Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/408

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Robert the Bruce.

[1329 A.D.

palliate—they might even go far to excuse—Bruce's indifference to Wallace's enterprise. It might be pardoned to him that, having once embarked in treasonable designs against his King, he repented and renewed his oath of fealty. Less can be said in defence of the sorry surrender of Irvine, when, at the first glitter of English spears, the confederacy fell asunder, and Wallace was left to go forward alone. But even here there may—there must—have been circumstances beyond our understanding. Between de Brus, the Norman knight, and Wallace, the outlawed Scottish brigand, there need have been little harmony of habit and feeling—so little as to make co-operation between them impracticable. De Brus may have realised that to persevere at that time without hearty alliance with William Douglas and the other barons who had joined him, would have been simply to march the shortest way to the scaffold. Therefore even in the capitulation of Irvine he may be leniently judged.

But the darkest part was to come.

Renewing his fealty to Edward and ratifying it by the most solemn adjurations known to a Christian, what can be said in defence of Bruce's repeated presence in Edward's Parliament and Council, about the time when Wallace was hurried to death? He was an English subject, it is true, and, as such, bound to regard Wallace, his former comrade, as a rebel, and to serve King Edward faithfully in all things. But if that is held to justify his indifference to Wallace's fate he was involved in the greater dishonour by the secret treaty then existing between him and