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Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's Trip to Scotland
Chapter XXV. Roslin and Hathornden


Notwithstanding the great fatigue and excitement which Her Majesty had undergone during the long journey of the previous day, Wednesday morning, the 14th of September, saw the Queen and Prince Albert at breakfast at their usual early hour. Tempted by the beauty of the weather, the sun giving forth heat that more resembled midsummer than autumn, the royal pair walked forth into the grounds, between nine and ten o’clock, altogether unattended, and visited the point where the two rivers Esk unite.

About half-past two o’clock, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Bailie Richardson, and Sir William Drysdale, treasurer, whose recent death is now deplored, arrived for the purpose of presenting to His Royal Highness the freedom of the city. This document was beautifully written on vellum, with the principal words in gold letters—the case was made of crimson velvet, lined with orange silk, the city colours— and the city arms were exquisitely chased in gold, on the top of the case. It ran in the following terms:—“At Edinburgh, the 3d day of September, in the year one thousand eight hundred and forty-two, on which day the Right Honourable Sir James Forrest of Comiston, Baronet, Lord Provost, John Richardson, David Jugurtha Thomson, William Johnston, and Andrew Wilkie, Esquires, Bailies, John Ramsay, Esquire, Dean of Guild, Sir William Drysdale of Pittucliar, Knight, Treasurer, and the other members of the Town Council, in council assembled, admitted, and received, and do hereby admit and receive His Royal Highness Prince Albert, &c. &c., the consort of Her Most Gracious Majesty, in testimony of the respect entertained by the Magistrates and Council for the public and private virtues by which His Royal Highness adorns his high and exalted station. The freedom of the city was also presented at the same time to the Duke of Buccleuch, the Earl of Aberdeen, and Sir Robert Peel.

After the deputation of the magistrates had withdrawn, the Very Rev. Dr. Lee, Principal of the University of Edinburgh, was introduced, and presented to His Royal Highness Prince Albert the diploma of Doctor of Laws, in an elegantly ornamented case. This had been conferred on His Royal Highness at a full meeting of the Senatus Academieus, held on the day that the Prince visited the University. His Royal Highness received these honours most graciously, and made condescending replies to the speeches that accompanied them.

Mr. Sanderson, the lapidary in St. Andrew-square, attended at Dalkeith Palace this day, with Scottish stones of all kinds, set as brooches, and in other forms, for the Queen’s inspection, from which Her Majesty made a number of purchases.

At a little after three o’clock in the afternoon, the Queen and Prince Albert, and the Duchess of Buccleuch, drove out in an open carriage and four, with one outrider, and Colonel Bouverie following on horseback. They took the private approach leading out by the Sheriff-hall gate, and so to Melville east gate, whence they went by the upper terrace drive through the Melville grounds, out at the west gate, and so onward to the village of Loan-head. Turning off in the centre of the village at Bilston toll-bar, they turned to the left into the Roslin road, by which they drove on to visit that exquisite gem of Gothic architecture, the Chapel of Roslin, standing on the verge whence the banks slope rapidly down into the romantic glen. It was founded by William St. Clair, Earl of Caithness and Orkney, in 1446. Notwithstanding the damage it sustained from a mob in 1688, it is still very entire, and its restoration is going on slowly, but gradually, by direction of its noble proprietor the Earl of Rosslyn. It is erroneously called a chapel, being, in fact, the choir of the large collegiate church, dedicated to St. Matthew the evangelist, that was begun here. Its endowment was for a provost, six prebendaries, and two singing boys. It is 63 feet in length, 35 in breadth, and 40 in height, and its arched roof is supported by two rows of pillars, the whole presenting a specimen of the richest possible Gothic. The Royal party alighted, and the Queen examined the beautiful interior with great and evident gratification.

The vault under the eastern part of the chapel, is said to have the quality of preserving the bodies laid in it, for any length of time. It is believed that it was the custom with the Saint Clairs, to deposit their knights there in their armour, and without coffins. Sir Walter Scott, in his ballad of Rosabelle, makes a most picturesque use of the old superstition connected with this chapel, that on the death of any of the family, its whole interior appeared to be in flames.

“O’er Roslin all that dreary night,
A wondrous blaze was seen to gleam;
’Twas broader than the wateh-fire’s light,
And redder than the bright moon-beam.
It glared on Roslin’s castled rock,
It ruddied all the copsewood glen;
’Twas seen from Dryden’s groves of oak.
And seen from eavern’d Hawthornden.
Seem’d all on fire that chapel proud,
Where Roslin’s chiefs nneoffin’d lie.
Each Baron, for a sable shrond,
Sheathed in his iron pauoply.
Seem’d all on fire within, around,
Deep sacristy and altar’s pale;
Shone every pillar foliage-bonnd,
And glimmer’d all the dead men’s mail.
Blazed battlement and pinnet high,
Blazed every rose-carved buttress fair—
So still they blaze when fate is nigh
The lordly line of high St. Clair.”

The Queen seemed to take a peculiar pleasure in loitering within the aisles of this most interesting ancient edifice, remarkable for combining the solidity of the Norman, with the elegance and minuteness of decoration of the-latest architecture of the Tudor age; and Her Majesty seemed, moreover, to enjoy the prosing of the cicerone, who tells of the ingenious prentice, who, whilst his superior went to Rome to consult as to how the most beautiful of its pillars should be executed, himself conceived its design, and finished it, and was murdered by the jealousy of his master, who killed him on his return with a blow of his hammer. The head of the murdered youth, with the cut on his skull, and that of his weeping mother, with the tears in her eyes, all curiously carved in stone on the capitals of two of the pillars, attest the veracity of the story. The prentice's pillar is an exquisite piece of workmanship. It has a minute and elegantly carved tracery running spirally around it, so that it will be easily recognised in the engraving of the interior of the chapel, given in this work. The legendary story of the wager between King Robert Bruce and William de Saint Clair, loses much by the demise of the cicerone who died some years ago, and even his narrative was but a feeble shadow of that told by the ancient woman who was his predecessor. In the hands of the present narrator it is deprived of all that euphonious recitative, giving a tenfold interest to ballad story, and which doubtless increased the relish even of the productions of Ariosto himself. The tombstone of Sir William de Saint Clair, is pointed out in the pavement of the chapel, with his foot upon a greyhound. There are few recumbent sepulchral effigies of knights which have not some animal in a similar position. But the legend accounts for the dog being so placed in this case. Saint Clair was one day engaged in hunting with the King in Roslin moor, when they started a white deer. The Knight of Roslin immediately wagered his head that his good greyhounds, Help and Hold, would catch the deer before it should cross the march burn. The chase was long and doubtful, the gallant dogs sticking hard at the heels of their prey, until the deer darted down into the glen, and made directly for the burn. In the anxiety of his mind lest he should forfeit his pledge, Saint Clair called out to the leading dog,

“Help!—haud an ye may,
Or Roslin will tyne his head this day!”

At this moment Help, making an extraordinary effort, dashed into the burn after the deer, and seized him and pulled him down before he could reach the bank, and so saved his master. The ancient chronicler who last told the story used to add, that “the queen, who as present, said to Saint Clair, ‘Roslin, I would not have given a haggis and a horn spoon for thy head,’ — “whilk shewed,” said the old man, “that queens in those days suppit their haggises wi’ horn spoons.” Stung with the queen’s remark, the knight, with more prudence than justice or feeling, declared that he should never be so tempted to peril his head in the same way again, and setting his foot on the neck of poor Help, he put him instantly to death.

The Queen remained for some time in the chapel, admiring its beauties, and listening to its legends, and especially to this last, and so gaining the simple heart of their historian, whilst the Prince and the Duchess were walking about outside. Her Majesty’s desire to see every thing led her to descend two or three of the broken steps leading down to the crypt below; but the custnde having assured her that there was nothing particularly interesting there, Her Majesty was induced to return.

It would have been a sight calculated to have conjured up much curious reflection, to have beheld the Queen of Great Britain under the vaulted roof of this ancient fane—the ruler over two united countries for ages in deadly hostility against each other—and in the close vicinity of that field of battle, where the Scottish army, under Sir Symon Fraser and Sir John Cuming, with 10,000 men, attacked and successively routed the three divisions of the army of Edward I., under Ralf Confrey, mustering 30,000 in all. In the person of Queen Victoria we have the gratifying pledge that there shall be no more such bloody battles between brethren, but that Scot and Southron and Irishmen will continue to fight together to the end of time in defence of the united crown, and the kingdoms which it rules.

The royal party had no time left to bestow on the Castle, which stands on an isolated rock, richly wooded, and projecting like a promontory towards the deep chasm of the river North Esk, and cut off from the neighbouring high ground by a narrow ravine, over which there is a romantic bridge. The river here makes a grand sweep around the base of the promontory, and then throws itself into a wild rocky gorge, through which it fights its way in a series of rapids, alternating with deep pools. The Gaelic name of Ross a promontory, and a profound abyss, accurately designates the situation of the building. The whole surrounding scenery is enchanting, and the more so that it is intimately associated with Scottish song. The ruin, though only a portion of the original building, contains a number of apartments, and some of these are curiously cut out of the rock. The castle was probably founded in the beginning of the 12th century, when William de Sancto Clerc, son to Waldernus de St. Clerc, who came over with William the Conqueror, obtained from Malcolm Canmore a grant of the barony of Roslin. In 1554 it was burned by the army of Henry VIII., along with Leith and Craigmillar.

The royal party having again got into the carriage, it returned and passed through the charming village of Lasswade, formerly described. A richer spot for confined wood or river scenery cannot be found. Crossing the bridge, they took the Polton road, and so drove towards Hawthornden. An immense number of people had collected at various places where a favourable view of the Queen might be expected, and she was received everywhere with the most sincere demonstrations of affection and respect; and these marks of loyalty were always responded to with Her Majesty’s wonted condescension. The huge omnibus which carries passengers between Lasswade and Edinburgh, happened to arrive after the Queen had passed. Andrew Cuddie, its proprietor and driver, immediately invited every one to mount with him. No sooner said than done, and in defiance of all Acts of Parliament, at least twenty people— old women and young, men and boys—were perched outside; and away he went up the steep hill like Jehu, galloping after the Royal carriage, and fast as it went, Mr. Cuddie contrived to reach the gate of Hawthornden grounds as the royal party was entering, and in time for his flying detachment to give the Queen a hearty cheer.

It was about five o’clock when the royal party alighted at the outer doorway of the old edifice of Hawthornden, where they were received by Mr. Henderson, factor to the proprietor, Sir Francis Walker Drummond, Bart., who, with his lady, was unfortunately from home. It is difficult to say whether the most interesting parts of this assemblage of old walls, built at various times, are those of the ancient keep, and other fragments, which start up in picturesque ruin, but of strength and thickness that would seem to defy farther decay, except by progress so slow as to throw the mind back for centuries ere it can account for that which time has wrought on them— or whether the modern, more humble, but entire and habitable portions, are not more full of associations coming closer home to the human heart of civilized life. With the first of these, history does not enable us with certainty to connect the name of any founder; but with the second, the name of William Drummond, the poet—the friend of Ben Jonson—is intimately linked. Drummond, the poet, was the descendant of a family from which the Queen traces her remote lineage, through Queen Annabella Drummond, formerly mentioned, who was daughter of Sir John Drummond of Stobhall, ancestor of the noble family of Perth. The magnificent golden goblet and ewer, presented to the family of Drummond by Queen Annabella, have been already described in that part of this work having reference to Drummond Castle. The poetical genius of her son, James I., entitles him to a conspicuous place in the early history of Scottish poetry. The elegant poet of Hawthornden was descended from her brother William, who, by his marriage with one of the daughters and co-heiresses of Airth of Airth, acquired the estate of Carnock in Stirlingshire. The poet rebuilt the greater part of this more modern edifice, and lived in it as his residence. The site is peculiarly romantic. A bold crag juts prominently out from those in its neighbourhood, and projects over the stream of the Esk. Its base is clothed for a good way up, with rich foliage, and the walls appear to identify themselves with the summit of the rock, the hare front of which is perforated with mysterious looking cavernous openings.

The gate of entrance into the court-yard, though more modern than the tower, is older than the present dwelling-house. Besides the Royal party, the Hon. Mrs. Leslie Gumming and her nieces the Misses Miller, the Misses Hay, Captain and Mrs. Elliott, the Key. Mr. Mackenzie, and the Rev. Mr. Brown, were admitted within the portal. The Queen was ushered into the hall, and thence Her Majesty proceeded to a door admitting her to the view from the back of the house, commanding the deep glen of the Esk looking downwards. This sudden and unexpected introduction to a burst of scenery so exceedingly wild and beautiful, where rocks, wood, and water are so happily brought into composition, struck the Royal pair so very much, that they gave way to their delight in many strong and animated expressions of admiration.

On their return to the hall, Mr. Henderson pointed out to the Queen the old oaken table which belonged to Robert III., who espoused Annabella Drummond. The Queen and the Prince minutely examined the initials and dates upon this curious piece of antiquity. They were then shewn the two-handed sword said to have belonged to Robert Bruce. The Prince was much interested with it, and he particularly remarked its immense hilt or handle, made of the horn of the sea unicorn. The royal party then proceeded to look down into the well, cut through the solid rock to an immense depth. The effect of this is curious, owing to the light breaking laterally into it at a point a good way down, from one of the subterranean galleries. From thence they went to the seat at the brink of the rock, at the west end of the house, which looks plumb into the glen and up the course of the river, commanding all the grand scenery of wooded precipices, between which the stream is seen making its way through the stony masses encumbering its bed below. The Queen and the Prince were so much charmed with this view that they remained for a considerable time enjoying it, and expressing the delight which it gave them. The Prince read to the Queen the inscription on the tablet inserted into the wall, alluding to the poet; and Mr. Henderson mentioned to Her Majesty that there was a large sycamore in front of the house, the growth of many centuries, and under which it was that Drummond of Hawthornden met his friend and brother poet, Ben Jonson, who had walked all the way from London to visit him, on which occasion they are said thus to have saluted each other,

“Welcome, welcome, Royal Ben!"—
“Thank ye, thank ye, Hawthornden!"

Her Majesty said that she had remarked its huge branches as she approached. The Queen having expressed a wish to visit the cave, to which access is gained by a path leading through the little garden, that slopes downwards into a small hollow, under the west side of the old walls, a movement was made to that effect, but on looking around and seeing the immense number of people that had assembled there from Roslin and other places in the vicinity, Her Majesty hesitated a little as to the propriety of descending, observing to Prince Albert, that “there was a great crowd below.” Upon this Mr. Henderson went out and spoke to the people, the greater part of whom at once retreated to the opposite bank of the flower-garden, whilst the remainder formed themselves into two lines along the path the Queen required to take. In the meanwhile Colonel Bouverie, at the suggestion of Prince Albert, stepped forward to the Rev. Mr. Mackenzie, who chanced to be there, and Captain Elliott of the Royal Navy, and said, that “if the gentlemen present would form a guard around Her Majesty’s person, for the purpose of keeping the people at a proper distance, there would be no difficulty in her effecting the descent.” Mr. Mackenzie then approached the Prince, and introduced himself as the parish clergyman, assuring him that he and Captain Elliott “would be answerable that the people should not encroach on Her Majesty’s royal person.” Their services were accepted, and the people having been cautioned by their pastor in a friendly way to keep back, the Queen, leaning on the Prince’s arm, and protected by Mr. Mackenzie and Captain Elliott to right and left, was enabled to trip down the little path to the entrance of the caverns, all present conducting themselves in the most orderly and unobtrusive manner. Two persons were placed at the entrance with lights, and the Royal party got in without any difficulty. The Queen had another peep down into the well from this stage, and a still lower entrance to it was pointed out to her, formed by a cavern which has been explored for a considerable way in the direction of the river, and which, according to popular tradition, had at one time a communication with Roslin. The origin and purpose of these most curious perforations cannot be exactly traced, but they were certainly used in troublesome times as places of retreat and concealment; for, as has been already hinted at, it is known historically that Lord Dalhousie’s ancestor, the famous Sir Alexander Ramsay concealed himself in these caves with a company of bold young men in the year 1338, at the time when Scotland was overrun by the forces of Edward III., and made several successful sallies hence against the English, and signally defeated them under Robert Manvers, near Wark Castle, on the Borders, cutting the whole of their force to pieces. In those days, to be of Sir Alexander Ramsay’s band, was considered as a necessary branch of military education. This was the gallant but unfortunate knight whom the Douglas of Liddesdale started to death in Hermitage Castle. The caves, though all connected with each other, have the various names of the King’s Gallery, the King’s Bedchamber, and the Guard-room. The Duchess of Buccleuch walked up some steps leading to an opening in the face of the precipitous rock, whence a singularly fine view of the scenery is commanded, but which is somewhat dangerous, from being quite unprotected. The Queen called to the Duchess to “ take care and not go too near but percepting that she maintained her position without apprehension, Her Majesty walked up to the same place, and there remained for some time admiring the view. The Queen asked many questions about the different subterraneous apartments, and appeared much gratified with all she saw.

The Royal party now returned to the carriage, which was drawn up under the shade of the great sycamore tree, and after they were seated, the people, chiefly well-dressed matrons and lasses, crowded thickly around the vehicle, so that it would have been impossible for the horses to have moved without doing injury to some of them. The Prince observing this, ordered the postilions not to stir till every thing was clear. Some time elapsed before a passage could be effected, during which the good people continued bowing and bobbing with an endless motion, like that of the rise and fall of the small waves on a piece of water. The Queen laughed at the absurdity of the scene, but at the same time acknowledged the unsophisticated compliments of these her worthy subjects, with the greatest good humour, and Her Majesty’s condescension elicited joyful exclamations of “Long live our bonny Queen!—God bless Her Majesty!” expressions sufficiently touching in themselves, and which were not lost on her kind heart. It was a fine thing to behold the Queen of Great Britain, without guards of any kind, in the midst of the romantic shades of classic Hawthornden, surrounded by some 500 or 600 of the simple rural population of the district, thus so fervently bidding “God bless her.” As the equipage drove off, their loyalty burst forth in loud and prolonged cheers, that made the rocks and the woods resound.

During the time that the Queen was occupied in seeing Hawthorndon, the flying party attached to Mr. Andrew Cuddie’s omnibus, had leisure to furnish themselves with sticks, to which they tied their pocket-handkerchiefs. When the Royal carriage again appeared, therefore, they met Her Majesty with a cheering and a waving that did not fail to attract her attention. She smiled as she acknowledged the compliment, and the Royal carriage had no sooner passed, than Mr. Cuddie put his cattle to the top of their speed after it. But the pace at which the Queen went was much too fast for poor Andrew to vie with, carrying the terrific weight he did, and consequently he was soon completely distanced. The Queen, and the Prince, and the Duchess, were so much amused with Mr. Cuddie’s fruitless efforts to make his clumsy vehicle come up with them, that they were seen looking over the back of the carriage, and laughing heartily. .

Turning to the right at Polton House, the Royal carriage passed through the village of Bonnyrig, and so returned to Dalkeith Palace.

The Royal party at dinner consisted of—

The Queen and Prince Albert
The Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch
General Wemyss
The Duehess of Norfolk
Colonel Convene,
The Earl of Aberdeen
The Earl and Countess of Cawdor
The Earl of Hardwick
Mr. Balfour
The Earl of Liverpool,
Sir James Clark
Sir Robert Peel
Captain Barber,
Lord and Lady Einlyn
Lieutenant White.
Lord and Lady John Scott
Lieutenant Fleming.
The Hon. Miss Paget
Lieutenant Dodds
Lady Mary Campbell
Mr. G. Talbot


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