Battles between the English
and the Scotch in the reign of Edward the First.
One king unmakes another: then
Upstarts a third full quickly:
The first prepares for warfare, when,
He dies—being very sickly.
John Baliol, the king,
procured from his holiness, Pope Celestine, a dispensation for himself and
his nation, excusing them from the obligation of all their oaths of
feudality; and then, when thus freed, he and his adherents formally
renounced all allegiance to Edward of England.
The Rubicon (the Sark, of
course) was now passed, and nothing but the clangour of war was heard on
The English monarch led a
host northward, well-ordered and well-disciplined, and equal in numbers to
that of the Scots that had been so memorably driven from Carlisle, and
eastward into the shire of Northumberland: he invaded Scotland on the
Cheviot side, and, immediately assaulting Berwick both by sea and land, took
that town by storm, and barbarously put eight thousand persons to the sword.
Edward then sent Earl Warrenne forward with twelve thousand men to attempt
Dunbar ; and this nobleman, meeting with the Scots in the plain, encountered
them so fiercely and so effectually, that he drove them before him, and
brought back a complete victory. The perdition of the vanquished amounted to
twenty thousand. The falls of Roxborough, Edinburgh, Stirling, and divers
other especial strengths, incontinently ensued ; so that, in a short space
after the Southrons had passed the frontier, the whole of the Lowlands,
stretching out betwixt the Cheviots and the Grampians, had been reduced to
submission. In order to effect the subjugation of the Highlands, a strong
reinforcement of Irish and Welsh, who, from the natures of their own native
countries, were best fitted to ensue an enemy into his wilds, fastnesses,
and savage mountains, was despatched to hunt the kilted Caledonians to
defeat and death. This, for many reasons, they were able to do :—Baliol
himself had a meek and irresolute spirit, that suited rather to bear a
sceptre and diadem, than a jeddart-staff and helmet; so that, when he began
to lose heart and waver, his adherents very soon began to waver also, and
fall off from him : his people were disunited and at variance amongst
themselves, broken by faction, and estranged by a contrariety of interests ;
—and, as the house that is divided against itself cannot stand, neither can
a kingdom so lacerated stand either.
Baliol, in fine, renounced
his crown to Edward; and, with much abject submission, protested his
contrition for having so rebelliously forgot his faith to his liege lord.
The conqueror pressed his
victories forward as far north as Elgin, meeting with none except those who
came to cast themselves at his feet to do homage: even the turbulent
Highlanders promised obedience in the most slavish manner, and Scotland was
now entirely subdued and reduced to an apparent tranquillity.
It was in returning from this
conquest, that Edward took the Coronation Stone with him into England. The
stone itself, fixed in the bottom of the chair, of an iron-like or steely
colour veined with red, is a parallelopipcd in figure, measuring in inches
about 11 x 13 x 22. It is reported to have formed the pillow of Jacob, when
he fell asleep on the plain of Luz, and dreamt his angelic vision : it was
afterwards taken to Brigantia in the kingrick of Gallicia in Spain, and used
as a seat of justice by Gathelus or Gatliol, king of the incipient Scots,
coeval with Moses: Simon Brach, monarch of the same dynasty, 700 years
before the Christian era, bore it with him into Ireland: Fergus, about 330
years before Christ, removed it to the castle of Dunstaffnage in Lorn :
Kennet II. took it to Scone in 850 after Christ: and lastly there it
remained until Edward carried it to Westminster in 1396.
"Should fate not fail,
where'er this stone is found, The Scots shall monarchs of that realm be
And hence it is that the
Scotch to this day believe themselves to form the principal portion of Great
Britain, and to enjoy the sovereignty over that part ycleped England,
because James the Sixth—First, on the defunction of Elizabeth, came and took
possession of England, a kingless realm, and England did not go and take
possession of Scotland. Thus, according to Lion King at Arms, the
marshalling of the royal achievement can scarcely be fair heraldry, so long
as the noble ,and rampant beast, girded about by the double tressurc, is
excluded from the first quarter of the shield.
John Baliol was a close
prisoner for more than two years in the Tower of London ; but, being
afterwards liberated, he retired to France, where
lie remained in seclusion
during the remnant of his days.
Patriotic risings of the
people, however, soon manifested themselves throughout the newly compelled
province; and the most distinguished champion of that period started up in
the person of Sir William Wallace, with whom, in a short space of time, and
after some successes gained, was confederated Sir William Douglas.
Meanwhile, Edward was making
great preparations against a descent on France, a measure that was not
over-agreeable to some of his nobles; since the cause, by them, was not
looked upon as altogether just, especially as they were heavily taxed to
pander to the arbitrary ambition of their restless prince. He had assembled
an army which he purposed to send over into Gascony under the command of
Humphrey Bohun, Earl of Hereford ; but the haughty peer decidedly objected
to the measure, and positively refused to go. A violent altercation ensued
hereon; and the king, now in a towering rage, fiercely cried out to
Hereford, —" Sir Earl, by God you shall either go or hang!"
"By God, Sir King," replied
the nobleman, " I will neither go nor hang!" Upon this he departed, together
with about thirty considerable barons who were of his way of thinking. The
invasion was given up, and Scottish affairs demanded attention.
Wallace had now been running
a brilliant career of victory over the English viceroys and vicegerents; and
to check this before Scotland should regain her liberty, as she was
apparently doing by rapid strides, the Earl Warrenne was commissioned
thitherward with forty thousand men. He entered the struggling country by
the West Marches, directly through the field of our most particular labours
in this authentic work.
Having crossed the marshy
flats of Carlisle, the Moss of Solway, and forded the Sark at the head of
the Firth, and trod upon ground now occupied by the modern Gretna Green, yet
without giving a thought upon love or matrimony, but only upon blood and
murder, he pressed onwards to Irvine. The Scots prudently retreated before
him, as their promises of advantage were but slender in their present
position; and retired as far as Stirling, where a battle was fought, and
where Wallace gained the day. Cressingham, one of Warrenne's generals, much
hated by the adverse party, was slain in this action ; and his enemies
showed their vengeance on his dead body bv actually making girths and
covering saddles with his skin, which they fiercely stripped off.
A series of other martial
achievements, happily struck in the oppressed province, recalled Edward from
Flanders, whither he had gone to prosecute a war. He collected, a mighty
host one hundred thousand strong, culled out of all his dependencies of
England, Wales, and Ireland; and, placing himself at the head of this
multitude, advanced towards the Cheviots. He soon came up with those he
sought; — encountered them, routed them, and is reported to have slaughtered
no less than sixty thousand.
Wallace retreated in good
order along the banks of the Carron; and it was on this stream, on this
occasion, that he met the young Bruce, who called to him and entreated him
to submit to the conqueror,—a measure to which the former would by no means
incline, but, on the contrary, made so eloquent and so affecting a reply to
the latter, that Bruce was immediately converted to the cause of his
country, and, repenting him of his submission to Edward, secretly resolved
thenceforward to strike for freedom.
The English monarch returned
into his own country by crossing the Sark and the Debateable Land, amusing
himself, howbeit, on the way through Annandale, by assaulting and reducing
Bruce's castle of Lochmaben.
Bruce being in the power of
his enemy, and, worse still, in his custody, Edward, in order that he might
murder his way to the sovereignty of Scotland, expressed it as his
intention, one night when lie had been drinking somewhat freely with his
courtiers, that he would put this competitor for the crown to death next
day; and to this step he had been partly instigated by the jealous advices
of John Cummin, another heir to the Scottish monarchy.
The Earl of Gloucester being
present, and hearing what passed, forthwith sent a messenger to his friend
in durance, with twelve pence and a pair of spurs. Bruce took the hint, and
prepared for flight.
We are pleasantly informed
that he had the shoes of his horse put on hind-side before; so that the
impressions of them on the snow, which then lay on the ground, could be no
indication to any who might seek him as to his progress Scotland-ward.
He forded the river Eden, not
distant far from the city, on whose wall the sun shines bright; crossed the
matrimonial district at the head of the Solway, which we desire to celebrate
in these pages ; and stopped not until he arrived at Lochmaben, so lately in
the hands of his foe.
A space after this he fell at
jars and ungentle speech with the aforesaid Cummin in the Convent of the
Minorites at Dumfries, and, in the ungo-vernableness of his passion, pierced
him deep with a steel blade; yet Lord Hailes held that the deed was not the
fruit of malice prepense. The persecuted kingdom flew to arms,—the friends
of Bruce rallied around him,—he hastened to Scone to be crowned, and the
diadem was actually placed upon his head by a woman, the Countess of Buchan,
sister to Macduff, Earl of Fife. Edward had now to commence his work all
over again, for his power north of the border had been well-nigh annihilated
by these deeds.
The young and mettlesome king
performed many a bright chevisance of valour and hardiment; sometimes
stricken down by defeat from his enemies, and, at others, dealing unto them
even go much as they gave him. The monarch of England, though well advanced
in years, was still untired and untiring; and, once more denouncing the
Scots as incorrigible, made preparation for immense war upon them again,
vowing that he never would rest until he had punished them for their
disobedience. He had been sadly afflicted with bodily ailments of late, yet
was he resolved to chastise them in person, for his spirit was as active as
ever. In traversing his own kingdom, and even until he had got so far as
Carlisle, he had been compelled to journey in a palfrey litter; but here,
feeling himself in some little sort convalescent, and able to proceed in a
more martial estate, he solemnly offered up the said litter in the cathedral
church of the city as a gift to heaven.
When this pious ceremony had
been achieved, he feebly threw himself upon his horse, and, leading his
puissant army out through the Scotland gate, directed his course onward
towards the head of the Solway waters, even over the same ground as we have
already conducted the reader times not a few. Surely ye now know this ground
passing well—its features—its nature : yet notwithstanding that here and
there, in the present day, on the great Moss the eye of the peregrinator
meets but a cheerless view of black peat and barrenness, relieved partially
with squalid huts and thriftless enclosures; in the troublous reign of
Edward I., the face of this region was far more sad, sandy, and sedgy. The
billows of the western brine flowed yestily over the flats, whensoever the
occiduous tempests puffed rudely in the face of green nature : the rush, the
sword-leaved flag, and the rank coltsfoot, overgrew their commission in the
rancid marshes stretchina along; the banks of the Esk ; and the noxious toad
lifted his head above the pestiferous pools, and croaked hoarsely to the
lizard looking out of his hole.
Edward crawled no more than
six miles in four days, whereas the lovers of this present era hie over the
Moss nine miles and a half in the space of one hour: but then Edward was not
going to be married to the lady of his heart's election; —no, forsooth, he
was only going to conquer a kingdom.
When he had attained so far
as to Burgh-on-the Sands, his strength failed him, and he began to see that
all is vanity and more than vexation— that our mightiest transactions are
but child's play —that we were only born as it were the day before
yesterday, and surely cannot have completed our threescore and ten — and
that the end of life is sure to come before we have half finished the
projects we had in hand, and just as we were on the point of setting about
the arrangement of something new, mightier and better than all the rest, so
that it is an infinite pity that we should die, and not accomplish it.
It was all nothing: his
ailments now came upon him so grievously as to be past durance ; wherefore,
to eschew them, he died.
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