21 MARCH 1969, Page 35

The English question

Sir: A. J. P. Taylor's views on the subject of 'Britain,' which you quote in the Letters column (14 March), are, I suspect, eccentric. For the Romans, in the first and second cen- turies at least, held part of the lowlands of Scotland, and built the Antonine wall between the Firths of Forth and Clyde to keep out the 'Caledonians,' who were often, be it noted, de- scribed as 'Britanni,' in common with those south of that wall.

Indeed, the word 'Britannia' was used by Strabo, Pliny, Tacitus and Caesar in classical times to describe the whole island and, although the province was also known as 'Britannia,' this description seems only natural; for at the heyday of British rule in India the term 'India' was applied not only to the British- ruled portion (`British India') but also to the entire sub-continent, including the Princely states and unconquered tracts.