Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/78

This page has been validated.


Robert the Bruce.

[1286 A.D.-

service, apply a speedy remedy. My lords the Bishop of Durham, Earl Warenne, and I, heard afterwards that our foresaid Lady recovered of her sickness, but she is still weak; and therefore we have agreed among ourselves to remain about Perth, until we have certain news by the knights who are sent to Orkney what is the condition of our Lady—would that it may be prosperous and happy!—and if we shall have the accounts which we wish about her, and which we expect from day to day, we will be ready to set forth for carrying out the business committed to us to the best of our power. If Sir John de Balliol comes to your presence, we advise you to take care so to treat with him that in any event your honour and advantage be preserved. If it turn out that our Lady has departed this life—and may it not be so!—let your excellency deign if you please to approach towards the March for the consolation of the Scottish people, and the saving of the shedding of blood, so that the faithful men of the kingdom may keep their oath inviolate, and set over them for King him who of right ought to have the succession, if so be that he will follow your counsel. May your Excellency have long life, health and prosperity, and happiness.

"Given at Leuchars on the Saturday, the morrow of St. Faith the Virgin, in the year of our Lord 1290."[1]

There will be occasion to refer to certain passages in the bishop's letter hereafter. Meanwhile, it may be remarked that it is the only known contemporary document in which allusion is made to an event of such enormous political importance as the death of the Queen of Scots. Still more strange is it that Barbour makes not the slightest reference to the Maid of Norway's death, although it was the circumstance from which arose directly the events he undertook to record. He only says:

"Quhen Alysandyre the King was dede,
That Scotland had to ster and lede,
The Land sex yhere and mayr perfay,
Lay desolate eftyr his day."

  1. National MSS. of Scotland, vol. i., No. 70.