Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/401

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1329 A.D.]
Death of Robert de Brus.

The choice of the barons fell with one consent on "the douchty Lord Douglas."

Froissart, however, makes the King himself name "the gentle knight Sir James of Douglas" as the one to carry out his will; and, little as one may rely on the letter of historical speeches, no doubt the French historian gives pretty accurately the sense of what the dying monarch said. There were so many experienced witnesses present that the substance must have been accurately reported.

"Then," says Froissart, "calling to his side the gentle knight Sir James of Douglas, he thus addressed him before all the lords:

"'Sir James, my dear friend, you know well that I have had much ado in my days to uphold and sustain the right of this realm, and, when I had most difficulty, I made a solemn vow, which as yet I have not accomplished, for which I am right sorry. That vow was, that if it was granted to me to achieve and make an end of all my wars, and so bring this realm to peace, I would go forth and war with the enemies of Christ, the adversaries of our holy Christian faith. To this purpose my heart has ever intended. But our Lord would not consent thereto: for I have had so much to do in my life, and now, in my last enterprise, I have been smitten with such sickness that I cannot escape. Seeing, therefore, that my body cannot go to achieve what my heart desires, I will send my heart instead of my body, to accomplish my vow. And because I know not in all my realm a knight more valiant than you, or better able to accomplish my vow in my stead, therefore I require you, my own dear special friend, for your love to me, and to acquit my soul against my Lord God, that you undertake this journey. I confide so thoroughly in your nobleness and truth, that I doubt not what you take in hand you will achieve: and if my desires be carried out as I shall explain to you, I shall depart in peace and quiet.

"'I wish as soon as I be dead that my heart be taken out of my body and embalmed, and that, taking as much of my treasure as you think necessary for yourself and the company suitable to your rank which shall go with you on the enterprise, you convey my heart to