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WE have given the precedence in this account to the fruit-trees and others which, by their delicious juices, first taught man to give a relish to his food and the various aliments requisite for his sustenance, whether it is that they spontaneously produce these delightful flavours, or whether we have imparted them by the methods of adoption and intermarriage,1 thus bestowing a favour, as it were, upon the very beasts and birds. The next thing, then, would be to speak of the glandi- ferous trees, the trees which proffered the earliest nutriment to the appetite of man, and proved themselves his foster- mothers in his forlorn and savage state—did I not feel myself constrained on this occasion to make some mention of the surprise which I have felt on finding by actual experience what is the life of mortals when they inhabit a country that is without either tree or shrub.

(1.) I have already stated2 that in the East many nations that dwell on the shores of the ocean are placed in this necessitous state; and I myself have personally witnessed the condition of the Chauci,3 both the Greater and the Lesser, situate in the regions of the far North. In those climates a vast tract of land, invaded twice each day and night by the overflowing waves of the ocean, opens a question that is eternally proposed to us by Nature, whether these regions are to be looked upon as belonging to the land, or whether as forming a portion of the sea?

Here a wretched race is found, inhabiting either the more elevated spots of land, or else eminences artificially constructed, and of a height to which they know by experience that the highest tides will never reach. Here they pitch their cabins; and when the waves cover the surrounding country far and wide, like so many mariners on board ship are they: when, again, the tide recedes, their condition is that of so many shipwrecked men, and around their cottages they pursue the fishes as they make their escape with the receding tide. It is not their lot, like the adjoining nations, to keep any flocks for sustenance by their milk, nor even to maintain a warfare with wild beasts, every shrub, even, being banished afar. With the sedge4 and the rushes of the marsh they make cords, and with these they weave the nets employed in the capture of the fish; they fashion the mud,5 too, with their hands, and drying it by the help of the winds more than of the sun, cook their food by its aid, and so warm their entrails, frozen as they are by the northern blasts; their only6 drink, too, is rainwater, which they collect in holes dug at the entrance of their abodes: and yet these nations, if this very day they were vanquished by the Roman people, would exclaim against being reduced7 to slavery! Be it so, then—Fortune is most kind to many, just when she means to punish them.8

1 The methods of grafting and inoculation.

2 B. xiii. c. 50. They dwelt between the Ems and the Elbe.

3 See B. iv. c. 29.

4 "Ulvâ." This appears to be a general name for all kinds of aquatic fresh-water plants; as "alga" is that of the various sea-weeds.

5 He alludes to turf for firing; the Humus turfa of the naturalists.

6 Of course this applies only to those who dwelt near the sea-shore, and not those more inland.

7 Guichardin remarks, that Pliny does not here bear in mind the sweets of liberty.

8 So Laberius says, "Fortuna multis parcere in pœnam solet;" "Fortune is the saving of many, when she means to punish them."

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    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), CHAUCI
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