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lish king. The situation of Bruce was critical and hazardous in the extreme. The whole strength of England, directed by the most able military commander of the age, and a majority of the more powerful barons of Scotland, were opposed to him. Yet against such fear ful odds Bruce determined to make a des ate effort, and either free his country, or perish in the attempt. He immediately wrote letters to his friends and adherents, and on their assembling, took the decided step of instantly assuming the crown. With a slender retinue of only two earls and fourteen barons, he set out for Scone to celebrate his coronation. On the road to Glasgow, he was met by Sir James Douglas, son of William, the fourth Earl, who had fought with Wallace. Douglas immediately joined Bruce's little band, and continued faithful to him in all his succeeding reverses, performing many feats of extraordinary valour, and leaving a name for military prowess second to none in the annals
of his country. The party proceeded to Scone, where they crowned Bruce with a small golden chaplet, Edward having formerly carried off the regalia of Scotland. The earls of Fife had enjoyed, since the days of Malcolm Canmore, the privilege of placing the crown on the head of the sovereign at his coronation, but the present Earl of Fife being of the English faction, his sister Isabella, Countess of Buchan, performed the ceremony; for which Edward afterwards took a barbarous vengeance, by confining the lady in an iron cage at Berwick.
Bruce, after this decisive step, made a progress through various parts of Scotland, where he was successful in taking some towns and castles ; and a few of the more resolute assertors of their country's independence joined his banner. His party, however, was still small, and Edward was not slow in making preparations to crush him. The English king took a vow, that he would immediately set out against the Scots ; and being in an infirm state of health, made his son swear, that, should he die before the expedition, he would carry his body with the army into Scotland, and not commit it to the grave, till that country was completely subdued. Written for the present Work.
H.-BRUCE'S STRUGGLES TO RECOVER THE INDEPEN
DENCE OF HIS COUNTRY.
ROBERT BRUCE commenced his career as king, under very unfavourable auspices. Desperate as was his condition when he assumed the crown, his affairs soon became worse, and the very first winter saw him a fugitive and an exile from the country whose crown he
Having marched with his followers to Perth, where the English governor, the Earl of Pembroke, lay with an army, Bruce sent him a challenge to come forth and fight. Pembroke replied, that he would meet him on the morrow. Bruce retired to the neighbouring wood of Methven, where he was surprised by Pembroke in the night-time; and though he and his followers fought boldly, the king himself being thrice unhorsed in the battle, the Scots were defeated with great slaughter. Bruce and a small party of his friends escaped to the West Highlands, where they were nearly cut off by Macdougal, called John of Lorn. He then found it necessary to retire to Rachrin, a half-desolate islet on the coast of Ireland, where he lurked in concealment during the winter of 1306.
Edward in the meantime exercised every species of the most barbarous cruelty upon all the adherents of Bruce in Scotland, whom he had been able to get into his power. The earl of Athol, Sir Christopher Seton, Sir Simon Fraser, and Bruce's own brother, Nigel, a youthful knight, distinguished for his beauty and accomplishments, were all hanged, beheaded, and quartered. Bruce's queen and daughter were committed to English prisons, where they remained for eight years in captivity; and the Bishops of St. Andrews and Glasgow, taken in arms, were also imprisoned in England.
In the spring of 1307, Bruce, in company with his brother Edward and Sir James Douglas, with a few followers, returned to Scotland, and landed on the coast of Ayrshire. They were there informed that their friends were dispirited, the English reinforced, and that nothing could be attempted with a prospect of success. Robert would have re-embarked; but Edward, a man of fiery courage and intrepid daring, protested that he would
not again quit his native land, but would meet the enemy, and abide the event. Earl Percy held the castle of Turnberry, and his troops were quartered in the adjoining hamlet. On these the small party of Bruce made an attack in the night-time, in which they were completely successful, killing many of the English, and carrying off much spoil ; while Percy, ignorant of the small number of the assailants, did not dare to sally from the castle to the succour of his men. This success on the part of Bruce spread a panic among the English. Perey, with the remains of his garrison, retreated into England. Bruce was joined by many adherents; and Sir James Douglas proceeded to what had been once his own castle of Douglas, but which was now held by Lord Clifford and an English garrison. Douglas lay concealed in a farm-house till he had got around him a number of his ancient vassals, with whom he surprised the garrison, and put the men to the sword. He found in the castle a large store of provisions, which having piled into a heap, he emptied upon it the casks of wine and other liquors; he threw above all the dead bodies of the English, and then set the castle on fire; this was long known by the name of the Douglas Larder.
Two of Bruce's brothers, however, Thomas and Alexander, were defeated in Galloway, and made prisoners by Roland Macdowal. They were sent to the English king, who executed them with his usual cruelty. Macdowal also hunted Robert himself with blood-hounds; and on one occasion, the king defended a narrow and steep pass with his single arm against 200 of the enemy, who could approach him only one by one; he slew the foremost as they advanced, the dead bodies serving to block up the path, and thus made good his post till his men came up, and the enemy took to flight. But the king was often so hotly pursued, that he was compelled to disperse his followers, appointing them to meet him in a different part of the country. In these solitary wanderings, he made many narrow escapes, and on one occasion slew five of his pursuers with his own hand.
Bruce again collecting his men, defeated the English in several encounters. His little army was reinforced by fresh accessions, and he soon found himself sufficiently strong to give them battle on a larger scale. He met his old enemy the Earl of Pembroke at Loudon Hill, where, by a judicious choice of his ground, and a skilful arrangement of his men, points in which no man excelled Robert Bruce, he overthrew with great slaughter a very superior force of the enemy, and thus avenged his own defeat at Methven. Within three days after the dispersion of Pembroke's army, he attacked and defeated the Earl of Gloucester, whom he compelled to take refuge along with Pembroke in the castle of Ayr. These successes enraged Edward I. in the highest degree. He summoned the military array of his kingdom to meet him at Carlisle, whither he himself was carried in a litter; he then by a forced effort mounted his war-horse; but the infirm old monarch had only strength to proceed as far as the village of Burgh-upon-Sands, where he expired on the 7th of July 1307, enjoining his son, with his last breath, to prosecute the war against Scotland, till that obstinate nation was finally conquered.
The feeble and irresolute Edward II. succeeded, in his twenty-fourth year, to the most sagacious and inflexible of English monarchs. After a short and fruitless inroad into Scotland, he returned to enjoy the pleasures of London, leaving the Earl of Pembroke guardian of the Scottish kingdom. Bruce's cause was now gathering strength every day; and his brother Edward, with a powerful army, laid Galloway waste with fire and sword, in revenge for the defeat and capture of his brothers by the Macdowals. On the advance of Richmond with a numerous army, Bruce retreated to the north, where he gained many successes, defeated the Earl of Buchan, and ravaged his estates with great fury; obtained possession of the town of Aberdeen ; and marching westward against his old enemy, John of Lorn, totally defeated him in a formidable pass between Ben Cruachan and Loch Awe. Randolph, Bruce's nephew, who had hitherto fought in the ranks of the English, was taken prisoner in 1308, and after a short confitement, joined the party of his uncle, was created Earl of Moray, and, by his bravery and conduct, made his name famous in the future wars. Bruce continued with persevering valour to win province after province, strengthening his party, and extending his authority; and when, after many threats, Edward II. at length, in 1310, assembled a large army at Berwick, Bruce, according to his usual policy, retired, avoiding a general battle, but by cutting off his supplies, and harassing his march, he compelled him to retreat. Repeated expeditions by the English king were foiled in succession by the same prudent conduct on the part of Bruce; and in the intervals, Bruce retaliated severely upon the English, by entering their borders and laying waste their country. Meanwhile Douglas had taken Roxburgh castle, Randolph, the king's nephew, had taken Edinburgh castle, Binning, a peasant, had taken Linlithgow castle, and the king had taken Perth, being himself the second man to mount the walls. But no one showed more zeal and energy in expelling the English invaders than Sir Edward Bruce. He took the towns and castles of Rutherglen and Dundee, and then laid siege to Stirling castle, the only place of strength that still remained in the hands of the English. The governor, Sir Philip de Mowbray, offered to surrender by the ensuing midsummer, if not previously relieved by an English army, and Edward Bruce agreed to a truce on these terms; at which the king was highly displeased, as it gave the English monarch a whole year to muster his forces, and, moreover, laid Bruce under the necessity of fighting a pitched battle, a thing he had hitherto carefully avoided, as being much inferior to the enemy in numbers, and especially in cavalry and archerg. He disdained, however, to break the truce, as the English had recently done in the case of Dundee, and immediately took measures for meeting his adversaries in a field of battle.
Written for the present Work.
III.-BATTLE OF BANNOCKBURN. EDWARD summoned the whole military force of his kingdom to meet him at Berwick on the 11th of June 1314; and having there mustered his army, which exceeded a hundred thousand men, he began his march into the Scottish territory in high spirits, and with confident anticipations of victory. Bruce drew up his army, which did not amount to forty thousand men, in a field