Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/262

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210
[1314 A.D.
Robert the Bruce.

as, in later days, it was paraphrased in the stirring verse of Burns. But for historical purposes it would be as idle to dwell on what were supposed to be his actual words, as to accept as authentic the miracle of St. Fillan's arm, recorded by Boece, though on this subject Barbour is prudently silent. It is not, however improbable that the King of Scots did, as was reported, cause this sacred relic to be brought from the priory of Strathfillan, its shrine in Perthshire, into his camp, trusting to its influence, if not on the fortune of war at least on the imagination of his soldiers. The fable may be repeated here from Bellenden's translation of Boece, as an example of the myths which have their birth in ages when the border between faith and superstition is ill-defined.

"All the nicht afore the batall, K. Robert was right wery, havand gret solicitude for the weil of his army, and micht tak na rest, but rolland[1] all jeoperdeis and chance of fortoun in his mind; and sum times he went to his devoit contemplatioun, makand his orisoun to Sanct Phillane, quhais[2] arme, as he believit, set in silver, was closit in ane cais within his palyeon[3]: traisting the better fortoun to, follow be the samin.[4] In the mene time, the cais chakkit to[5] suddanlie, but[6] ony motion or werk of mortall creaturis. The preist, astonist be this wounder, went to the altar quhair[7] the cais lay; and quhen he fand the arme in the cais, he cryit, 'Heir is ane gret mirakle!' and incontinent he confessit how he brocht the tume[8] cais in the feild, dredaned[9] that the rellik suld be tint[10] in the feild, quhair sa gret jeoperdeis apperit. The king, rejosing of this mirakill, past the remanent nicht in his prayaris with gud esperance of victorie."

  1. Revolving.
  2. Whose.
  3. Pavilion, tent.
  4. By the same.
  5. Closed with a snap.
  6. Without.
  7. Where.
  8. Empty.
  9. Dreading.
  10. Lost.