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Reminiscences and Reflections of an Octogenarian Highlander Chapter XXII. - The Coming of the Queen


THE booming of the quarrel over the Veto Act, which quickly developed into a bitter war between Church arid State, was from south and north soon rolling over the heads of our Glen academic debaters, who still thought themselves safe when the coronation of Queen Victoria diverted people's thoughts for a moment to a far more agreeable subject, and united all Highlanders in one glow of chivalrous loyalty and devotion to their girl Sovereign, whose age, sex, and loneliness, appealed to their deepest sympathies. Well do I remember being set to read a florid account of the Coronation from an Edinburgh paper either the "Courant" or "Caledonian Mercury" to an attentive audience gathered round our kitchen fire, while my aged grandmother took upon herself the larger part of the task of simultaneously translating the English, sentence by sentence, into Gaelic. She had, pat and perfect, old Gaelic words for throne, coronation, robes, crown, sceptre which I fear I called "skepter"- and Sword of State, etc., but the globe bothered her so entirely that she had to give it up. She translated it "cruinneag" or ball, but could make nothing of its symbolical meaning. She and others of her generation enjoyed the liberty this occasion gave them for going back from Kings of Judah and Israel to the history of Scottish Kings as far as Kenneth Macalpin, which had come down by oral tradition.

Long afterwards when I read the "Duan Albannach," I was much surprised to discover that the substance of it was retained to a remarkable extent in the oral and local traditions which our aged people recalled and told at the time of Queen Victoria's coronation. As for the later Kings from the days of Wallace and Bruce, as Glenlyon was visited by so many of them for hunting purposes until the Union of the English and Scottish Crowns, there was nothing very strange in the fact that the traditions were fairly strong and unbroken.


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