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The Scot in British North America
Chapter III – The War of Independence


Ah! fredome is a nobill thing!
Fredome makes man to haiff liking!
Fredome all solace to man gives,
He lives at ese that frely lives.
A nobill hart may haiff nane ese,
Na ellys (else) nocht that may him please,
Gyff fredome failythe.
- BARBOUR

Thy Spirit, Independence, let me share,
Lord of the lion-heart and eagle eye!
Thy steps I follow, with my bosom bare,
Nor heed the storm that howls along the sky.
Deep in the frozen regions of the north,
A goddess violated bro't thee forth,
Immortal Liberty! whose look sublime
Hath bleached the tyrant’s cheek in every varying clime.
- SMOLLETT

Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has often led;
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or to glorious victorie.

Now's the day, and now's the hour;
See the front o' battle lour;
See approach proud Edward's power-
Edward! chains and slaverie!

Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty's in every blow!
Forward! let us do or die!
- Click here to listen to the Song

The story of a brave and high-spirited people struggling, against fearful odds, to secure freedom and independence for themselves and posterity, never fails to kindle the eye and quicken the pulse of every warm-hearted man. Even after the lapse of centuries, when the liberty borne triumphant out of the fray has ceased to be valued for what it cost, or has become, like most of our everyday blessings, so much a matter of course as, scarcely to be valued at all, the old heroic tale will always fire the sympathetic soul. It is not merely that there is in it the excitement of struggle; men may love the battle for its own sake, or because of the heroism evoked in the fray. To deprecate this tendency is certainly as vain as it is unnatural, because whatever may be thought about Hobbes' theory of our natural penchant for war, man is unquestionably, in one way or other, a fighting animal; and he is rather an inferior specimen of his kind, who is not flavoured with a strong tincture of pugnacity. Everything depends, however, upon the channel into which this powerful force is diverted. When men admire bravery in war, considered by itself, they only follow the irresistible instinct of their nature to be attracted by what is manly. Courage implies many noble qualities, skill, fearlessness of danger, self-sacrifice and so forth; but these, after all, ought only to be the means to higher and still nobler ends.

In a good cause, all these qualities are sanctified and become inestimably precious. It is the pecu1iar characteristic of patriotic effort that it makes bravery appear doubly brave, and inspires even craven souls with the fire of manly Courage. When we read with glowing sympathy and admiration of valiant deeds in times gone by, wrought by poor, weak and suffering communities in the cause of freedom, many healthful feelings are brought into action - a deadly hatred of wrong, cruelty and oppression, by whomsoever perpetrated, a tender fellow-feeling for the woes of their victims, and a reverence for the essential nobility of unselfishness and self-sacrifice in their highest and most glorious forms. During the last thirty years, the sympathies of mankind, and especially of the free English-speaking race on both sides of the Atlantic, or rather in every quarter of the globe, have been poured out, without stint, on behalf of oppressed and struggling races and nationalities. Although, happily, they cannot with Dido, learn to feel with or relieve the wretched, because themselves not strangers to woe, there has passed before them, in living panorama, what their fathers underwent that they might live, and live in freedom, happiness and peace. What is done in this age should make men glow with patriotic and grateful pride, when they think of what was achieved "in the old time before them." It is the fashion now-a-days to ridicule anything in the shape of patriotic enthusiasm as indecorous and undignified; we are not sure that it is not considered ungentlemanly; certainly it has been stigmatized as narrow and selfish-clannish, if the lover of his country be a Scot.

Now, if the people of any country have a right to be proud of the bond that unites them to it, that country is surely Scotland; yet it is exceedingly easy to feel a kindred glow from the broadly human stand-point. In a letter to the Earl of Buchan, Robert Burns points out this fact distinctly: "Independent of my enthusiasm as a Scotchman, I have rarely met with anything in history, which interests my feelings as a man equal with the story of Bannockburn. On the one hand a cruel usurper, leading on the finest army in Europe, to extinguish the last spark of freedom among a greatly daring and greatly injured people; on the other hand, the desperate relics of a gallant nation, devoting themselves to rescue their bleeding country, or to perish with her." (Jan 12, 1794). Now it is not difficult to eliminate here what is due to the "enthusiasm" of the patriot, and when that is removed, for any generous-minded man to feel precisely what Burns felt. Mr. Buckle was an Englishman, and, as will be seen hereafter, gave Scotland some rather hard blows, yet mark his righteous indignation at the Edwards and his exultation at their discomfiture: "The darling object of the English was to subjugate the Scotch; and if anything could increase the disgrace of so base an enterprise, it would be that, having undertaken it, they ignominously failed." *

A brief survey of the circumstances which brought on the struggle under Wallace in the first place, and ultimately under Bruce, may be given without troubling the reader with cumbersome details about overlordships and other matters discussed by the historians. The death of the Maid of Norway unquestionably precipitated the interference of England; but even had she lived, Edward would never have permitted her to reign, unless as the wife of his son. But apart from that, the traditional policy of the Norman and Plantagenet kings, from an early date, had been to enmesh Scotland into the net of feudality and ultimately to subdue it. This design was plainly manifest, in the oath of fealty extorted from William the Lion, when a prisoner, by Henry II. According to Tytler, approaches of a direct character were made in the early part of the reign of Alexander III. It may well be, however, that Henry III, tormented about the charters and having on his hands an England soon to give birth to Parliamentary government, had neither the heart nor the leisure to turn his steps actively northward. When Edward succeeded to the throne, with that splendid energy which he possessed, and that unscrupulous savagery, pertaining to his age rather than to himself, the grand step towards the acquisition of Scotland was taken. Everything seemed to have conspired in his favour. The royal line was extinct, save in the representatives of three daughters of David Earl of Huntingdon, a brother of Malcolm IV. and William the Lion. The subtlety of the English monarch seems transparent enough in later times; but, at that day, craft more easily beguiled, and was invincible when backed by overwhelming power.

In 1291, Edward summoned his Northumbrian vassals to meet him at Norham Castle on the south bank of the Tweed. Having conquered Wales with ruthless vindictiveness, he now resolved to turn his attention to Scotland. Baliol, Bruce the elder, and Hastings, represented respectively the three daughters already mentioned - Margaret, Isabel and Ada. The point in dispute really lay between Baliol and Bruce -- the former claiming as grandson of the eldest daughter, the latter as son of the second daughter, and therefore the nearest male to the common ancestor. Mr. Burton gives a graphic account of the meetings on both sides of the Tweed. The Parliament of Scotland, if such it may be termed, had asked Edward's good offices and were informed that he could only intervene as suzerain; they demurred to any concession on that point; and, from first to last, never yielded an inch to Edward. They were dismissed to their own bank of the river, and there by some dexterous manipulation of the referees, Baliol was chosen and crowned at Scone on "the Stone of Destiny," now the seat of the coronation chair in Westminster Abbey. It is to be observed, that both the claimants, Baliol and the eldest of the historical Bruces were Normans, each of them quite as willing as the other to take an oath of fealty to Edward so that, patriotically regarded, there was not much to choose between them. The Bruce had not yet arrived and meanwhile the stage was clearing for the advent of that hero who paved the way for Bannockburn at Stirling and struck the first crashing blow for Scottish independence. The John Baliol who was crowned at Scone and afterwards invested by Edward at Newcastle was a poor simpleton, a lamb amongst wolves according to the historians, constantly hampered and crossed at every point. Bruce the elder had shown some of the sterling stuff of his stock by boldly collecting a force and received the crown in form before the meeting at Norham.** The Newcastle ceremony took place at the close of 1292; and Edward soon began to disclose his real purpose. Poor Baliol was summoned to London repeatedly on various frivolous pretexts, treated with purposed indignity and, so far as seemed possible, provoked to rebel. But a war with Philip IV. of France was in prospect and therefore, when Edward found that Baliol had begun to intrigue with his enemy, he resolved to occupy the interval of preparation in once for all quieting Scotland. He marched north, besieged and took Berwick, and, finding Baliol in arms, attacked and defeated him at Dunbar. The royal puppet surrendered, and the English monarch devastated, with merciless cruelty, the whole country as far as Aberdeen and Elgin. Baliol remained a prisoner in the Tower for two years; released at the request of the Pope he retired to France, where he died in the Bannockburn year, 1314. His name, or rather his father's, survives him in the Oxford collegiate foundation.

All was darkness in the land after the deposition of Baliol, until a deliverer, fittingly arose from the ranks of the people, to emancipate the country. Many incredible marvels have gathered about the name of William Wallace, and yet the main facts of his history are beyond question. He was a typical Lowland Scot, of great personal strength and power of endurance, of consummate tact, unimpeachable probity and great military skill.*** How he came by the singular ability he possessed, it is hard to say, unless it be credited to mother wit. He could boast no royal lineage, being but a simple knight of Ellerslie, in Renfrewshire. But the people were thoroughly exasperated by the sufferings they had undergone, and he had personal wrongs to avenge in the destruction of his house and the murder of his young wife. Driven to desperation, like a lion at bay, he prepared to turn upon his foes. Capable of enduring any amount of hardship, he slowly collected the strength of the oppressed Anglo-Saxons of the Lowlands, wandering about and, at need, lurking in caves and thickets, until he had collected a force sufficient from the first to harass Edward's outposts. He acknowledged Baliol, and even assumed to act in his name; nevertheless he represented the Saxon element, at deadly feud with Norman feudalism.+ One of his most audacious acts at the outset was a bold daylight raid upon Scone where Justiciar Ormsby was holding Edward's Court; and this was only one of the many daring exploits by which the champion of the Scots effected the double purpose of training and increasing his forces, and of keeping the foe in a constant state of alarm. He had an arduous task before him; yet he fulfilled it with all the confidence of genius. "As a soldier" says Burton, "he was one of those marvellously gifted men, arising at long intervals, who can see through the military superstitions of the day, and organize power out of those elements which the pedantic soldier rejects as rubbish."++ Apart from the disparity of numbers, England had been trained by almost constant warfare at home and abroad, whilst Scotland had enjoyed a long period of repose. The one possessed the perfection of discipline and military equipment; the other's army was only in the making and could feel its way merely by tentative steps. Nevertheless Wallace was equal to the task. Organizing his force north of the Tay, and reinforced from the northwest, he attacked and took the strongholds, and was besieging Dundee, when he heard that John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, head of the Council of Regency, was advancing and at once made for Stirling Bridge, the great pass between north and south. Here he selected his position, with great skill, on the carse-ground below Stirling, behind a loop of the Firth. John de Warenne offered terms; the scornful answer was, "We have come not to make peace, but to free our country." The bridge, over which the Norman army had perforce to pass, was exceedingly narrow, and before half the enemy had crossed, the assault was made by Wallace and caused irretrievable confusion in the English army, and its utter defeat (Sept. 11, 1297). Surrey fled across the Border and Wallace after him, ravaging the north of England as far as Durham. Edward was now fully aroused to the danger and marched northward with an overwhelming force - the largest ever assembled under his banner. Wallace retreated and might have successfully avoided battle but for the discovery, by treachery, of his whereabouts. He was compelled to fight at hopeless disadvantage. Nevertheless, he selected his ground with even greater skill than before, and awaited the onset of Edward's host. Here at Falkirk, in his last heroic fight, the Scottish hero showed his contempt for the military superstitions of the time by a new disposition of his forces, - then seen for the first time, but centuries after to be famous - the formation of the square to receive cavalry. "The Scotch force," says Mr. Green, "consisted almost wholly of foot, and Wallace drew up his spearmen in four great hollow circles or squares, the outer ranks kneeling, and the whole supported by bowmen within, while a small force of horse were drawn up as a reserve in the rear. It was the formation of Waterloo, the first appearance in our history since the day of Senlac (Hastings) of ‘that unconquerable British Infantry' before which chivalry was destined to go down."+++ Mass after mass of the heavy knights in armour was hurled against those living ramparts in vain. At length, however, some mounted men broke in and all was over, but ruthless slaughter and headlong flight. Edward had conquered; but the victory was a barren one, and the English king found himself "master only of the ground he stood on; want of supplies forced him at last to retreat," for Wallace had laid waste all the South when he withdrew from England, and the restless monarch, next year, having abandoned Scotland, betook himself again to France. Dark as the night appeared, the cause of independence had received a new light, and out of the murky sky of Falkirk gleamed the morning star of Scottish freedom. The rest of Wallace's career may be soon told, so far as it is known. He is said to have visited France to strengthen the Scottish alliance, and Italy to enlist the favour of the Holy See, but in 1804 he was certainly in Scotland, where he alone refused the amnesty. Edward was about to try mild measures with Scotland, and his leniency was probably as much a matter of calculation as of mercy. "The English Justinian" was a great, wise, brave, and on the whole, humane monarch; but he wanted, like most men, better and worse than himself, to have his own way, and, when thwarted, was like an enraged tiger. His aims were high and far-reaching; and yet it was unquestionably as fortunate for England that they failed in Scotland, as that the ambitious views of the Plantagenet Edwards and Henries were disappointed in France. For Wallace, as the impersonation of perverse and uncompromising opposition, there could be no mercy. He was captured at Glasgow by a party, under Alexander de Menteith, who had recently received the royal clemency. The Scottish historian is careful to urge that "fause " is an unjust epithet, coupled with the name of Menteitb, since he was in no sense a traitor, being one of Edward’s officers and governor of Dumbarton Castle. Wallace was carried through London and tried as a subject of the king's for treason, border-raiding, and conspiring with the king of France. He was executed with all the barbarities of that time, and unhappily of times much more recent. His head was fixed on London Bridge, and his quarters were put up at Newcastle, Berwick, Stirling and Perth.*+ The hero's work was done, however, and could not be undone. He had breathed the quickening breath of national vitality into the Scottish people; sealed the cause of their independence with his patriotic blood; and, of all the uncanonized martyrs of history, whose memories are embalmed in its Walhalla, none stands out in purer and brighter sheen than William Wallace, the simple knight of Ellerslie.

The organizing schemes of Edward were now complete, and he was about to hold a joint Parliament, of both nations at Carlisle, when the irrepressible Scot again broke out in the illustrious person of Robert Bruce, grandson of the claimant to the crown in 1290. The house of Bruce was Norman, and belonged properly to Yorkshire; but, by marriage it had obtained the Earldom of Carrick and the Lordship of Annandale. The first Bruce and his son had, on the whole, though somewhat fitfully, adhered to the English side, and for obvious reasons. However attractive the crown or the independence of Scotland may have been, they were not much to blame if they secured the main chance - their English patrimony. It was no light matter to provoke the wrath of Edward, and defeat meant absolute and irretrievable ruin. The grandson proved himself a man of sounder fibre, but his education gave small promise of flight northwards, in February, 1306. The Earl's message was in symbol - a purse of money and a pair of spurs. There was snow on the ground at the time and so, to baffle pursuit, his horses were shod in a reverse way, to appear as if he were going to town, instead of flying from it. At Dumfries, Bruce met Comyn, Earl of Badenoch, in the church of the Grey Friars, showed him the abject state of Scotland, and made a proposition, it is said, in these terms : "Take my estates and help to make me king, or, if you prefer it, I will take yours and support your claim." Comyn, whom Bruce suspected of having betrayed his ambition to Edward, demurred, pleading his duty and loyalty to the king. Bruce upbraided him with disclosing secrets to the English Court: a fierce altercation ensued, and at last Bruce stabbed Comyn and rushed out. He had not only probably committed murder, but a more heinous crime in those days - sacrilege. Meeting Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick, he exclaimed "I doubt I have slain the red Comyn!" "Do you doubt?" said Kirkpatrick, "ich mak sicher " (I make sure), and then went in and finished the red Comyn. The play upon the word "doubt," here, is rather good - so good indeed as to make one question the truth of the conversation. Whether the slaughter precipitated the next step or not - and it probably did - Bruce was crowned at Scone, on the 27th of March, 1306, as Robert I. of Scotland.

At this coronation, the patriotic Lamberton, Bishop of St. Andrews, furnished the properties as well as the ecclesiastical proprieties, and the crown was placed on Robert's head, by the Countess of Buchan. "Shaken by sickness and bowed by care," the aged Edward once more nerved himself to his appointed task. He first secured the Pope's excommunication of Bruce for sacrilege; threatened death to all concerned in Comyn's murder; and, in his rage, caused the poor Countess of Buchan to be suspended from one of the towers of Berwick, in a cage of spars. All who took up arms were menaced with death; and Edward made formidable preparations for vengeance against Bruce, vowing, as if entering upon a solemn crusade or holy war, to devote the remainder of his days to that work. From his son, who had been made a knight in Westminster Abbey, after a night's vigil, he exacted a vow, that should he die before the accomplishment of his purpose, his body should be borne about with the Army, and never buried till Scotland was subdued. The advance army, under Pembroke, Clifford and Percy, arrived in Scotland early in 1306. The king only reached Carlisle in March, 1307, although he had set out the summer before, borne in a litter; meanwhile Bruce, the king's brother, his sister's husband, the Earl of Athole, Sir Simon Fraser **+ and others were put to death. Two bishops, Lamberton of St. Andrews, and Wishart of Glasgow - who, like many Scottish mediaeval prelates, remind one of Grossteste, of Lincoln, the manly English bishop of the previous century - were simply put in prison. The brave and indomitable old English king was "wearin' awa’;" but his fiery spirit and iron will bore up the failing frame until he beheld once more the land he longed to subdue. The last flicker of the taper flashed from the socket. Edward fancied that a new lease of life had been granted him; the litter was hung up, as a votive offering, in the cathedral of Carlisle, and, mounting his horse, the dying monarch rode toward the Solway. At Burgh-on-the-Sands, within sight of Scotland, Edward I. "the Hammer of the Scots," breathed his last, after bequeathing the war as a heritage of vengeance to his degenerate son and successor.

Robert's first brush with Percy was a surprise, and the result a serious check to his small army. In addition to his other troubles he came into conflict with the Celtic Scots, who occupied the western mountain district and the Isles. Though the representatives of those who gave the country its name of Scotland, they could not conform readily with the Saxonized kingship. Between the Celts and the Lowlanders there was an antipathy of race; and this, though sometimes dormant, was never extinguished.***+ Having, for some reason, to pass through the Highlands, Bruce reached John of Lorn's country; and as that haughty potentate was a relation of Comyn's, Bruce soon found himself beset by a swarm of Highlanders; yet his mailed force outwitted the half-naked horde. He was attacked also by Pembroke's force; but from 1306 to 1310 his movements cannot be clearly traced. We find his force gradually melting before Pembroke and Lorn, who hunted him with blood-hounds. He and a companion broke the scent by swimming streams, catching the boughs of trees, and swinging from tree to tree. Their wives followed them and were tended with chivalrous care, until at last they reached Bruce's home at Kildrummy, in the earldom of Mar. At the accession of Edward II., in 1307, the turning point in the war was reached. One after another the strongholds gave way to the Scottish king; Edinburgb, Roxburgb, Linlithgow, Perth, Dundee, Rutherglen, Aberdeen and Dumfries were surrendered, and the English garrisons driven out sometimes by the people of the district of their own motion. All the defensive positions, save Stirling, had been taken, and it was besieged by Edward Bruce, in 1313. The commander promised to surrender if not relieved before St. John Baptist's Day – an arrangement, which if it meant anything, betokened an invasion, and such an enterprise was actually on foot. Edward had collected a mighty host of 100,000 English, Welsh, Irish, also Gascons and other foreigners; the Scots are stated at 40,000, but Mr. Burton says that this is certainly an exaggeration. The battle was of necessity to be fought under the walls of Stirling Castle, and there, a little to the south of it, there was a rising ground, flanked by a little brook or burn, destined to be famous in the world's history; for its name was Bannockburn.

Bruce selected his ground at leisure, and Edward had no choice but to fight or lose the stronghold, which his father had felt more pride in seizing than in defeating Wallace at Falkirk. Stirling Castle stands on a trap rock; south and partly east and west were the Campsie Fells - hills neither lofty nor precipitous, and affording ground easy of successful defence. Bruce fortified this position, because here only could he meet that mighty host face to face. There was still a weak point - a tract of flat ground to the right by which the enemy might pass to the Castle. This was honey-combed with pits, covered with branches, not, says Mr. Burton, that these might serve as traps, but to destroy the ground for cavalry purposes. On the eve of the battle, a futile attempt was made to relieve the Castle and this disastrous result cast a portentous gloom over the English army. Whilst Robert was riding along his line, conspicuous by a gold circlet, Hugh de Bohun bore down upon him, and gave a challenge to single combat. Bruce was mounted on a small hackney and his opponent made an assault with the spear; this was dexterously warded off by the king, who, wheeling round, cleft Bohun's skull with so fearful a blow that the handle of the axe was shattered in his grasp. At daybreak on the twenty-fourth of June, 1314 the English advanced to the charge. Then, again, as at Falkirk, the two methods of warfare, the old and the new, came into competition. Following in the footsteps of Wallace, Bruce had drawn up his forces in hollow squares, or circlets, and Edward attempted, as his father had successfully done in 1298, to rake them with the arrows of his archers. The movement was sufficiently promising, and might have been successful if, as at Falkirk, the bowmen had been well supported; as it was, Bruce's reserve of horse easily scattered them, and the danger was past. "The body of men-at-arms next flung themselves on the Scottish front, but their charge was embarrassed by the narrow space along which the line was to move, and the steady resistance of the squares soon threw the knighthood in disorder. ‘The horses were stickit,’ says an exulting Scotch writer, ‘rushed and reeled, right, rudely.' In the moment of failure the sight of a body of camp-followers, whom they mistook for reinforcements, to the enemy, spread a panic through the English army. It broke in a headlong rout. Its thousands of brilliant horsemen were soon floundering in pits, which guarded the level ground to Bruce's left, or riding in wild haste for the border. Few, however, were fortunate enough to reach it. Edward himself, with a body of five hundred knights, succeeded in escaping by Dunbar and the sea. But the flower of the knighthood fell into the hands of the victors, while the Irishry and the footmen were ruthlessly cut down by the country folk as they fled. For centuries to come the rich plunder of the English camp left its traces on the treasure-rolls and vestment-rolls of castle and abbey throughout the Lowlands.*++

Thus was the yoke of oppressed Scotland broken, and her national independence secured by the valour of her own sons; but the end was not yet. The English monarchs chafed under the sting of humiliation; the disgrace was keenly felt, the more because it was without remedy; but of the shame which should have wrought repentance, there was not a trace. Two names are coupled together in this contest - those of Robert Bruce and the dauntless James Douglas, "the darling of Scottish story," the first of the Lowland Barons who cast in his lot with the king, and without whose adhesion the great triumph of Bannockburn might never have been.**++ Edward, notwithstanding his crushing defeat, still hesitated to deal frankly or decidedly with the Scots; he wanted a truce - a pause to make peace with his insubordinate barons, and to begin war afresh. Robert I. would hear of nothing but a renunciation of English authority over Scotland, and the acknowledgment of his title. In 1319, however, a truce was concluded for two years. At its expiration the war broke out with redoubled fury; Bruce was compelled to lay waste all the country south of the Forth, the inhabitants fleeing to the mountains. The English king reached Edinburgh; during his progress he robbed Melrose and Holyrood, burned the abbey of Dryburgh, and slew the sick or aged monks. In 1323 a truce for thirteen years was arranged, but in 1327 the weak Edward II. was murdered in Berkeley Castle, and a monarch cast in a far different mould ascended the English throne. About the Border there has been continual fighting, rapine and devastation, and the reign of Edward III. was opened with an attempt to divide the Scots in order to conquer them. Edward set up the son of John Baliol, and received him as vassal-king of Scotland; but the new claimant and his supporters were hurled over the Border again by Douglas and Randolph. Nothing remained but the acknowledgment of Scottish independence. This was done by a compact made at Edinburgh, but confirmed by Parliament in England, and thus known as the treaty of Northampton (April, 1328).

By this instrument Edward recognized the independent sovereignty of Scotland, renouncing all claim to feudal superiority. He agreed "that the kingdom should remain for ever to the great prince Lord Robert, by the grace of God, illustrious king of Scotland, and his heirs and successors; and that Scotland, by its old marches in the days of King Alexander, should be separated from the kingdom of England, and free of all claims of subjection and vassalage." The treaty cancelled all previous writings and obligations; Bruce promised to give compensation for damage done on the English side of the Border, and to marry his son, David, to Edward's sister, Joan.**+++

Robert Bruce had at last accomplished his task; and now with the certificate, signed and sealed, of his country's freedom and autonomy in his possession, he laid him down to die. His iron frame which had endured toil, privation, suffering, and danger in every form, for many a year had, for some time previously, shown symptoms of decay and approaching dissolution; and now, after all the struggle and in the hour of triumph, the great Robert passed away peacefully, at Cardross, on the northern shore of the Firth of Forth, on the seventh of June, 1329. "Such a man," says Mr. Burton, "would not fail to leave a strong and enduring impression on the hearts of a manly and kindly people. What he had of adversity, endurance and struggle in his early days, told for their emancipation, as well as the triumphs of his later,+* and in both he appears the typical Scot as he emerges from the chaos of the past. Eulogy upon the character and deeds of a hero whose memory is thus enshrined in the hearts of his countrymen, and has been bequeathed, as a precious and everlasting possession, to universal humanity, would seem superfluous, if not impertinent. His life and achievements point their own moral and the tale unfolded in his glorious career needs no meretricious adornment. The legend of his heart is an attractive one, whether true or false. It is said that Lord James Douglas was commissioned by the dying king to carry his heart to the Holy Land. The faithful friend and liege started upon his pilgrimage, but, after the fashion of the time, turned aside to aid the king of Leon and Castile against the Moors of Granada. While fighting against the Moslem, Douglas flung the casket, containing the precious relic, into the midst of the foe, and exclaimed as he spurred his horse to the charge, "Onward, as thou wert wont, noble heart, Douglas will follow thee." The hero was slain, but the casket, with the heart of Bruce, was recovered, and deposited in the Abbey Church of Melrose.

Our survey of the War of Independence is thus concluded. It has been purposely extended because, without an intelligent appreciation of that great struggle, the Scottish character can hardly be fully appraised or understood either in its strength or in its weaknesses, its sterling worth or its peculiar failings. If not the head-waters of "the Scottish stream of tendency" it served to fuse together the pent-up energies of the race and send them forth anew upon their world-wide mission. What Lake Constance is to the Rhine, and the Lake of Geneva to the Rhone, the War of Independence was to the genius of Scotland, and much more, since it was not merely a reservoir of mental and moral force in itself, but it availed to determine the bent of the national character, in certain broad directions, for all coming time. Another such nucleus of development and stored-up power will appear in the next chapter. Meanwhile it seems advisable to run over the intervening and connecting period, so as to be able, without missing a link, to trace the chain of events down to the time when the Scottish type of character, may comparatively speaking, be looked upon as fixed.

David II., Robert's son, was a boy of eight years old when his father died, in 1329, and Randolph, Earl of Murray had been appointed Regent. Both the Regent and Douglas, however, were early removed, and disputes arose concerning the restitution of estates owned by Englishmen, which was ordained by the treaty of Northampton. Edward Baliol, taking advantage of the confusion, and contrary to the wish, real or affected, of Edward, made a bold attempt to secure the throne. He landed in Fife in 1332, was crowned at Scone, and at once acknowledged Edward as his feudal superior. This last step ruined him utterly, and he and his retainers were driven across the Border. In 1333, Berwick was besieged and, on a relieving force making its appearance, a battle was fought at Halidon Hill in which the Scots were defeated. Baliol then ceded all south of the Firth of Forth and did homage for the rest - a step which, when discovered, sent Baliol back to Berwick. The Scottish League with France now proved of service, and Edward inaugurated the Hundred Years' War between England and France by making his preposterous claim to the French throne. David II. took refuge with Philip, but his cause was in the hands of Robert the Stewart, of Scotland, ancestor of the Stewart family, and the Earl of Moray. In 1336, according to Buckle, Edward devastated the whole country as far as Inverness. But in 1337, the declaration of war gave the corp de grace to Baliolism, and David returned to his kingdom in 1342. In 1346, in a movement on England to aid their French allies, the Scots were routed at Neville's Cross, near Durham, and David was taken prisoner. On this occasion the entire Lowlands, especially Tweeddale, the Merse, Ettrick, Annandale and Galloway, were laid waste. This was also the year of Crecy. The Scots king was detained in captivity eleven years, and it was during this time that the power of the nobles attained such formidable dimensions. At his death the crown passed to the first Stewart king, David's nephew, Robert II., in accordance to the will of the great Robert. This new monarch was weak and permitted the nobles to do much as they pleased. Robert III. was equally indifferent to the assertion of the royal authority, and when his son James - afterwards first king of that name, was taken prisoner while on his way to France, and carried to London where he remained in confinement for eighteen years - Robert sank under his misfortunes. He had already lost his eldest son, Rothesay, who had been imprisoned by his uncle, Albany, on a pretence of treason, and starved to death. He was unequal to a contest with the factious nobles and did not attempt one. After a wretched reign of fifteen years, he died of what is called a broken heart, in1406, leaving the Duke of Albany Regent of the kingdom.

A vigorous effort was now made to check the excessive power of the nobles; and Donald of the Isles, who had endeavoured to secure for himself the Earldom of Ross, was brought to his knees. Meanwhile the main causes of trouble and confusion during the century and a half to come disclosed themselves. They are well put by Mr. Buckle. I. The inordinate power of the nobles, owing partly to the structure of society, and the long minority and imprisonment of David. Ever and anon there was war with England and, at such times, the power of the chiefs increased; and, when there was no foreign war there was a reluctance to begin a civil one, by a crusade on the nobles. The history of the Stuart monarchs is the record of one prolonged struggle with the nobility. It was not the turbulent nature of the people but the unhappy supremacy of the nobles which caused the woes of the fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries.++* II. The absence of the municipal spirit. When towns were constantly being burned and the entire country ravaged sometimes by English armies, sometimes by Highland caterans and anon by Border moss-troopers, there could be no middle class like that which grew up in England, flourished even during the wars of the Roses, and fixed itself firmly upon the soil. Mr. Buckle admits that, in Scotland, the nobles, with all their faults, were the only barrier against despotism; for there was another element always in alliance with the Crown. III. The clergy who flourished upon the conflicts of the Crown and the nobility. They had the ecclesiastical arm and, by their superior training, tact and experience, could always command the royal authority. The chief adviser of James II, the violator of hospitality and his plighted word in the murder of the Douglases, was Kennedy, Bishop of St. Andrews. This must be borne in mind when one comes to read the lessons of the Reformation period. Moreover, although the excessive power and the indomitable pugnacity of the nobles wrought much evil, there was no element to take its place. In England, the yeomanry and the urban middle classes were always ready to step into the breach, and the destruction of the nobility in the civil wars, although it rendered Tudor despotism possible, was not an unmixed evil. There were two Roses to contend for in England; in Scotland there was but one Thistle, and it bristled up at its spiny points and drew blood in all quarters. The contest between the kings and the nobles continued the work of devastation, far on, up to and beyond the close of the middle ages. When people speak of Scotland having been a century behind its sister kingdom at the beginning of the seventeenth or eighteenth century, let them consider what that poor, long-suffering, brave and dauntless people achieved and endured during those long, dark centuries from the end of the thirteenth to the beginning of the eighteenth. They suffered and were strong; and thence was drawn the energy stored up in the national character. Surviving all the rude shocks of time and man, it has girt the world with an influence almost wholly beneficent - an influence which has gradually permeated the English-speaking peoples, infusing its vigour, its stern and sterling probity, and its untiring zeal for progress and right in every land.

It seems unnecessary to follow out in detail the events of the Stuart reigns from the second Robert to the death of James V., after his mishap at Solway Moss, and the birth of the still more unfortunate Mary Queen of Scots (1370-1542). It was a period of dire tribulation for that afflicted land; and yet no period in British annals was so fruitful in poetry, ballad and romance. During that dead time in English literature, which extended from the death of Chaucer to the Tudor times, Scotland produced many an illustrious poet, and many a stirring Border ballad of fame enough, though of authorship unknown.+++* Foremost in the ranks stood the names of John Barbour, Archdeacon of Aberdeen, the Homer of the War of Independence, Blind Harry, the Minstrel, who celebrated Wallace, Andrew Wyntoun, Prior of St. Serf's, Lochleven, the chronicler, and Robert Henryson of Dunfermline. More illustrious in the annals of poetry were William Dunbar - "a poet," says Scott, "unrivalled by any that Scotland has ever produced" - the author of The Thistle and the Rose, a nuptial ode in honour of the marriage of James IV. and the Princess Margaret of England - Gawain or Gavin Douglas, Bishop of Dunkeld, with his Palace of Honour, and Sir David Lyndsay of the Mount (Fifeshire), the author of that scathing Satire of the Three Estates (king, barons and clergy), in which the foibles of fashion, even to ladies' trains, and the tricks and deceits of the pardoners and relic vendors, are hit off with grim humour. The first James, not only as a royal author, but because of his sufferings in a prolonged captivity, and his violent death at the hands of his uncle, the Duke of Athole, and the recalcitrant nobles, is a unique figure in Scottish History, only surpassed in his claims on human sympathy by his still more helpless descendant, the victim of Fotheringay. The King's Quair (quire or little book) was written when the young prince was a prisoner in the Tower. It was Lady Joan Beaufort who inspired his verse, and it is like a gleam of sunshine across his sad and chequered career to learn that his love became his Queen; sadder than all that he perished by the assassin's hand in his forty-fourth year. To him have been attributed also Peblis at the Play and two other kindred poems, partly satirical and partly descriptive of society, of rural manners and the Church.++** This most accomplished of the Stuarts "who strove to civilize the country he was called upon to govern, by curbing the power of the nobles, appears as a gracious figure in Scottish annals." He attempted too much, and fell a victim to his unselfish and patriotic ambition. To James V. is attributed a reflection of himself in the Gaberlunzie Man, and James VI. was also a poet in a small way. Whatever maybe said of the paucity of philosophical thinking in Scotland before Buchanan - and that is a mistake in the main - there can be no doubt of the splendid galaxy of poetic spirits which adorned the centuries from Robert II. to Mary, Queen of Scots. ++*** On Flodden Field, in fight with his brother-in-law, Henry VIII., and as a consequence of the ancient Scottish league with France, James IV. with the flower of his chivalry perished, and Scotland received a staggering blow long remembered with grief and anger by the unhappy people. Nearly two centuries and a half from the fatal disaster at the foot of the Cheviots, Jean Elliott wrote her plaintive version of The Flowers of the Forest, in memory of it. These are the concluding stanzas: -

"Dull and wae for the order sent our lads to the Border,
The English for ance, by guile wan the day;
The Flowers of the Forest, that foucht aye the foremost,
The prime of our land are cauld in the clay.

"We'll hear nae mair lilting at the yowe-milking,
Women and bairns are heartless and wae,
Sighing and moaning on ilka green loaning-
The Flowers of the Forest are a' wede away."

The fight with Surrey at Flodden in 1513 was in every way disastrous to Scotland. Her king was slain with the bravest of his nobility; those most attached to the Crown, and earnest in patriotic aspiration had fallen with him. Again there was a royal minority, with a feeble ruler in the Regent Albany. The lords raised their heads once more to hamper the Crown; and when the king became a power in the State, his hopes were fixed upon the clergy, with the inevitable result that Church and Monarchy were involved in common ruin. James V. was not a model as a man; rude though chivalrous like the rest of his house before and after, his wayward nature was always going astray. Since Flodden everything had been tending to the bad. The peace Albany had negotiated with Lord Dacre was disgraceful and humiliating; Surrey had advanced over the border in 1523 and taken Jedburgh almost without resistance; and at last the Scot nobles, in order to humble their king, had refused to do their duty. In 1542, the Scots were defeated at Halidon Hill, and three months after at Solway Moss, in Cumberland (December 14th, 1542) - that last grief which broke the heart of the Scottish king. When informed of the birth of a daughter as he lay dying, looking back upon the Maid of Norway, and forward blindly to the fate of his infant, Mary, Queen of Scots, which he seems partly to have foreseen, the dispairing exclamation escaped his lips, "It came with a lass, it will go with a lass," and then he turned over upon his broken heart and sank to rest.

*History of Civilization, &c., vol. iii. p.13; London, 1871.

** See the whole of chapter six in Mr. Burton's second volume.

*** In spite of the mythical stories about Wa1lace "few historical figures come out so distinctly and grandly when stripped of the theatrical properties." (Burton: The Scot Abroad, p. 11. "He was a skilfull and brave general, an accomplished politician, and a public man of unstained faith and undying zeal." (Ibid.)

+Prof. Veitch, in his admirable History and Poetry of the Scottish Border, observes: "Edward had no doubt what some may regard as enlightened views of government. They were, however, of a somewhat imperial and arbitrary sort, and the enlightened element in views pressed upon a people at the point of the sword, is apt not to be greatly appreciated. The spirit of the War of Independence was an Anglo-Saxon hatred of the feudal Norman of the south. It was manifested especially in the Lowlands of Scotland. It met with no sympathy, rather opposition, from the Gael of the Highlands, who had far more affinity of feeling with what it confronted than with what it sought, and who was indifferent as to what king reigned south of his mountains. Yet it was this spirit which fused the mixed elements of population on the Lowland plains and hills during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries into one nationality. It is that which has given the Lowland Scot his character of stern individuality, self-reliance, and stubborn independence, qualities which sometimes with him assume so pronounced a form of self-assertion when no one is questioning his dignity or importance as to be slightly disagreeable." (P.144-5). Dr. Veitch is certainty not disposed to conceal the weak side of his countrymen's character. See also Burton: History of Scotland, ii. 278.

++ Green: History of the English People.,Vol. i. p. 366. (Amer. Ed.). Burton: History, Vol. ii. chap. xx.

+++ Green: History, Vol. i, p. 367. See, also a longer and more entertaining account in Burton: History, Vol. ii, p.302.

*+ "Such deeds," as our historian remarks, "belong to a policy which outwits itself; but the retribution has seldom come so quickly, and so utterly in defiance of all human preparation and calculation as here. Of the bloody trophies sent to frighten a broken people into abject subjection, the bones had not yet been bared, ere they became tokens to deepen the wrath and strengthen the courage of a people arising to try the strength of the bands by which they were bound, and, if possible, break them once and forever." Burton: History, VoI. ii, 338.

**+ See an interesting account of this remarkable reiver, and of the Fraser family in Tweeddale, in Veitch: Border History and Poetry, Chap. vii.

***+ "It was the natural condition of these people to be under absolute chiefs and leaders, who set up a mimic royalty, ...There was generally more than one king or chief. Had all been under one leader, when King Edward began his encroachments, there is no doubt he would have had thorough help from that leader. As it was he entered into alliance with three of them (Alexander of Argyle, Alexander of the Isles, and Donald of the Isles), who, as they were in some measure rivals, did not always co-operate." Burton: History, ii, 362.

*++Green: History of the English People, Vol. i. Book iv. p. 387. Also, for a full and graphic account of Bannockburn, Burton: History of Scotland. Vol. ii. pp. 378 et. seq.

**++The War of Independence, as might have been expected, gave the first impetus to that stream of ballad and song which had flowed down in an uninterrupted stream during more than five centuries. John Barbour, Archdeacon of Aberdeen, celebrated The Bruce in a lengthy poem, full of marvelous legend, mingled with historic fact; and he had the advantage of living only thirty years after the death of his hero. Blind Harry attempted the same task for Wallace, but he wrote two centuries after the time, and his skill and genius were inferior. Of the ballads, a few extracts may be given from Professor Murray. The first relates to Edward's siege of Berwick, in 1296; -

"What wende the Kyng Edward
For his langge shanks;
For to wynne Berewyke
Al our unthankes?
Go pike it him;
And when he it have wonne
Go dike it him."

There is also a fragment relating to Bannockburn preserve in Fabyan’s Cronyale,:

"Maydens of Englande, sore may ye mourne,
For your lemmans ye have loste at Bannockysborne;
With a heue a lowe,
What! weneth the King of England,
So soon to have wonne Scotlande –
With rumbylowe."

The military spirit of the time appears in Gude Wallace, The Thistle of Scotland, and other ballads. This stanza is from Auld Maitland;

"It's ne'er be said in France, nor e'er
In Scotland, when I'm hame,
That Englishman lay under me,
And e'er gat up again."

**+++ Burton: History, Vol. ii, p. 425.

+* lbid, p. 481.

++* A well known passage from Buckle’s History of Civilization, may be quoted here. "There have been more rebellions in Scotland than in any other country, and the rebellions have been very sanguinary, as well as very numerous. The Scotch have made war with their kings, and put to death many. To mention their treatment of a single dynasty, they murdered James I. and James III. They rebelled against James II. and James VII.. They laid hold of James V. and placed him in confinement. Mary they immured in a castle and afterwards deposed. Her successor, James VI., they imprisoned,; they led him captive about the country, and on one occasion attempted his life."

+++* It was intended to devote a chapter to the Border and its literature, but space forbids. The reader is referred to the well known work of Scott, on Border Minstrelsy, Percy's Relique., Dr. Veitch's admirable volume already cited, Pinkerton, Sibbald, Irving, Allan, Cunningham, and other authorities on the subject.

++** Veitch: Border History and Poetry, p. 311.

++*** Mr. T. Arnold, in discussing the authorship of the Court of Love in the Academy, (June 1st. 1878), says that whoever may have written it, "he seems to me to have been a man of poetical power, far superior to Lydgate, Gower, Occleve, Harris, or any known English writer between the time of Chaucer and the reign of Henry VIII. Scotland produced within that period men capable of writing it, but there is not a particle of evidence to connect it with Scotland."


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