Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/411

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1329 A.D.]
345
Death of Robert de Brus.

William de Lamberton. Of treachery to King, to comrade, or to both, Robert de Brus can scarcely be acquitted.

Of the more violent crime in Greyfriars Church there is less occasion to speak. It was a brutal, bloody murder, aggravated, as there is too much reason to suspect, by its being committed under trust. The blackest part of it, according to the creed of that time, was that it was committed in a church, thereby making the murderer guilty of sacrilege. In the middle ages that was considered the central feature in the tragedy: to modern minds it appears a comparatively trifling detail. We have come to look on murder as equally heinous whether it be committed in the green-wood, in the streets, or in a place of worship. Men's judgment on the assassination of John Comyn is the same now, though on different grounds, as was King Edward's nearly six hundred years ago—namely, that a worse deed could not have been done.

But whatever may have been his guilt or shortcoming as a man—as a King, Bruce never gave his subjects cause to blush for him. From the moment the Countess of Fife placed the golden diadem on his brow at Scone, he followed a single purpose with unwavering courage and extraordinary sagacity.

By personal charm of manner and address and by a remarkable power of sympathy with men of every degree, he attached those around him and secured their devotion. Perhaps the most direct evidence of this is to be found in his influence over his nephew, young Thomas Randolph, who was taken prisoner by