The following Volumes are now ready—
- THOMAS CARLYLE. By Hector C. Macpherson.
- ALLAN RAMSAY. By Oliphant Smeaton.
- HUGH MILLER. By W. Keith Leask.
- JOHN KNOX. By A. Taylor Innes.
- ROBERT BURNS. By Gabriel Setoun.
- THE BALLADISTS. By John Geddie.
- RICHARD CAMERON. By Professor Herkless.
- SIR JAMES Y. SIMPSON. By Eve Blantyre Simpson.
- THOMAS CHALMERS. By Professor W. Garden Blaikie.
- JAMES BOSWELL. By W. Keith Leask.
- TOBIAS SMOLLETT. By Oliphant Smeaton.
- FLETCHER OF SALTOUN. By G. W. T. Omond.
- THE BLACKWOOD GROUP. By Sir George Douglas.
- NORMAN MACLEOD. By John Wellwood.
- SIR WALTER SCOTT. By Professor Saintsbury.
- ROBERT FERGUSSON. By A. B. Grosart.
- MUNGO PARK. By T. Banks Maclachlan.
- DAVID HUME. By Professor Calderwood.
- WILLIAM DUNBAR. By Oliphant Smeaton.
- SIR WILLIAM WALLACE. By Professor Murison.
THE MEMORY OF
THE COMRADES AND HELPERS
SIR WILLIAM WALLACE
MEN OR WOMEN
DISTINGUISHED OBSCURE OR NAMELESS
Quod de re publica non desperassent
'My son, I tell thee soothfastlie,
No gift is like to Libertie;
Then never live in slaverie.'
'For Freedom's battle, once begun,
Bequeath'd by bleeding Sire to Son,
Though baffled oft, is ever won.'
'The ignorance of some otherwise well-informed persons respecting the claims of Wallace as a national patriot,' wrote Dr. Charles Rogers, 'is deplorable.'
The documentary authorities are, indeed, fragmentary, and exceptionally perplexing. Some are clearly trustworthy; many are conflicting, dissimulatory, falsified, false, biassed in all degrees, and full of inference and hearsay set forth in the guise of indubitable fact. The researches of English historians—even when they happen to be Scotsmen—have not yet rendered further investigation superfluous.
The fact is, that a large critical undertaking must form the basis of any adequate account of Wallace. In a brief narrative the writer must resign himself to the simple if somewhat perilous course of telling his story as it has shaped itself in his mind during perusal of the available authorities, with but occasional and slight indications of the shaping process.
The noble poem of Blind Harry, thanks largely to the ingenium perfervidum of the minstrel himself, has been much—we may say wholly—discredited as history. Harry has been very cavalierly dealt with, however; it is more by a grin than otherwise that he has been vanquished. Stevenson's tentative protest is here emphasised. For the present sketch, however, Harry is used rather by way of illustration than as a source of facts. He is cited without any claim to credence, except on grounds definitely specified. But such reservation is provisional, and conditioned by such rational criticism as may one day yet be applied. The citations in the text have been conservatively modernised. All students of Harry's poem owe their most grateful acknowledgments to Dr. James Moir and the Scottish Text Society.
One is reluctant to believe that there are no more references to Wallace still lying dormant in the muniment rooms of Scottish families. One is no less reluctant to suppose that any patriotic Scot would leave a solitary corner of his muniments unsearched for every possible glint of light upon the great man that has stood forth for six centuries, and will in all probability stand forth for ever, as incomparably the most heroic and most fateful figure in the history of Scotland—a Hero and a Patriot second to none in the recorded history of the nations.