Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/218

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[1307 A.D.-
Robert the Bruce.

Viewed from the Scottish standpoint, Edward's character and conduct reflect much darker hues. Besides the accusation of partial judgment in the award given between the competitors, he has been bitterly blamed for cruelty in the Scottish war. But this charge should be dispassionately weighed according to the standard of humanity in the thirteenth century. The sack of Berwick was undoubtedly a hideous affair, and if, as is probable, it took place before the outrages, not less hideous, committed during Buchan's raid in Tynedale, it had not even the excuse of being a reprisal. But these horrors on either side of the eastern Border were so nearly simultaneous that they may be fairly set against one another. Neither side can throw the first stone. Nothing of the same kind ever happened again; women and non-combatants seem to have been respected by both sides.

It would, however, be difficult to get Scotsmen to estimate without prejudice the justice of the execution of Wallace. They are rightly indignant at the judicial murder of the patriot. He had never sworn fealty to Edward, therefore it has been held that Edward was unjust in treating him as a rebel. But he was taken in arms, in the act of leading in rebellion those who were technically Edward's subjects, within what were technically Edward's dominions. The law under which he suffered was a frightfully severe one, but it was the law of the land, and the fact that Wallace never swore fealty was, in his judge's eyes, only an aggravation of his guilt.

Then came the atrocious murder of the two Comyns,