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Leaves from the Journal
Fete to the Members of the British Association 22 Sept. 1859


September 22, 1859.

The morning dawned brightly. Suddenly a very high wind arose which alarmed us, but yet it looked bright, and we hoped the wind would keep off the rain; but after breakfast, while watching the preparations, showers began, and from half-past eleven a fearful down-pour, with that white curtain-like appearance which is so alarming; and this lasted till half-past twelve. I was in despair; but at length it began to clear, just as the neighbours with their families, and some of the farmers opposite (the Herrons, Duncans, Brown’s father and brothers) arrived, and then came the huge omnibuses and carriages laden with “philosophers.” At two o’clock we were all ready. Albert and the boys were in their kilts, and I and the girls in royal Stuart skirts and shawls over black velvet bodies.

It was a beautiful sight in spite of the frequent slight showers which at first tormented us, and the very high cold wind. There were gleams of sunshine, which, with the Highlanders in their brilliant and picturesque dresses, the wild notes of the pipes, the band, and the beautiful background of mountains rendered the scene wild and striking in the extreme. The Farquharson’s men headed by Colonel Farquharson, the Duff’s by Lord Fife, and the Forbes’s men by Sir Charles Forbes, had all marched on the ground before we came out, and were drawn up just opposite to us, and the spectators (the people of the country) behind them. We stood on the terrace, the company near us, and the “savants,” also, on either side of us, and along the slopes, on the grounds. The games began about three o’clock :

1. “Throwing the Hammer.”
2. “Tossing the Caber.”
3. “Putting the Stone.”

We gave prizes to the three best in each of the games. We walked along the terrace to the large marquee, talking to the people, to where the men were “putting the stone.” After this returned to the upper terrace, to see the race, a pretty wild sight; but the men looked very cold, with nothing but their shirts and kilts on; they ran beautifully. They wrapped plaids round themselves, and then came to receive the prizes from me. Last of all came the dancing—reels and “Ghillie Callum.” The latter the judges could not make up their minds about; it was danced over and over again; and at last they left out the best dancer of all! They said he danced “too well!” The dancing over, we left amid the loud cheers of the people. It was then about half-past five. We watched from the window the Highlanders marching away, the different people walking off, and four weighty omnibuses filling with the scientific men. We saw, and talked to, Professor Owen, Sir David Brewster, Sir John Bowring, Mr. J. Roscoe, and Sir John Ross. [During the Fete, we heard from Sir R. Murchison and others that news had been received this morning of the finding of poor Sir John Franklin’s remains—or, rather, of the things belonging to him and his party.]

When almost all were gone, we took a short walk to warm ourselves. Much pleased at everything having gone off well. The Duke of Richmond, Sir R. Murchison, General Sabine, Mr. Thomson of Banchory House, and Professor Phillipps, Secretary of the Association, all of whom slept here, were additions to the dinner-party. I sat between our cousin Philip (Count of Flanders) and the Duke of Richmond. All the gentlemen spoke in very high terms of my beloved Albert’s admirable speech, the good it had done, and the general satisfaction it had caused.

We could see the fire of the Forbes’s encampment on the opposite side.


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