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CONTENTS OF VOLUME IV.
OBERT BRUCE AND WILLIAM WALLACE are two names intimately associated with one of the most heroic struggles for national independence which occurs in any history. From an exceedingly remote period, Scotland enjoyed the character of an unconquered country. Consisting for the greater part of mountains, and intersected
by arms of the sea, it naturally presents considerable difficulties to the encroachments of a foreign enemy. Every successive attempt at invasion and conquest, therefore, was less or more fruitless. The Romans held possession of the more accessible part of it in the south for some time, and the same tract of country afterwards became a settlement of AngloSaxons. No foreign power was ever able to obtain an entire or permanent possession of the country. Even when England suffered a conquest from Norman intruders, Scotland was un
molested, and continued to enjoy its ancient freedom. In the eleventh century, when regular history commences, the various tribes and people-Celts, Picts, and Scots—who had settled in the country were united in one monarchy; and from this time Scotland took its place in Europe as an independent kingdom. This consolidation of power was afterwards promoted by the absorption of an Anglo-Saxon district in the reign of Malcolm Canmore. After this, many Normans, invited by the Scottish kings, settled in the country, and the people in process of time acquired the language, the arts, and many of the customs of their English neighbours. Not satisfied with cultivating this friendly relationship, it was the misfortune of the English sovereigns to become afflicted with a fierce desire to conquer and hold Scotland in subjection, at a time when it was labouring under a severe domestic calamity, and least able to repel aggression. There now ensued between the two countries a protracted and disastrous war, in which every evil and every noble passion was evoked—on the one hand a villanous thirst of ambition, which stopped at no means for its gratification, and on the other a spirit of heroic independence, which would brook no such unjustifiable oppression. We propose to relate the story of this great war of independence, which, till the present day, is spoken of with much excusable pride by the Scottish people; and in doing so we shall have occasion to expatiate on the deeds of the two heroes whose names have been mentioned— William Wallace, by whom the war was begun, and Robert Bruce, who brought it to a successful issue.
The wish to conquer and possess Scotland, and so subdue the entire island of Great Britain, had been a favourite project of the Anglo-Norman sovereigns ever since they had fixed themselves in England by the victory of Hastings (1066). A pretext was at length found for at least making the attempt. The kings of Scotland had family possessions in Northumberland, in virtue of which they enjoyed the rank of English earls, and so far they were vassals of the English monarchy. Henry II. was desirous that the acknowledgment of vassalage should extend to the whole of Scotland ; but this he had no means of enforcing except by stratagem. In one of the warlike expeditions of the English into Northumberland in 1174, they had the address to take captive the Scottish king, William the Lion; and making the most of this lucky accident, they would not release the royal prisoner till he had given a formal acknowledgment of vassalage to England for his entire kingdom; and in the same deed of submission there was included an article implying the superiority of the English over the Scottish ecclesiastics. The thought of what had been done rankled in all Scottish hearts; and from that period the Scottish king and the Scottish clergy took every opportunity of resenting the