Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/83

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1291 A.D.]
53
The Disputed Succession.

appointed by the Guardians, the Seven Earls proceed to appeal in the name and on behalf of Robert de Brus, Lord of Annandale, claiming the Crown as the lawful and appointed heir of King Alexander. They complain that the Guardians, uniting with others of the kingdom, as well in prejudice of the rights of de Brus as in violation of the privileges of themselves as the Seven Earls, had intended to appoint John de Balliol to the vacant throne. Wherefore he, Robert de Brus, so appearing by his procurator, appeals to the presence of Edward King of England, and inhibits the proceedings of the Guardians, until the judgment of the said King can be obtained.

Commenting further on Hemingburgh's statement that the invitation to Edward was an act on the part of the Scottish nation, Lord Hailes says he does not doubt that many of the nobles, instigated by Bishop Fraser, may have invited the intervention of England; "but," says he, "I see no sufficient evidence that the measure was national." Seeing, however, that not only the Scottish Guardians, but the more ancient constitutional body of the Seven Earls, independently took the same course, it surely partook as much of the nature of a national act as the constitution of the nation admitted. It is easy for a historian to write about the "general consent" of a nation, but it is not so easy to prove that it is more than a mere phrase. No provision for a plebiscite existed under the feudal system, and it is impossible to imagine that the commonalty were able to take any intelligent interest in the question of