Sunday, July 18, 2010

Wallace Research

July 18 (1827).—Entered this morning on the history of Sir William Wallace. I wish I may be able to find my way between what the child can comprehend and what shall not yet be absolutely uninteresting to the grown readers. Uncommon facts I should think the best receipt....

The research begun by Scott this day in 1827 undoubtedly contributed to output in the form of his "The History of Scotland, which was published in 1830.  Below is a section about Wallace from that work.

'If the Scoto-Norman nobles had lightly transferred their allegiance to Edward, it was otherwise with the middle and lower proprietors, who, sprung of the native race of Scotland, mingling in the condition of the people, and participating in their feeling, burnt with zeal to avenge themselves on the English, who were in usurped possession of their national fortresses. As soon as Edward with his army had crossed the frontiers, they broke out into a number of petty insurrections, unconnected indeed, but sufficiently numerous to indicate a disposition for hostilities, which wanted but a leader to render it general. They found one in sir William Wallace.

This champion of his country was of Anglo-Norman descent, but not so distinguished by birth and fortune as to enjoy high rank, great wealth, or participate in that chilling indifference to the public honour and interest which these advantages were apt to create in their possessor. He was born in Renfrewshire, a district of the ancient kingdom of Strath-Clyde, and his nurse may have soothed him with tales and songs of the Welsh bards, as there is room to suppose that the British language was still lingering in remote corners of the country, where it had been once universal. At any rate, Wallace was bred up free from the egotistic and selfish principles which are but too natural to the air of a court, and peculiarly unfavourable to the character of a patriot. Popular Scottish tradition, which delights to dwell upon the beloved champion of the people, describes William Wallace as of dignified stature, unequalled strength and dexterity, and so brave, that only on one occasion, and then under the influence of a supernatural power, is he allowed by tradition to have experienced the sensation of fear...'

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