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the name of Andrew de Moray and William Wallace, generals of the army of the kingdom and community of Scotland, to the towns of Lubeck and Hamburg, thankfully acknowledging the former services of their friends in these towns, and assuring them that now that Scotland has been recovered from the power of the English, commerce shall be restored with the Scottish ports. In order to provide for his great army, Wallace paid a terrible visitation in November for purposes of plunder to the north of England. This was a deep stain on his triumph, for the excesses committed by his soldiers were of the most horrible description. None were spared, neither women nor children, nor the priests of the Lord, nor the devoted to God, and' the praise of God ceased 'from Newcastle-upon-Tyne to the gates of Carlisle.' Indeed, the character of Sir William appears to have partaken of all the ferocity which was sometimes considered not only lawful but desirable in a complete soldier. But though terrible in punishment, he was not wanting in chivalry and mercy; and deeds of sacrilege or of despicable meanness must be attributed to his soldiers acting in defiance of his orders. As they were returning home, they passed by the once fair and flourishing Priory of Hexham, but which they had ravaged on their advance, and turned into a dismal ruin. Three monks were wandering about their dismantled house and cloisters, as if speculating on the possibility of reparation. The greedy soldiers, in the hopes that there might still be something left, threatened the monks with death if they would not produce it. 'Alas,' said one of the brethren, 'it is only a little while since you yourselves tore away our whole property, and you know best where it is now.' Wallace entered the chapel. He bade his soldiers to hold their peace, and then craved of one of the monks that he would celebrate mass. The solemn service began, whilst Sir William fol
lowed him reverently. Just at the moment before the elevation of the host, the warrior went outside the chapel door to lay down his arms and to take off his helmet before prostrating himself in the Presence of the Prince of Peace. He had scarcely turned his back, when certain of the soldiers who were within, waiting their opportunity, rushed up to the sanctuary, snatched the chalice from the hands of the priest and the service-books from the altar, and were proceeding to tear off the altar vestments, when in the midst of this confusion and terror their general re-entered the church. He immediately commanded that the men who were perpetrating this terrible sacrilege should be put to death; and turning to the monks, he said, ' Remain with me ; it is that alone can secure you. My soldiers are evil disposed; I cannot justify, and I dare not punish them.' In some measure to atone for this outrage, Sir William granted a charter of protection to the Priory of Hexham, whereby its lands, men, and moveables were admitted under the peace of the king, and all persons interdicted from doing them any injury.
Soon after this, Wallace assumed the title of 'Governor of Scotland, in name of King John, and by consent of the Scottish nation.' It is not surprising that his occupation of that exalted and perilous office was of very brief duration. As Governor, he conferred the constabulary of Dundee on 'Alexander, named Skirmischur, and his heirs, for his faithful aid in bearing the royal banner of Scotland' (29th March 1298). This is the only writ by the Governor extant.
'From this period,' says Hailes, 'I presume to date that jealousy which the great barons of Scotland entertained of Wallace. Fordun reports that it was the language of many of the nobility, "We will not have this man to rule over us." n
1 Hailes, vol . L p. 309.
During the brief period of Wallace's government, the hopes of Scotland brightened, and the poor country rested. But a lasting peace was still far off, and Edward was even now putting aside all other business, and was making his usual deliberate and far-sighted preparations for the stern chastisement of those whom he considered as his rebellious and traitorous subjects. The spirited hopes which had been gained in the victory of Stirling were all but lost in the total defeat of the Scots in the battle of Falkirk on the 22d of July 1298. After this the baffled Governor of Scotland vanishes from the scene, and we shall not hear of him again until he receives a sad coronation in the Hall of Westminster.1
Although the Scots were indeed thoroughly beaten at Falkirk, and although Sir William Wallace had ceased to lead them, all hope was not yet over for them; and two great European powers showed symptoms of holding out friendly hands in their behalf. France was mediating with England for a truce with Scotland, and Rome with affectionate pity had taken up their cause. When the Pope expostulated with his ungovernable son Edward for encroaching on the rights of the Scottish nation, even that ingenious monarch was driven into a strait to excuse his behaviour. He decided however to have recourse to what he called the evidence of tradition; and accordingly a lengthy and elaborate story was composed by those whose pens were well up to such work, about the ancient supremacy of England over Scotland, which it was either said or insinuated had begun in the days of Eli and Samuel! That King Edward really believed in the validity of his claim is undoubted, and this traditional evidence, although vague,
1 After the battle of Falkirk, John Comyn of Badenoch and John de Soulis acted as guardians.
confirmed him in a quiet mind when he set about the reconquest of Scotland. Actual warfare began with the siege of the Castle of Caerlaverock, in Dumfriesshire.
After the capture of this strong fortress, the English had the worst of it in the battle of Roslin. These preliminaries being over, fortress after fortress surrendered to Edward, as it had been when he marched against Baliol, but here and there he encountered a desperate resistance, which, when everything else was going on so smoothly, must have been a provoking waste of time. The impregnable walls of the Castle of Brechin stood proof against all the battering engines of the King; and the gallant castellan, Sir Thomas Maule, coolly wiped off with a towel the dust and rubbish which they scattered about his cherished fortress. Before long, however, he received a mortal wound, and as he lay dying on the ground, one of his soldiers asked him if now they might surrender. This request added to the agonies of death, for his last words were lamentations over such cowardice. Only one place held out against Edward long after he had subdued all the rest of Scotland. That was Stirling Castle. Its siege began on the 22d of April 1304, and for ninety days Oliphant, the governor, foiled every device of the enemy; and the English battering machines, on whose construction had been expended all the mechanical ingenuity of the age, poured forth their incessant showers of stones and leaden bullets in vain upon the castle walls. Shut up with the 'brave little garrison' throughout that dreadful summer siege were thirteen ladies, the wives and sisters of the officers; and at the end of three months their sufferings began to surpass human endurance. What hopes of relief must have revived them, even though their relief was only to be to die, when for three days there was a lull in the hostilities, and how many conjectures must have arisen about the frequent conferences which each day Oliphant and some English barons were holding at the foot of the walls. On the morning of the fourth day the keys of the castle were forced into their rusty locks, and at length the long-shut gates were flung back. Then a mournful procession, consisting of Oliphant and twenty-four of his companions, were seen moving slowly down the hill, barefoot, in their shirts, with their hair dishevelled, and halters round their necks. The King of England advanced; he met them ; and when they saw him, the five-and-twenty men, weak from starvation, fell on their knees, and with uplifted hands implored his favour. 'I have no favour for you; you must surrender at pleasure.' They assented in despair. 'Then, my pleasure is, that you be hanged as traitors, or return to the castle.' 'Sir,' answered Oliphant, 'we acknowledge our guilt; our lives are at your disposal.' 'And what say you?' rejoined the King, addressing the others. 'We are all guilty; we all throw ourselves on your mercy.' It was too much for even Edward I.; he turned aside to wipe the tears from his eyes; and ordered them to be conducted as prisoners, but not in chains, to England. The reduction of Stirling completed the subjugation of Scotland. But one finishing touch was wanting yet, without which the bloody work might stand on an infirm foundation.
In the year following, 1305, William Wallace appears again in his own country. He was delivered to the English through the treachery, it is generally said, of his friend, Sir John Menteith. He was immediately taken over the Borders, and on the 22d of August was carried through London, great crowds of people 'wondering on him.' He was arraigned of treason in Westminster Hall; and there a crown of laurel was, with refined theatrical cruelty, placed on his head, because it was said he had boasted that he deserved to wear a crown in that Hall. Having gone through a mock trial, he was dragged in chains through the streets; and