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Life Jottings of an Old Edinburgh Citizen
Chapter Thirty-Eight


I HAVE thought best to say all I have to say about the later years of my service as a Volunteer at one time, and I now turn back to, general public events.

As regards the sixty years Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897, which got the name of the Diamond Jubilee, I am unable to say anything in connection with Edinburgh, as I was in London at the time, but on that occasion I had an experience which I think must have been unique, as I saw the royal procession twice from beginning to end. In the morning I took some friends to Pall Mall East, to the offices of the National Rifle Association, of the Council of which I was a member, and after the procession had passed I went down to Dover House—the Scottish Office—and saw it return from the. roof of the Portico. When I said to others that I intended to do this, they scorned the idea. "Pooh, my dear fellow, you will never get past the cordon across Whitehall." I thought I would. All who had uniforms who were to be spectators were enjoined to wear them. I wore the very gorgeous uniform of Adjutant-General of the Scottish Royal Archers, Queen's Bodyguard, and trusted to this to pass me. When I reached the cordon, and the ten-deep crowd behind the cavalry, I said in firm tones: "Let me pass, if you please." All looked round, and when they saw my plumed cocked hat and golden epaulettes, they at once stood aside, and I passed through at once.

I had jokingly told my friends that if there was difficulty, I might say: "Please I do wish to go to de Forin Offeece," and that this would be sure to pass me. It was not necessary to use any subterfuge.

This was the last time I saw the Queen, fifty-five years after I had seen her enter Edinburgh in the bloom of youth, How many things terrible and joyous had passed in her vast dominions during the sixty years of her reign. On that day the Diamond jubilee, one little incident spoke of the vast changes that had taken place during her long reign, in application of scientific discovery to the practical annihilation of distance. At the time of her accession to the throne, the possibility of instant communication at a distance was being recognised, some being sanguine, others incredulous. On Diamond Jubilee day the Queen was able to speak in one minute to all, even at the uttermost part of her dominions. As she left Buckingham Palace to drive through the crowds of her loving subjects, she by a pressure of her finger issued her command to her servants waiting at the telegraph keyboards, and in an instant her loving and touching message to her people was flying across land and sea in all directions round the world, in as many seconds as one claimed to put a girdle round the earth in minutes, putting her people far and dark at all the ends of the earth into touch with their beloved Queen, and bringing them all into participation in her affectionate thought of them on the day of her offering her thanksgiving for herself and for them, that she had been spared to rule longer than any sovereign had done in the history of the country, if not of the world.

On that day it :is probable that there marched in procession representatives of a greater number of the races of the world than had ever been brought together before, and those who saw that long procession will never forget its unique character.

But a few short years remained and she entered on her well-earned rest leaving behind her a memory that will not fade.

"E'en Death is powerless o'er a time like hers,
Its radiance lingers, though ifs sun has set;
Rich and unstinted was the seed she sowed,
The golden harvest is not gathered yet."*

I can say little in relation to Edinburgh with regard to the death of the Queen, except this, that nowhere in her world-wide Empire was her loss more deplored and her memory more cherished than in the capital of Scotland, that land for which she ever showed so deep an affection. It is to be regretted that Edinburgh has no worthy memorial of her. No doubt she is well memorialised nationally, but the stranger within our gates who sees our many statues, to the great and others, must wonder that out citizens can show them no memorial of her long reign, and their love. King Edward's memory is to be honoured by a memorial. What it is to be is not yet apparently definitely settled. May an old citizen pray that, if it is to be close to Holyrood Palace, it may not be something incongruous with the old Scottish pile. Surely an erection having a national character, even though it be somewhat rugged and therefore congruous, would be preferable to polished Greek pillars and arcading. The approach to Holyrood Palace is unique, in the suggestion of the old, the solid, and the simple, that strikes the eye as the building comes into view. To place anything in the way of the approach that would have an aspect of ideas taken from Rome or Greece, would be like insulting the Scottish character of such castles as Drum or Fyvie—to name only two—by erecting in front of them great Greek pillars, with heavy capitals, beautiful in themselves, but hideous in their 'incongruity with the building they were supposed to adorn.


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