Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/36

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6
Introduction.

cle by a monstrous liberty which the author takes in rolling three real personages into one ideal hero. In this way he has treated father, son, and grandson—all of whom bore the name of Robert de Brus—and gravely presented them as one and the same individual. Barbour was at work on his poem, as he himself informs us, in 1375, forty-six years after the death of Robert I., and it is impossible to doubt that he deliberately and consciously perpetrated the fabrication whereby he made Robert de Brus, the "Competitor," the same as his grandson, Robert de Brus, Earl of Carrick, crowned King of Scots in 1306, and threw into the same personality the intermediate Robert de Brus, Lord of Annandale, who was King Edward's governor of Carlisle during John Balliol's brief war. Such a glaring figment placed in the fore-front of an historical work, might render, and in the eyes of some people has rendered, all that follows it of no historical importance. This great national epic has been denounced as of no more value to history than the romances of Walter Scott or Alexandre Dumas. As the late Mr. Cosmo Innes observed, in editing The Brus for the Spalding Club in 1859:


"It suited Harbour's purpose to place Bruce altogether right, Edward outrageously wrong, in the first discussion of the disputed succession. It suited his views of poetical justice that Bruce, who had been so unjustly dealt with, should be the Bruce who took vengeance for that injustice at Bannockburn; though the former was the grandfather, the other the grandson. His hero is not to be degraded by announcing that he had once sworn fealty to Edward, and once done homage to Balliol, or ever joined any party but that of his country and freedom."