Page images

You may

three weeks, and did a great deal of mischief to the country.

10. Edward I. was in Flanders when all these events took place in 1298. suppose he was very angry when he heard that Scotland, which he thought completely subdued, had risen into a great insurrection against him, defeated his armies, killed his treasurer, chased his soldiers out of their country, and invaded England with a great force.

11. He came back from Flanders in a mighty rage, and determined not to leave that rebellious country until it was finally conquered, for which purpose he assembled a very fine army and marched into Scotland.

12. In the meantime the Scots prepared to defend themselves, and chose Wallace to be governor or protector of the kingdom, because they had no king at the time. He was now titled Sir William Wallace, Protector, or Govenor of the Scottish nation. But although, as we have seen, he was the best soldier and bravest man in Scotland, and therefore the most fit to be placed in command at this critical period, when the king of England was coming against them with such great forces, yet the nobles of Scotland envied him this important situation because he was not a man born in high rank, nor enjoying a large estate.

13. So great was their jealousy of Sir William Wallace, that many of these great barons did not seem very willing to bring forward their forces, or to fight against the English. Yet, notwithstanding this unwillingness of the great nobility to support him, Wallace assembled a large army ; for the middle, but especially the lower classes, were very much attached to him.

14. He marched boldly against the king of England, and met him near the town of Falkirk. Most of the Scottish army were on foot, because in those days only the nobility and great men of Scotland fought on horseback.

15. The English king, on the contrary, had a very large body of the finest cavalry in the world, Normans and English, all clothed in complete armour. He had also the celebrated archers of England, each of whom was said to carry twelve Scotchmen's lives under his girdle; because every archer had twelve arrows stuck in his belt.

16. The Scots had some good archers from the forest of Ettrick, who fought under command of Sir John Stewart of Benkill; but they were not nearly equal in number to the English. The greater part of the Scotch, armed with long spears, were placed thick and close together, and laid all their spears so close, point over point, that it seemed as difficult to break through them as through the wall of a strong castle. When the two armies were drawn up facing each other, Wallace said to his soldiers, “I have brought you to the ring, let me see how you can dance.”

17. The English made the attack. King Edward, though he saw the close ranks and undaunted appearance of the Scottish infantry, resolved nevertheless to try whether he could not ride them down with his fine cavalry. He therefore gave his borsemen orders to advance. They charged accordingly at fullgallop. It must have been a terrible thing to have seen these fine horses riding as hard as they could against the long lances which were held out by the Scots to keep them back, and a dreadful cry arose when they came against each other.

18. The Scottish spearmen being thrown into some degree of confusion by the loss of those who were slain by the arrows of the English, the heavy cavalry of Edward again charged with more success than formerly, and broke through the ranks, which were already disordered. Sir John Graham, Wallace's great friend and companion, was slain, with many other brave soldiers; and the Scots, having lost a very great number of men, were at length obliged to take to flight.

19. After this fatal defeat of Falkirk, Sir William Wallace seems to have resigned his office of Governor of Scotland. And the king of England obliged all its nobles and great men, one after another, to submit themselves once more to his yoke.

20. Wallace, alone, refused either to acknowledge the usurper Edward or to lay down his arms; and a great reward was set upon his head. For the sake of this reward Wallace was basely betrayed by a pretended friend, and led prisoner to the Tower of London.

21. Edward caused this gallant defender of his country to be brought to trial in Westminster Hall before English judges, who condemned him to be executed and quartered.


NOTES. 1 Story of William Wallace.


revolted against this state of great aim of Edward I. was to things, but was defeated and unite England, Wales, and Scot- driven from his kingdom by Edland under government. ward. Then it was that Wallace When, after a dispute about the endeavoured to win back his succession to the Scottish crown, country's liberty and independit was accepted by Baliol, the ence. latter acknowledged himself the 2 Usurp, to lay claim to and seize vassal of Edward, thus establish- that to which one has no legal ing the feudal superiority of the right. English sovereigns over the Scot- 3 Falkirk, in Stirlingshire, about 24 tish. Baliol, however, very soon

miles N.W. of Edinburgh.

THE DOWNFALL OF POLAND. OH, sacred Truth ! thy triumph ceased a while, And Hope, thy sister, ceased with thee to smile, When leagued Oppression poured to Northern



Her whiskered pandoors and her fierce huzzars, Waved her dread standard to the breeze of

morn, Pealed her loud drum, and twanged her trum

pet-horn ;Tumultuous Horror brooded o'er her van, Presaging wrath to Poland—and to man !


Warsaw's last champion, from her heights,

surveyed, Wide o'er the fields, a waste of ruin laid : “ heaven!” he cried, “my bleeding country

save! Is there no hand on high to shield the brave? Yet, though Destruction sweep those lovely


[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

Rise, fellow-men! our COUNTRY yet remains !
By that dread name we wave the sword on high, 15

« PreviousContinue »