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Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's Trip to Scotland
Chapter III. The Voyage


At daybreak on the morning of Monday the 30th of August the beams of the rising sun struggled with the hanging veil of haze, until they penetrated it so far as to enable them to gild the lofty cliffs of Cromer, where the lighthouse stands. Cromer is equally remarkable with those places already particularized, for the encroachments made upon it by the sea. After losing sight of its high cliffs, the Queen rode gallantly over the unrestrained billows of her ocean realm; for the voyage from hence to the coast of Yorkshire, presents a boundless extent of sea in all directions; and the floating light on the Dudgeon is the only fixed object to be met with. Proud of its burden, her marine domain was loyally propitious, and Neptune stilled the waves into perfect placidity. The sea was calm as a mirror, and Her Majesty and her royal consort were early on deck, enjoying the refreshing morning air. Soon after breakfast, a telegraphic message from the Royal Yacht announced to the whole squadron, that “The Queen .and Prince Albert were perfectly well,” which was no sooner interpreted by the different vessels, than three hearty cheers proceeded from each of them. A signal wras then made by Her Majesty’s command, to inquire after the Duchess of Norfolk and Miss Paget, who were on board the Black Eagle, the answer to which was,—“With duty to Her Majesty, quite well.” A similar question was then put as to the Gentlemen in Waiting, who were on board of the Rhadamanthus, and much mirth was produced by the reply,—“All well, and the Lord High Steward eating voraciously!”

The Dudgeon light, thirty miles from Cromer, was passed about nine o’clock, a.m. At noon, the Squadron was off the mouth of the Humber. Here, as in other places, many small craft came off with the hope of seeing Her Majesty. Amongst others was a boat containing a simple-looking fisherman, with a venerable bald head, and his family along with him. This man held up a fine fish with both hands, as the only offering he had to make to the Queen; and Prince Albert, with great good feeling, kindly acknowledged the loyal act. The land in the vicinity of the mouth of the Humber is so flat as to be hardly discernible above the waves when at any considerable distance; and great has been its gradual extinction by the strong tides that prevail here. The site of the classic Ravenspur, famous for the descent of Henry IV. in 1399) and of Edward IV. in 1471, is now looked for in vain, the point it stood on having long ago disappeared. By five in the evening, a glorious view was enjoyed of Flamborough Head, which projects itself boldly and irresistibly against the whole force of the waves of the German Ocean, and affords shelter, in certain winds, to such trading vessels as may anchor in Burlington Bay. It has its name from the beacon lights kept burning on its summit in the early ages. It is a magnificent object, being from 300 to 450 feet in perpendicular height. It is full of caverns, one of which, called Robin Lyth’s hole, from an ancient freebooter of that name who used to frequent it, communicates with the sea at one end, and ascending by a broad natural stair, opens on the land by a narrow aperture, whilst the roof towards the centre has a natural arch of 50 feet high. During the season of incubation, the cliffs are tenanted by myriads of sea-fowl. The Yacht communicated with the preventive station on Flamborough Head by means of Watson’s signals; and the Queen and Prince Albert thus received intelligence of the health of the Prince of Wales and Princess Royal. Pier Majesty frequently consulted a copy of those beautiful charts of the coast recently published by the Admiralty, expressly prepared for her in a convenient form.

The shades of the second evening of this most interesting voyage began to descend upon the Royal Squadron as they were off Scarborough, and the gay white buildings, within its castle-guarded bay, melted into obscurity in the fading light. Its name is of Saxon derivation—Scearburg—meaning the rock with the castle. It is of great antiquity, the first charter having been granted to it by Henry II. Its castle was .built in the reign of King Stephen by William Le Gross, Earl of Albemarle and Holderncss, grandson of Odo de Campania, who married Adeliza, daughter of William the Conqueror.

Although the wind freshened from the northward during the night, and considerably impeded the progress of the Squadron, still they passed along the whole coasts of Yorkshire and Durham. Night prevented the Queen from enjoying any view of Robin Hood’s Bay, remarkable for its ballad association writh the bold but generous outlaw; or of “High Whitby’s cloistered pile,” the ruined church of which abbey, founded by Oswly, King of the Northumbrians in 655, still remains, though much dilapidated, and presents a fine bold object, vieing, as it does, on a cliff more than 200 feet above the sea. But this, and the distant peep of that well-known seamark, the Yorkshire hill, Boseberry Topping, were all that Her Majesty lost on this coast. Boseberry Topping, is much famed for the prospect enjoyed from its summit. The writer of an ancient manuscript in the Cotton Library says of it—“There you may see a vewe, the like wherof I never saw, or thinke that any traveller hath scene any comparable to yt; albeit, I have shewed yt to divers that have paste through a greate parte of the worlde, by sea and land.” As the being brought into the world within hearing of the sound of Bow bells is the proof of a genuine Londoner, so is the circumstance of being born within sight of Boseberry Topping proverbial evidence of true Yorkshire blood.

The wind being strong during the night, little way was made ; and on the morning of the 31st August the heavy swell created much motion, and caused the Yacht to pitch with considerable violence. The towing hawsers on each bow being alternately stretched and relaxed as the steamers pitched and rolled, the unpleasant motion created to the Yacht was greatly augmented. Most of the party were consequently made ill; and although the Queen, had invariably proved herself to be a good sailor on former occasions, Her Majesty was very unwell, and did not appear on deck at her usual early hour. The Squadron, which had kept a good offing during the night, now stood in towards the land; and at about eight o’clock, they made the Tyne, and enjoyed a very fine view of Tynemouth, with its ruined castle and priory rising from the high and bold headland on which they stand. Behind these was the Boman station of Segedunum at Wallsend, so called from the termination of the great wall, drawn by Hadrian from the Solway Firth to the mouth of the Tyne at this place. Edwine, King of Northumberland, is supposed to have been the founder of Tynemouth Priory, and here it was that his daughter Bosella took the veil.

The Squadron now held its course within five miles of the coast, and produced a considerable commotion among those who were on the look-out along shore, including the population of the fishing villages of Blyth, New lagging, and Crosswell. The inland height of Simonside appeared, backed by the Cheviot mountains, famed alike in Border history and in ballad story. At two o’clock, p.m. they passed close to Coquet Island, with its lighthouse. Here there was a cell of Benedictine Monks. A distant but satisfactory view was enjoyed of Warkworth Castle, one of the finest ruins of its size and kind in England. It stands on a rock, with the beautiful wooded river Coquet sweeping around it, and it contains five acres within its walls, which are guarded by towers. The keep is square, with the angles canted off, its plan is varied by projecting hexagonal towers, and the detail of the masonry is very fine. Though it was long a famed seat of the Percys, it was
originally granted by Henry II. to Roger Fitz Boger, whose ancestor, Serlo de Brugh, was a follower of William the Conqueror. A little way farther up the Coquet, among the wroods on its northern bank, is the curious hermitage of Warkw North, with its flights of stairs, chapel, sacristy, and vestibule, all hewn in the olden time out of the solid rock, in the Gothic style, lighted by window's, and containing an elegant recumbent figure of a lady, with that of a man kneeling at her feet. The Earl of Northumberland, in his grant to the last hermit in 1532, calls it—“Min armitage belded in a rock of stane, in my parke, in honour of the holy Trinity.” This spot is rendered classical, by Dr. Percy having founded his poem of the Hermit of Warkworth on a legend connected with it. It is a lovely spot; and the interest it excites is not diminished by the mystery of its unknown origin. As the Squadron steered along the coast, the boom of artillery was heard from the venerable Earl Grey’s grounds at Hawick. Six guns that formerly graced the poop of the Spanish ship, the Salvador del Mundo, were dragged down to the bathing-house, and planted as a battery along the terrace, and fired in royal salute as the Queen passed. From want of sufficient experience in those who managed them, one went off as they were loading it, and hlcw a whole pound of powder into the face of a groom; yet, strange to say, without doing him any damage beyond that of singeing the whole hair from his head and face. It is still more wonderful, that though his clothes were in flames, and he had five pounds of gunpowder in his pocket, he escaped being blown up.

The extensive ruins of Dunstanborough Castle were next seen to rise in detached masses from its promontory of whinstone, around the base of which the sea rages angrily, even when elsewhere calm—

"The whitening breakers sound so near—
Where, boiling through the rocks, they roar
On Dunstanborough’s eavern’d shore.”

This castle was built in 1315, by Thomas, son of Prince Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, and it was afterwards long in possession of the Grey family. It contains above nine acres of ground within its walls. The famous Duns Scotus, who opposed Aquinas, was so called from having heen a native of the little village of Dunstan, as is proved by a statement of his own in one of his manuscript works, the translation of which is—“born in a certain village called Dunstan, in the parish of Emylton in Northumberland, belonging to Merton Hall in Oxford,” to which college it still appertains.

Soon after passing Dunstanhorough, the Squadron was swept onwards bj the tide at the rate of ten knots an hour, through the narrow passage between the Farn Islands and the main, having on the left the extensive fortifications and scattered pile of Bamborough Castle, crowning the long ridge of its isolated basalt rock at the height of 150 feet above the sea. According to Matthew of Westminster, this fortress owed its origin to Ida, first King of Northumberland. It was destroyed by the Danes in 993; but at the time of the Conquest it seems to have been in tolerable repair. Sir John Forster was its governor in the time of Elizabeth; and his grandson John having got a grant of it from James I., it was forfeited by his descendant Thomas in 1715. But his maternal uncle, Nathaniel Lord Howe, Bishop of Durham, having purchased the estates, bequeathed them for the charitable purposes to which they are now applied. It must have been a most gratifying reflection to Her Majesty, desirous as she is for the enlightenment of her subjects, that these ramparts, which so often withstood the assault of wild, unlettered, and ferocious warriors, should now be dedicated to the instruction of youth — and that, where the clash of war, and the groans of the dying were heard in the olden time, the merry, light-hearted laugh of innocence and childhood now echoes cheerily from the battlements. Although little fit for war, the guns from its walls saluted the Queen with loyal good will.

In passing the strait, the Farn Islands were on the right, with their three lighthouses. Two of these arc on House Island, where St. Cuthbert spent the two last years of his life, and where there still remain the ruins of a Priory for six Benedictine Monks, subordinate to Durham. The third lighthouse, where the celebrated Grace Darling resided, is on the Outer Bocks, a shelf at the north-eastern angle of the group, laid extensively bare when the tide is low, but nearly covered at high-water. The Longstone rock, on which the Forfarshire steamer was lost, with thirty-eight persons, is but a few hundred yards to the south-west of this lighthouse. The wind and sea were setting from the north at the time the vessel struck on its northern extremity; Grace and her father rowed down and landed on its lee - side, where the sea was calm, and making their way to the unfortunate people, saved them by taking them over the rock to the boat. Some of these islands are covered with birds, and the Eider-Duck builds here regularly.

Lindisfarne now lay before them—called Holy Island, from its having been the nursery of infant Christianity in this northern kingdom of Northumbria. The very sight of the mouldering walls of its ancient monastery and cathedral, and the religious air of quiet that still seems to hang over its whole surface, could not but awaken emotions of the holiest spirit in the breast of our young and pious Queen. St. Cuthbert was its Prior for twelve years, and afterwards resided here for two years as sixth bishop of Durham, this being then the Episcopal seat of that diocese. Sir Walter Scott has given these ruins classic fame, in the second canto of his Marmion.

“A solemn, huge, and dark-red pile,
Plaeed on the margin of the isle.
In Saxon strength that Abbey frown'd,
With massive arches broad and round,
That rose alternate, row and row,
On ponderous columns, short and low,
Built ere the art was known.
By pointed aisle, and shafted stalk,
The arcades of an alloy’d walk
To emulate in stone.
On the deep walls the heathen Dane
Had pour’d his impious rage in vain.”

The Squadron passed close by the picturesque old castle, so continuous in its perpendicular lines with the tall basaltic rock on which it stands, as to seem a portion of it. The run between the Farn Islands and the main was very interesting, from the rapidity with which the tide swept the vessels on, and the immense number of fishing boats rowed by the hearty owners, and filled with their wives and children, who came off to welcome their Queen. These boats are of a peculiar construction, being flat astern, and exceedingly sharp in the keel forward ; they are active, lively, and very safe, when handled by the native fishermen.

And now the Queen approached Berwick, situated on classic Tweed, immediately beyond which arose the rather unpromising boundary of her Scottish dominions. Whatever the thoughts of the Sovereign may have been on seeing this town and port, its inhabitants, who poured out seaward to behold her, must have felt self-gratulation in the reflection, that whilst they neither belong to England nor to Scotland, but, as Acts of Parliament say, “to the good town of Berwick-upon-Tweed,” they are now combined with both, under the gentle and peaceful rule of Victoria, and that they are not, as of old, exposed to be torn to pieces, like a weak and trembling prey between two infuriated tigers. Few spots, along the whole line of the Border country, were so often harassed, harried, battered, and burned, during the wars between the two kingdoms, and few there are which have more frequently filled the pages of our history. Many were the horrible acts performed here, in those savage times. But, perhaps, the most atrocious of all was, that which doomed the Countess of Buchan to be shut up in a wooden cage, shaped like a crown, for having placed the diadem on the head of Robert Bruce at Scone.

Scotland wears no very prepossessing appearance at its southeastern angle, where its confines towards the sea look bare, steep, and uninteresting. This rough selvage of the highly cultivated County of Berwick, affords an unfavourable specimen of Caledonia to the voyager. Even some of the beautiful glens, bringing rivers from the hills, refuse to disclose themselves. That of Ayton is one, which pours out its stream at Eyemouth, without affording the least hint of the charms within its bosom. But the bold, lofty, and picturesquely precipitous St. Abb’s Head, and the small but interesting ruin of Fast Castle, hanging like the aerie of an eagle on the brow of the giddy cliff, were objects calculated to arrest the attention of the refined and cultivated minds of the royal pair; and, perhaps, not the less so, that in this ruin is recognised, the lonely tower of Scott’s Master of Ravenswood, and the scene of the ingenious and masterly domestic administration of his faithful Caleb Balderston. Sunset gave double effect to the scene, and especially associated with the sad fate of the hero of the tale.

Soon after the Yacht had passed Berwick, a steam-boat appeared in a most singular disguise, apparently borrowed from those pageants produced for the entertainment of royal personages in ancient times. Being covered with green boughs, it looked like a floating island embowered in wood. It came in holiday fashion, to pay homage to the Queen, and then to retire. Lord Adolphus Fitzclarence having previously ordered underjib, flying-jib, forestavsails, and driver, to be set, a light westerly breeze now enabled him to set the headsails, and the Yacht carried on with increased speed. Two large steamers were seen approaching from the northward, round the head. The Queen was at this time reclining on a couch on deck, between the main and the mizzen-mast, protected from the rawness of the evening air by an ample blue cloak, her head resting on a pillow, and covered only with a small pink silk handkerchief, whilst Prince Albert was standing beside her. The first of these vessels proved to be the Monarch, bringing a large party of people from the Scottish metropolis, too eager to see Her Majesty to brook delay. The Monarch had no sooner met the Royal Squadron, than she put round, and delivering her twenty-one guns in excellent style, she took up her position at a respectful distance, abreast of the Yacht. Her yards were manned, her cheers were distinctly heard, and Her Majesty rising, most graciously acknowledged the compliment. About this time the other steamer, the Trident, approached with a similar object. The slanting rays of the declining sun shone upon these vessels, and showed their decks crowded with well-dressed people. “God Save the Queen” was chanted in full chorus, and the sound came over the waves with a rich and mellow effect. The cheering being over, and curiosity satisfied, the band on board the Monarch struck up some lively Scottish reels, upon which, many of the ladies and gentlemen, excited by the music and the occasion, began to dance. Their movements were watched with much interest by Prince Albert, who drew the Queen’s attention to the gay scene, which she enjoyed very much. Immediately afterwards, Her Majesty had a conversation with Lord Adolphus Fitzclarence, who, by the royal command, piped all hands on board the Yacht to dance. The sailors appeared on deck with great alacrity, and a curly-headed boy coming forward without his coat, and in his usual costume, began to tune his fiddle. The sailors started off with all the agility and grace belonging to nautical dancing, thumping the decks with right good will, till they echoed to the music. Jack puts on a peculiar phasis when dancing commences, and the scene became so merry, that Her Majesty and the Prince were much amused. After the crew had thus exerted themselves to their hearts’ content, and to the high gratification of all who witnessed their laborious exercise, one man was particularly selected to perform a pas seul, whose inimitable execution was unrivalled among his fellows. The musician played in his own style with great skill and rapidity, the toe and heel of the dancer following each other in the same rapid succession as the notes of the violin were produced. Though all his movements were derived from the inspiration of the music at the moment, his unpremeditated steps wore never at fault, but were always closely associated with the changes of the tune, to which he most assiduously adapted them with the quickness of thought. Round and round he spun, arms a-kimbo, belabouring the deck with heels and toes in such a manner, as to bring music out of every plank he trod on. The small musician seemed jealous of the dancer’s fame. His elbow and his fingers redoubled their pace^his head was thrust eagerly forward—his eyes glared—and his upper teeth caught hold of his nether lip, and pressed it hard, in his anxiety to outdo himself. But it was all one to Jack. His body and feet only doubled the rapidity of their movements, whilst a good-natured leer of triumph sparkled in his eve, as if he would have said, had he not been in the presence of royalty, “That’s right, my boy ! give way in the bow, old fellow!” and thus they went on, musician and dancer vying with each other, much to the entertainment of the Queen, the Prince, and all present, until young Orpheus was compelled to stop from absolute fatigue. The contrast between the polished figures tripping it to a military band on board the Monarch, and these rude mariners footing it away to the scraping of the curly-headed boy, was singularly striking.

After this display, the sailors joined in singing “Hearts of Oak,” and other national songs, their rough stentorian voices harmonizing well with the sound of the roaring waves, dashed from the prow of the vessel; and having concluded their concert with “God Save the Queen,” they gave three hearty cheers for Her Majesty, and retired. This was one of the most striking scenes of the whole voyage; and, indeed, romance itself could not imagine the Queen of this mighty empire placed in a situation more emblematic of the glory, the security, and the happiness of her ocean dominion, reclining on her couch, on the deck of a gallant vessel, borne rapidly over those waves, the bulwarks of her island empire, graciously condescending to give her presence in friendly guise to her brave and hardy defenders, whose sinewy forms, and bold and weather-beaten countenances, were pledges for the peacefulness of her shores, whilst their light-hearted jollity, and laughing eyes, bespoke their felicity under the reign of a Sovereign who could thus sympathize with them in their harmless sports, Her Majesty was the very personification of Britannia, riding triumphantly over the ocean, surrounded by the guardian spirits of the waves. Strange as it may appear in a scene where so much mirth prevailed, more than one rough face was turned aside, and the tanned and bulky back of more than one hand, was hastily raised, to dash from the half-dimmed eyes, the moisture which filled them, and low and abrupt words were heard to pass from one to another, “Who would not fight for such a Queen?” and “Hurrah for the glory of Old England!”

Nothing could surpass the attention to duty of the noble and gallant commodore, Lord Adolphus Fitzclarence. He rarely left the deck during the whole voyage, and his meals never occupied more than three or four minutes. The officers of the Yacht were equally zealous. The Queen and the Prince were pleased to talk with them, from time to time, in the most condescending manner. Some had been at the late siege of Acre, and wore the medals distributed to those engaged in that enterprize, and the Queen’s attention being thus turned to this subject, she particularly examined an interesting drawing representing the British fleet, and the town, at the time the great explosion took place.

As it became evident that Her Majesty could not reach her destination that night, the Lightning was despatched to carry intelligence of the Squadron to the authorities at Edinburgh. Evening came on, but the Queen and Prince still remained upon deck, though the night was rather damp and chilly. Lights were hoisted at the foremast, topmast, mizzenmast, mizzenpeak, and an extremely brilliant one below the maintop of the vessels, and blue-lights were kindled from time to time, and splendid rockets were discharged, to indicate to the people on shore the progress of the Squadron. The breeze freshened from the north-west as the night advanced, but, the flood-tide having now set, they made good headway, and were soon off the seaport of Dunbar, and fairly in the mouth of the Firth of Forth.

It was now so dark, that Her Majesty could not see those wild and sea-worn rocks with the ruins of the ancient castle, given by Malcolm Canmore, with the Earldom of March, to Gospatrick, Earl of Northumberland, from which he took the surname of Dunbar. Edward II. fled hither after his defeat at Bannockburn, and hence he escaped in a fisherman’s boat to Berwick. Here it was, that, in 1336, the brave heroine, Black Agnes of Dunbar, wife of Patrick Earl of March, and sister of Randolph Earl of Moray, defended herself against Lord Montague, till she forced him to retreat. The effect that presented itself here was most magnificent. The darkness was intense, but the lights on the vessels had made the magistracy and inhabitants of Dunbar fully aware of the presence of the Sovereign on their coast. The town was brilliantly illuminated, and two cannons, since called “the Queen” and “Prince Albert,” were mounted at the old castle; and, the sudden flash across the waves, followed by the heavy sound of the guns, were acknowledged by flights of rockets from the Royal Squadron. The lighthouses, though shining with their wonted splendour, were dimmed by the superior grandeur of those beacon-fires of welcome, that crowned each eminence. The whole of the Firth was lighted up by these blazing masses of combustibles, that flamed from so many points on either side of it, and for fifty miles around. Often, during the history of Great Britain, when Scotland was not, as now, the attached and faithful partner of England in all her battles and in all her triumphs, but the bitterest and most implacable of her foes—often were these beacon-fires kindled to arouse the country, to prepare for the reception of an enemy. Even in later times, when Bonaparte held out his empty threat of invasion, the whole population of Fifeshire and the Lothians, from the peasant to the peer, were prepared, practised, and ready to have made these very beacons blaze, in the event of any such attempt having been made. But never had these heights been crowned by fires so numerous or so grand as those now beheld from the deck of the Royal George Yacht, starting up in the black night, as the offspring of the loyalty of the people, and of their love and welcome to their Sovereign, and illuminating a whole country by wreathing it with necklaces of fire, to light her on her way up the watery avenue that led to her Scottish Capital.

In order to convey some faint idea of the glories of this night, it may be well shortly to enumerate some of the places where these blazing bonfires were kindled; and although some of them were not visible from all parts of the Firth of Forth, yet, as many must be overlooked, it is well to notice in this place all that can be remembered. To begin with the eastern extremity of its northern coast—there were, in Fifeshire, large fires on Kellie Law, Largo Law, and the two Lomonds, one of which rises 1700 feet above the rich and fruitful valley, where stand the town and ancient Royal Palace of Falkland. Then Dunearn and Raith, and the high grounds above the seaport towns of Dvsart, Kinghorn, Pettycur, and Burntisland, with those over Dunfermline, Caroline Hill, and Saline Hill, and every other high ground along the Fifeshire coast were blazing in such a manner as to throw-broad, glaring, and fluctuating floods of light along the surface of the sea. In Clackmannanshire, there were bonfires on Tulliallan, the old Tower of Clackmannan, and on Tullibody; and in the more inland counties of Kinross and Perth, the Ochil range, the Fossaway, Tulliebodie, and Cleish Hills were all lighted; whilst the high Benartie threw up a perfect spout of fire from its summit, and Dumbegloe was crested with flames. In Haddingtonshire, skirting the southern side of the Firth, and Berwickshire, more inland, the high summit of Lammer Law, and the whole Lammcrmoor range, from Dunglas and Coldingham on the east to Soutra on the west, were on fire. The high Dunpender, now vulgarly called Traprain Law, rising singly from the valley of the East-Lothian Tyne, laughed in the unwonted restoration of its ancient beacon light, as it recognised the fiery signal on the summit of North Berwick Law, near the seaport town of that name; and the beautiful Garleton Hills, above Haddington, shook their flaming crests in the breeze, and were answered by lower bonfires at Gosford and at Ninewar. Among those more distant and farther to the west, were Culterfell, 1700 feet in elevation, and Tintock in Lanarkshire, 2400 feet high, which, on that night, re-asserted its right to its Celtic name, the hill of fire, derived from its ancient occupation as an alarm station. In Peeblesshire, the top of Grange Hill, and the Black Mount of Walston, gave forth their bright welcome; whilst Binnycraig and Dielimount, vied with several others in Linlithgowshire.

In the county of Edinburgh, farthest back from the sea, were the lights on the hills of Soutra and Blackcastle, and the whole range of Moorfoot. The high Pentland Hills were blazing, and amongst these Carnethy, 1800 feet high, Capelaw, about 1600 feet, and the other lofty summit, called Caerkelaw, were especially conspicuous. Within these came the lesser circuit of Dalmahoy, Braid, Blackford, and Carberry—this last historically remarkable as having been the position where the unfortunate Queen Mary of Scotland was posted with her crumbling army, when she was induced to yield herself up to the nobles opposed to her. In this great catalogue of fiery-fronted hills, humbler than many of them in stature, but most prominent from its isolated mass, and its bold, picturesque, and lionlike form, the well-known Arthur Seat, the great marking feature of the Scottish metropolis, comes last to be noticed. Many is the time that beacons have blazed upon its head. The coronation of Her Majesty, was the last occasion on which the lion shook flames from his majestic mane. But grand as he then appeared, his splendour was as nothing compared to the magnificence which he now assumed. The fire was composed of a mass of forty feet in diameter, piled as high as such a basis would allow. It consisted of 25 tons of coals, 40 cart-loads of wood, 180 barrels of tar, a great number of barrels of rosin and turpentine, with immense quantities of tarred canvass and ropes, and other combustibles, the whole being collected and carried thither by order of Lord Haddington, Keeper of the Royal Park of Holyrood, from which the hill rises. So immense was the effect produced by its ignition, that it was seen for fifty miles round ; and to all who beheld it, the idea was suggested of the sudden outburst of that quiescent volcano by which the hill was originally created.

When to this imperfect list of these gigantic bonfires, are added those that burned on the small isles in the Firth of Forth itself, making the waters that lashed their shores flash with varied flames, some distant approximation to the real effect of this most glorious spectacle may be imagined. It seemed as if the deep feelings of affection and loyalty of a whole people being unutterable, they were thus given forth in the silent and sublime language of fire, speaking most plainly, and with ardour and endurance, from every summit throughout the whole of that night, till the sun arose, not to extinguish but only to dim their brilliancy. The number—the magnitude—the height to which many of the fires seemed to be elevated amid the darkness of the night—and the features which all of them disclosed, in so far as each showed the leading lineaments of the country around it, produced an inconceivably fine scenic effect; whilst the lights attached to the ships of the Squadron, formed one great amphitheatre, in the midst of which the Royal Yacht seemed placed expressly to receive their homage. The beacons, generally, were like immense blazing lamps, invisibly and mysteriously suspended in the vast and black surrounding void, but the great bonfire on Arthur Seat gave forth a continued succession of waves of flame from its huge burning mass, curling as the wind wafted them along in endless eddies, and illuminating with ever-varying effect, the heavy column of smoke that arose from it. It seemed to blaze there as if intended to indicate the spot where Edina as yet lay veiled from the eyes of her sovereign mistress. The spectacle was glorious; and as the vessel went ploughing through the sea, dashing the phosphoric billows from either side, the recollection of the precious freight intrusted to her keeping, and the feeling, that, through the merciful providence of God, the voyage had thus far been prosperous, combined to render it a scene of thrilling interest to all.

The Squadron passed under the gigantic bulk of the precipitous insular rock, the Bass, for nearly five centuries a stronghold of the Lauder family, represented by the author of these pages. Falling to a younger branch, it was sold in 1671 to Charles II., and the fortress was used as a state prison, where the Covenanters were confined and tortured. President Dalrymple then got it, and it is still in the possession of his family. Leaving on the larboard quarter, the ruins of Tantallon castle, perched on a high cliff of the mainland, in ancient times the fortress of the Earls of Fife, descendants of MacDuff, and afterwards that of the powerful Douglas, the vessels of the Royal flotilla dropped their anchors about half-past twelve o’clock, close under the lee of the island of Inchkeitli, to wait till the morning; and, from that anchorage, the effect of the bonfires was, if possible, finer than ever. That of Arthur Seat was more pre-eminently so, for it lighted up Salisbury Crags, shed a flood of illumination on the romantic features around, and especially athwart Edinburgh, throwing a magical effect over its masses, and leaving the details in mysterious and sublime uncertainty. Many were the fires which blazed on this auspicious night in all parts of Scotland, as at Forres in Morayshire, and other places. But the most aspiring of all, was that erected and ignited by the inhabitants of Fort William in Inverness-shire, who, with incalculable labour and perseverance, which nothing but enthusiastic loyalty could have endured, carried an immense quantity of fuel, and a great many tar barrels, to the summit of Ben Nevis, 4350 feet high, and second only in stature to Benmachdhuie among the Scottish Alps. While this lofty beacon blazed on the mountain top, a salute was fired from the ruined walls of the royal and ancient castle of Inverlochy on the plains below, now the property of the Hon. R. C. Scarlett. In this castle, treaties are said to have been signed between Charlemagne and the early Kings of Scotland; and the ground immediately under its walls was the scene of the battle betwixt Montrose and Argyll. Whilst the booming of guns awoke the echoes of Locheill, Ardgour, Glen Nevis, and the other wild glens in the neighbourhood, the passing clouds of mist on the mountain occasionally veiled the blazing beacon; and ever and anon, as the breeze cleared them away, it burst forth with Vesuvian splendour, that shed a red glare on every mountain-top around.


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