Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/106

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Robert the Bruce.

[1291 A.D.-

The true weakness of the national cause lay, at this time, in the civil dissension of the kingdom. But for that, King Edward, whose hands were full enough with the troubles connected with his French dominions, might not have been disposed to concern himself in Scottish affairs. Fordun attributes the loss of the battle of Dunbar to the action of the Earls of Mar and Athol, who, "through good will and love for Bruce," left the field without striking a blow, and rejoiced at the calamity which fell on the arms of "the Comyns and their whole abettors," who stood for Balliol. "But, alas!" he adds, with well-founded regret, "through this quarrel the harmless rabble, exposed to the ravenous bite of these wolves, lay mangled far and wide over the land."[1]

The same chronicler also has a story how Edward, in order to secure the support of Robert de Brus, the Competitor's son, did about this time promise to place him on the Scottish throne in place of Balliol; and how, on de Brus claiming this promise after the battle of Dunbar, the King impatiently exclaimed: "Ne avonis ren autres chose a fer, que a vous reaymys ganere?"—"Have we nothing else to do but win realms for you?" But, as has been shown above, de Brus was already Edward's man, being at this moment the governor of Carlisle. De Balliol, too, had taken the surest means to alienate de Brus from his cause. After the sack of Berwick, he had declared all the partisans of England, and all neutrals, to be traitors, and their lands confiscated. He be-

  1. Fordun, xciii.