CAIUS VALERIUS AND HIS GRANDFATHER
(Time, A.D. 85.)
CAIUS. It has been a great day at the
school, grandfather. The Governor himself came in to
see the classes. He heard us recite. Only think! I was
chosen to do it in my class, though there are at least
six of the boys who are older than I.
GRANDFATHER. What was the book, and what
was the piece? But very likely I have never heard it.
C. Oh yes! you know it. You have heard me
say it again and again. I don't think that there is any
piece that I like quite so well. It was the "Shield of
Aeneas," out of Virgil.
G. Well, and how did you get on?
C. Fairly well, I hope; at least the
Governor praised me. He said something kind about my
manner, and told me that I had caught the true Roman
 And when he had gone through all the classes, and we
were assembled in the hall, he made a little speech to
the teachers and us. He thanked the teachers for their
diligence. "You have done all," he said, "that I
expected, and more; though," he went on, turning to us,
and smiling, "you have had excellent material to work
upon." We clapped our hands vigorously at that, as you
may suppose. Then came our turn. "I am glad to see so
many of you here," he said. "The first year, and, I
think, the second, after this school was opened, I
could hardly have found a corporal's guard, and now you
would more than make a company. I don't want you to
cease to be Britons, but I want to make you Romans. As
Romans, you have the whole world before you."
THE ROMAN GOVERNOR.
G. Very fine! but for my part, if they
would have kept their whole world, and left us our
little island, I would have been well content.
 C. But, grandfather, don't you like the
Romans, then? I am sure they have done a great deal for
us. The school, for instance. Why, they say that there
isn't so fine a school in all Gaul. And the
Governor—what a fine fellow he is! There is nobody like
G. True, my boy, true. Agricola, as they
call him, is a fine fellow. He is the very best Roman I
ever saw. And his people have done a great deal for us.
Baths, theatres, temples, fine houses, fine clothes,
and I don't know what else. What a change from things
as they were! Baths indeed! The rivers and lakes were
good enough for us; as for theatres, we were quite
content with the old man who sat in the chimney corner,
and sang to his harp; an oak tree served well enough
for a temple; there wasn't a stone house in the whole
island, a chief lived under timber, and mud served a
common man's turn; while for clothes, skins kept us
warm, with a shirt of wool in winter. As for the
schools, they are, I confess, the best thing they have
brought us yet. In old time only the priests knew
anything; now the gate is open. Still, I wish that we
in Britain had never seen these strangers from the
C. But, grandfather, this is all very
strange. You never talked to me in this way before.
G. No, my boy, and never shall again. But
 are growing up. You are just about to put on the man's
gown, are you not?
C. Yes, three days hence.
G. Then it is about time that you should
hear the story of your country. When you were a child,
it was of no use to trouble you; in a few days you will
be a man, and ought to have a man's thoughts. Now
First I must tell you something about your family. Up
to this time I have purposely kept you in ignorance.
Well, you and I are all that are left of it, and I, you
must understand, am not your grandfather, as you have
been used to call me, but your great-grandfather. Your
mother died when you were born, just sixteen years ago;
how her father died you will hear in the course of my
story. He, you must know, was my eldest son. Well, I
was a man of nine lustres,
as the Romans put it—and it is, I must own, a
convenient way of reckoning—when the Romans first came
to our island.
C. Oh, grandfather, I have always thought
that it was many more years than that, far more indeed
than the very oldest man in Britain can possibly
G. True, my boy, you are right in a way;
what I meant was, the first time they came to stay. Of
 the other was long before my time, or any one else's
that is now alive.
C. Yes, it was in Julius Caesar's time,
the very first of the Roman emperors, and there have
been eleven since him, counting the one who is reigning
now. Julius—the "Divine Julius" our teacher calls
him—wrote about it. We often have a dictation from his
G. Well, I have often heard the whole
story from some one who had to do with it, and that was
C. And can you remember what he told you?
G. Perfectly; I was about ten years old
when he died. He was a very old man, as you may
suppose, but quite clear in his mind, and remembering
everything that had happened in his youth, though he
had no memory for things of yesterday. He could not
remember, for instance, the name of the slave who
waited on him, nor my name. He would tell the same
story over and over again, forgetting that he had told
it perhaps an hour before. I heard what I am going to
tell you I don't know how many times, and as I have got
something of the same kind of memory as he had, now
that I am old—not so old as he was, though, by ten
years at the least—I can almost remember his very