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Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's Trip to Scotland
Chapter XIV. Perth


In leaving Dupplin Castle, the Queen returned by the same road she came. The views which Her Majesty now enjoyed were, if possible, finer than before, and so much was she charmed by them, that while the carriage stopped to have the drags put on near the church of Aberdalgie, she requested Captain Jocelyn, who commanded the escort of dragoons, to cut for her a piece of thorn from the hedge, that she might keep it in remembrance of one of the most beautiful landscapes she had ever beheld.

On again debouching into the great north road at Craigend, the Queen was received by the roar of cannon, mingled with cheers from the now much augmented masses covering, as with a mantle of life, every eminence and every favourable position among the steep rocky acclivities rising abruptly above the road, and the effect of these, clad in all manner of hues, starting up simultaneously to give vent to their loyalty, presented one of the most romantic and heart-stirring spectacles that can be imagined.

Having climbed that beautiful hill, where nice clean cottages and gardens are scattered among groups of trees with a singularly happy effect, the grand view of the great plain of Perth at once spread itself out before Her Majesty’s delighted eyes. As this magnificent prospect is much too extensive and varied to be confined within the limits of one picture, all artistical efforts must fail in conveying even the faintest idea of it, and it is to be feared that words must prove still more ineffectual. From the face of the hill down which the road winds, the eye at once sweeps like a falcon, to roam far and wide over the richly cultivated and tufted plain, in the centre of which the “Fair City” lies extended, and then it gradually towers as it urges its rapid flight onward to the distant Grampians, bounding its farther progress, whilst the broad river, filling its ample bed from side to side with liquid crystal, comes flowing onwards between cultivated fields and meadows of the most brilliant green, reflecting the bowery woods of Scone, and the arches of the fine bridge through which it passes, together with the buildings of Perth and of Bridgend on either side, as well as the lofty steeps of the hill of Ivinnoull, rising to the cast, its slopes covered with villas and gardens. Making a grand sweep around the southwestern base of that lovely hill, it is seen running off at a right angle in one long stretch eastward, until it is lost amidst the thickening "roves of the fertile Carse of Gowrie, its northern hank being overhung with the picturesque and rocky face of the hill of Kinfauns, crowned with an observatory and other objects, and beautified by the woods and pleasure grounds of Lord Gray’s seat of Kinfauns Castle. And then how full of the most interesting historical, as well as poetical associations, is the whole of this scene! The distant isolated hill of Dunsinanc, immortalized by Shakspeare —Scone, that ancient palace, where all Her Majesty’s Scottish ancestors were crowned upon its celebrated marble stone—Perth, once the Victoria of the Romans, now tilled with the feverish ferment of loyal anxiety to receive and to do honour to Victoria our Queen— that mighty river, and those beautiful Inches, to which the Roman soldiers who first beheld them, paid but a dubious compliment by comparing the large and silver stream to the comparatively small and very muddy Tiber, and those much more beautiful plains to the Campus Martius—that city, rendered classical by Scott’s “Fair Maid of Perth,” and by his account of the conflict between the Clan Kay and the Davidsons on the Nether Inch, more so perhaps than it may have ever been before his time, even by the horrors of the religious persecutions of Cardinal Bethunc in 1544—the accidental commencement here of the glorious Reformation, on the 11th of May 1559—or by that most mysterious tragedy, called the Gowrie conspiracy. Often had this fair city been the seat of monarchs, and James VI. condescended for a time to hold the situation of its chief magistrate. But the entry of Charles I. into Perth, best shows how well the Fair City could receive a sovereign in the olden times, and may thus be best brought into comparison with the noble reception which it now gave to our reigning Queen. It is recorded in the register kept by the corporation of glovers, one of the most ancient and important companies of the city, that—

“His Majesty King Charles, of his gracious favour and love, dengcit (deigned) himself to vizit his own city and burgh of Perth, the eight day of July, quhair, at the entrie of our South Inch Port, he was received honorablie be the provest, bailgies, and aldermen, and be delivery of anc speache mounting to his praizc and thanksgiving, for His Majesties coming to viseit this our city, who stayit upon horsc-backc, and heard the sameyn patientlie, and therefra convoyit be our young men in guard, with partizans clad in red and whytc, to his ludging at the end of the South-gate, (Gowrie’s Palace,) bo-lonfirhur now hcntablie to George Earl of Kinnoull, Heigh Chancellor of Scotland, &c. The morrow thairefter came to our churche, and in his Royal seat heard ane reverend sermone, immediately thairefter came to his ludgeing, and went down to the gardine thairof, His Majestic heing thayre set upon the wall next the wattir of Tay, quhair uppone was ane fleeting staige of timber, eled about with birks, upon the quhilke, for His Majesties welcome and entrie, thret-teine of our brethern, of this our calling of glovers, w ith green cappis, silver strings, red ribbons, quhyte shoes, and bells about thair leggis, shewing raperis in thair handis, and all uther abulgement, dauncit our sword-daunce, with mony deficile knottis, fyve being under, and fyve above, upon thair shoulderis, three of theme dauncing through thair feet and about them, drinking wine and broking glasses. Quhilk ( God he praisit) wes actit and done without hurt or skaith till ony. Quhilk drew us till greit chairges and expensis, amounting to the sowme of 350 merks, yet not to be rememberit, because graciouslie acceptit he our Sovereinc and both Estatis, to our honour and great commendation.” This “sword-daunce” must not be confounded with the dance called Gillum-Callum, which Highlanders now perform over naked swords laid across upon the floor. It was the remnant of an ancient Scandinavian war-dance, in honour of Woden, and consisted of a great variety of complicated evolutions, executed by the performers whilst linked in a string, by each holding the hilt of his own sword and the point of that belonging to the person next him. In August 1841, the writer of this had the good fortune to collect together a set of the natives of the island of Papa Stour, in Zetland, to which this dance is now entirely confined, who executed it, but in a less complicated manner than that described in the records of the glovers, where it would appear that when live dancers were engaged with the figure, there were five others upon their shoulders, and three more dancing through the mazes of their legs.

The preparations made for the reception of Queen Victoria at Perth, did the highest credit to the authorities. Mr. Macdonald Mackenzie, architect, and superintendent of public works, was instructed to erect a barrier over the southern entrance to the city, at the east end of Marshall-place. Its plan was that of an ancient Roman triumphal arch, of admirably good taste and proportions. It consisted of one grand and deep arch, 26 feet high, and a smaller one of the same style on each side, 20 feet high, the whole being surmounted by an entablature 14 feet high, making the extreme height 40 feet. Over the arch was painted “Victoria,” equally applicable to the name of the royal traveller, and to that of the ancient city about to be honoured with her presence. On each of the corners there was a figure of Fame blowing a trumpet. The city arms were introduced on both sides of the arch, and the entablature was crowned with a series of beautiful vases. The whole was so well constructed of painted wood and canvass, that it was impossible to imagine it anything else than stone, until touched by the finger. On the top there was a flag-staff on whivh the Royal banner was to be hoisted, whilst other flags waved from either side. To secure the preservation of order in the city, the moderator of the high constables had intimation that the services of his body would be required, and the same was communicated to the commandant of the peace-officers, and the Guildry. The Incorporated Trades, the Perth Celtic Society, the Society of Procurators, the Societies of Odd Fellows of Perth and Dundee, each wearing a scarf, and carrying a small flag, and the various Masonic Lodges, and other public bodies, had all places assigned to them, and were solicited to assist in keeping peace and good order. But one of the wisest and most efficient provisions of all, was that of enlisting 1000 men of the working classes, at half-a-crown a-head, to line the streets, with white wands in their hands — and thus those, whose loyal anxiety to see their Queen might have proved the cause of some confusion, were employed in preserving order. They were divided into companies of fifty, over which sergeants and corporals were appointed, distinguished by a tip of red paint on the end of the rod. To every pauper in the city one shilling was ordered to be given. To keep the bridge over the Tay quite clear for the passage of the Queen, gates were put up at either end of it, and the Sheriff issued a proclamation that no one should be allowed to pass hut those on duty, for some time before and after Her Majesty. In front of the barrier gate a detachment of the 42d regiment, and a party of the 6th carabineers were drawn up to receive Her Majesty. On the right of the arch, approaching the city, a platform, very slightly raised, was placed for the Provost, Magistrates, and Council.

The Lord Provost and Magistrates having returned from Dupplin Castle, drove up to the barrier gate about twenty minutes past six o’clock, attended by all the members of council, in splendid carriages, the pannels of which, as well as their scarlet hammercloths, were richly emblazoned with the city arms, a spread eagle bearing a shield, with a lamb supporting the holy banner of the crusades. The carriages were left within the barrier in such order that the Provost, Magistrates, and Council, could head the procession after the Queen’s entrance. On alighting, these dignitaries arranged themselves behind the harrier, the Magistrates in front, and the Lord Provost in the centre of the line. All were in full court dresses, and that of the Lord Provost was of the richest black silk velvet. The town officers, bearing their halberds, were placed in front of the magistrates. The city chamberlain, supported by the city clerks, was between the magistrates and council, and carried the keys of the city on a cushion of crimson velvet. The keys were of massive silver, and of workmanship that did infinite credit to Bailie Reay, who executed them. The pattern of both was antique. The larger of the two was shaped at the top like the letter A, and the city arms were exquisitely chased within it. The Members of the Presbytery of Perth took their stations on the left of the barrier, in gowns and bands. The influx of strangers into the city was immense, not only from the count)- of Perth itself, but from all the surrounding counties and towns.

A few minutes before six o’clock, the sound of cannon from Monerieffe Hill, answered by a discharge of artillery from the opposite side of the river, announced the Queen’s departure from Dupplin Castle, and in due time Her Majesty’s carriage and cortege were seen coming over the hill, and rapidly descending the road that sweeps towards Perth. Passing the extensive buildings and walls of the great national jail, the Queen entered the fine avenue of approach, leading under magnificent trees in one straight line quite across the beautiful South Inch, a level plain of the finest green sward. Here the effect of the mingled multitudes, thickly assembled on each side of the way, to greet her arrival, and accumulated towards the barrier arch, which rose nobly in the distance, had a very grand effect. It was considered by the royal personages as one of the most striking spectacles they met with during the whole journey. The long restrained impatience of the people burst out into deafening shouts, accompanied by the waving of hats and handkerchiefs. The Queen, who sat in the right side of the carriage, was highly gratified with the scene, as well as with the enthusiasm of the reception, and the extreme good humour manifested by the crowded populace; and the royal pair graciously acknowledged the plaudits which welcomed their approach. The carriage drove slowly up to the platform, by this time occupied by the Magistrates and Council, and the Lord Provost having advanced, and made a respectful obeisance, he addressed Her Majesty in the following words :—

“May it Please your Majesty,

“We your Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lord Provost, Magistrates, and Town-Council of the City of Perth, most respectfully congratulate your Majesty upon your safe arrival at the ancient capital of your Majesty’s hereditary kingdom of Scotland, and bid you welcome to the favourite city of your Majesty’s illustrious ancestor King James VI., who conferred upon it many valuable privileges. Permit me, most gracious Sovereign, in the name of, and as representing, this community, to place at your royal disposal the keys of this your city of Perth, and with them to offer the renewed assurance of our unalterable fidelity and attachment to your Majesty’s most sacred person and government, and of our warmest aspirations for your Majesty’s health, happiness, and comfort.”

During the delivery of this address, the Queen bowed several times with great condescension; and when the Lord Provost had concluded, she put forth her hand, lifted the keys, and then gently dropping them on the cushion, she replied—

“My Lord Provost, I have great pleasure in returning you these keys. I am quite satisfied that they cannot possibly be in better hands.”

The reply was welcomed by loud cheers from the multitude who witnessed this most interesting scene; and the City Chamberlain having retired with the keys, the Lord Provost then addressed Prince Albert:

“May it please your Royal Highness,

“In the name of the Town-Council and community of Perth, I have much pleasure in requesting your Royal Highness’s acceptance of the freedom of the city, the highest compliment we have it in our power to bestow, and which assuredly was never more worthily conferred than upon a Prince who enjoys in so remarkable a degree, the respect, affection, and esteem of the British public.”

The Lord Provost then presented to the Prince the burgess ticket, in a box, made of black oak which had lain for centuries in the bed of the river, and which was curiously worked by first-rate Edinburgh artists. It had silver hinges, and the arms of the city were executed in solid gold on the lid. The Prince, after receiving it, replied—

“My Lord Provost, I thank you for the compliment paid me by the city of Perth. I assure you that I esteem it very highly.”

The Provost, Magistrates, and Council then proceeded to their carriages, within the barrier; and the gate being thrown open, Her Majesty advanced, and they preceded her through the city at so slow a pace, as to insure to the people a perfect view of their beloved Queen. The carriages of the magistrates were guarded on either side by the High Constables, who were all uniformly clad in green coats and black trowsers, those of the officers being distinguished by a stripe of gold lace. The route was that along Princes-street, St. John-street, George-street, and the Bridge. Princes-street being new and unfinished in itself, had a nearly continuous line of galleries erected on each side, emblazoned with devices in front, and having their pillars tastefully twined with garlands ; and it was calculated that ten thousand people were accommodated in these alone. A great proportion of them were filled with ladies elegantly dressed, which very greatly augmented the beauty of the tout ensemble. Throughout the whole of the fine old streets which were next traversed, the windows were filled with well dressed persons; and the numerous newly constructed balconies were similarly occupied, whilst the whole area of the foot and roadways, excepting only the passage kept clear for the procession by those who lined the streets, were densely covered with people. Numerous flags waved from the ancient and venerable church of St. John’s. This is historically remarkable as the place of slaughter of John Earl of Cornwall, by his brother Edward III., who stabbed him with a dagger, for the proud reply he gave to the remonstrance which the King thought it his duty to make, when he had wantonly wasted the western counties of Scotland with fire and sword. Many of the houses and balconies were adorned multi flags; and, in short, the whole of the thoroughfare was most tastefully decorated, and animated by thousands of people, all eager to behold their Sovereign. As the Queen advanced, the cheering, and the whirling of hats, and the waving of handkerchiefs and shawls went on increasing in enthusiastic intensity, and Her Majesty testified the gratification she felt for the kindness of the welcome she received, by frequent acknowledgments.

In crossing the High-street, the Queen’s attention was attracted by a hydraulic exhibition, which had been playing there from an early hour in the morning. This was first exhibited in the days of Reform festivals, by Professor Anderson of St. Andrew’s; but as all political mottoes were necessarily and very properly avoided on this occasion, they were exchanged for devices of a more appropriate character. But the same four dolphins, resting upon huge anchors, spouted forth jets of every possible variety, setting a number of little wheels in motion. The stop which Her Majesty’s carriage made here, allowed the crowd to accumulate, so that it was with difficulty that the cavalry escort could keep back the people.

By the time that the Queen had reached the Bridge, the crowd being excluded by the gates, was packed into a mass so solid, that it was wonderful the people composing it could find space to breathe, and yet their shouts were deafening. The Royal carriage was twice stopped on the bridge by the Queen’s order, and the views both up and down the course of the magnificent Tay, eternally flowing with a broad, full, and cheerful, though not impetuous current, appeared to make a strong impression on Her Majesty and the Prince. Looking up the river, it is bounded for a mile or more by the beautiful plain of the North Inch, of the richest and closest sward— the scene of the memorable conflict between the Mackays and the Davidsons, when the battle was gained by the Gobhadh Chrom, or crooked Smith, the hero of Sir Walter Scott’s “Fair Maid of Perth.” On the right are the woods and park and towers of Her Majesty’s own Palace of Scone—and the whole scene runs off' into the distance amidst a wilderness of tufted groves and rich fertility of fields, until it is backed by the distant Grampians,—which were then glowing under a sky lighted up by one of the most glorious sunsets that ever animated the soul of a Claude. Looking down the river, the Hill of Ivinnoull rises on the left hand, with all its villas and gardens—whilst, on the right, the river is bounded by some of the more interesting parts of the city—and the long reach that extends as far as the slope of the Hill of Moncrieffe, where the river makes its great bend, was studded with boats, steamers, and small craft. If the Queen enjoyed these scenes from the bridge, Her Majesty’s progress across it was no less interesting to those who had the good fortune to survey it from favourable points. At the cast end of the bridge, a beautiful arch of ever-greens and flowers was erected across the road, with the words, “Welcome, Queen Victoria,” on one side, and “Welcome, Prince Albert,” on the other. The moment the Queen entered the suburb of Bridgend, Her Majesty found herself in the midst of a crowd quite as dense as that which had collected at the western end of the bridge. The enthusiastic loyalty of the people here, too, was eminently manifested, and the grace and condescension exhibited h}' Her Majesty’s whole deportment, in making her acknowledgments to the people, left an impression on the minds of the masses that will not soon he lost. The Lord Provost and Magistrates, having made their obeisance to Her Majesty, retired, and the \Royal carriage and its cortege proceeded at a more rapid pace to Scone, between crowds of joyous people, who lined both sides of the way.


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