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sail from the Continent. The extremity which runs out far into the sea is named Orca."
Starting with the promontory of Kent as the eastern point, Orca has been supposed or placed as about our Orkney, in the north ; and Bolerium, as the other point wanted, is then left to become the western extremity, thus completing the triangle.
Such a reading seems to suit the text, as Diodorus gives the supposed distances of each side from point to point. But, as no one seems ever to have seen either point, Kent excepted, all else must have been imaginary. Then the distance of Kent from the mainland of Gaul is a question of “ they say." He did not know even this as a fact. Further, the expression “four days' sail” from the Continent-presumably the coast opposite Kentconveys no exact meaning, the possible or impossible sailing or rowing power of a boat of that day having to be well considered, and the question of any sailing or rowing by night not forgotten. What was exactly in the mind's
eye of the writer cannot be realised. Pytheas says that Kent was “some days' sail” from Gaul; but, again, the starting-point is not given.
Continuing, Diodorus writes : “ The inhabitants of the promontory of Bolerium are hospitable; and on account of their intercourse with strangers, more civilised and courteous in their habits than the rest are. the people who make the tin, which they dig and melt and refine, and cast in ingots in the form of astragali, and carry it to an island near at hand called Iktis. At low tide, the land being dry between them and the island, they convey over in carts abundance of tin; hence the merchants transport the tin they buy of the inhabitants to Gaul, the opposite Continent, and then, by a thirty days' journey on horses' backs, to the mouth of the Rhone, to Marseilles and Narbonne, a great mart in those parts.”
So far he writes of one island; but why the metal should have been carted across to it to be sold, to be then transported by the buyers and shipped to the coast of Gaul opposite, when all could seemingly have been done
· Lib. v, c. 22.
as easily from the place of origin, is not clear. Then the narrative suddenly, even in the same sentence, without hesitation or division, changes the sense from one island
-near at hand—to a plural of several at a distance, a plural not previously indicated, and continues : " There is one thing peculiar to these islands which lie between Britain and Europe—little islands lying in the ocean over against Iberia. At full sea they look like islands, but at low water for a long way they look like peninsulas."'! This is the old story, but the unconscious manner in which he glides away from the one island“ near at hand” to " these islands”-a plural of several—not adjacent to Britain, but over against Iberia, shows a very mixed and indefinite state of mind.
For the first time, too, and the only time throughout these histories, we have the direct statement that tin was produced in Britain, and that the place of production was called Bolerium. The place-name Bolerium was given, but only once mentioned, by Posidonius. As already noted, by the reading given to Diodorus's description of Britain, Bolerium became the western extremity in the triangular shape ; and being thus associated in the mind's eye with our Cornwall, our own known tin district, has helped to perpetuate the idea of an early tin trade. But by the reading of Posidonius, who saw only part of Kent, it might be that his Bolerium was there, in Kent; and it would seem that the Bolerium of Diodorus's mind must have been there also, opposite the coast of Gaul.
In the first paragraph of his description, the “promontory” is Cantium, and Bolerium is a “point ;” but in the continuation, Bolerium not only becomes the promontory, but is in the region of the hospitable, civilised, and courteous people, and so could only be in Kent. This description of the inhabitants, first especially and plainly made by Cæsarmade, too, from his own personal observation—is acceptable enough for Gallicised Kent, but could not apply at this prehistoric date to our western extremity, then, presumably, enjoying the wildest state of aboriginal freedom. Cæsar has also told us plainly that no portion of Britain was known even to merchants, except the Kentish coast opposite Gaul. Diodorus had the advantage of Cæsar's report, the one piece of hearsay extra which previous writers had not. But writing without personal knowledge, in utter ignorance of the locality, and having no topographical acquaintance with the country, from sheer geographical ignorance he muddles Kent and Bolerium with the older story of the islands over against Iberia. Further on, he repeats and confirms his confusion, when he says : “Over against the shore of Gaul, opposite the Hircinian mountains, there lye in the ocean many islands, the greatest of which is called Britain.” And, again, when describing Gaul, he writes : “ Its northern side is washed by the entire length of the British Channel, for this island lies opposite and parallel to it throughout.”
| Lib. IV,
The last writer on this subject puts the position clearly, goes one better, and shows not a current belief, but a fact. He writes : “ The coast of Spain has two angles : the second forms a cape, where, in Brigantia, a city of Gallicia, is erected a most lofty pharos of the very best construction—ad speculam Britannia—in full view of Britain."
There is no evidence to be gathered from these accounts of any shipment or trade, or any connection whatever with any part of Britain. The Kent and Bolerium story goes off without any British island, without any definite connection with Britain.
The western extremity of Britain, entirely unknown and unvisited, was not our Cornwall—our Land's Endbut was always off the coast of Spain, always over against Aquitaine and the Pyrenées, and, like the Cassiterides, was opposite the Artabri and Gallicia. Had the westeru extremity of Britain been known in any waymore especially for its commerce and the courtesy of its inhabitants—it would have been known in history, and known not to be off the coast of Spain.
Curiously, when Scipio was at Marseilles, in the course of some general inquiries he asked the natives what they knew about Britain, but they “ had nothing to tell him
i Orosius : Hist., Lib. I, c. ii.
worth mentioning,” nor had the Narbonnaise. So here the very people most interested in, and who must have had visible evidences of this tin trade and the horse traffic, knew nothing about either, or of Britain.
Pliny, who knew a great deal, writing about A.D. 77, thirty years after the Roman conquest and ninety years after Cæsar's time, says: “It was not until the success of the Roman arms, barely thirty years since, that any extensive knowledge of Britain was gained.” This confirms Eutropius, as already quoted. Here, then, we get a knowledgeable beginning ; yet of British tin he says and knew nothing. He knew, and has told us, about British lead, and had he known anything of tin, he would have told us of that also. He knew of the metal in other parts, and he gives the early story of the search for it. His words are clear enough. “ There is a fabulous story,” he writes, “ of the quest of tin in the islands of the Atlantic, and of its being brought in barks made of osiers covered with hides. It is now known to be a production of Lusitania and Gallicia.
Besides that the early coracle story, here satisfactorily elaborated and made more clear, is declared fabulous, there is again no idea of any relation to, or of any isle or produce connected with Britain ; and, further, the actual known place of production is plainly stated.
It must, then, now be especially well digested, that since the place of production was thus declared known, and this story of the islands and coracles declared fabulous, nothing more has been added, or heard, or written, about either British tin, Bolerium, the Cassiterides, or the Isle of Ictis-myths all. Having served their purpose, they all disappeared with the first puff of fact. All the tales and stories connected with them arose from the imaginations of interested parties; they were concocted by traders, to mystify and satisfy querists and aid the concealment of their works, and were repeated from one writer to the other, the last being as ignorant of the fact as the first. Strabo, describing Spain, makes this clear when, alluding to these works, he records that the way to them was kept secret from all; the passage was con
1 Nat. Hist., Bk. 34, c. 47.
cealed from everyone.
Cæsar helps here again, when he says that travellers were often compelled to stop and tell what they knew—a plan he adopted himself; and in towns the people thronged around merchants to force them to state from what countries they came and what they knew of them. As these questions were frequently answered agreeably to their wishes, the querists too often accepted unauthorised or untrue reports.
These early writers have been thus taken and quoted as having written in good faith. Each in turn has been examined or criticised on his own merits, so that, being gathered into one story, all may be considered together as a whole, to discover amid fiction, mystery, and fable what may be deserving of credit. As a conclusion, it must be seen that they wrote boldly enough, as if truthful, but did not write from personal knowledge; they followed the current belief, or copied from one another. Dion Cassius closely suits here, when he says, on the question whether Britain were a continent or an island ; * Much had been written on either side by persons who, having neither themselves seen it nor heard of it from its inhabitants, know nothing of it, but merely conjecture as prompted by leisure or the love of controversy.
It is clearly useless continually and seriously to reconsider these stories. There is no evidence-nothing, absolutely nothing—either archæological or literary, to warrant the assertion that there was any early tin trade —maritime or otherwise_with Britain. With four hundred years' possession, the Romans took no British tin ; and as to Cornwall, they did not touch it. Cornwall has no Roman history, no Roman occupation, no Roman remains. Cornwall was never part of Roman Britain ; a few coins, as everywhere, have occasionally been found; but the question then to be promptly and minutely considered is how, when, or why they were put there?
Full of ports as the west coast is, there was no defensive or watchful fleet there. No inscription, no record, not a word, not a mark, has been found therenothing whatever to suggest the use of any port or shipping west of Clausentum. Dr. Borlase, a prominent
1 Caesar, B. G. iv, 5.