Page:A short history of social life in England.djvu/48

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28
THE ROMANS EMBARK

obey the call of duty. They left their splendid roads and bridges, their walled cities, luxurious villas and spacious baths, their extensive mines and manufactures, their temples and Christian churches, and the little lonely graves of their dead.

Yet something of despair seized the Romanised Britons as the last shiploads of Roman invaders waved farewell. They had grown to depend entirely on their conquerors for municipal government and defence along the Saxon shore, and three centuries of official protection had sapped away the very strength of their manhood and the vigour of their independence.

True, the wealth of the island had grown rapidly during the Roman occupation, which had secured three centuries of unbroken peace: her mineral resources had been explored; commerce had increased everywhere, owing to improved communication; agriculture had been developed until, after supplying her own needs, England could export corn in considerable quantities to other lands; and cities had sprung up connected by an elaborate network of roads. But all these developments were necessarily costly, and the land was crushed by a heavy system of taxation.