Monday, September 11, 1882
Received a telegram in cipher from Sir John McNeill,
marked very secret, saying that it was “determined to attack the
enemy with a very large force on Wednesday.” How anxious this made
us, God only knows; and yet this long delay had also made us very
anxious. No one to know, though all expected something at the time.
Tuesday, September 12
Drove at ten minutes to five, with Beatrice,
Louischen, and Harriet, to the Glen Gelder Shiel, where we had tea,
and I sketched. The sky was so beautiful. We walked on the road
hack, and came home at twenty minutes past seven. How anxious we
felt, I need not say; but we tried not to give way. Only the ladies
dined with us.
I prayed earnestly for my darling child, and longed
for the morrow to arrive. Read Korner’s beautiful “Gebet vor der
Schlacht,” “Vater, ich rufe Dich” (Prayer before the Battle,
“Father, I call on Thee’'). My beloved husband used to sing it
often. My thoughts were entirely fixed on Egypt and the coming
battle. My nerves were strained to such a pitch by the intensity of
my anxiety and suspense that they seemed to feel as though they were
Wednesday, September 13
Woke very often. Raw and dull. Took my short walk,
and breakfasted in the cottage. Had a telegram that the army marched
out last night. What an anxious moment! We walked afterwards as far
as the arch for Leopold’s reception, -which was a very pretty one,
and placed as nearly where it had been on previous occasions, only
rather nearer Middleton’s lodge, and thence back to the cottage,
where I sat and wrote and signed, etc.
Another telegram, also from Reuter, saying that
fighting was going on, and that the enemy had been routed with heavy
loss at Tel-el-Kebir. Much agitated.
On coming in got a telegram from Sir John McNeill,
saying, “A great victory; Duke safe and well.” Sent all to Louischen.
The excitement very great. Felt unbounded joy and gratitude for
God’s great goodness and mercy.
The same news came from Lord Granville and Mr.
Childers, though not yet from Sir Garnet Wolseley. A little later,
just before two, came the following most welcome and gratifying
telegram from Sir Garnet Wolseley:—
Tsmalta, September 13, 1882
Til-el-Kebir.—From Wolseley to the Queen, Balmoral.
Attacked Arabi’s position at five this morning. His
strongly entrenched position was most bravely and gallantly stormed
by the Guards and line, while cavalry and horse artillery worked
round their left flank. At seven o’clock I was in complete
possession of his whole camp. Many railway trucks, with quantities
of supplies, fallen into our hands. Enemy completely routed, and his
loss has been very heavy; also regret to say we have suffered
severely. Duke of Connaught is well, and behaved admirably, leading
his brigade to the attack.
Brown brought the telegram, and followed me to
Beatrice’s room, where Louischen was, and I showed it to her. I was
myself quite upset, and embraced her warmly, saying what joy and
pride and cause of thankfulness it was to know our darling safe, and
so much praised! I feel quite beside myself for joy and gratitude,
though grieved to think of our losses, which, however, have not
proved to be so serious as first reported. We were both much
We went to luncheon soon after this, having sent many
telegrams, and receiving many. At ten minutes past three drove with
Beatrice and Lady Southampton to Ballater. We got out of the
carriage, and the train arrived almost immediately, and Leopold and
Helen stepped out; she was dressed in grey with bonnet to match.
The guard of honour, Seaforth Highlanders (Duke of
Albany’s), out, and many people. Leopold and Helen got at once into
the landau with us two, and we drove straight to Balmoral. At the
bridge Louischen and Horaiia were waiting in a carriage, and
followed us. Beyond the bridge, and when we had just passed under
the arch, the carriage stopped, and Dr. Profeit said a few’ words of
welcome, for which Leopold thanked. Here everybody was assembled—all
our gentlemen and ladies, and those from Birkhall and the Mains, and
all the tenants from the three estates, all our servants, etc.
The pipes preceded, playing the “Highland Laddie,”
Brown and all our other kilted men walking alongside,
and before and behind the carriage everybody else close
following—and a goodly number they were. We got out at the door, and
went just beyond the arch, all our people standing in a line headed
by our Highlanders. A table with whisky and glasses was placed up
against the house, next to which stood all the ladies and gentlemen.
Dr. Profeit gave Leopold’s and Helen’s healths, and after these had
been drunk, Brown stepped forward and said, nearly as follows:
“Ladies and gentlemen, let us join in a good Highland cheer for the
Duke and Duchess of Albany; may they live long and die happy!” which
pleased every one, and there were hearty cheers.
Then I asked Leopold to propose “The Victorious Army
in Egypt" with darling Arthur’s health, which was heartily responded
to, and poor Louischen was quite upset. After this Dr. Profeit
proposed “The Duchess of Connaught,” and at Brown’s suggestion he
also proposed “The little Princess.” The sweet little one had
witnessed the procession in Chapman’s (her nurse’s) arms with her
other attendants, and was only a little way off w-hen her health was
This over, we went in and had tea upstairs in my
room—Louischen, Beatrice, and I. Louischen had received a very long
and most interesting letter from Arthur about that dreadful march on
the 25th (dated 26th, but finished later). A telegram from Sir
Garnet Wolseley to Mr. Childers, with fuller accounts, arrived. The
loss, thank God! is not so heavy as we feared at first. A bonfire
was to be lit by my desire on the top of Craig Gtman at nine, just
where there had been one in 1856 after the fall of Sevastopol, when
dearest Albert went up to it at night with Bertie and Affie. That
was on September 10, very nearly the same time twenty-six years ago!
Went to Louischen, who read me portions of Arthur’s
long letter. The description of his and the officers’ sufferings and
privations, as well as those of the poor men, made me miserable.
Only ourselves to dinner; and at nine Beatrice,
Louischen, Lady Southampton, and the gentlemen, and many of our
people, walked up (with the pipes playing) to the top of Craig Gowdn—rather
venturesome in the dark; and we three (Leopold, Helen, and I) went
up to Beatrice’s room, and from there we saw the bonfire lit and
blazing, and could distinguish figures, and hear the cheering and
pipes. They were soon back, and I went and sat with Beatrice,
Louischen, and Lady Southampton, who were having a little supper in
Endless telegrams! What a day of gratitude and joy,
but mingled with sorrow and anxiety for the many mourners and the
wounded and dying!