Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/407

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1329 A.D.]
343
Death of Robert de Brus.

no man could point with certainty to the place where Robert the Bruce had been laid. A grave was found, it is true, near where the high altar of the abbey church once stood, and in the grave the bones of a man, one of which, the breast bone, had been sawn asunder, as one should do who had to remove the heart of a man. Fragments of fine linen, with a gold thread running through it, lay round the remains, and all about lay shattered morsels of black and white marble, carved and gilt, probably the remains of the Paris sculptor's handiwork. A skull lay with the other bones, but who can say for certain that it was the same that the great Plautagenet had desired so eagerly to see fixed to London Bridge, a desire, which, had he lived a few years longer, it is only too likely would have been gratified. All that can be said is that it is possible and not improbable that these remains are those of Scotland's greatest king.

But if his people have suffered the Bruce's mortal parts to be lost, how dearly they keep his memory. So dearly, that there is no exploit so heroic, hardly any miracle so incredible, as not to have attached itself to his story; so that the chief difficulty in writing it has not been found so much in collecting facts, as in refusing credence to fictions which have gathered round his name.

There is much that even the most devoted Scotsman could wish to see wiped out from the earlier pages of the record. His Norman lineage, his hereditary homage to the English King, disgust with the feeble administration of John of Balliol, might