Wallace, Sir William

, a celebrated warrior and patriot, was born, according to the account of his poetical biographer Henry, or Blind Harry, in 127G. He was the younger son of sir Malcolm Wallace of Ellerslie, near Paisley, in the shire of Renfrew, Scotland, and in his sixteenth year was sent to school at Dundee. In 1295, he was insulted by the son of Selby, an Englishman, constable of the port and castle of Dundee, and killed him; on which he fled, and appears to have lived a roving and irregular life, often engaged in skirmishes with the English troops which then bad invaded and kept Scotland under subjection. For his adventures, until he became the subject of history, we must refer to Henry. Most of them appear fictitious, or at least are totally unsupported by any other evidence. Wallace, however, is represented by the Scotch historians as being about this time the model of a perfect hero; superior to the rest of mankind in bodily stature, strength, and activity; in bearing cold and heat, thirst and hunger, watching and fatigue; and no less extraordinary in the qualities of his mind, beirrg equally valiant and prudent, magnanimous and disinterested, undaunted in adversity, modest in prosperity, and animated by the most ardent and inextinguishable love of his county. Having his resentment against the English sharpened by the personal affront abovementioned, and more by the losses his family had sustained, he determined to rise in defence of his country, and being joined by many of his countrymen, their first efforts were crowned with success; but the earl of Surrey, governor of Scotland, collecting an army of 40,000 men, and entering Annandale, and marching through the South-west of Scotland, obliged all the barons of those parts to submit, and renew the oaths of fealty. Wallace, with his followers, uuable to encounter so great a force, retired northward, and was pursued by the governor and his army.

When the English army reached Stirling they discovered the Scots encamped near the abbey of Cambuskeneth, on the opposite banks of the Forth. Cressingham, treasurer of Scotland, whose covetousness and tyranny had been one great cause of this revolt, earnestly pressed the earl of | Surrey to pass his army over the bridge of Stirling, and attack the enemy. Wallace, who observed all their motions, allowed as many of the English to pass as he thought be could defeat, when, rushing upon them with an irresistible impetuosity, they were all either killed, drowned, or taken prisoners. li> the heat of the action, the bridge, which was only of wood, broke down, and many perished in the river; and the earl of Surrey, with the other part of his army, were melancholy spectators of the destruction of their countrymen, without being able to afford them any assistance: and this severe check, which the English received on Sept. 11, 1297, obliged them to evacuate Scotland. Wallace, who after this great victory was saluted deliverer and guardian of the kingdom by his followers, pursuing the tide of success, entered England with his army, recovered the town of Berwick, plundered the counties of Cumberland and Northumberland, and returned into his own country loaded with spoils and glory.

The news of these surprising events being carried to king Edward I. who was then in Flanders, accelerated his return, and soon after he raised a vast army of 80,000 foot and 7000 horse, which the Scots were now in no condition to resist. Their country, for several years, had been almost a continued scene of war, in which many of its inhabitants had perished. Some of their nobles were in the English interest, some of them in prison; and those few who had any power or inclination to defend the freedom of their country, were dispirited and divided. In particular, the ancient nobility began to view the power and popularity of William Wallace with a jealous eye: which was productive of very fatal consequences, and contributed to the success of Edward in the battle of Faikirk, fought July 22, 12D8, in which the Scots were defeated with great slaughter.

We hear little of Wallace after this until 1303-4, when king Eo!ward had made a complete conquest of Scotland, and, appointing John de Segrave governor of that kingdom, returned to England about the end of August. But Wallace, even after this, and although he had been excluded by the jealousy of the nobles from commanding the armies or influencing the councils of his country, still continued to assert her independency, This, together with the remembrance of many mischiefs which he had done to his English subjects, and perhaps some apprehension that he might | again rekindle the flames of war, made Edward employ various means to get possession of his person; and at length he was betrayed into his hands by sir John Monteith, his friend, whom he had made acquainted with the place oi his concealment. The king immediately ordered Wallace to be carried in chains to London: to be tried as a rebel and traitor, though he had never made submission, or sworn fealty to England, and to be executed on Towerhill, which was accordingly done, Aug. 23, 1305. This, says Hume, was the unworthy fate of a hero, who, through a course of many years, had, with signal conduct, intrepidity, and perseverance, defended, against a public and oppressive enemy, the liberties of his native country. 1


Henry’s and Hume’s Histories of England.