Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/149

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1305 A.D.]

The Death of Wallace.


The incorrigible Bishop of Glasgow, John Comyn, de Soulls, James the Steward, Sir Simon Fraser, and Thomas du Bois were sentenced to various terms of exile, from one to three years, but these periods were afterwards shortened on condition that the culprits should regain the King's favour by exerting themselves to capture Wallace, who was beyond the pale of mercy.[1] There was something manifestly unjust in the decree that treated thus lightly the offences of trebly forsworn subjects, and dealt so harshly with one who had never done fealty to Edward. The English King was every inch a soldier; it had been better for his renown to extend some of his sympathy to the most valiant of his foes. But he was far from doing so. On March 2, 1304, he wrote an impatient letter to the Earl of March reproaching him with slackness in proceeding against Wallace. "We are much astonished," he said, "why you act so leisurely, unless it be to fulfil the proverb

Quant la guerre fu finée
Si trest Audegier sespée.

(when the war was finished then Audegier drew his sword)." Next day, strict orders were issued to Sir Alexander of Abernethy, who was in pursuit of Wallace in the parts about Menteith, that on no account were any terms to be offered to him and his followers, except unconditional surrender,[2] It is not pleasant to read another letter written by the

  1. Palgrave, ii., p, cxxxvii., et seq.
  2. Stevenson, ii., 471.