wounded! had they, too, ceased to moan? And the wolves, that already scented the corpses, were they, too, creeping stealthily down from the hills, and gathering in silence round the feast the Roman sword had prepared for them? But what of the shielings on moor and edge of loch, or by mountain torrent, from which these stalwart forms had come, that now lay still and stark on this field of death? Was there silence, too, in these dwellings? Alas! loud and bitter must have been the wail of mother and wife in the glens and straths of the great mountains, when, instead of the loved ones for whose return they waited, there came tidings of the great slaughter. But that cry of agony and woe was too far off to be heard by Agricola, and too far off to startle the ear of the wearer of the purple at Rome.
This was the first of the historic battles of Scotland, and it is interesting to reflect that it has been described to us by the pen of the prince of Roman historians. 10 Of the many fields stricken on Scottish soil during the eighteen centuries that have since elapsed, few have been so bloody as this one. But this blood was not shed in vain: it bore fruit in the centuries that followed. The ruthless slaughter of that day burned into the soul of the Caledonians a sense of wrong, and a hatred of the Roman name, which made it impossible it should ever be repeated by Roman sword. Its remembrance nerved them to resistance, and not unsuccessful resistance, in the campaigns of Severus. A mightier hostit was more than double the number of Agricolasdid that emperor lead against them. He had come, too, after great preparations, and with the firm determination to subdue them. But the dark day at the foot of the Grampians was still fresh in their memory, and nothing daunted by the mailed legions, and the terrible threats of Severus, who offered them the bitter alternative of submission to the Roman yoke, or extermination by the Roman sword, they concerted their plans, and patient as well as fierce, wise as well as brave, they perseveringly carried them out, and in the end completely baffled the invader. The land he had come to subdue became the grave of his army.
And farther, the triumph of Agricolawon after this bloody fashiontaught a great and much needed lesson to the Caledonians, and started them upon a new career. When the Roman fleet appeared on their coast, and the Roman army marched into their country, they were fermenting and consuming in the miserable and inglorious quarrels of tribe. The apparition of this terrible Power woke them up to a sense of their madness and danger. They saw that the cause of country was greater than the cause of tribe. They hushed the din of their wretched rivalries and petty feuds, and reserved their blood for worthier contests and nobler aims. The sight of the legions did not appall them; it but sobered and united them; it evoked the instinctive fierceness and valour of the race, and they rose up, no longer an assemblage of clans, but a nation, and, uniting their hearts and their arms, they stood for their country against an enemy of tremendous strength, and of pitiless as boundless ambition. It was in this field, at the foot of the Grampians, that the cause of Scotlands independence received its first baptism.
Since that day the great struggle has never wholly gone to sleep. Its career has been checkered. It has seen not a few dark years, and even some dark centuries; nevertheless it has lived, and gone onward, though not always at a uniform rate of progress. After the Roman there have arisen other opponents with which it has had to do battle. It has had, too, to transfer its combats to other arenas besides that of the stricken field, and wage its war with other weapons than the sword. It has been called to fight in Parliaments, to wrestle in the cabinets of kings, to contend in synods and assemblies, and to suffer glorious death on the scaffold and at the stake. But in all varieties of fortune, in the sunshine of success or in the darkness of temporary defeat, it has never parted with the hope of victory, and has ever demeaned itself as befits a cause which is that of eternal righteousness, and which has wider interests bound up with it than those that exclusively appertain to the little country in which it has been waged. Looking back from the advanced stage which the long conflict has now reached, we can see that the "first straik of the fight" was given on that purple moor at the foot of the Grampianspurple, not with the bloom of its heather, but with the blood of its children, poured out in torrents by the Roman sword.
Agricola did not venture on following the Caledonians into their mountains. He had sufficient experience of their fighting qualities on the plain, and he could not tell how it might fare with his soldiers should he pursue into the fastness of the Grampians, tribes so fierce and warlike, and which, though defeated, were not crushed. He led back his army by slow marches within the chain of fortresses which stretched betwixt the Forth and the Clyde.
This was now the eighth year that Agricola had been in Britain, and yet how little progress had he made in the work of subjugating Scotland! Instead of advancing boldly into the land, he lingers summer after summer on its border, under the shelter of his forts. Nothing could be a stronger proof of the stout resistance which his legions encountered, and the fear with which the fierce and warlike tribes of the country had inspired him. He had undertaken a task evidently which he had not strength to accomplish. For a moment, and only for a moment, had the Roman eagle soared as far northward as to the foot of the Grampians, to leave there the print of its talons in blood, and again turn southwards, and seek security within the line of its forts.
1.Tacitus, Vit. Agric., c. 20.
2.Tacitus here expressly affirms that this was the first discovery of the Orcades, or Orkney Islands. There is some reason, however, to think that he was mistaken. Eutropius and Orosius say that Claudius not only subdued a number of the British princes, but that he discovered the Orcades. An inscribed tablet from the palace of Barberini, Rome, seems to confirm this, when it speaks of Claudius as the discoverer of several barbarous nations. The probability is that the Orkneys were first discovered in the time and manner that Eutropius and Orosius say, but that islands so remote and insignificant, were lost sight of, and all knowledge of their discovery lost by Agricolas day.
3. "Nobilissimi totius Britanniae."
4. Tacitus, Vic. Agric., c. 30-32.
5. Tacit., Vic. Agric., c. 33, 34.
6. Tac., Vit. Agric., c. 36.
7. Tac., Vit. Agric., c. 37.
8. Tac., Vit. Agric., c. 37.
9. Tac., Vit. Agric., c. 38.
10. We had almost said the first of war correspondentsa class which has sprung up in our own, and which, at great risk and toil, have made us so familiar with what goes on battlefields, and whose minute, graphic, and often brilliant descriptions, achieved in circumstances of great difficulty, are not unworthy of their great pioneer. We may also be permitted to express our surprise that Scottish historians should have passed over this great battle so lightly, or have so little perceived the influence it had on Scotland for centuries after, so that now, for the first time, have the full details of it been laid before the English reader.
Had the Roman legions been successful in subduing Caledonia their final target would have been Hibernia. That country would have been enslaved and corrupted by Roman civilization and there would never have been a retreat and refuge for the Gospel during the terrible Dark Ages that followed the Constantinean apostasy. These brave men preserved liberty for all future generations.