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Leaves from the Journal
First Impressions of Balmoral 8 Sept. 1848


Land of brown heath and shaggy wood,
Land of the mountain and the flood,
Land of my sires! what mortal hand
Can e’er untie the filial band
That knits me to thy rugged strand!
Still, as I view each well-known scene,
Think what is now, and what hath been,
Seems as, to me, of all bereft,
Sole friends thy woods and streams are left;
And thus I love them better still,
Even in extremity of ill.

The Lay of the Last Minstrel.

Balmoral, Friday, September 8, 1848.

We arrived at Balmoral at a quarter to three. It is a pretty little castle in the old Scottish style. There is a picturesque tower and garden in front, with a high wooded hill; at the back there is wood down to the Dee; and the hills rise all around.

There is a nice little hall, with a billiard-room; next to it is the dining-room. Upstairs (ascending by a good broad staircase) immediately to the right, and above the dining-room, is our sitting-room (formerly the drawing room), a fine large room—next to which is our bed-room, opening into a little dressing-room which is Albert’s. Opposite, down a few steps, are the children’s and Miss Hildyard’s three rooms. The ladies live below, and the gentlemen upstairs.

We lunched almost immediately, and at half-past four we walked out, and went up to the top of the wooded hill opposite our windows, where there is a cairn, and up which there is a pretty winding path. The view from here, looking down upon the house, is charming. To the left you look towards the beautiful hills surrounding Loch-na-Gar, and to the right, towards Ballater, to the glen (or valley) along which the Dee winds, with beautiful wooded hills, which reminded us very much of the Thuringerwald. It was so calm, and so solitary, it did one good as one gazed around; and the pure mountain air was most refreshing. All seemed to breathe freedom and peace, and to make one forget the world and its sad turmoils.

The scenery is wild, and yet not desolate; and everything looks much more prosperous and cultivated than at Laggan. Then the soil is delightfully dry. We walked beside the Dee, a beautiful, rapid stream, which is close behind the house. The view of the hills towards Invercauld is exceedingly fine.

When I came in at half-past six, Albert went out to try his luck with some stags which lay quite close in the woods, but he was unsuccessful. They come down of an evening quite near to the house.


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