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More Leaves from the Journal
Visit to Holyrood and Edinburgh 13 Aug 1872


Tuesday, August 13

At six I left sweet Osborne with Leopold and Beatrice, Marie Leiningen, and the Duchess of Roxburghe, Flora Macdonald, [The Hon. Flora Macdonald, Maid of Honour, now Bedchamber Woman.] Colonels Ponsonby and De Ros, Mr. Collins, and Fraulein Bauer. It was very. warm. The yachts, which were out, had a very pretty effect. At Gosport, where we had to wait about ten minutes before landing, as we arrived too soon, I took leave of dear Marie Leiningen, who was to return to Germany next day. We had our own usual large travelling railway carriages, which are indeed charming.

It was a splendid night. Sir W. Jenner joined us at Basingstoke, and at Banbury at half-past ten we stopped for refreshments, and lay down before twelve.

Wednesday, August 14

I had a good deal 01 rest, and was up and dressed by eight, or a little past. But we had already passed Melrose, and there was so much fog, and the air so thick, that we could see very little. The last station (not in a village or town) was Fountainhall. where old Mr. Lawson, the former Lord Provost of Edinburgh and famous seedsman, came up to the carriage, and some little girls presented Baby (as Beatrice is always called by us still) with a nosegay. We passed Portobello, and a few minutes more brought us to the very station—the private one, outside Edinburgh—which for eleven years my beloved Albert and I had always arrived at, and where we left it together eleven years ago. There it was, all unaltered, and yet all so altered!

The General, Sir J. Douglas, the Lord Provost, and other official people received us there, and we got into our carriage. The two children and the Duchess of Roxburghe went in the carriage with me.

It was a dull, gloomy, heavy morning, but a great many people were out, and all most enthusiastic, reminding me forcibly and sadly of former days. We had an escort of the Scots Greys. We drove up to the door of the old, gloomy, but historical Palace of Holy rood, where a guard of honour with a band of the 93rd Highlanders were stationed in the quadrangle of the court. We got out. walked up the usual stairs, and passed through two of the large gloomy rooms we used to occupy, and then went past some passages up another and very steep staircase to the so-called “Argyll rooms,’' which have been arranged for, me, with very pretty light paper, chintz, and carpets (chosen by Louise). There is a suite, beginning with a diningroom (the least cheerful) at the farthest end, and then my sitting-room, a large and most cheerful room, the nicest of all, with very light paper) next to. this the bedroom, almost too large a room, and out of this the dressing-room All open one out of the other, and have, except the dining-room, the same pretty carpets and chintzes (red geraniums on a white ground).

The page's room and a wardrobe and dresser's room are just opposite, across a small passage.

We three took breakfast directly in the dining-room. Our rooms are above the old rooms, and have the same look-out.

It cleared up, and though still thick and hazy, the sun shone out brightly, and at a quarter to twelve I went out into the garden, going through our old rooms, which looked sadly deserted : all open and some few things removed from them; the gloomy bedroom with its faded tapestry and green silk bed, and the wretched little dark box-room in which I undressed at night, all full of many recollections. I went through the long picture gallery, down the small steps into the garden, where I met Beatrice, who walked with me. We walked about the garden, which is improved, but terribly overlooked, and quite exposed to public view on the side looking towards the street. We walked about the fine old chapel with its beautiful window and its tombstones, and then went in—Beatrice and I with Brown (who was much interested by all)—conducted by the keeper, an intelligent sensible man called Anderson, and visited the rooms of Queen Mary, beginning with the Hamilton apartments (which were Lord Darnley’s rooms) and going up the old staircase to Queen Mary’s chamber. In Lord Darnley’s rooms there are some fine old tapestry and interesting portraits of the Royal family, and of the Dukes and Duchesses of Hamilton. There are some other curious old pictures in this room.

We saw the small secret staircase which led up in the turret to Queen Mary’s bedroom, and we went up another dark old winding staircase at the top of which poor Rizzio was so horribly murdered—whose blood is still supposed to stain the floor. We entered the Presence Chamber, the ceiling of which, in panels, is from the time of Queen Mary, and contains her mother’s and her own initials and arms as Dauphine of France and Queen of Scotland, with Darnley’s initials. Here is the bed provided for Charles I. when he came to Holyrood to be crowned King of Scotland. Thence we were shown into poor Queen Mary’s bedroom, where are the faded old bed she used, the baby-basket sent her by Queen Elizabeth when King James I. was born, and her work-box. All hung with old tapestry, and the two little turret rooms ; the one where she was supping when poor Rizzio was murdered, the other her dressing-room. Bits of the old tapestry which covered the walls at the time are hung up in frames in the rooms. Beatrice is immensely interested by all she sees, and delighted with everything.

At half-past five drove off in the open randau and four with Beatrice, Leopold, and the Duchess of Roxburghe, the two equerries riding. We drove up through the Canongate, that, curious old street with its very high-storied houses, past Knox’s House and quaint old buildings, with the lowest, poorest people about, down Jlank Street, and eastward along Princes Street, that splendid street with its beautiful shops, hotels, etc., on one side, and its fine monuments on the other, the gardens and institutions and other parts of the town rising above it and crowned by the picturesque Castle; then by Saint Andrew Street, across Saint Andrew Square (where Lord Melville’s statue is), along George Street, a fine wide street, at the end of which is Charlotte Square, where my dear one’s Monument is to be placed, and where I was to have stopped to look at the site. But the crowd, which was very great everywhere and would run with us (facilitated by the great steepness and slipperiness of the streets), as well as the great number of cabs and vehicles of all kinds which would drive along after us everywhere, made this impossible. We turned to the left with some difficulty —one or two carriages coming in contact with ours— and went on by Hope Street, Queen’s Ferry Street, where we took a wrong turn, and went by Clarendon Crescent and Forres Street till we got to the Water of Leith, where we found we could not go on.

We had to turn, with considerable difficulty, owing to the narrowness of the road, and go hack again by Moray Piece, Heriot Row, and thence down by Flit Street on to Inverleith Row (outside the town), past theBotanic Garden, then along the Queen's Ferry Road, Pilrig Street, and Leith Walk (which I remembered from our having taken the same drive in 1861), then along a broad street, under the Colton and Regent Terrace, past Holyrood, into the beautiful Queen's Drive, right round Arthur's Scat with its fine grass, its rocks and small lochs. Unfortunately, however, no clear distant view could be obtained on account of the fog. Home to Holyrood at half-past seven. It was a fatiguing drive.

The crowds were very great, but the people behaved remarkably well; only they kept cheering and shouting and running with us, for the postilions drove very slowly whenever there was the slightest descent, and there were many in the town, and one long one coming down home from the Queen's Drive. A good many flags were out, hut there were hardly any decorations. The equerries kept extremely wrell close up to the carriage, which was no easy task.

Thursday, August 15

Again a very foggy morning. Breakfasted at halfpast nine. Beatrice and Leopold started to go and see Roslin Chapel. Walked a little in the garden at half-past ten, and then sat for half an hour under the only tree which afforded shade and was not overlooked by the street, a thorn, with very overhanging long branches, on a small grassy mound or “hillock.” Here I read out of a volume of Poems by the “Ettrick Shepherd,” full of beautiful things (which Brown had given me some years ago), and wrote till half-past twelve.

At half-past five I started as yesterday with Beatrice, Leopold, and the Duchess of Roxburghe, the two equerries riding, and took a very long—rather too long—drive. It would have been quite beautiful and most enjoyable from the very fine scenery with rich vegetation, fine trees, and hills, and dales, with the Pentlands in the distance, had it not been for a dark, heavy, leaden fog and sky like November, but warmer, which obscured all the distance in the most provoking way, and at one time even came down in a rather heavy show er. We went out by the Queen’s Drive, going to the right as we left Holyrood. Numbers of people surrounded the entrance, and, as there is a long ascent part of the way, some of them, especially boys, ran along with us. We proceeded by the Liberton Road, on past the villages of Straiton, Zasswade (very picturesque, and which I well remember from 1842), and Bonnyrigg, to Dalhousie Castle, where we had visited the late Marquis and Marchioness from Dalkeith in 1842 (the Duchess of Buccleuch drove me over), an old Scotch castle in red stone, where, however, we did not get out. It had been raining, but we did not shut the carriage, and just as we had thought of doing so the rain ceased. From here we drove under a very fine viaduct along the South Esh, past Newbattle (not into the grounds)—where there is an arch which was built for George IV. to drive through, but he never went there—on through the small town of Dalkeith, where many people, as indeed in almost every other place, had collected, into the Park of Dalkeith. Here, as well as everywhere in the neighbourhood, there are beautiful trees, especially some very fine sycamores. We drove up to the house, and got out, as I wished the children to see the rooms where we had lived. The staircase and the gallery where I held the Drawing-room I remembered well, as also the dining-room. Our former rooms were shown us ; but though the bed and even the washing-basin still exist, the rooms which had been arranged for us are altered.

We visited it last in September 1859. The population of Dalkeith and of all the villages about here are colliers and miners, and are very poor. We came home straight, coming into the same road as we started by, and going down the hill of the Queen’s Drive. We collected again a goodly and most good-humoured crowd, and saw the little boys and girls rolling down the steep hill, and people pouring in from the town to get a sight of us.

Friday, August 16

A thoroughly wet day. At half-past eleven I walked out with Flora Macdonald (whose name attracted great attention in Edinburgh), right across the court to the stables, which are very good, and saw all belonging to them—harness-room, coach-house, etc. Then I looked into the guard-room next door, where the guard, who were called out and drawn up thinking I was coming by, did not know us. I went in behind them, and I found a sergeant (I think) of the 93rd in full dress, with four medals, and I asked him his years’ service, which were twenty, and where he came from—“Perthshire.” Two other men, who were cooking and had their coats off, were in the room where they also slept. The newspapers have reported an absurd conversation of mine with them, but none took place. We then walked back through the house into the garden, and finally came home through the chapel at half-past twelve.

It was raining hard, but nevertheless we started at half-past four in the open landau, Beatrice and the two ladies with me, the two equerries riding. We drove by way of Princes Street, which overlooks the Mound with its gardens and fine buildings, and s always so animated and full of people on foot and in carriages ; crossed the Dean Bridge, which commands a most beautiful view, though then it was obscured by the pelting rain; passed Stewards Asylum, a fine new building, getting from the road a good view of another fine institution, Hettes College, built only within the last few years; and so on to the edge of Barntm Park, where we turned back to Granton. By this time it had begun to blow' most violently, in addition to the rain, and the umbrellas dripped and the carriage became soaked. Our road lay close to the sea, past Granton Pier where we had landed in 1842; Trinity came next, a place with some good houses, and then Newhav&n—where we sawr many fishwives who were very enthusiastic, but not in their smartest dress—and then Leith, where there were numbers of people looking out for us in spite of the dreadful rain ; but indeed everywhere the poor people came out and were most loyal. We took a wrong turn here, and had to come back again to go to the Albert Docks—new and very splendid large docks, with the ships all decked out. We stopped a moment to speak to the Provost ot Leith, who said the people were very grateful for my coming; and I have since had repeated expressions of thanks, saying the good people felt my coming out in the rain more than anything. We drove on along the shore, with a distant view of the Island of Inchkeith, by Leith Links, the London Road, the Cavalry Barracks, St. Margaret's Station and Queen’s Park, home. We got home by ten minutes past seven. We were all more or less wet, and had to change our things. The waterproofs seemed not to have done their work. After dinner, at twenty minutes past eleven, we left Holyrood; a gardener presented me with a bouquet, and said it was “the proudest day in his life.” It did not rain, so we had the carriage open. The two children and the Duchess of Roxburghe were in our carriage, and we had an escort. Numbers of people were out. The whole way was splendidly lit up by red, blue, and yellow lights from Salisbury Crags and Arthur's Seat, and the effect was most dazzling and beautiful. There were besides some torches near the station, which was the same we arrived at. The Provost hoped I “was leaving well,” and I thanked him for the very kind reception which I had met with, and for the beautiful illuminations.

Saturday, August 17

Did not sleep much or well— it was so very hot, and I was too much excited, and then we had to be roused up and to dress hurriedly before seven, by which time we were at Ballater. There were many people out, and so there were at Balmoral, where we arrived at a quarter to eight. The heather beautiful, but not completely out yet. The air sweet and soft.

Beloved Mama’s birthday! That dear, dear mother! so loving and tender, so full of kindness! How often I long for that love! She frequently spent this day at Abergeldie, but we were not here then.


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