Check all the Clans that have DNA Projects. If your Clan is not in the list there's a way for it to be listed. Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's Trip to Scotland
Chapter XX. Taymouth


Great were the hopes of every one, from the promising appearance of the morning of Friday the 9th of September, that this day would prove propitious, and that the Queen would at length see the beauties of Taymiouth under all the advantage of bright sunshine. But the clouds thickened, and by breakfast-time rain began to fall, and continued to do so more or less heavily till late in the day. This was most unfortunate, as it completely put a stop to all idea of a boating excursion on the loch, which had been in contemplation.

Prince Albert, however, was not to be deterred by the state of the weather from still enjoyment of the sport of shooting; and accordingly he mounted and set off for the moors of Kenmore hill, above and to the westward of the ground where he had been the day before. His Royal Highness was accompanied by Lord Breadalbane and Mr. Baillie of Jerviswoode. The Prince shot remarkably well, but the heather was so wet, and the day altogether so unfavourable, that the grouse would not sit, and it was at the same time so calm, that the dogs could make nothing of the scent. With all these disadvantages, however, the Prince made up a very good bag for the short time he was out, having shot nine brace of grouse, six hares, and a snipe. His Royal Highness returned about two o’clock.

Meanwhile the Queen, in defiance of the unpromising morning, left her apartments by the private stair about ten o’clock, accompanied by the Duchess of Norfolk, and attended, as on the previous day, by a single royal footman, carrying umbrellas. She took the path leading to the long wire foot-bridge, crossing the Tay immediately opposite to the back of the castle. The walks ascend the steep bank on the north side of the river, and land on the grand terrace, around which Her Majesty had driven on the previous day. Having taken the road leading directly across this portion of the park to the base of Drummond hill, the Queen came to a gate giving direct access to the public road running along at the bottom of the hill. This gate is always locked, but immediately opposite to it, on the other side of the road, is situated a very pretty cottage, called the Rock Lodge, whence the gatekeeper, Mrs. MacNaughton, a stout active little woman of fifty, is always ready to issue, to open, not only that gate, but the gate close to her cottage, giving entrance to the extensive rides on Drummond hill. Sitting within her lattice, this worthy woman observed two ladies approaching the gate, by the road leading from the river. Guessing them to be “some o’ the grand folk frae the castle,” she ran out, and though much struck with their appearance, she was even more astonished by the splendour of the dress of the footman who followed at a distance. She opened the gate, dropped her best curtsy, and allowed the ladies to pass. One of them, whom her Highland penetration very easily enabled her to discover was the highest in rank, expressed her admiration of the cottage and garden, and especially noticed the dahlias, of which Mrs. MacNaughton was peculiarly proud. The lady asked if her husband was a woodman, and as she walked before the cottage looking at the flowers, Mrs. MacNaughton gathered and presented a nosegay, which was accepted. What was the poor woman’s astonishment and confusion, when, as the one lady turned to go away, the other gave her money, and told her that it was “from Her Majesty.” She was thunderstruck! But the Highland character has in it a certain ease without presumption, enabling the individual to feel at home even under the most unusual circumstances. Collecting her ideas at once, she walked up to Her Majesty, and making her curtsy, she said to her with great warmth of manner, “The Queen’s people are delighted to see the Queen in Scotland.” It is not improbable that this plain but honest compliment from the worthy woman, gave as much gratification to Her Majesty, as any that had been paid to her during the whole of her progress. When the author of these pages questioned Mrs. MacNaughton about the Queen, “Oh,” replied the good woman, with great emphasis, “she is a nice pretty leddy, and quite plain in her speech, just like mysell. It might not be for the good of the nation, but I could not help wishing that the Queen had the same liberty as Lord and Lady Breadalbane, and that she had nothing to do to take her away from Taymouth, where I am sure she would have liked to have staid.” It is curious to contemplate the high degree of eminence into which Mrs. MacNaughton has thus suddenly and accidentally risen. She is now a woman worth going to visit; and it is by no means an unreasonable prophecy, that pilgrimages will be made to her shrine from all parts of Perthshire, if not from the uttermost corners of Scotland, to see the woman who actually spoke with the Queen. Although there is not at present the slightest indication that her stock of the grains of common sense may ultimately be dispersed by the light winds of vanity, it must be confessed, that her husband is by no means to be envied, seeing that as he had not the good fortune to be blessed with the sunshine of Her Majesty’s countenance, or to hear her voice, he must henceforth look upon himself as infinitely inferior to her whom he was wont to command. The Queen returned to the north terrace, and walking along it to the eastward, and so by the Star battery, and recrossing the river by the rustic wooden bridge of Inchadnie, so denominated from the vicarage of that name, the fragments of its ancient chapel having stood until very recently on the haugh opposite the Star battery, Her Majesty returned to the castle by the eastern approach about eleven o’clock, after having encountered a good deal of rain.

The Queen had this day leisure to examine the magnificent apartments of the castle, and she expressed her great admiration of their arrangement, as well as of the good taste of the decorations and furniture. Her Majesty having then signified her desire to see the Highlanders dance by daylight, the two portable stages were brought forward in front of the castle, and a most picturesque scene was again produced, for though it was not under the strange and wild effect of the torch and lamp light as before, yet the 92d regiment and the Highland Guard were there, prepared to receive Prince Albert on his return from shooting, and an immense crowd of spectators soon assembled. The salute when the Prince arrived was very fine. But the rain afterwards came on so seriously, that the dancing was put off for a short time, in the hope that it might fair. Four o’clock came at last, and then it was resolved that the dancing should go on in defiance of the rain. A chair had been carried out to the platform on the balcony, over which Lord Breadalbane had thrown a deer skin, and Prince Albert had come forth more than once, in his anxiety to ascertain whether there might be any prospect of a cessation of the bad weather. At length the Queen appeared at the centre window of the drawing-room, and the salute was given, the pipes and the band playing as usual. But the rain obstinately continued, and Her Majesty, abandoning all idea of occupying the seat placed for her on the balcony, took her position inside of the window, and became immediately much interested in the spectacle that ensued.

Many of the Clan Menzies were mingled with the Campbells, and their red and white tartan sparkled amidst the green hues of Breadalbane. The reels played by the pipes on this occasion, were Lord Seaforth’s rant, and Lady Seaforth’s reel, the Clochgorum, the reel of Tulloch, Gillie-Callum, Barbara’s Strathspey, and Monymusk. The knowledge that the Royal eyes were upon them was enough to make Highlanders do their best. But from the wet and slippery state of the boards, there were many awkward tumbles, much to the amusement of the spectators, as well as of the Queen and the Prince. One of the foresters, dressed in the shepherd’s tartan, particularly distinguished himself. But that which appeared to please the Queen most, was the dancing of a fine handsome boy, son of John Mackenzie, piper to the Marquess. His movements were light, airy, and graceful, and young though he be, he can employ his fingers upon the pipes with no less skill and adroitness than he uses his limbs upon the boards, when animated by the music he loves. A young Highlander of the Breadalbane Guard, gave great satisfaction by his performance of Gillie-Callum over the naked swords, and excited shouts of applause from the surrounding crowd, as well as great commendations from higher quarters. These sports went on in defiance of the rain for about an hour, and at their commencement, as well as at their termination, the cheers for the Queen were loyal and loud; and by no means the less so, that the Highlanders, as they took snuff together, jogged each other’s elbows, and remarked, that “Her Majesty, God bless her, had on a tartan gown, which showed that she had a warm heart to the Hielants.” But the Scottish feelings of the Queen were not confined to the tartan dress, or to the dancing of the Highlanders, for she showed a particular predilection for their martial pipe music. One or more pipers were frequently called upon to play round the castle, and on this occasion, a band of not less than five or six of them commenced and played round the whole building, more particularly dwelling near that part of it which contained Her Majesty's apartments, and this by her own especial command.

The sky at last showed some inclination to be propitious, and at about twenty minutes past five o’clock the sun shone out, and produced a genial glow over all the moistened features of nature, on which his slanting rays fell. The Royal carriage was instantly ordered, and the Queen hastened to occupy it. As Her Majesty was assisted into it by Lord Breadalbane, she was saluted by the troops and the Highland Guard. Prince Albert sat beside the Queen, and the Duchess of Sutherland and Duchess of Buccleuch opposite to the Royal pair. As during the drive of the previous day, Lord Breadalbane rode a little ahead to direct the way, and General Wemyss and Colonel Bouverie followed the carriage. The people assembled were very numerous, and the Queen drove off slowly amidst the loudest cheering. The carriage took its way by the eastern approach and gate, whence it turned up westward by the public road, along the park wall, immediately by the back of the Fort, and so towards Kenmore. As the Queen’s carriage crossed Ivenmore bridge, all the boats were seen a little way below it. The crews tossed up their oars and cheered, after which they pulled through the arches of the bridge, and as the carriage took the Killin road along the northern bank, they rowed up the lake itself, keeping nearly abreast of it for several miles. Her Majesty had now a full opportunity of enjoying the shade of the woods, and the beautiful variety of the shores of Loch Tay, with views of the grand Benlawers, and the huge Benmore. Taking a road that branched off up the hill to the right, Lord Breadalbane led the Queen through some snug Highland farms, and so by a wide open pass under the western extremity of Drummond hill, towards Glenlyon. On getting into the strath of the Lyon, the Queen was gratified with a truly Highland scene—a fine bold-spirited river, dashing on in its full strength through a wide valley, cultivated in small farms, and pretty populously planted with Highland cottages, some of them of the most primitive description, the course of the stream itself sometimes confined and caried by knolls or by prominences, with fine groves in many places below, hanging woods on the steep slopes of the hills, and wild rocks shooting up singly here and there from their faces. Into this the river comes from the long narrow trough above, properly called Glenlyon, seen grandly retiring in perspective, till its upper extremity is entirely closed in by the lofty mountains rising over it. Immediately below the point where the valley expands, and on the north side of the river Lyon, are the little village and church of Fortingall, embosomed in a grove of trees. Its church-yard was once famous for its yew tree, fifty-two feet in circumference, but it is now a ruin. Not far from the village, and on a spot around which the river makes a great sweep, there is a Roman camp, perhaps one of the farthest inland that has hitherto been observed. It encloses an area of about eighty acres, and the pratoriurn is still quite easily distinguished. The name of the parish is supposed to be derived from it—Feart-nin-gal, signifying “the works of the strangers.”

Lord Breadalbane led the Queen down the south side of the Lyon, and by the northern base of the hill of Drummond. Here Her Majesty was considerably struck by the strange figures and dress of some of the Highland women, who came out to stare at the Royal party, from their low smoky, drystone hovels. The scenery, as well as the condition of the farms, the peasantry, and the dwellings, improved as the Queen proceeded. The stream, lively in itself, had its margin fringed with grand oaks, which also covered, with a wild irregular wooding, the knolls and banks interspersed among the sloping pastures or cultivation. Farther down, a peep is enjoyed up the picturesque stream that hastens from the ruined castle of Garth down a rocky glen to join the Lyon, which afterwards passes through a narrow gorge into the wide valley of the Tay. Crossing some fertile fields, and leaving the ruins of the old castle of Combra to the left, the Queen was soon again within the private grounds of Taymouth, having made the complete circuit of Drummond hill. Her Majesty crossed the Inehadnie bridge to the southern bank of the river; and passing through the deer-park, under the closing shades of night, the Royal party returned to the castle by the same approach by which they had set out; and reached home about half-past seven o’clock. The banquet of this day was consequently later than usual.

Those who had the honour of dining with Her Majesty and Prince Albert, in addition to Lord and Lady Breadalbane, were—

The Duchess of Norfolk,
The Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch,
The Duke and Duchess of Roxburghe,
The Duchess of Sutherland,
The Marquess and Marchioness of Ahercorn,
The Earl of Lauderdale,
The Earl of Aberdeen,
The Earl of Morton,
The Earl of Liverpool,
Lord and Lady Kinnaird,
Lord and Lady Duncan,
Lord and Lady Ruthven,
Sir Robert Peel,
The Hon. Miss Paget,
The Hon. Mr. and Mrs. Fox Maule,
Mr. and Mrs. William Russell,
Mr. Home Drummond,
General Wemyss,
Mr. George Edward Anson,
Major Hay

The band and the pipes played alternately as before, but by the Queen’s command, John Mackenzie, Lord Breadalbane’s own piper, was brought in to play round the dinner-table, in the Baron’s Hall, and Her Majesty expressed her great satisfaction with his performance, as well as her admiration of the fine martial appearance of the man. The blood of the Stuart running in Her Majesty’s veins, made her readily imbibe a due regard and affection for the bagpipe. After returning to England, Mr. Anson received the Royal command to write to Lord Breadalbane, to engage for Windsor, William Mackenzie, formerly a piper of the 42d regiment, whom the Queen had noticed at Taymouth as wearing a Waterloo medal. Strongly tempted as this man was by the offer thus made him, of the high honour of entering the royal service, he had the honest principle to tell his Lordship, that although he might be able to play well enough for a year or two, he felt himself so much in the decline, that he would not engage with the prospect of becoming so soon unserviceable. This was a fine trait of Highland character. His Lordship then sent for his own piper, John Mackenzie, and asked him if he knew of one in want of a situation. “What sort of a man would your lordship be wantin?” demanded John.—“Why,” said Lord Breadalbane, “he must be a first-rate piper; and, moreover, he must be a tall good looking man, like yourself.”—“Od, my lord,” replied John, “ye maj seek a’ Scotland, before ye find sic a man as that.” A man, called Angus M‘Kay, was found, however, and engaged accordingly. John Mackenzie has a house within the grounds of Taymouth, about a mile distant from the castle, on the south side of the river, and beyond those picturesque oak woods, already noticed as affording scenery such as Shakspeare describes in “As you like it.” One morning, about a month after the Queen’s departure, when John was on his way to play as usual at the castle, with his pipes under his arm, and as he had got about half way through an extensive level glade, having high and gently sloping banks, loosely covered with spreading oaks, sweeping round one side of it, and a path running under a line of cherry trees on the other, he was suddenly arrested by a noise behind him. On looking round, he was considerably alarmed to discover that a huge stag, which had been feeding in the plain at the head of his herd of hinds, had left them for the purpose of attacking him; and he beheld the furious animal, with his head down ready to charge him, and stamping with his fore-feet on the hard turf. John immediately seized a stone, and threw it at him, but this was of no avail, for the stag rushed at him with the utmost impetuosity, and wounded him in the thigh with one of his antlers. With great presence of mind, and promptitude of action, John threw himself down upon the stag, whilst his head was still near the ground, and abandoning his bagpipes, he laid hold with both his hands of one of the animal’s horns, and pinned him with all his force to the earth. The conflict now became terrific. The stag’s eyes glared at him—he snorted with rage—and exerting every muscle of his body, he made repeated efforts to free himself, and finding he could not succeed in doing so, he tried to turn over his head on the pointed pivots of the tines of the one horn, held by John to the ground, that he might gore him with the other, and numerous were the narrow escapes he made from the fatal thrusts of its points, —and hard as he toiled to keep clear of them, he did not come off entirely free from their attacks. Fain would he have drawn his dirk to put an end to the affair, but that was impossible; for if he found it a very difficult matter to master the stag by means of both hands, he felt quite assured that the removal of one of them from the horn, even for an instant, would have been certain destruction to him. The greatest risk John ran, was from the sudden jerks which the stag gave to his head, by the concentration of all his powers, but in defiance of these the poor piper held with the clutch of grim death. Notwithstanding that the points of the horns were absolutely buried deep into the ground, by John’s weight and pressure, the powerful animal contrived to toss him about, and to drag him along, ploughing up the sod in sharp irregular furrows, and bruising the piper’s body to mummy. The breath of both stag and man began to come quick and heavily— but still the fearful struggle went on—still John fought to keep his advantage of the head—and still the stag toiled to get free, tossing the piper up at times, and shaking him hither and thither, and again hauling him for some yards over the grass. At last, after the conflict had endured for about twenty minutes or more, and that the stag had pulled the piper by an irregular zigzag course some seventy or eighty yards across the glade, from the spot where he had first assaulted him, both became so much exhausted, and John Mackenzie so especially done, that, partly believing that he might now relax his hold with impunity, but chiefly because he felt that it was impossible to hold much longer, he at once let go his gripe. The moment he had done so, the stag reared himself erect, and not even tarrying to look at John, he bounded like a flash of lightning across the glade, and up the bank on the opposite side of it, until he reached a knoll high up among the trees, where he stood for a time, with his mouth open, and his tongue lolling out, panting and heaving, and staring at his antagonist with manifest alarm, lest in his turn he should be assailed, to prevent which he made one dash into a neighbouring thicket, and disappeared. The gallant piper, though thus victorious, was so bruised and weakened by loss of blood, that he was glad to pick up his pipes and return home, whither he contrived to crawl with some difficulty, and where he was confined to bed for some weeks before he perfectly recovered.

Notwithstanding the lateness of the hour at which Her Majesty sat down, so little time does the Royal dinner occupy that the whole party were assembled in the drawing-room soon after nine o’clock. This was the night on which there was to be a grand ball, and by the Queen’s permission, Lady Breadalbane had invited the following individuals, in addition to the guests then in the castle :—

Earl of Mansfield,
Major and Mrs. Moray Stirling,
Countess of Mansfield, and Ladies Elizabeth Cluny Macpherson, and Caroline Murray,
Mr. Davidson of Tulloch,
Hon. James Stanhope,
Mr. and Mrs. Smythe of Methven,
Lord and Lady Glenlyon,
Mr. Crichton Stuart,
Dowager Lady Glenlyon and Miss Murray,
Mr. and Mrs. Colquhoun of Clathick,
Hon. Captain Murray,
Sir Alexander Campbell of Barcaldine,
Hon. Miss Abereromby,
Mr. Harrington,
Mr. Lamb,
Hon. Mr and Mrs. Drummond of Strathallan,
Mr. and Mrs. Garden Campbell,
Mrs. Brig
Hon. John Stuart,
Sir Neil and the Hon. Lady Menzies,
Mr. and Mrs., and Miss Xairne of Dunsinane,
Miss Menzies,
Mr. Belshes of Invermay,
Colonel Belshes,
Hon. Misses Norton,
Mr. Grahame of Redgorton,
Sir John and Lady Richardson of Pitfour, .
Mr. and Mrs. Campbell of Glenfalloch,
Sir John,
Miss Mackenzie,
John Campbell,
Sir Archibald, Lady, and Miss Campbell,
Mr. and Mrs. Stewart of Ardvorlocli,
Mr. Garth,
Mr. and Mrs. Campbell, Boreland,
Lady Moncrieffe,
Sir Thomas, and .Miss Moncrieffe
Mr. and Mrs. George Campbell,
Sir William and Lady Murray, Oclitertyre,
Mr. George Drummond Stewart,
Captain MacDougall
Mr. Menzies of Chesthill,
Major Hay, and Officers of 9th Carabineers,
Sir Adam and Miss Drummond,
Major Atlierly, and Officers of the 92d Regt.
Sir David and Lady Dundas, Dunira,
Mr. and Lady Lucy Grant, Kilgraston,
Mr. Home Drummond, M.P.
Mr. and Mrs. Butter,
The Officers of the Breadalbane Guard, .
Mr. L. Davidson,
Sheriff Currie,
Mr. Wyllie.

The illuminations of Wednesday evening were repeated with all their various devices; and although the number of people in the park was not so great as upon that occasion, there were still enough of figures moving about to give great animation, and the scenery, under the brilliant effect produced upon it by the myriads of many-coloured lamps, among the trees, on the ground, on the wire fence, and above all on the fort, was like faeryland to those who came to the ball. The partial illuminations of the castle, too, added to the tout ensemble, and especially that of its painted windows, which were lighted up on the outside, as well as within.

The hour fixed for the ball in Lady Breadalbane’s cards was ten o’clock ; but many of the families invited came from great distances, and not being sufficiently aware of the Queen’s punctuality, they calculated that it could not possibly begin so early. When the hour approached, the Queen said to Lady Breadalbane, “Now, let us have the dance.” Not one of the country neighbours had arrived. There were, however, a sufficient number of people in the house to commence the ball, and accordingly Mr. Dewar, the well-known professor of music in Edinburgh, took his place in the window recess at the farther extremity of the grand hall. This magnificent apartment had its two glorious Gothic windows lighted up, so as to show their stained glass to the greatest possible advantage, whilst its immense chandelier, and many other lights, blazed till the coats of mail, and the effigies of knights armed cap-a-pie, glittered with reflection—and each armorial bearing that appeared on the compartments of its lofty-groined vault, or waved on the silken banners that trembled from both sides throughout its whole length, with every motto they bore, might have been deciphered by the most imperfect vision,—whilst the rich carving of its gigantic chimney, as well as that surrounding the walls, and especially that of the two exquisite screens at the southern end of the apartment, was all brought into the most minute observation. Having ascertained that all was thus in readiness, Lord and Lady Breadalbane conducted the Queen thither from the drawing-room, and Her Majesty entered, leaning on the arm of Prince Albert. The Queen wore a white lace dress, with a velvet scarf of Royal Stuart tartan, and a small crown of diamonds on her brow. Her Majesty spent some time in admiring this splendid apartment under its present fascinating effect, which in truth was such as to have awakened recollections of the olden time during the purest periods of chivalry. After a few words addressed to Lord Breadalbane, expressive of her admiration of what she beheld, the Queen was ushered to an ottoman or sofa, on a raised dais, covered with crimson velvet, placed at the northern end of the hall, under a trophy of standards and pennons. Prince Albert was seated on Her Majesty’s right hand. On each side were two or three chairs of state. On the right were Lady Breadalbane and the Duchess of Sutherland, and on the left, the Duchess of Buccleuch and the Duchess of Norfolk. The rest of the company stood at either side of the hall, leaving its floor perfectly free, and when all were assembled, it was indeed a ball for a Queen to preside over. Nothing could exceed the splendour and brilliancy of the scene; the rich glittering dresses of the ladies appearing prominently among the varied costumes of the nobles and gentlemen, in court dresses, and embroidered uniforms, whilst the majority were attired in the most gorgeously accoutred Highland costumes.

After a few minutes had elapsed, the Queen gave her command for a quadrille. The Marquess immediately went to appoint two couples to dance at the sides, and this having been arranged, Her Majesty honoured him with her hand, having vis-a-vis Prince Albert and the Duchess of Buccleueh. The Marquess then gave the signal for the music to begin, but on Mr. Dewar striking up, the Queen, instead of commencing the quadrille, spoke to Lord Breadalbane— the music stopped;—his Lordship then left the Queen for a few moments, and Her Majesty’s desire to spread happiness in the widest possible circle around her, was soon manifested by his quickly collecting six more couples to join the quadrille, which began on the music recommencing. The Queen danced beautifully, and with great spirit and grace, and it is to be hoped that Her Majesty’s high example may cure the majority of her subjects of that melancholy species of musical somnambulism, which produces so very soporific an effect upon the spectators, and especially upon unfortunate chaperons. The quadrilles played were arranged for the occasion by Mr. Dewar, entirely from Scottish airs. At the conclusion of the dance, the Marquess conducted the Queen to her seat, and the centre of the room immediately cleared, as it always did after the dances while Her Majesty remained.

The next dance was a reel to the bagpipes, especially so commanded by the Queen. As this was general, there were not fewer than sixteen couples on the floor. Most of these went through the common reel, hut some of them danced the reel of Tulloch, or, as it is more properly called, the Bill Thulloehan. As this had not been generally danced, the Queen expressed her desire that it should he executed by four gentlemen, and accordingly the Marquess of Abercorn, Mr. Fox Maule, Macpherson of Cluny, and Davidson of Tulloch, stood up to perform it. They danced it with as much spirit and activity as had been displayed in the forenoon by any of the Highlanders on the platform before the castle, but in better taste, and with infinitely more grace. The great perfection of Highland dancing is never to allow the knee to sink, and to keep the person erect, and these are requisites which, though attended to in the chieftain’s hall, are very seldom thought of by the retainers. The Queen was delighted with this reel, and complimented the dancers. Her Majesty also very much admired the reel-dancing of Lord Breadalbane’s sister, Lady Elizabeth Pringle.

The Queen then commanded a country-dance, and offered her hand to the Duke of Buccleuch, the Prince standing up with the Duchess of Sutherland. There were as many couples as the length of the floor would admit of. The Queen seemed to enjoy it very much, and laughed when she saw that some of the young ladies were not ready to take up the figure in time; indeed, Her Majesty had occasion to tap several of them on the shoulder to make them begin, and this she did without the least expression of displeasure. But still more was it a matter of shame, though, alas, the truth of history requires it to be told, that several of the gentlemen were not ready to present their hands to Her Majesty when she was dancing. But all this has originated in the excessive negligence and apathy which has been creeping into ball-rooms for some time back, to so great an extent, that neither ladies nor gentlemen now-a-days can when they could, just because they would not when they could. A most improper practice, moreover, prevails, that those who have gone down from the top to the bottom of a country-dance, utterly disregarding the happiness of others, walk off immediately, so that those whose places were at the bottom, after patiently working their way up to the top, for the amusement of those who were placed above them, find that as couple after couple have thus successively disappeared, they are left alone, and condemned to sit down without dancing. Nothing can be more rude or selfish than such conduct, and it is to be hoped that the high example of the Queen may put a stop to it in future. After having danced down to the very bottom, Her Majesty continued in the dance, and stood always ready to join in the figure, until the very last couple had danced down. This was a truly royal feeling of consideration, most worthy of humble imitation, and much to be lauded, as manifesting the excellence of the heart from which it emanated.

This was the last dance in which the Queen and Prince joined. Her Majesty conversed with the distinguished individuals around her with great affability, though with all becoming dignity. At one period during the evening, when the dance had ceased, Lord Breadalbane approached the Queen, who was then in conversation with the Duchess of Sutherland, and asked Her Majesty’s permission to present the officers of the Breadalbane Highland Body Guard himself. The Queen having kindly assented, Her Majesty arose, and the Marquess leading forward the officers, formally presented them in succession, and they were admitted to the honour of kissing hands. The Queen condescended to express herself highly pleased with the appearance and manners of the officers, and Her Majesty did Campbell of Glenfalloch, their lieutenant-colonel, the honour of holding conversation with him for more than five minutes. A number of the ladies and gentlemen who had not been previously presented, were brought forward for that purpose—the ladies by the Marchioness of Breadalbane, so authorised by the Queen. This was done at different times during the course of the evening. As might be expected, some of those were not quite aw fait as to the ceremonial. One gentleman who knelt with great energy upon both knees, was especially admired for his loyal devotion. A young lady who was about to be presented, retired in considerable confusion to her mother, who immediately removed her glove, the cause of her distress. The Queen observed this, and smiled, and on the young lady being brought forward a second time, Her Majesty, with great good feeling and kindness, spoke a few words of encouragement to her. Such a ball as this cannot often be seen. High and distinguished as were the individuals present, and splendid as were the dresses of the ladies, its superiority chiefly consisted in the magnificence and the ancient taste of the Grand Hall in which it was held, with the gorgeous Highland costumes of the Celtic guests; and, above all, in the thought that Queen Victoria was there in person, graciously witnessing the happiness of her loyal subjects, and doing all in her power to increase it.

Her Majesty retired at about a quarter after twelve o’clock. All present were filled with admiration of the manner in which she left the room. The company being arranged on either side of the hall, the Queen descended from her seat, bowed with mingled dignity and sweetness of expression to the company arranged to right and left, and then walked alone and slowly down the whole length of the floor, bowing on either side, till she reached the lower end of the hall, where turning round to Prince Albert, who had walked down one side of the hall behind Her Majesty, she took his arm, and disappeared through the veiled passage opening into the gallery and leading to the royal private apartments. The company then went off to supper, after which they danced till an early hour of the morning in another apartment, where there was no risk of the Queen being disturbed by the sound of the music.


Return to Book Index Page