Imatges de pàgina
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The disputed succession had sown and was able, in the space of six years,
the seeds of unextinguishable jealous- to raise the Scottish arms from the
ies among the robles; the gold of lowest point of depression to such a
England had corrupted many to be- pitch of glory, that even the redoubted
tray their country's cause; and the archers and haughty chivalry of Eng-
fatal ravages of English invasion had land fled at the sight of the Scottish
(lesolated the whole plains from which banner?t
resources for carrying on the war could Nor was it only in the field that
be drawn. All the heroic valour, the the great and patriotic conduct of Ró-
devoted patriotism, and the personal bert Bruce was displayed. In the en-
prowess of Wallace, had been unable deavour to restore the almost ruined
to stem the torrent of English inva- fortunes of his country, and to heal
sion; and, when he died, the whole the wounds which a war of unparal-
nation seemed to sink under the load leled severity had brought upon its
against which his unexampled forti- people, he exhibited the same wise
tude had alone enabled it to struggle and beneficent policy. Under his
These unhappy jealousies among the auspicious rule, husbandry revived,
nobles, to which his downfall -was arts were encouraged, and the turbu.
owing, still continued, and almost ren- lent barons were awed intò subjection.
dered hopeless any attempt to combine Scotland recovered, during his admin-
their forces; while the thinned popu- istration, in a great measure, from the
lation and ruined husbandry of the devastation that had preceded it; and
country seemed to prognosticate no- the peasants, forgetting the stern war-
thing but utter extirpation from a con- rior in the beneficent monarch, long
tinuance of the war. Nor was the remembered his sway, under the name
prospect less melancholy from a con of the “good King Robert's reign.”
sideration of the combats which had But the greatness of his character
taken place.

The short spear and appeared most of all from the events
light shield of the Scotch had been that occurred after his death. When
found utterly unavailing against the the capacity with which he and his
iron panoply and powerful horses of worthy associates, Randolph and
the English barons; while the hardy Douglas, had counterbalanced the su-
and courageous mountaineers perished periority of the English arms, was
in vain under the dreadfiul tempest of withdrawn, the fabric which they
the English archery.

had supported fell to the ground.
What then must have been the In the very first battle which was
courage of that youthful prince, fought after his death at Hamildon
who, after having been driven for Hill, a larger army than that which
shelter to an island on the north conquered at Bannockburn was over-
of Ireland, could venture, with only thrown by the archers of England,
forty followers, to raise the standard without a single knight couching his
of independence in the west of Scot- spear. Never, at any subsequent pe-
land, against the accumulated force of riod, was Scotland able to withstand
this mighty power ? --what the re, the more powerful arms of the Eng-
sources of that understanding, which, lish yeomanry. Thenceforward, her
though intimately acquainted, from military history is little more than
personal service, with the tried supe- melancholy catalogue of continued de-
riority of the English arms, could feats, occasioned rather by treachery
foresee, in his barren and exhausted on the part of her nobles, or incapaci-
country, the means of combating them? ty in her generals, than any defect of
--what the ability of that political valour in her soldiers; and the inde-
conduct which could re-unite the jar- pendence of the monarchy was main-
ring interests, and smother the dead- tained rather by the terror which the
ly feuds, of the Scottish nobles ?-and name of Bruce and the remembrance
what the capacity of that noble war of Bannockburn had inspired, than
rior, who, in the words of the contem- by the achievements of any of the
porary historian, * could " unite the successors to his throne. I
prowess of the first knight to the con The merits of Robert Bruce, as a
duct of the greatest general of his age,' warrior, are very generally acknow-

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* Froissart.

+ Walsing, p. 106. Mon. Malms. p. 152, 153.
# Henry's Britain, vol. vli.

recover.

ledged; and the eyes of Scottish pa- to earn his freedom as well as his subtriotism turn with the greater exulta- sistence. tion to his triumphs, from the con Least of all are such advantages to trast which their splendour affords to be anticipated from the conquest of a the barren and humiliating annals of free people. That the dominion of the subsequent reigns. But the im- free states over conquered countries is portant coNSEQUENCES of his victo- always more tyrannical than that of ries are not sufficiently appreciated. any other form of government, has While all admit the purity of the been observed ever since the birth of motives by which he was actuated, liberty in the Grecian states, by all there are many who lament the con who have been so unfortunate as to be sequences of his success, and perceive subjected to their rule. If we except in it the source of those continued the Roman republic, whose wise and hostilities between England and Scot- beneficent policy is so entirely at valand which have brought such incal- riance with every thing else which we culable calamities upon both coun observe in human affairs, that we are tries, and from which the latter has almost disposed to impute it to a speonly within half a century begun to cial interposition of divine providence,

Better would it have been, there is no free state in ancient or it is said, for the prosperity of this modern times, whose government tocountry, if, like Wales, she had passed wards the countries whom it subdued at once under the dominion of the has not been of the most oppressive English government, and received, description. We are accustomed to five centuries ago, the present of that speak of the maternal government of liberty which she so entirely lost du- free governments, but towards their ring her struggles for national inde- subject provinces, it is generally the pendence, and which nothing but her cruel tyranny of the stepmother, who subsequent union with a free people oppresses her acquired children to fahas enabled her to obtain.

your her own offspring. There is something, we think, a Nor is it difficult to perceive the priori, improbable in this supposition, reason why a popular government is that, from the assertion of her inde- naturally inclined, in the general case, pendence under Robert Bruce, Scot- to severity towards its dependencies. land has received any injury. The A single monarch looks to the revenue instinct to maintain the national in- alone of the countries whom he has dependence, and resist aggression from subdued, and as it necessarily rises foreign powers, is so universally im- with the prosperity which they enjoy, planted among mankind, that it may his obvious interest is to pursue the well be doubted whether an obedience measures best calculated to secure it. to its impulse is likely in any case to But in republics, or in those free goproduce injurious effects. In fact, vernments where the popular voice subjugation by a foreign power is it- exercises a decided control, the leading self a greater calamity than any

bene men of the state themselves look to the fits with which it is accompanied can property of the subject country as the ever compensate; because, in the

very means of their individual exaltation. act of receiving them by force, there Confiscations accordingly are multiis implied an entire dereliction of aļl plied, with a view to gratify the peothat is valuable in political blessings, ple or nobles of the victorious couna security that they will remain try with grants of the confiscated permanent. There is no example, lands. Hatred and animosity are thus perhaps, to be found in the history of engendered between the ruling gomankind, of political freedom being vernment and their subject provinces ; either effectually conferred by a sove and this, in its time, gives rise to new reign in gift, or communicated by the confiscations, by which the breach beforce of foreign arms; but as liberty 'tween the higher and lower orders is is the greatest blessing which man can rendered irreparable. Whoever is acenjoy, so it seems to be the law of na- quainted with the history of the doture that it should be the reward of minion which the Athenian and Syraintrepidity and energy alone; and cusan populace held over their subthat it is by the labour of his hands, ject cities; with the government of and the sweat of his brow, that he is Genoa, Venice, and Florence, in mo

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dern times; or with the sanguinary and the tenantry on their estates, at-
rule which England exercised over tached by feudal and clanish affection
Ireland during the three centuries to their ancient masters, would have
which followed her subjugation, will joined in any scheme for their restora-
know that this statement is not over tion. The seeds of continual discord
charged.

and hatred would thus have been
On principle, therefore, and judg- sown between the lower orders and
ing by the experience of past times, the existing proprietors of the soil.
there is no room to doubt, that Bruce, On the other hand, the great English
in opposing the conquest of Scotland barons, to whom the confiscated lands
loy the English arms, was doing what were assigned, would naturally prefer
the real interest of his country re- the society of their own country, and
quired; and that how incalculable so the security of their native castles, to
ever may be the blessings which she the unproductive soil and barbarous
has since received by an union, on

tribes on their northern estates. They
equal terms, with her southern neigh- would in consequence have relinquish-
bour, the result would have been very ed these estates to factors or agents,
(lifferent had she entered into that go and, without ever thinking of resid-
vernment on the footing of involuntary ing among a people by, whom they
subjugation. In fact, it is not diffi were detested, have sought only to in-
cult to perceive what would have been crease, by rigorous exactions, the re-
the policy which England would have venue which they could derive from
pursued towards this country, had their labour.
she prevailed in the contest for the In progress of time, however, the
Scottish throne ; and it is by follow- natural fervour of the Scottish people,
ing out the consequences of such an their hereditary animosities against
event, and tracing its probable in England, the exertions of the dispos-
fluence on the condition of our popu- sessed proprietors, and the oppression
lation at this day, that we can alone of the English authorities, would have
appreciate the immense obligations we occasioned a revolt in Scotland. They
owe to our forefathers, who fought would naturally have chosen for such
and died on the field of Bannockburn. an undertaking the moment when the

Had the English, then, prevailed English forces were engaged in the
in the war with Robert Bruce, and wars of France, and when the entire
finally succeeded in establishing their desertion of the northern frontier pro-
long wished-for dominion in this mised successful rapine to their arms.
country, it cannot be doubted, that In such circumstances, it is not to be
their first measure would have been to doubted that they would have been
dispossess a large portion of the nobles unable to withstand the seeds of re-
who had so obstinately maintained the sistance to the English arms, which
war against them, and substitute their the French emissaries would have se-
own barons in their room. The pre- dulously spread through the country.
tended rebellion of Scotland against And if the authority of England was
the legitimate authority of Edward, again re-established, new and more
would have furnished a plausible pre- extensive confiscations would of course
text for such a proceeding, while po- have followed ; the English nobles
licy.would of course have suggested it would have been gratified by grants
as the most efficacious means, both of of the most considerable estates on
restraining the turbulent and hostile the north of the Tweed, and the bonds
spirit of the natives, and of gratifying of military subjection would have
the great barons by whose force they been tightened on the unfortunate
had been subdued. In fact, many people who were subdued.
such confiscations and grants of the The continuance of the wars be-
lands to English nobles actually took tween France and England, by pre-
place, during the time that Edward I. senting favourable opportunities to
maintained his authority within the the Scotch to revolt, combined with
Scottish territory.

the temptation which the remoteness
The consequences of such a mea of their situation and the strength of
sure are very obvious. The dispos- their country afforded, would have
sessed proprietors ould have noure induced continual civil wars between
ished the most violent and inveterate the peasantry and their foreign mas-
animosity against their oppressors; ters, until the resources of the coun-

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try were entirely exhausted, and the As the numbers of the people inpeople sunk in' hopeless submission creased, however, and the value of under the power that oppressed them. the immense farms which had been

But, in the progress of these wars, thus granted to the descendants of their an evil of a far greater and more per- original proprietors was enhanced, the manent description would naturally task of collecting rents over so exarise, than either the loss of lives or tensive a district would have become the devastation of property which they too great for any individual, and the occasioned. In the course of the pro- increased wealth which he had actracted contest, the LANDED PROPER- quired from the growth of his tenTY OF THE COUNTRY WOULD ENTIRE- antry, would have led him to dislike LY HAVE CHANGED MASTERS ; and the personal labour with which it in place of being possessed by natives would be attended. These great tenof the country permanently settled on ants, in consequence, would have subset their estates, and attached by habit their vast possessions to an inferior and common interest to the labourers set of occupiers, who might each superof the ground, it would have come in- intend the collection of the rents withto the hands of foreign noblemen, in his own farm, and have an opporforced upon the country by military tunity of acquiring a personal acpower, hated by the natives, residing quaintance with the labourers by whom always on their English estates, and it was to be cultivated. As the numregarding the people of Scotland as ber of the people increased, the same barbarians, whom it was alike impoli- process would be repeated by the diftic to approach, and necessary to curb ferent tenants on their respective by despotic power.

farms; and thus there would have But while such would be the feelings sprung up universally in Scotland a and policy of the English proprietors, class of middle men between the prothe stewards whom they appointed to prietor and the actual cultivator of manage their Scotch estates, at a dis- the soil. tance from home, and surrounded by While these changes went on, the a fierce and hostile population, would condition of the people, oppressed by have felt the necessity of some as a series of successive masters, each of sistance, to enable them to maintain whom required to live by their latheir authority, or turn to any ac- bour, and wholly debarred from obcount the estates that were committed taining any legal redress for their to their care. Unable to procure mi- grievances, would have gradually sunk. litary assistance, to enforce the sub- Struggling with a barren soil, and a mission of every district, or collect host of insatiable oppressors, they the rents of every property, they could never have acquired any ideas would of necessity have looked to of comfort, or indulged in any hopes some method of conciliating the peo- of rising in the world. They would, ple of the country; and such a me in consequence, have adopted that spethod would naturally suggest itself in cies of food which promised to afford the attachment which the people bore the greatest nourishment for a family to the families of original landlords, from the smallest space of ground; and the consequent means which they and from the universality of this possessed of swaying their refractory cause, the Potatoe would have bedispositions. These unhappy men, on come the staple food of the country. the other hand, despairing of the re The landed proprietors, on the covery of their whole estates, would other hand, who are the natural probe glad of an opportunity of regaining tectors, and ought always to be the any part of them, and eagerly em- best encouragers of the people on their brace any proposal by which such estates, would have shrunk from the a compromise might be effected. The idea of leaving their English possessense of mutual dependence, in short, sions, where they were surrounded by would have led to an arrangement,

an affectionate and comfortable tenantby which the estates of the English ry, where riches and plenty sprung nobles were to be subset to the Scottish from the natural fertility of the soil, proprietors for a fired yearly rent, and where power and security were and they would take upon themselves derived from their equal law, to settle the task to which they alone were in a northern climate, amongst a peo. competent, of recovering the rents ple by whom they were abhorred, and from the actual cultivators of the soil. where law was unable to restrain the

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licentiousness, or reform the barba Had the English, therefore, sucrity of the inhabitants.--They would ceeded in subduing Scotland in the in consequence have universally be time of Robert Bruce, and in maincome ABSENTEE PROPRIETORS; and taining their authority from that penot only denied to the Scottish people riod, we think it not going too far to the incalculable advantages of a resi. assert, that the people of this country dent body of landed gentlemen ; but, would have been now in the lowest by their influence in Parliament, and state of political degradation : that their animosity towards their north- religious discussion and civil rancour ern tenantry, prevented any legisla- would have mutually exasperated the tive measure being pursued for their higher and lower orders against each relief.

other; that the landed proprietors In such circumstances, it seems would have been permanently settled hardly conceivable that arts or ma- in the victorious country; that every nufactures should have made any pro- where a class of middlemen would gress in this country. But, if in spite have been established to grind and of the obstacles which the unfavourable ruin the labours of the poor ; that climate, and unhappy political circum-. manufactures would have been exstances of the country presented, ma- tinguished, and the country covered nufactures should have begun to spring with a numerous and indigent popuupamongst us, they would speedily have lation, idle in their habits, ignorant been checked by the commercial jea, in their ideas, ferocious in their manlousy of their more powerful southern ners, professing a religion which held rivals. Bills would have been brought them in bondage, and clinging to preinto parliament, as was actually done judices from which their ruin must in regard to a neighbouring island, ensue. proceeding on the preamble, “ that Is it said, that this is mere conjecit is expedient that the Scottish ma- ture, and that nothing in the history of nufactures should be discouraged;" English government warrants us in and the prohibition of sending their concluding, that such would have goods into the richer market of Eng- been the consequence of the establishland, whither the whole wealth of ment of their dominion in this counthe country were already drawn, would try? Alas! it is not conjecture. The have annihilated the infant efforts of history of IRELAND affords too memanufacturing industry.

lancholy a confirmation of the truth Nor would the Reformation, which, of the positions which we have adas matters stand, has been of such vanced, and of the reality of the deessential service to this country, have duction which we have pursued. In been, on the hypothesis which we are that deduction we have not reasoned pursuing, a lesser source of suffering, on hypothesis or conjecture. Every or a greater bar to the improvement step which we have hinteil at, his of the people. From being embraced there been taken ; every consequence by their English landlords, the Re- which we have suggested, has there formed Religion would have been ensued. Those acquainted with the hateful to the peasants of Scotland; history of that unhappy country, or the Catholic priests would have sought who have studied its present condirefuge among them, from the perse- tion, will recognize in the conjectucution to which they were exposed in ral history which we have sketched, their native seats; and both would of what would have followed the anhave been strengthened in their hatred nexation of this country to England to those persons to whom their com in the time of Edward II., the real mon misfortune was owing. Religi- history of what HAS FOLLOWED its ous hatred would thus have combined subjugation in the time of Henry II., with all the previous circumstances of and perceive in the causes which we irritation, to increase the rancour be- have pointed out, as what would have tween the proprietors of the soil, and operated upon our people, the real the labouring classes in this country; causes of the misery and wretchedness and from the circumstance of the lat- in which its population is involved. ter adhering to the proscribed reli Nor is the example of the peaceful gion, they would have been rendered submission of Wales to the dominion yet more incapable of procuring a re of England, any authority against this dress for their grievances in a legisla- view of the subject

. Wales is so intive form.

considerable in comparison to Eng

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