Page:Old Castles.djvu/41

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Carlisle Castle.

grandest and most distinguished times these old Gothic walls ever knew. What gay hunting cavalcades, alight with sweet ladies' faces, their smiles and voices the wonder of northern ears and eyes, must have issued from these gates in the golden dawns of those years to Inglewood or otherwhere. And what great fires must have roared, that holy Christmas time, on the open hearths of the royal tower and apartments of this comely castle–a king and queen eating their brawn and plumb porridge in its then glowing chambers.

But these men, with all their faults, were something more than mere pleasure takers. War was their religion, and to its heroisms they devoted themselves, kindling the defiance they sought to subdue. They had conquered Wallace, one of the noblest patriots that ever breathed the sweet airs of earth, and of kindred, if not equal virtue, with Themistocles and the Gracchi; but he also had conquered them, and though now no more, his spirit survived in Bruce and his countrymen. It was in fact a Titanic war, great men being in both camps; but all our sympathies are with the brave Wallace and his brave compeers.

One little fact looming out here will show the superstitious tendency of even the strongest minds of that period. In the February of that year, 1307, Edward being already an invalid at Lanercost, and doubtless much mortified by the fact of Bruce's accession, despite of himself, to the Scotch throne, caused him to be excommunicated with bell, book, and candle, in the cathedral here, the Pope having previously commissioned the Archbishop of York and the