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Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's Trip to Scotland
Chapter XI. Dalkeith - The Reception


Saint Giles’ ancient tower had not yet given forth the hour of nine on the morning of Monday the 5th of September, ere the Royal Archers had mustered at their Hall, and having proceeded thence by the Railway to Dalkeith, they marched down towards the ducal palace. The Adjutant-General was in the act of making them halt inside the park gate, when a fox crossed within ten yards of them, followed by the hounds, with Williamson the huntsman, and the whole field. The Archers showed as much steadiness on this occasion, as could be well expected, under such circumstances, from a body of men, most of whom keep hunters, and do a little in that way themselves. Having been admitted within the palace, they had the household oath of fidelity administered to them by the Lord Steward, after which they lined the great staircase and ante-chamber. The Queen then entered the great gallery, and seated herself on the throne used by her Royal uncle George IV., Prince Albert being on her left hand. Her Majesty was surrounded by her Court, which consisted of—

The Earl of Aberdeen, Secretary of State,
Sir Robert Peel, Prime Minister,
The Lord Justice-General,
The Lord Justice-Clerk,
The Lord-Advocate of Scotland,
The Lord-Clerk-Register,
His Grace the Duke of Argyll, Great Seal, attending in the character of Master of the Household,
His Grace the Duke of Hamilton, as Keeper of Holyrood,
Lord Viscount Melville, Privy Seal,
The Earl of Liverpool, Lord Steward,
The Earl of Morton, Lord iu Waiting, Major-General Wcmyss, Equerry,
Colonel Bouverio, Equerry,
Mr. George Edward Anson, Treasurer,
Sir William Martin, Gentleman Usher of the Sword of State, hir. Blackwood, Groom of the Privy Chamber,
The Earl of Dalhousie,
His Grace the Duke of Buccleuch, as Captain-General of the Royal Archers, Gold Stick,
Her Grace the Duchess of Buccleuch, Mistress of the Robes,
Her Grace the Duchess of Norfolk, Lady of the Bedchamber,
Hon. Mrs. Anson, Woman of the Bedchamber,
The Hon. Miss Paget, Maid of Honour.

The Presence-chamber was then lined by a certain number of the Archers, their colours being to the right and left of the throne, and their officers all present. The Duke of Buccleuch, as Captain-general of the Queen’s Body Guard in Scotland, in presence of their council, then advanced, and kneeling before the throne, presented to Her Majesty “ane pair of barbed arrows,” being the reddenda to the Sovereign, by their charter. In sagittarial parlance, a pair of arrows means three, and these were each made of different kinds of wood, barbed with silver, and winged with feathers of the Argus pheasant. The Queen then received in succession the addresses from the clergy, universities, and other public bodies, and was occupied in this way for nearly three hours. To all of these Her Majesty gave the utmost attention, and delivered most pertinent answers to each with that admirable enunciation and propriety of emphasis, for which she is so very remarkable, and which made those individuals who heard her for the first time declare, that they had listened to a treat in English reading, which exceeded any thing they had ever before enjoyed. During all this time the Captain-general, in the field-uniform of the Archers, carrying the gold stick, with Lieut.-Gen. Lord Elcho, and Major-Gen. Sir John Hope, the silver sticks, as next in command, stood by themselves, immediately opposite to Her Majesty. After all the addresses had been received, the Archers, with the exception of the gold and silver sticks, were removed to their stations, previous to the commencement of the Reception.

Dalkeith is about six miles from Edinburgh, and the crowds of handsome equipages, mingled with some few vehicles of a less showy description, that were seen driving out by the roads leading thither, were such as to excite the astonishment of the rustics, who lined the way. About four hundred carriages are supposed to have been occupied in bearing the company who were to be present at the Reception ; but as many people who did not intend to appear at Court drove out to see the show, there must have been nearly double that number of vehicles on the road. There was a good deal of whipping among the coachmen of those desirous to obtain forward places in the line of carriages drawing on towards the palace; and before those who were first in the line had set down their contents at the door, it extended backwards all along the approach, and for more than a mile on the turnpike road towards Edinburgh. The progress was only a few yards at a time, and at long intervals; and hours wore away, before those who were towards the rear of the line found themselves within the park gate. When there, they felt like the crew of a ship when she has got into port, although, in reality, they had still a great way to go.

The approach to the Palace by this gate has been already described, but on this day it wore a different appearance, though not more gratifying, compared to that which it exhibited on the day of the Queen’s arrival. The broad gravelled road was occupied by the endless string of carriages filing in at the gate, and extending along between its grassy margins as far as the eye could reach, whilst along the sward, and backed by the wood on both sides, were planted the troopers of the Inniskilling Dragoons, at intervals of about fifty yards. Upon reaching the bridge, the line of carriages curved away to the right, and so drove westward to the palace, whilst those which had set down were seen moving slowly away from the building in a continued sweep towards the south, and losing themselves amid the ancient trees in that direction. On the wide lawn that intervened, were some white tents for the accommodation of the Archers, and its whole extent was covered over with gay groups of richly attired ladies and gentlemen in court dresses, with officers of the navy, infantry, dragoons, lancers, artillery, engineers, rifles, and the lieutenancy, all in their respective uniforms; judges and lawyers in their gowns and wigs; provosts and bailies of divers cities and towns, in their official robes and decorations; clergymen of all sects and denominations ; professors of the different universities, and Highlanders, with their various tartans and rich accoutrements, all promenading on the grass with glad and happy faces, and, now that the day was fine, by no means inquiring too curiously as to the humidity under foot. It was a sight that would have charmed such a painter as Watteau, and he might have had an endless power of selection for his pencil, from this moving world of subjects. These had all passed through the ordeal of presentation, and each man and woman among them seemed to feel as if some peculiar mark of individual distinction had been conferred upon them by Her Majesty, and all parties were vociferous in their unanimous declarations, that the Queen was beautiful as gracious, and gracious as beautiful, and that her smile had been borrowed from Elysium itself.

Those who came out of the carriages as they drew up at the entrance, however, seemed to have their minds filled with deep anxieties. There was no talking among them. Though every thing was done that could be accomplished to make the ceremony as imposing as possible, yet great inconvenience was experienced from the want of an ante-room to the presence-chamber, which might have afforded a few moments of reflection to those who were to be presented. The great difficulty was to keep up a continued stream of company, so that the Queen might not be unnecessarily detained during intervals occurring between the successive presentations. To obviate this, the Archers were most zealously employed in urging people on. The ladies, as they got out of their carriages, and as they entered through the temporary hall, and went up the grand stair, being presupposed to be quite ignorant of all they had to do, received a separate lesson as they passed from every Archer that lined the way. It was no wonder, therefore, that they were quite perfect in all they had to do by the time they entered the presence-chamber, though some of them doubtless had the duties already impressed on their minds, driven thence, and restored again, half-a-dozen times during their progress. The ladies and gentlemen, one by one, entered the grand gallery, where the Queen was ready to receive them, and considering the youth and inexperience of many, and the age and inaptitude of others, it is perhaps not asserting too much to say that the presentations, the kneeling, the kissing of Her Majesty’s beautiful hand, and the retiring bows and curtsies, were performed with fewer instances of failure than might have been reasonably expected.* The dignified and queen-like grace with which Her Majesty performed her part, which she must have felt peculiarly tedious and fatiguing, charmed every one of the many individuals who were permitted to approach her, and still more those of the court, who witnessed the whole scene; and on certain occasions there were little gentle touches of friendly recognition of old acquaintances, that showed the kindness of heart, as well as the wonderful memory of the Royal personage from whom they emanated. There was a general air of mingled simplicity and elegance in Her Majesty’s attire, which of itself distinguished her from the more elaborately dressed ladies of her court. Her gown was of white satin, made with the body low, and the sleeves short. The edges of both the sleeves and the body were trimmed with narrow lace, and the skirt flowered with it. Each arm was encircled above the wrist with a broad diamond bracelet. The clasp of the bracelet on the right arm, contained a miniature of the Prince. On her left she wore the Star and Ribbon of the Order of the Thistle. Her hair was braided low upon her cheek, in the mode which gives so great a charm to most of her portraits, and it was bound by a slender hair-band with a diamond in front. The hair behind was placed very low, and it was surrounded by a narrow diamond circlet, which was scarcely to be observed except en profit. The Prince wore a field-marshal’s uniform, and the insignia of the Thistle. Those who were presented retired singly by a stair at the farther corner of the gallery from that at which they entered ; and all—ladies and gentlemen, old and young—were eager to get into the open air, that they might, without restraint, give vent on the lawn to the exuberance of their feelings of loyalty and attachment to a sovereign whom they had always loved, but whom they now adored, and for whom they would die.

The carriages took up their respective parties, and drove off by the Dalkeith gate, and through the town of Dalkeith, and the spectacle of the company returning was extremely animating.

The Royal dinner party this day consisted of—

The Queen and Prince Albert,
The Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch
The Duchess of Norfolk,
The Earl and Countess of Cawdor,
The Earl of Aberdeen,
The Earl of .Morton,
The Earl of Liverpool,
Sir Robert Peel,
Lord and Lady John Scott,
Lady Caroline Thynne,
The Hon. .Miss Paget,
Lady Mary Campbell,
Mr. and Lady Georgina Balfour,
Mr. and Mrs. G. Hope,
General Wemyss,
Colonel Bouverie,
Sir. George Edward Anson,
Sir James Clark,
Mr. G. Talbot.

Many were the loyal parties assembled that evening in Edinburgh, and many were the bumpers quaffed to the health of the Queen and Prince Albert, the Prince of Wales and the Princess-Royal. At night there was a brilliant ball in the Assembly Rooms, George-street, where between 700 and 800 persons were present. This was rendered more gay than usual by many of the ladies and gentlemen appearing in the dresses they had worn at court. There were also uniforms of every possible description, many of them foreign, and Highland dresses were very prevalent. Dancing commenced at a little before eleven o’clock, and continued till a late hour.


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