« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
never made submission to England, and was beheaded on Tower. hill. *
This was the unworthy fate of a hero, who, through a course of many years, had with signal conduct, intrepidity, and perseverance, defended, against a public and oppressive enemy, the liberties of his native country.
Hume, vol. ii., p. 306. Of all the Scottish chieftains who had hitherto deserved and experienced the enmity of Edward, Wallace alone perished on the gallows; and on this account his fate called forth and monopolised the sympathy of his countrymen. They revered him as the protomartyr of their independence: his blood animated them to vengeance; the huts and glens, the frost and mountains, which he had frequented, became consecrated in their eyes; and as the remembrance of his real exploits gradually faded, the aid of fiction was employed to embellish and eternise the character of the hero. He knew no passion but the love of his country; his soul was superior to bribery or insult ; and at the call of liberty he was as ready to serve in the ranks as to assume the command of the army. His courage possessed a talismanic power, which led his followers to attempt and execute the most hazardous enterprises ; and which on Stainmoor compelled the king and army of England to flee from his presence, even before they entered upon action. Under so brave and accomplished a leader Scotland might have been saved. She was lost through the jealousy of her nobles, who chose to crouch in chains to a foreign despot, rather than owe their deliverance to a man of inferior family. Lingard, vol. 3, p. 210.
SURRENDER OF STIRLING CASTLE. The only place which still bade defiance to Edward was the strong castle of Sterling : last year he had wisely neglected it, that he might have leisure to reduce the rest of the kingdom; now he required the governor, Sir William Oliphant, to surrender it instantly into his hands. That officer requested permission to consult Sir John Soulis, formerly regent of Scotland, from whom he had received it in charge. Edward spurned the proposal ; a council of English and Scotch barons was assembled; and a sentence of outlawry was published against the governor and his garrison. But it required no ordinary exertions to reduce a fortress raised on a lofty rock, and defended by men of approved valour. The royal engines could make no impression on the outward defences : if the inhabitants within the walls were beaten down by the weight and multitude of the stones thrown upon
* Wallace, after undergoing the form of a trial, in Westminster Hall, was drag. ged through the streets of London, tied to horses tails, and hanged on a lorty gallows until nearly dead; his bowels were then taken out and burnt, and the horrible scene closed by the beheading and quartering of his body. His head wys set on London-bridge, and his quarters sent to Scotland, where in the hearts of the people his memory will ever find an inperishable tomb.
Bayley's History of the Tower, p. 281.
them (many of these stones weighed from two to three cwt.) the garrison found shelter in caverns hewn out of the rock; and for ninety days Oliphant foiled every attempt of the enemy, and, which was more difficult, resisted every solicitation of his friends. During the siege the courage, or temerity of Edward exposed him to the most imminent danger. He received an arrow in his vesthis charger was struck down with a stone; but to the friendly expostulations of his knights he replied, that he fought in a just war, and his life was under the protection of heaven. At last the courage, or means, of the garrison were exhausted ; for three days they refrained from measures of hostility, and frequent conferences were held, at the foot of the walls, between Oliphant and some English barons. The next morning the gates opened, and the governor and twenty-five of his companions were seen moving in slow procession down the hill, barefoot, in their shirts, with their hair dishevelled, and halters round their necks. When Edward met them they fell upon their knees, and, with uplifted hands, implored his favour. "I have no favour for you, he replied ; “you must surrender at pleasure.” They assented. “Then, said he, “my pleasure is that you be hanged as traitors; accept of this, or return to the castle.' “Sir,” answered Oliphant, “ acknowledge our guilt-our lives are at your disposal.' And what say you ?" rejoined the king, addressing the others. “We are all guilty,” they exclaimed: “We all throw ourselves on your mercy. The king turned aside to wipe the tears from his eyes, and ordered them to be conducted as prisoners, but not in chains, to England. The surrender of Stirling completed the reduction of Scotland.
Lingard, vol. iii., p. 238.
ROBERT BRUCE. Bruce, who had long harboured in his breast the design of freeing his enslaved country, ventured at last to lay open his mind to John Cummin, a powerful nobleman, with whom he lived in strict intimacy. He found his friend, as he imagined, fully possessed with the same sentiments, and he needed to employ no arts of persuasion to make him embrace the resolution of throwing off, on the first favourable opportunity, the usurped dominion of the English ; but on the departure of Bruce, who attended Edward to London, Cummin, who either had all along dissembled with him, or began to reflect more coolly in his absence on the desperate nature of his undertaking, resolved to atone for his crime in assenting to this rebellion by the merit of revealing the secret to the King of England. Edward did not immediately commit Bruce to custody, because he intended at the same time to seize his three brothers, who resided in Scotland ; and he contented himself with setting spies upon him, and ordering all nis motions to be strictly watched. A nobleman of Edward's court, Bruce's intimate friend, was apprised of his danger; but not daring, among so many jealous eyes, to hold any conversation with him, he fell on an expedient to give him warning that it was full time he show
make his escape. IIe sent him, by his servant, a pair of gilt spurs and a purse of gold, which he pretended to have borrowed from him, and left it to the sagacity of his friend to discover the meaning of the present. Bruce immediately contrived the means of his escape; and as the ground was at that time covered with snow, he had the precaution, it is said, to order his horses to be shod with their shoes inverted, that he might deceive those who should track his path over the open fields or cross roads through which he purposed to travel. He arrived in a few days at Dumfries, in Annandale, the chief seat of his family interest, and he happily found a great number of the Scottish nobility there assembled, and among the rest John Cummin, his former associate. The noblemen were astonished at the appearance of Bruce among them; and still more when he discovered to them the object of his journey, which was to live and die with them in defence of the liberties of his country, and to redeem the Scottish name from all the indignities which it had so long suffered from the tyranny of their imperious masters. The spirit with which he delivered his bold discourse, the bold sentiments which it conveyed, assisted by the graces of his youth and manly deportment, made a deep impression on the minds of his audience, and roused all those principles of indignation and revenge with which they had long been secretly actuated. The Scottish nobles declared their unanimous resolution to use their utmost efforts in delivering their country from bondage, and to second the courage of Bruce in asserting his and their undoubted rights against their common oppressors. Cummin alone, who had secretly taken his measures with the king, opposed the general determination ; and by representing the great power of England, governed by a prince of such uncommon vigour and abilities, he endeavoured to set before them the certain destruction which they must expect, if they again violated their oaths of fealty and shook off their allegiance to the victorious Edward. Bruce, already apprised of his treachery, and foreseeing the certain failure of all his own schemes of ambition and glory, from the opposition of so potent a leader, took immediately his resolution; and moved partly by resentment, partly by policy, followed Cummin on the dissolution of the assembly, attacked him in the cloisters of the Grey Friars, through which he passed, and, running him through the body, left him for dead. Sir Thomas Kirkpatric, one of Bruce's friends, asking him soon after if the traitor was slain? “I believe so," replied Bruce. “ And is that a inalter,” cried Kirkpatric, “to be left to conjecture ? I will secure him." Upon which he drew his dagger, ran to Cummin, and stabbed him to the heart. * This deed of Bruce and his associates, which contains circumstances justly condemned by our present manners, was regarded in that age as an effort of manly vigour and just policy.
Hume, vol. ii., p. 315. *The family of Kirkpatric took for the crest of their arms, which they still wear, a hand with a bloody dagger; and chose for their motto these words, “ I will secure him," the expression employed by their ancestor when he executed this violent
Hume, vol, ii., p. 315.
DEATH OF EDWARD I. Edward, surprised at the unexpected revolution of Bruce, who, after the murder of Cummin, had, with the Scottish nobles, shaken off the yoke of England, and, implacably exasperated against the Scots, resolved to be signally revenged on that nation. To that end he summoned all the vassals of the crown, without exception, to meet him at Carlisle about the middle of the summer, on pain of forfeiting their fees. His intention was to march into the heart of Scotland, and to destroy that kingdom from sea to sea, as he had often threatened. But God permitted him not to execute so barbarous a purpose; he had hardly arrived at Carlisle, where he had drawn together the finest army England had ever seen, when he was seized with a distemper, which put an end to his days and all his projects. As soon as he found himself ill, he knew he should die; and whilst his mind was sound, he sent for Prince Edward, his eldest son, and earnestly recommended him three things; the first was vigorously to prosecute the war with Scotland till he had entirely subdued the Scots. For that purpose he advised him to carry along with him his bones at the head of the army, not at all questioning but that object would daunt the courage of the enemies he had so often vanquished. * The second thing he recommended was, to send his heart to the holy land, with £32,000 sterling he had provided for the support of the holy sepulchre. The third was, never to recall Gavestone. After these last orders to his son, he caused himself to be carried by easy journeys into Scotland, being desirous to die in a country he had twice conquered. In this manner he advanced as far as the little town of Burgh-upon-the-Sands, in Cumberland, where his sickness being increased by a dysentery which came upon him, he resigned his last breath on the 7th July, 1307. His corpse was carried to Waltham, and from thence to Westminster Abbey, where it was done over with wax, and laid by Henry, his father.
Rapin, vol. i.. p. 385. P SON AND HARACTER. He was very personable, and taller than the generality of men, by the head. His hair was black, and curled naturally; his eyes, of the same colour, sparkled with uncommon vivacity. He would have been perfectly well shaped, if his legs, which were a little
too long, had been in proportion to the rest of his body. Hence i he had the surname of “Longshanks.” He joined to his bodily
perfections a solid judgment, a great penetration, and a prudent conduct, which very rarely suffered him to make a false step. Besides this, he had principles of justice, honour, and honesty, which restrained him from countenancing vice, not only in his most intimate courtiers, but even in his own son.
* This command is thus mentioned by Froissart — "He called his eldest son, and made him swear, in the presence of all his barons, by the Saints, that, as soon as he should be dead, he would have his body boiled in a large cauldron until the flesh shonld be separated from the bones; that he should have the fiesh buried, and the bones preserved, and that every time the Scots should rebel against him, he would summon his people, and carry agains them the bones of his father; for he believed most firmly that, as long as his bones should be carried against the Scots, those Scots would never be victorious.
Rapin, vol. i., p. 386.
CHRONICLE. 1279. Two hundred and eighty Jews hanged for clipping and coining. April 5, 1284, Edward II. born at Caernarvon, and styled Prince of Wales, being the first that had that title. Nov. 28, 1291, Queen Eleanor (first consort of Edward) died at Hornby, in Lincolnshire, in whose memory Edward erected a cross wherever her corpse rested on the way thence to Westminster-namely, Waltham, St. Albans, Dunstable, &c., &c.; and particularly Charing-cross, which derived its name from chère reine, or “dear queen's cross, as it was termed by the king in his French dialect, which at that period was general with the court.
Edward was the first sovereign of England that quartered the arms of England and France, and the first English sovereign that was called “Lord of Ireland” on his coin.
Among the miscellaneous events of this reign may be mentioned the institution of the famous mercantile society, called the Merchant Adventurers. It was intended for the encouragement of the woollen manufacture. In 1303 the Exchequer was robbed of no less a sum than £100,000. The abbots and monks of Westminster were indicted for the robbery. The tribute of 1000 marks a-year, to which King John, in doing homage to the Pope, had subjected the kingdom, still continued to be paid. The statute of mortmain also passed in this reign. It was the first law of the kind in Europe, and prevented the clergy making any new acquisition of lands. It was a very necessary measure in this superstitious age; the clergy, taking advantage of the ignorance of the people, on their death-bed, frequently extorted from them large grants of land, as a pretended atonement for their transgressions. By the law of morimuin such grants were declared illegal.
REIGN OF EDWARD II.
PIERS GAVESTONE. It was little anticipated by the nation that the new king would so soon disobey the command of his dying father, by recalling Gavestone, who, for “ abusing the tender years of the prince with wicked vanities," had been banished on two different occasions, as he thus incurred that father's solemn curse.
This Gavestone, for some service rendered by his father, had been brought up with young Edward, and thus was the friendship