Page:A short history of social life in England.djvu/38

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
18
FIRST RECORDED SPEECH

hair floating over her shoulders, from which hung a tunic of many colours, her golden necklace and bracelets glistening in the sun, she resolutely addressed her faithful troops:

"Not as a Queen, the descendant of noble ancestors, possessed of great riches and wealth, but as one of the community, I lead you to avenge the loss of our liberty. The Roman army now opposed to us will never stand the shouts and clamour of so many thousands, much less their shock and fury. To-day, we conquer or we die. This is the last resource for me—a woman. Let the men live—if they please—as slaves."

The angry hosts made their way to Colchester, which was, as yet, unwalled, burst in and slaughtered the Romans with savage fury, and hastened on to further destruction. It was not until the Roman Governor himself advanced against the British Queen that the massacre was stopped, and at the last it is said that some 80,000 Britons lay dead on the battlefield, including women and children.

The tragic end of Boadicea, by suicide, throws a lurid light on her strength of character. Impulsive and fearless, with a passionate love of liberty,