Birth of a Scottish PrinceSuch was the conclusion of this memorable expedition against Scotland, which began with high hopes and formidable preparations, but ended in the disappointment of its object, and the death of its royal leader. It was evidently a fatal mistake in Haco to delay so long in petty expeditions against the Western Islands. While it was still summer, and the weather fair, he ought at once to have attempted a descent upon the mainland; and had he done so, Alexander might have been thrown into great difficulties. Delay and protracted negotiation was the policy of the Scots. They thus avoided any general battle; and they knew that if they could detain the Norwegian fleet upon the coast till the setting in of the winter storms, its destruction was almost inevitable. Boece, in his usual inventive vein, covers the field with 25,000 dead Norwegians, and allows only four ships to have been saved to carry the king to his grave in Orkney. But all this is fiction; and the battle of Largs appears to have been nothing more than a succession of fortunate skirmishes, in which a formidable armament was effectually destroyed by the fury of the elements, judiciously seconded by the bravery of the Scots.
The accounts of the death of Haco, and the news of the queen having been delivered of a son, were brought to King Alexander on the same day;so that he was at once freed from a restless and powerful enemy, and could look forward to a successor of his own blood.