Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/81

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1291 A.D.]
51
The Disputed Succession.

of the kingdom keeping their oath inviolate" has always been interpreted to imply submission to the claims of England, though it is possible to understand therein a reference to the allegiance due to the legitimate successor of Queen Margaret, implied in the oath of his subjects to King Alexander. Even the temperate Hailes talks of Bishop Fraser's "dark and dangerous policy" and his "base proposal." The fact is that what Scotland stood in supreme need of at this juncture, was some strong and, if possible, disinterested power, to protect her from the violence of her own barons. Fraser was desperately anxious to save his country from the misery of civil war, and he took the course which offered the most hopeful means of doing so, by communicating with that monarch who had been for years, and was at that moment, in the closest and most friendly diplomatic relations with the Government of Scotland. The sole passage in this celebrated letter which lends itself plausibly to the imputation of underhand dealing between the King of England and the party represented by the bishop, is the reference to the choice of a king "that will follow your counsel." This, seeing that part of Edward's avowed policy had been to obtain the homage of the Scottish monarchy, is untrue to what afterwards came to be the principles and sentiments of patriotic Scotsmen; but it is impossible to show that there was any party in Scotland at that time which seriously disputed the King of England's claim. The executive, in the name of the nation, referred the dispute to him.

Lord Hailes throws discredit on the statements of