Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 15.djvu/308

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befriended by William Lamberton, bishop of St. Andrews, who, while yielding to circumstances, was no friend to English rule. In this bishop's retinue Douglas visited the court of Edward during the siege of Stirling, and Lamberton, introducing him, prayed that he might be permitted to tender his homage and receive back his heritage. On being informed that the son and heir of his late prisoner, Douglas ‘the Hardy,’ stood before him, Edward commanded the bishop to speak to him no more on such a matter. Douglas and the bishop at once withdrew.

Bruce now assumed the Scottish crown. He communicated his intention to Lamberton in a letter, which the bishop read forthwith to his retainers. Douglas heard the letter read, and shortly afterwards sought a private interview with the bishop, to whom he expressed his eager desire to share the fortunes of Bruce. Lamberton gave him his blessing and a sum of money, and sent by him a supply to Bruce. He gave Douglas leave to take his own palfrey, with permission, of which Douglas took advantage, to apply force to the groom if he interposed to prevent it. The same night he rode off and joined Bruce in Annandale, on his way to be crowned at Scone.

On 27 March 1306 Bruce was crowned at Scone. In his subsequent wanderings in Athol and Argyll, and his retirement for the winter to the islet of Rachrin on the Irish coast, Douglas was constantly by the side of his king, though he sustained some wounds in an encounter with the Lord of Lorne. With the opening spring of 1307 they returned to renew the contest. Arran, then Carrick (the home of Bruce), then Kyle and Cunningham were speedily subdued, and transferred their allegiance from Edward to Bruce. Successive English armies entered Scotland only to sustain ignominious disaster. At the pass of Ederford, with but sixty men, Douglas proved victorious over a thousand led by Sir John of Mowbray. Thrice by subtle stratagem he overthrew the English garrison in his own castle of Douglas, taking and destroying the castle twice. One of these occasions is perpetuated in history with ghastly memories as ‘The Douglas Larder.’ With but two followers Douglas ventured into his native Douglasdale, meeting with a cordial welcome from his old vassals. Palm Sunday was close at hand, and the soldiers would attend service in the church. Douglas and his followers, in the guise of peasants, also attended, and made the attack at a given signal. The device was successful, notwithstanding the desperate resistance of the English soldiers. After the victory Douglas repaired to the castle with his followers, where, after feasting and removing all valuables, they gathered together the remaining provisions, staving in the casks of wine and other liquor, and, throwing into the heap the carcases of dead horses and the bodies of the slaughtered soldiers, set fire to the buildings and consumed all to ashes. The other occasion on which Douglas destroyed his castle is the historical incident on which Sir Walter Scott based his romance of ‘Castle Dangerous.’ In the work of clearing the country of the English, the remaining portion of the south of Scotland was assigned to Douglas, while Bruce went north to deal with the Comyns. Both succeeded, and then with reunited forces they sought out the Lord of Lorne in his own country, and inflicted upon him a severe chastisement for his treatment of them in their late weakness. They also made several destructive retaliatory raids into England, committing such havoc that town and country alike eagerly purchased immunity from their depredations for fixed periods at a high rate, one condition always being that the Scots should have free passage through the indemnified district to others further south. During this period Douglas had the good fortune to capture Randolph, Bruce's nephew, who was in arms against his uncle's claim, but who became immediately one of Bruce's bravest leaders. By his means a clever capture was made of the castle of Edinburgh. Douglas showed equal skill in taking the castle of Roxburgh. On the eve of a religious solemnity he caused his followers to throw black gowns over their armour, and, similarly clad himself, bade them do as he did. In the deepening twilight they approached the castle, creeping on hands and knees, and were mistaken for cattle by the sentinels. They managed to fix a rope ladder to the walls without being observed, and overpowered the sentinels and the garrison, who were engaged in feasting.

At Bannockburn Douglas was knighted on the battle-field, and had command of the left wing of the Scots. When the fortunes of the day were decided, he, with but sixty horsemen, pursued the fugitive king of England to Dunbar, though he was guarded by an escort of five hundred. After Bannockburn a desultory warfare continued to be waged for thirteen years, during which the wardenship of the marches was assigned to Douglas. He was dreaded throughout the north of England. He was called ‘the Black Douglas,’ from his complexion. His favourite stronghold at this time was at the haugh of Lintalee, on a precipitous bank of the river Jed, where natural fortifications gave a lodg-