In presenting to the British Public the Life of a man, whose name has been for ages the slogan, or cri de guerre, when the liberty of his country was in danger, few words may suffice in the way of Preface. The unprovoked aggression of England on the freedom of Scotland, produced, in the latter country, one of those grand national convulsions, which seldom fail to call forth some master-spirit from obscurity. Owing to circumstances, however, connected with the unsettled and turbulent state of the times, the transcendent talents of the Knight of Elderslie had been, among his contemporaries, more a subject for grateful admiration,than historical record; and, in consequence, no small degree of fiction has been mixed up with his story, while his real achievements have become in a manner obscured by their own undefined greatness. The Proprietors of Constable’s Miscellany, conceiving that a work exclusively devoted to the elucidation of the occurrences in the life and times of the Deliverer of Scotland, would be an important addition to our stock of historical knowledge, the writer was requested to undertake the present work, having become partially conversant with the subject, while engaged in drawing up a Life of Wallace, some years ago,1 for the use of juvenile readers. In venturing before the Public as the biographer of the Guardian of Scotland, the Author is not unconscious of the difficulties that surround him. The subject is one with which his countrymen in all ranks of life have been from their early years more or less familiar; and are all qualified, to a certain extent, to become his critics. With so numerous a host of reviewers, the errors he may have committed have no chance to escape detection, while the strong partiality with which such readers are imbued, will no doubt be occasionally offended, when they find the tame realities of historical evidence substituted for the more pleasing details of romantic and poetical embellishment. With another class of readers, whose cooler temperament and neutralized feelings may enable them to view the narrative of our hero’s transactions through a different medium, the writer runs an equal hazard of being charged with overstepping the limits of probability. Thus circumstanced, the hope of his production meeting any thing like general approbation becomes extremely faint, and excites the apprehension that he will have to measure his success only by the mildness with which his labours may be censured. It remains only to be added, that to John Strachan, Esq. of Thornton, Stirlingshire, (late of Woodside), the Publishers lie under deep obligation for the kind manner in which he furnished information connected with Wallace’s Oak, and for the sketch of the tree itself, after a painting by Nasmyth, executed in 1771, which illustrates the present Volume. The building, represented in the back ground, is the ruins of Tor Castle, where the unfortunate James III. is supposed to have passed the night previous to the fatal battle of Sauchie.