BOOK V - The Library of History

Bibliotheca historica
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Page 185 Island. Having now spoken sufficiently of the African Ocean, and the Islands belonging to it, we shall pass over to Europe.

For over against the French Shoar, opposite to the Hircinian Mountains (which are the greatest of any in Europe) there lye in the Ocean many Islands; the greatest of which is that which they call Britain, which anciently remain'd untoucht, free from all Foreign Force; for it was never known that either Bacchus, Hercules, or any of the ancient Heroes or Princes, ever made any attempt upon it by force of Arms: But Julius Caesar in our time (who by his great Atchievments gain'd the Title of Divine) was the first (that any other makes mention of) that conquer'd the Island, and compell'd the Britains to pay Tribute. But these things shall be more particularly treated of in their proper time: We shall now only say something concerning the Island, and the Tin that's found there.

In Form it's Triangular, like Sicily; but the Sides are unequal. It lies in an Oblique Line, over against the Continent of Europe; so that the Promontory call'd Cantium, next to the Continent (they say) is about a Hundred Furlongs from the Land: Here the Sea ebbs and flows; but the other Point call'd Belerium, is Four Days Sail from the Continent.

The last call'd Horcas or Orcas, runs out far into the Sea. The least of the Sides facing the whole Continent, is Seven Thousand and Five Hundred Furlongs in length; the Second stretching out itself all along from the Sea to the highest Point, is Fifteen Thousand Furlongs, and the last is Twenty Thousand. So that the whole Compass of the Island is Forty Two Thousand, Five Hundred Furlongs. The Inhabitants are the Original People thereof, and live to this time after their own ancient manner and custom: For in Fights they use Chariots, as it's said the old Grecian Heroes did in the Trojan War. They dwell in mean Cottages, covered for the most part with Reeds or Sticks. In reaping of their Corn, they cut off the Ears from the Stalk, and so house them up in Repositories under Ground; thence they take and pluck out the Grains of as many of the oldest of them as may serve them for the day, and after they have bruis'd the Corn, make it into Bread. They are of much Sincerity and Integrity, far from the Craft and Knavery of Men among us; contented with plain and homely Fare, Strangers to the Excess and Luxury of Rich Men. The Island is very Populous, but of a cold Climate, subject to Frosts, being under the Artick Pole. They are govern'd by several Kings and Princes, who for the most part are at Peace and Amity one with another. But of their Laws and other things peculiar to this Island, we shall treat more particularly, when we come to Caesar's Expedition into Britain.

Now we shall speak something of the Tin that's dug and gotten there. They that inhabit the British Promontary of Balerium, by reason of their Converse with Merchants, are more civiliz'd and courteous to Strangers than the rest are. These are the People that make the Tin, which with a great deal of Care and Labour they dig out of the Ground; and that being Rocky, the Meetle is mixt with some Veins of Earth, out of which they melt the Mettle, and then refine it: Then they beat it into Four-square Pieces like to a Dye, and carry it to a British Isle near at Hand, call'd Ictis. For at low Tide, all being dry between them and the Island, they convey over in Carts abundance of Tin in the mean time. But there's one thing peculiar to these Islands which lye between Britain and Europe: For at Full Sea, they appear to be Islands, but at low Water for a long Way, they look like so many Peninsula's. Hence the Merchants transport the Tin they buy of the Inhabitants, to France; and for Thirty Days Journey, they carry it in Packs upon Horses Backs through France, to the Mouth of the River Rhosne. But thus much concerning Tin. Now something remains to be said of Amber.

Over against Scythia above Gall in the Ocean, lies an Island call'd Basilea, upon which there's cast by the working of the Sea, abundance of Amber, not to be found in any other part of the World.



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