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, Browns father and brothers)
arrived, and then came the huge omnibuses and carriages laden with
philosophers. At two oclock 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 Farquharsons men headed by Colonel
Farquharson, the Duffs by Lord Fife, and the Forbess 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
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 dancingreels
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 Franklins remainsor, 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 Alberts
admirable speech, the good it had done, and the general satisfaction
it had caused.
We could see the fire of the Forbess encampment on the opposite
This comment system requires
you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an
account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or
Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these
companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All
comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator
has approved your comment.