Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/41

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11
Introduction.

events in the first quarter of the fourteenth century. However, one cannot be sufficiently grateful to Wyntoun for the prolixity and minuteness with which he has described persons and social conditions of an age so different from our own. He has, moreover, this great merit in common with Barbour, that, unlike some of the English chroniclers, he does full justice to the courage and honest purpose of the enemy, and, though writing as a patriotic Scot, never stoops to vulgar and prejudiced abuse of the other side.

But, most important of all, Barbour, Fordun, and Wyntoun, subject to allowance being made for comparatively trifling discrepancies, for occasional errors in, or transpositions of, dates, and for a few mistakes in names, sustain a tolerably searching application of the cardinal test to which all chroniclers must, sooner or later, be submitted, namely, comparison with official records and documents, of which so many have recently been brought to light.

It is this last circumstance, combined with the production of good and carefully collated editions of the early chronicles, that justifies a fresh attempt to record the " gestis " of Robert the Bruce, to analyse his character and motives, and to weigh the character of his life-work to the Scottish nation. For, besides such allowance as must be made for the simplicity of the three Scottish historians above referred to, who thought it warrant enough for almost any statement that it had been written down by someone else before them, there are the execrable and wilful preversion and suppression of truth by