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Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's Trip to Scotland
Chapter I. The Departure


Whilst the wide champaign country around Windsor was still quietly reposing in the dull light of the approaching dawn of Monday the 29th of August 1842, those within the walls of its magnificent castle had been for some hours in busy activity. Distant thunder had been heard, the morning was drizzly and vet, and every roof was dropping with a melancholy sound, as if the very eyelids of the royal pile were flowing with tears in contemplation of the departure of those it loved.

By a quarter past four o’clock, the royal breakfast had been served, and ere that moment that the sun should have appeared above the horizon had arrived, and whilst the effect of his rising rays showed themselves but rawly through the rain, and before the bell of the great quadrangle had given forth the hour of five, our most gracious Queen Victoria, and His Royal Highness Prince Albert,—the beloved partner of her voyage through life,—may it be happy and prosperous to both!—issued forth from its gates to commence that expedition, to which both these august personages had been for some time looking-forward with much pleasing anticipation, and with no inconsiderable degree of interest. Her Majesty, always a lover of aquatic excursions, felt an especial pleasure in the contemplation of this voyage. Nor did handsomer pair quit these walls, since they were first founded by the Norman William. Her Majesty was simply attired in a blue silk dress, and a white silk bonnet, and over her shoulders was thrown a splendid shawl of Paisley manufacture. His Royal Highness was wrapped in a military cloak, with a red collar, and he wore a travelling cap. The blush of health was on the countenances of both, and youth and ardent hope soon imparted a restoration of buoyancy to their spirits, after the temporary depression they experienced, as the tender mother and fond father bid adieu to the spot which contained the infant Prince and Princess, who were left in the castle under the charge of their preceptress, the Dowager Lady Lyttleton. Though somewhat dimmed by the unfavourable morning, the prospects that greeted the eyes of the Queen wherever she looked, were in themselves most lovely. The works of nature and of man were starting into life, under the reviving influence of the dawn, and the rain had given a freshness to every rural feature. Proud must have been the thoughts that filled the royal bosom, as her Majesty surveyed the country that stretched away on all sides, affording one of the richest and most beauteous samples of her own merry England. Few Scotsmen could have witnessed that most interesting departure from that grand and ancient castle, for ages the favoured residence of a long line of monarchs, towering as it did in the sombre light of that morning, from the commanding eminence on which it stands, and surveyed the exquisitely rich country spreading in all directions as far as human sight could reach—the park—the forest—the venerable pinnacles of Eton College—the glorious Runnymede—and the silver stream of Thames, softened by the haze, and winding away through this garden of verdure and luxuriance—without heaving a sigh of anxious doubt at the thought, whether after having daily feasted on so rich a repast as this, the wilder and sterner features of Scotland could possibly find favour in the royal eyes.

Though the weather was far from encouraging, her Majesty and the Prince travelled in an open barouche and four. They were followed by two pony carriages and four, containing Her Grace the Duchess of Norfolk, Lady in Waiting,—The Honourable Matilda Paget, Maid of Honour,—Major-General Wemyss, Equerry to the Queen,— Colonel Bouverie, Equerry to the Prince,—Mr. George Edward Anson, Treasurer and Secretary to the Prince, and Sir James Clark, Physician to her Majesty. The Earl of Liverpool, Lord Steward, had already preceded the Royal Party by a special Railway Train from Slough at three o’clock.

The Queen and her illustrious consort having arrived at the Slouch Station on the Great Western Railway in less than a quarter of an hour, they were received on a platform covered with a crimson carpet, by Mr. Russel, Chairman of the Railway, Mr. Holland, M.P., one of the Directors, Mr. Sanders, Secretary, and Mr. Howell, Superintendent, by whom they were conducted to the Royal Saloon, or State Carriage, which they entered, followed by the Duchess of Norfolk and Miss Paget. One carriage before and another immediately behind the State Carriage, were occupied by her Majestv’s attendants and the gentlemen connected with the Railway Company, and every possible provision having been made for securing the safety and comfort of the royal party, the Argus steam-engine, decorated with colours, was attached, and at twenty-one minutes past five o’clock, they left the station, and proceeded easily to Paddington, the time allowed for the performance of the distance of eighteen miles being half an hour, so that they arrived safely at the terminus at ten minutes before six o’clock. It is curious to compare the happy difference of circumstances in the state of the country now, and the present rapidity of the powers of locomotion, with those which must have existed even in the time of Queen Elizabeth, and still more in the very ancient days of William the Conqueror, with whom most of our ancestors first visited this island. That which is now the pleasant passage of an hour, may then have been the painful and hazardous journey of more than one day; indeed the very name of Slough would seem to indicate the nature of some of the difficulties which were to be encountered by the way. No less gratifying is it for us to compare the gentle and angelic reign under which we now live, with the iron dominion which then prevailed.

“Not thus the land appear'd in ages past.
A dreary desert, and a gloomy waste,
To savage beasts and savage laws a prey,
And kings more furious and severe than they.
Awed by his nobles, by his commons curst,
The oppressor ruled tyrannic where he durst,
Stretch’d o’er the poor and Church his iron rod,
And served alike his vassals and his God.”

On their arrival at Paddington, the Queen and Prince Albert entered an open carriage and four, and drove by Vauxhall Bridge, towards Woolwich, preceded by outriders, and under the escort of a party of Hussars, and followed by their suite in two carriages and four. Owing to the earliness of the hour, the crowds along the road were not great, so that her Majesty passed with little observation, but wherever she was recognised, she was hailed with enthusiastic cheering.

The preparations for the Royal reception at Woolwich had been made by an early hour in the morning of Monday, and from about five o’clock, numerous naval and military officers began to arrive. Amongst these were, Admiral The Honourable Sir Robert Stopford, Governor of Greenwich Hospital; Captain Sir Francis Collier, Superintendent of the Dockyards, and a number of naval officers; Lieutenant-General Lord Bloomfield, Commandant of the Artillery, accompanied by General Count Rosom, an officer of the Swedish Service; Major-General Sir Hew Dalrymple Ross; Colonel Lacy; Colonel Cleveland; Colonel Dyneley; Lieutenant-Colonel Dundas; Lieutenant-Colonel Macbean; Major Harding; Major Sandilands, and Brigade-Major Cuppage, of the Royal Artillery; Colonel Sir George Hoste; Brigade-Major Sandham, and Captain Wulff, of the Royal Engineers; Colonel Parke, Colonel Commandant of the Woolwich Division; Colonel Conolly, late Commandant, and Colonel Nichols of the Royal Marines, with numerous other officers of different corps.

During the previous Saturday, the baggage belonging to her Majesty and suite, together with all the provisions necessary for the voyage, had been put on board of the vessels. Amongst these articles were her Majesty’s terriers, and two beautiful cows, for supplying milk for the royal table. On Sunday every hotel and lodging place in the town was filled with people. Notwithstanding the strictest orders that Her Majesty’s embarkation should be conducted in the most private manner, the stir in town during the previous day had been considerable, and in spite of the early hour, and unfavourable weather, the bustle on Monday was very great.

The naval workmen had previously waited by deputation on Admiral Sir George Cockburn, to beg that, according to usual practice, when a crowned head visits Woolwich dockyard, or embarks from it, a holiday might be given on this occasion; and, after a consultation with Captain Sir Francis Collier, their request was granted; so that these honest fellows were all upon the alert to see and to do honour to their Sovereign. Before six o’clock, several of the royal carriages were driven up with post horses. In these were Her Majesty’s pages, officers of the household, and upper servants, who immediately proceeded to embark on hoard the Royal George. No entrance to the dockyard was allowed, except to officers of the navy and army, in full uniform, and to the gentlemen cadets of the Royal Woolwich Academy, also in uniform, who occupied an elevated platform, along with a brilliant assemblage of the ladies connected with the officers and heads of departments. All the troops of the garrison were under arms by half-past four o’clock; and the whole were at their respective posts by half-past five. At that hour, a guard of honour of an hundred men, two subalterns, and four non-commissioned officers, was formed from the Royal Marines, under the command of Captain Pratt, and they marched into the dockyard, preceded by the band of the corps, and were stationed on the approach to the steps leading to the point where Her Majesty was to enter the Admiralty barge. Soon afterwards, the whole of the marines in the garrison, including the men of the Chatham division, under Lieutenant-Colonel Stevens, arrived, and formed in two lines, from the place where the guard of honour was stationed to the dockyard gate. A little before this time, Admiral Cockburn, Sir Francis Collier, and Captain Lord Adolphus Fitzclarence, had appeared; and whilst the two former occupied themselves in giving directions and making arrangements, the latter proceeded on board of the Royal George yacht.

The Earl of Haddington, first Lord of the Admiralty—the Earl of Liverpool,—the Earl Delawarr, Lord-Chamberlain—the Earl of Jersey, Master of the Horse, and the Earl of Morton, Lord in Waiting on the Queen, arrived from London soon after six o’clock; and in about half-an-hour afterwards, His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, dressed in the uniform of a Field-Marshal, and accompanied by Baron Knescbeck, drove up in a carriage and four.

The Admiralty barge, manned by twelve hands in scarlet uniforms, was stationed at the stairs, and a space of about 300 yards was kept clear between it and the Royal Yacht by men-of-war boats. Whilst all were in momentary expectation of Her Majesty’s arrival, a great heavy, black-looking, coal-barge drifted into the vacancy; and the active scene that took place, in effecting the removal of this unintentional intruder, gave rise to a good deal of merriment among the spectators. A party of the Royal Horse Artillery, with six guns, under the command of Colonel Dingley, and a field battery of four guns, under Colonel Cleveland, were stationed in the arsenal, for the purpose of firing the royal salute on Her Majesty’s arrival.

At a-quarter before seven o’clock, a buzzing sound that arose from among the groups of people assembled, precluded the approach of the royal carriages, with the escort; and soon afterwards, the arrival of the Queen was announced by the discharge of the cannon from the dockyard battery. As the vehicle containing Her Majesty and the Prince came up, the gallant corps of marines presented arms, and their fine band played “God Save the Queen.” Her Majesty graciously acknowledged the compliment, and the postilions drove at a slow pace down the dockyard towards the landing steps of the pier. The moment the carriage stopped, the door was opened, and Prince Albert descended its steps; and Lord Delaware and Lord Liverpool approached, and assisted the Queen to alight, amidst the cheers of the assembled crowd. Her Majesty’s eyes glistened with delight when she perceived her Royal uncle, who advanced and kissed her hand; and amiably yielding to her feelings, she kissed him with sincere affection on the cheek, and the salute was returned, whilst each reciprocated a kind farewell; and His Royal Highness fer\ently wished her a safe and happy voyage.

The gallant Sir George Cockburn, first sea Lord of the Admiralty, himself superintended the embarkation of Her Majesty and suite; and the arrangements made bv him and Sir Francis Collier, and executed under the direction of Mr. Lang, Master ship-wright, who was in constant attendance, were such as to secure the most perfect order.

Now, indeed, the scene became extremely interesting; and no less so from the moral and intellectual associations it awakened, than from the mere features of the material objects around. These last were the buildings of the dockyard—the assembled crowds—the broad river —the open lane that stretched across its surface to the Yacht, flanked on either side by men-of-war boats. The Royal George herself, with carved, and gilded hull, sitting majestically on the water, and her taper spars proudly piercing the sky as if conscious of the high honour which was about to be conferred upon her by having the Sovereign committed to her keeping—together with the steam-vessels forming the royal squadron, under the command of Captain and Commodore Lord Adolphus Fitzclarence—the Shearwater, Captain Washington— the Salamander, Commander Hamond—the Lightning, Lieutenant-Commander Snell—the Black Eagle, Master and Commander Cooke — the Rhadamanthus, Master and Commander Laen—and the Fearless, Captain Bullock, with the other vessels and craft, all decorated with their many-coloured flags. But what were all these, in point of beauty or interest, compared to the young, light, and graceful figure of Her Majesty, who, after bidding adieu to her royal uncle, gave her arm to the protection of Sir George Cockburn, and, advancing over the cloth which covered the platform, proceeded to descend the stairs, assisted by the veteran seaman ! What spectacle could be more imposing than to behold the youthful Monarch of these sea-girt islands, about to commit herself to that element, the impregnable bulwark of her kingdom, and the theatre on which its thunders have been heard to the terror and annihilation of the navies of other nations—under the protection of that old and intrepid naval officer, whose bravery and hardihood had led him to triumph in so many victories, and whose stalwart arm had acquired so much glory and honour for her kingdom, and spread the fear of the name of the Sovereign of Great Britain widely among her enemies! Whilst the Royal eyes beamed sunshine on his weather-beaten countenance, and shed additional lustre on his venerable person, covered with those honourable marks of distinction which his services had gained him, it was like the personification of the genius of Britain going hand in hand with her great protector, Neptune himself; and surrounded as the spectators were, with those immense magazines of naval and military munitions which the dockyard contains, the recollection of the greatness of Britain so rushed upon their minds that the cheers of the multitude were deafening-.

Lord Haddington stood ready towards the bottom of the steps to receive Her Majesty from the Admiral, and to hand her into the Admiralty barge, where she sat covered with an awning. In the prow-waved the royal standard. Sir Francis Collier had already placed himself in the stern of the barge as coxswain, and sat w-ith the yoke-lines in his hand, ready to steer; and no sooner had the Prince taken his seat by Her Majesty, than at the word of command down went the oars and “Give way!” being heard, the boat swept across the glassy surface with inconceivable speed. Sir Francis having steered a short way from the dockyard down stream, and a little past the Royal Yacht, rounded to, so as to avail himself of the tide, and placuil the barge alongside the Yacht, in the most perfect manner. During the progress of the barge, Her Majesty was hailed with loud parting cheers from the people on shore, which she acknowledged with grace and condescension. Captain Lord Adolphus Fitzclarcnce was in attendance, on the accommodation ladder rigged expressly for the occasion, and covered with flags by Mr. Breaks, secretary to the senior officer in command. His Lordship was in full dress uniform, and wore the light blue ribbon of his order. With his aid Her Majesty ascended the ladder with much ease and agility of action, and was handed on board by the Prince, who had preceded her for that purpose, and who afterwards gave, a purse of gold to be distributed among the crew of the barge. No sooner was Her Majesty on board, than the royal standard was furled in the barge, and hoisted at the maintop of the Royal George, and the yards were manned, and three hearty cheers given, which were answered from all the other vessels.

At that moment the first gun wras fired from a field battery of four six pounders, stationed in the dockyard, to announce the event of the Queen being fairly afloat in the Yacht, and as the salute proceeded, the acclamations of the people assembled, and the ringing of bells, filled up the interval between each discharge of the guns. Meanwhile, the royal suite, consisting of The Duchess of Norfolk, Miss Paget, Lord Liverpool, Lord Morton, Colonel Bouverie, Mr. G. E. Anson, and Sir James Clark, embarked on board of the other vessels, and precisely as the clock struck seven, the Royal Yacht was under weigh, towed by the Monkey steamer. The firing was continued in royal salute time, until the steam-vessel had towed the Yacht to a certain point opposite to the Arsenal, where the whole of the horse and foot Artillery, under the command of Colonel Turner, were drawn up in line, along with the Corps of Sappers and Miners, all of whom presented arms. As these fine troops extended nearly along the whole of the river side of the Arsenal, which was now partially concealed by the curling smoke from the guns, and then revealed as it melted away, it presented a very striking appearance to Her Majesty, who viewed it from the deck of the Yacht. No sooner had the firing at the dockyard ceased, than a battery at the upper part of the wharf wall began to fire, and continued until the Yacht had passed the convict ship; when the guns at the eastern extremity of the canal, opened their melodious mouths in loyal salvo, and went on firing until the whole Squadron had passed. During all this time the bands were playing “God Save the Queen,” amidst continued cheering and waving of hats and handkerchiefs from those who looked on from the shore, as well as from the sailors who manned the yards of the vessels. The unpromising morning, the early hour, and the uncertainty that prevailed as to Her Majesty’s motions, had rendered the numbers much fewer than they otherwise would have been, but to the thousands who had the good fortune to be there, the scene was extremely animating. The manning of the yards of all the ships opposite to the dockyard, on the announcement of Her Majesty’s approach—the hoisting of the royal standard on the flagstaff, the lowering of it thence, and the unfurling of another in the Admiralty barge, the moment she stepped on board—and ultimately the hoisting at the main-topmast-head of the Yacht a broad and gorgeous banner as Her Majesty embarked—were all performed with that rapidity which characterizes even the minutest manoeuvre of our naval forces.


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