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Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's Trip to Scotland
Chapter XV. Scone Palace


Metamorphosed as the ancient Palace of Scone has now been, until it has lost all semblance of its pristine form, and although its taste is anything but in harmony with those historical associations which every educated mind must have with its very name, it is yet a very imposing mass. It incloses an oblong hollow square, extending so as to form an important feature in the very wide and well timbered park, standing as it does on a fine terrace, whence the ground slopes downward into the ample lawns that border the river, and commanding grand views of Strathtay and Glenalmond. The apartments, though somewhat gloomy, are very magnificent, both as to arrangement and furniture. The only original part of the building now remaining is the gallery, which, though somewhat shortened, is still 150 feet in length. The drawing-room is hung with figured Lyons silk, and the seats covered with fine Beauvais tapestry. It contains some beautiful cabinets of tortoise-shell, ebony, buhl, and Japan work, some of which were presents to the Mansfield family from James VI. The apartments occupied by the Queen were chiefly furnished with oak, in the Gothic style. The royal state-hed is of the same materials and taste, the curtains being of white silk, richly trimmed with gold lace and crimson silk velvet. The cover of the toilet-table was of gold network, and crimson velvet with gold fringe, and the drapery was of a similar description. The mirrors and pendules in the different rooms, were all of the same antique character.

The Queen’s carriage having entered the grounds of Scone at a quarter to seven o’clock, she found about 800 of the gentlemen and yeomanry of the county drawn up on horseback, and lining the way to receive her. The carriage was directed in its route by the Hon. Captain Murray on horseback, amidst the enthusiastic shouts of those who were assembled in the park. When Her Majesty drove up to the great entrance, a guard of honour of the 42d regiment, drawn up on the lawn, presented arms, and the moment that her foot touched the ground, a royal salute was given from some guns planted in the park—the band struck up “God Save the Queen!”—and the Union-Jack, which was flying on the battlements, was hauled down, and the Royal Standard hoisted in its place. The Earl of Mansfield, and the Countess Dowager of Mansfield, attended by the Ladies Murray, received the Queen and ushered her into the library, where Her Majesty remained for half an hour, and then retired to dress.

The Queen was in some degree fatigued with the exciting events of this day, and with all she had seen; yet at eight o’clock Her Majesty was ready to sit down to dinner with a party, which, in addition to the Royal pair, and the Mansfield family, consisted of the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, the Duchess of Norfolk, the Earl of Aberdeen, Earl of Liverpool, Earl and Countess of Kinnoull, Lord and Lady Kinnaird, Sir Robert Peel, the Hon. Miss Paget, Colonel Bouverie, Mr. Anson, and Sir James Clark. The Queen sat at the centre of the table, with the Prince on her right. Her Majesty retired early to her private apartments.

It had been resolved that instead of a general illumination of the city of Perth, there should be a grand display of fireworks, but many very pretty transparencies and partial illuminations sprung up all through the town. Mr. Wallace, Her Majesty’s coach-maker, had raised a beautiful triumphal erection, opposite to his manufactory in Athol-street. It consisted of one large rib arch, above 24 feet span, for the passage of carriages, supported by Ionic pilasters, and two smaller arches of the same character. Above the centre were the Royal arms, over the right hand arch were the arms of the city, with the words, “Welcome, Victoria!” and over that on the left hand was the plume of the Prince of Wales, with the words, “Welcome, Albert!” The whole was made of wood, and painted, and decorated with evergreens and flowers. Immediately above the pilasters were the busts of Scott and Byron, emblematical of the genius of Scotland, and from the top of the whole arose a flag-staff, forty feet high, with the Union-Jack and the arms of Scotland, floating on a flag eighty feet from the ground. This was beautifully illuminated with coloured lamps at night, and Mr. Wallace’s dwelling-house was also brilliantly lighted. The display of fireworks on the North Inch was extremely fine, and the whole population turned out to see them. They commenced at half-past ten o’clock, with a flight of rockets, and continued until near midnight. Maroons, serpents, Roman candles, and every variety of composite fireworks were discharged in rapid succession, and among the latter were various devices, appropriate to the occasion. The whole was under the superintendence of Mr. Gyngeli of Vauxhall. Above 500 gentlemen sat down to a grand banquet in the County Rooms, the Lord Provost in the chair, where the utmost loyalty was displayed. In short, it may well be said that the Fair City of Perth did its duty well upon this glorious occasion.

On Wednesday, the 7th of September, the Queen and Prince Albert rose at an early hour, and having breakfasted at eight o’clock, they availed themselves of the beautiful morning, to walk out together for nearly an hour in the garden and on the terrace on the western front of the palace, whence they enjoyed a rich and most extensive prospect, with the broad stream of the silver Tay running through the midst of it, and reflecting the sky and the objects on its banks, whilst, in the far distant wrest, the range of vision w^as bounded by that portion of the Grampians, rising in the vicinity of Loch Erne.

The Lord Provost and Magistrates of the city of Perth having met this morning, it was resolved to send a deputation, consisting of Bailies Reay and Gray, to Scone Palace, with the ancient Guildry Book, in order to solicit the honour of the Queen’s signature therein, according to the precedents established by James VI. and Charles I. The signatures of these two monarchs are curious, and somewhat characteristic of the royal individuals. The first partakes of that pedantry of learning, for which James was so remarkable.

“1601.

Parcere subiectis et debellare superbos.

James R."

The next, though perhaps adopted merely because it was the motto of the Scottish arms, accidentally exhibits that unbending spirit which, too proud prudently to yield in time, gradually excited a force against Charles, that compelled him to give way when too late, and finally brought him to the scaffold.

“Nemo me impune lacesset.

“July 21, 1650. Charles R."

No sooner were the wishes of the deputation made known to the Queen by Sir Robert Peel, who carried the book to Her Majesty, than she was graciously pleased to subscribe her name, with the Royal motto.

“Dieu et mon droit.

“Scone Palace, September 7, I842. Victoria R.”

And then His Royal Highness Prince Albert followed thus :—

Treu und fest.

“Scone Palace, September 7, 1842. Albert.”

The deputation retired highly gratified with the enrichment that had been thus bestowed on their ancient volume, now by these means converted, as it were, into the palladium of the city of Perth.

The Queen and Prince Albert, followed by their cortege and escort, left their Royal Palace of Scone for the Highlands, at eleven o’clock. The Lord Provost and Magistrates of Perth, with the same happy arrangement which had already earned for them the repeatedly expressed approbation of their Sovereign, had the whole route through Bridgend, along the Bridge, Charlotte-street, Athol-street, and for some distance along the Dunkeld road, lined and kept clear by the attendance of the military, police, constabulary forces, and other public bodies. Although the assemblage of people was not quite so enormous as that of yesterday, there were tens of thousands of the more respectable part of the population congregated, all anxious to take one last look of their beloved Queen. Her Majesty and the Prince took rapid glances from the bridge, of those views which they had enjoyed the previous evening. They found the Lord Provost and Magistrates assembled at its western end, attended by the High Constables, and Her Majesty and the Prince, after gracefully bowing to the municipal authorities, proceeded at a moderate pace. The Queen was particularly struck with Mr. Wallace’s triumphal arch as she passed under it, and she graciously and repeatedly acknowledged the loyal greetings which rung in her ears from both sides of the way as she proceeded. But perhaps nothing more thoroughly touched Her Majesty’s heart than the appearance of a body of about 200 children from the Perth Infant School, who met her on her way with little flags in their hands, and chanting, “God Save the Queen,” as she approached. Bowing to them with a sweet angelic smile, she at once made them the happiest as well as the most loyal of children, and Her Majesty’s image has been thus permanently engraven on their little hearts.

The road which proceeds through the rich and extensive plain, commands beautiful views of the sloping and wooded grounds of Scone, on the eastern bank of the Tay, with the towers of the palace rising from among its fine groves of ancient trees. The people were thickly planted in groups all along the way-side, and they shouted and waved their loyal congratulations to the Queen. When the Royal carriage had got near to Lunearty, in the parish of Redgorton, it passed under the first of the many triumphal arches which spanned the great road. It was a light airy structure, in the Gothic style, supported on eight pillars, thirty feet high, ornamented with evergreens and flowers, and terminated with a crown constructed of heather. This was erected by the Lunearty Company, and the workers in the great bleachfield were arranged in order beside the arch, together with an immense concourse of the parishioners. Near this arch were two stands, covered with cloth, and ornamented with poles and creeping plants, in which were assembled large parties of ladies and gentlemen, who joined in the joyous cheers which Her Majesty’s appearance called forth. This part of the plain, denominated in ancient song, “the Lees of Lunearty,” is historically remarkable as the scene of the great victory gained by the Scots over the Danes, in the reign of Kenneth III., towards the close of the tenth century. Buchanan informs us, that the Danes were victorious, until a countryman of the name of Hay, and his two sons, who were ploughing in the neighbourhood, seized the yokes of their oxen, and came up to the rescue, plying their rustic weapons with so much gallantry, that they turned the fugitives, who, animated by their example, fell upon the Danes with redoubled fury, and drove them into the Tay with great slaughter. The ground some years back was covered with tumuli, where skeletons were found, especially near a little eminence, called “Turtin gain Hillock,” where the flying Scots are supposed to have rallied. King Kenneth ordered Hay to enter Perth in triumph, bearing the yoke wherewith he fought, and surrounded by the victorious army, and there the monarch ennobled him, and gave him a considerable territory to support his new dignity. From this source spring the illustrious Hay's of Errol, Tweed-dale, Kinnoull, &c., who still bear the yoke for their crest.

At the point where the great road is joined by that from Stanley, there was another fine triumphal arch, erected by the Stanley Spinning and Weaving Company. This was supported by two massive columns, ornamented with evergreens, and two pilasters formed of heather. Over the pillars of the principal arch two stuffed roe deer were placed with remarkably good effect. Here an immense assemblage of working people, occupied a broom-covered slope immediately adjoining the arch, and there were several flags and banners on the ridge of the eminence where they stood, bearing various mottoes. Her Majesty’s carriage went slower here, and she graciously acknowledged the compliments paid her by' the enthusiastic people.

At Bankfoot, which is held to be the division between the Lowlands and Highlands, there was a relay of fresh horses, and another fine popular demonstration of loyalty; but indeed it may be said, that throughout the whole way between Perth and Dunkeld, a distance of fifteen miles, triumphal arches were reared at short distances from one another, with large groups of people congregated near them. Many of these occupied most picturesque spots, and produced most interesting spectacles. Most of the houses along the road were decorated with flowers and evergreens; and flags were hoisted on the roofs, suspended from windows, or planted on the adjoining hills, and the galleries filled with people were numerous.

The road, winding up from Strathtay into the back and higher country, becomes less beautiful, although it passes through a cultivated district; and two or three miles of it are very high and wild, but, at the elevated point, called Stair Dam, a most magnificent prospect bursts at once upon the eye, which drops suddenly down upon Birnam wood, with the Tay here running in a comparatively narrow glen, between bold and abrupt mountains. From the grand portal which they form, it is carried off along the course of the majestic stream, until it loses itself, far to the eastward, among the mazes of the groves and fertile plains, where the Isla hastens from an opposite direction to unite itself with the larger river. Farther to the south rises the classic hill of Dunsinane. But that which particularly recalls and fixes the observation of the spectator, is the extensive and finely timbered park of Murthly, occupying all the nearer grounds, with its old and extremely interesting Scottish mansion, supposed to be that from which Sir Walter Scott borrowed his idea of the Baron of Bradwardine’s Castle of Tullyveolan. The grand new edifice rises in its immediate vicinity.

The Queen had the more leisure to catch the various peeps of this glorious prospect, as they successively presented themselves through the openings in the wood, from the slower pace of the Royal carriage as it descended the steep hill. On reaching the bottom, Her Majesty and the Prince had their first taste of the glories of Highland scenery, for here the road ran along the base of the bold Birnam hill, its rocky and precipitous sides towering over the woods to the left, and forming new and ever-changing pictures; whilst to the right, a view of the broad stream of the Tay, with the lofty mountain faces beyond it, was caught at intervals through the oaks of Birnam forest. On both sides the immense slate quarries in the sides of the mountains, produce a very singular effect, by the rich violet tints they expose to view. The Queen, and the Prince expressed the most marked admiration of this enchanting scenery, through which the road passes for about three miles. As it approaches the small, though beautiful ancient city of Dunkeld, a fine isolated hill rises from the bottom of the valley on the right hand, covered with oaks and other trees. On the slope at the base of the hill to the left, is Birnam Lodge, the residence of the Hon. Fox Maule, which Her Majesty particularly noticed. Several flags waved on the ridges of Birnam hill above. Mr. Maule had kindled an immense bonfire the previous evening, near a large red banner that appeared from the reflection like a tall blazing column. Passing the Birnam Inn, the scenery of Dunkeld began to unfold itself. From a rich foreground of cottages, gardens, and orchards, the wide and stately bridge leads boldly across the clear flowing mirror of the Tay, to the town, which, partly rising from the very border of the stream, is reflected from its surface, together with the venerable tower of the ancient cathedral, softened by those tender hues bestowed by the delicate touch of time, the whole partially embowered in trees. Immediately behind, and stretching up the river, there is a wide undulated space occupied by the park, and a portion of the pleasure grounds of Dunkeld, from which the broad and apparently perpendicular cliffs of Craig-y-barns heave themselves up into the sky, covered with forest, and darkened upwards with pines. More to the west rises the King’s-seat, and still farther in that direction the lofty and picturesque mountain of Craig-Yinean.


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