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His first rudiments of military knowledge were acquired in Britain, under the conduct of Suetonius Paulinus, that experienced officer, active, vigilant, yet mild in command. Agricola was soon distinguished by his general, and selected to live with him at head-quarters. Honoured in this manner, he did not, as is usual with young men, mix riot and dissipation with actual service; nor did he avail himself of his rank of military tribune to obtain leave of absence, in order to pass his time in idle pleasures and ignorance of his duty. To know the province, and make himself known to the army; to learn from men of experience, and to emulate the best examples; to seek no enterprise with a forward spirit, and to decline none with timid caution, were the rules he laid down to himself; prudent with valour, and brave without ostentation. A more active campaign had never been known, nor was Britain at any time as fiercely disputed. Our veteran forces were put to the sword; our colonies smoked on the ground; and the legions were intercepted on their march. The struggle was then for life; we fought afterwards for fame and victory. In a juncture so big with danger, though the conduct of the war was in other hands, and the glory of recovering the province was justly ascribed to the commander-inchief, yet so fair an opportunity did not fail to improve a young officer, and plant in his mind the early seeds of military ambition.
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