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Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's Trip to Scotland
Chapter X. Dalkeith

Werxes himself, in all his pride, pomp, and pageantry, when receiving the slavish adulation of millions, could have had but small gratification, compared with that reaped by Queen Victoria from the honest and enthusiastic, though simple, greetings of her Scottish subjects. Fatigued by the exertions and excitement of that day, and filled as she must have been by the consciousness of possessing the combined love of a whole people, the Queen’s slumbers must have been sweet, and it may well be imagined that Sunday was indeed to her a day of rest. Her Majesty, however, was out with the Prince by nine o’clock, and having taken their way along the terraces, they crossed the bridge to the eastward of the palace, and then winding along some beautiful shady walks, through a wood of tall beeches and other trees, there clothing the whole northern banks of the river, they found out the new kitchen garden, recently constructed under the direction of Mr. Macintosh, whom the Queen had known as gardener to King Leopold at Claremont, and whom Her Majesty, with great condescension, immediately recognised as an old acquaintance. The garden contains about twenty imperial acres, five of which are within the inner wall. From a terrace on the western side, a very picturesque view of the town of Dalkeith, and the valley of the North Esk, is enjoyed. Returning by a different way through the same wood, where the sylvan roof of foliage is supported at a great height overhead, by the clear and columnar stems of the timber, the Queen and the Prince inquired of Macintosh, whether they could get directly across to the palace without retracing their steps. Macintosh told Her Majesty, that there was a temporary bridge, of the two planks wide, laid upon trestles, for the convenience of some workmen employed in making a new walk through the shrubbery on the south bank of the river, but that it was by no means a fit passage for Her Majesty. The Queen, however, thought otherwise, for, proceeding directly to the planks, she crossed them without the least hesitation, and returned to the palace by the new walk. A rake, over which Her Majesty stepped as it lay in her way, was afterwards scrambled for, and it has been since carefully preserved as a sacred relic by the person to whose lot it happily chanced to fall.

The Queen and Prince Albert had prayers read by the Reverend Edward Ramsay, of St. John’s episcopal chapel, Edinburgh, who afterwards preached from the latter part of the 9th verse of the xl. chapter of Isaiah, “Say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God.” For this purpose a temporary pulpit was fitted up in the dining-room.

Late in the afternoon the Duchess of Buccleuch drove Her Majesty through the park in her pony phaeton, unaccompanied by any of her suite, or even by a single royal servant. Prince Albert, the Duke of Buccleuch, and Colonel Bouverie, rode along with Her Majesty. In this private manner the Queen passed out of the park by the grass drive, leading by those pretty Gothic buildings the colliers’ houses and the agent’s residence. Passing by the Kennel, the Duke showed the Queen his pack of hounds; after which they took the grass drive, and a private way into the grounds of Newbattle Abbey, the seat of the Marquis of Lothian. Quitting the carriage at the house, which is at present unoccupied, the Royal party walked over the pleasure grounds, visiting a newer green-house erected for the Marchioness of Lothian. Her Majesty and the Prince were much surprised by the magnitude of a tree that arrested their attention in front of the house. The grounds, embracing the wooded banks on both sides of the North Esk, as well as the level lawn in the bottom of its Men, are extremely beautiful, and the timber is of a size and antiquity of growth rarely equalled even in England. The modern house stands on the site of the ancient abbey of Cistercian monks, founded by David I., and the library possesses some curious illuminated manuscripts which belonged to them. The Queen next proceeded to Dalhousie Castle, situated on a most picturesque part of the same river, a little way higher up. There the fine timber, the rocks, and the sparkling stream, produce a thousand home scenes of romantic beauty and interest.

Sir Walter Scott used to say, that he believed Dalhousie Castle to be the oldest inhabited house in Scotland; and that he was quite certain that it was the oldest house in Scotland still inhabited by the same family by which it was originally built. It appears to have been erected by William Ramsay de Dalwolsey, towards the end of the thirteenth century. The son of this Baron was the celebrated Alexander Ramsay, who, at the time of the invasion of Scotland by Edward III., took refuge in the eaves of Hawthornden, whence he and his select band sallied forth in perpetual war on the English. Having taken the fortress of Roxburgh by escalade, on the 20th March 1342, David II. injudiciously rewarded him with the office of Sheriff of Teviotdale, then held by William Douglas, the celebrated knight of Liddesdale. From that moment Douglas was converted from the warmest friend to the most deadly foe of Ramsay. Coming suddenly upon him with a strong force whilst holding a court in the church at Hawick, he dragged him from the chair of justice, and carried him off to his castle of Hermitage, in Liddesdale, where he threw him, together with his horse furniture, into a dungeon, where, after having prolonged his miserable existence for some time by the grains of corn that accidentally dropped through a hole from a granary above, he was at last starved to death. About fifty years ago, a mason employed in building in the neighbourhood, having made an opening, into which curiosity induced him to descend by a ladder, he discovered a vault about eight feet square, in which he found some human bones, with a saddle, a bridle, and a sword, together with a considerable quantity of the husks of corn. The heavy bit of the bridle was presented by Sir Walter Scott to the late Lord Dalhousie, and is now carefully preserved by the present Earl. There is a very rude and ancient coat of arms above the door of Dalhousie Castle, in every respect so precisely of the same character and style as a seal appended to a charter from the Laird of Dalwolsey to the monks of Newhattle in 1370, as to leave no doubt that the seal was cut from the stone. The castle was unsuccessfully besieged in 1400, by Henry IV. as he returned into England after an ineffectual campaign, the last ever led against Scotland by a King of England in person. The castle originally consisted of four lofty battlemented walls, defended at the north angle by a heavy round tower, and enclosing a large space, in the centre of which stood a massive keep, the whole being surrounded by a ditch, except where the bank was precipitous. Various additions have been made to it at different times within the walls, and some of those were not in the best taste; but the late Earl of Dalhousie employed Mr. Burn, who succeeded in restoring it, as much as possible, to its original external appearance, with the introduction of modern windows, and modern comforts within doors.

Just below the castle, and near the edge of a beautiful spring, stands an old oak, called the Edgewell Tree, which has a story attached to it. A superstitious belief has been handed down for ages, and most religiously credited by the people of the country, that upon this tree hang the fate and fortunes of the Dalhousie family. The loss or fracture of any of its limbs has been always regarded as ominous of coming evil; and if the tree itself were utterly destroyed, the extinction both of the castle and the family would be expected inevitably to follow. Tradition says, that just before the death of one of the Earls, and when the fortunes of the family were fast sinking to their lowest ebb, a great storm broke and overwhelmed the old trunk. The celebrated poet, Allan Ramsay, in the beginning of the last century, mentions the popular tradition in one of his notes, and confirms the fact of the tree having been once blow n down, and then he goes on to show that the omen of utter destruction had been already averted by the growth of a young scion, which had immediately sprung up from the root of the old stock, which honest Allan says “is now tall and flourishing,” and then he adds the wish, “Lang be it sae,”—in which all must cordially join who are acquainted with the history of a family which has for so many generations been an honour to Scotland.

The Queen entered the castle to visit Lord and Lady Dalhousie, and very much admired the good taste displayed in it, and was greatly interested by an inspection of the trophies brought by the late Lord Dalhousie from India. After having remained with them for some time, the Queen returned to Dalkeith Palace. The Royal dinner party to-day consisted of—

The Queen and Prince Albert,
The Duke and Duchess of Bucclench,
The Duchess of Norfolk,
The Earl and Countess of Cawdor,
The Earl of Morton,
The Earl of Aberdeen,
The Earl of Liverpool,
Lord Adolphus Fitzclarence,
Sir Robert Peel,
The Hon. Miss Paget,
Lord and Lady John Scott,
Mr. and Lady Georgina Balfour,
Mr. George Edward Anson,
General Wemyss,
Colonel Bouverie,
Sir James Clark.
Captain Osborne,
Captain Wood,
Mr. Ramsay.

Monday, the 5th of September, was the day fixed by Her Majesty for receiving the nobility and others who were desirous of being presented. For days previously, very various and very different were the opinions given as to the mode in which the Reception was to be conducted, as well as regarding the style of dress that was to be worn. But all these doubts had been set at rest by the following publication, in the Gazette of Saturday the 27th of August. At this time it was contemplated that the Reception would take place at Holyrood on Friday the 2d of September.

“The ceremony of the Reception by Her Majesty at the Palace of Holyrood.

“St. James’ Palace, August 25, I842.

“The Queen will receive those ladies and gentlemen, who may be desirous of paving their respects to Her Majesty, at the Palace of Holyrood House, on Friday the 2d of September next, at two o’clock. Ladies may appear without trains or feathers. Gentlemen in levee dress. The ladies and gentlemen who purpose attending this Reception, are requested to bring with them two cards, with their names legibly written thereon, one to be left with the Queen’s Page in attendance in the ante-room, and the other to he delivered to the Lord in Waiting, who will announce the name to Her Majesty. And those ladies who are to be presented, are hereby informed it is absolutely necessary that their names, together with the names of the ladies who are to present them, should be sent to Sir William Martin, at the Royal Hotel, Edinburgh, before two o’clock on Tuesday the 30th; and those gentlemen who are to be presented, will also send to Sir William Martin their names, together with the names of the gentlemen who are to present them, in order that they may be submitted for the Queen’s approbation, it being Her Majesty’s command, that no presentation shall take place, unless the name of the lady or gentleman presenting, together with that of the lady or gentleman to be presented, shall appear on the card to be delivered, as before directed, corresponding with the names sent in to Sir William Martin.”

The Gazette of Wednesday the 31st of August, contained the following :—

“The Lord Chamberlain’s Department, 30th August 1842.

“Notice is hereby given, that the ladies and gentlemen to be presented to Her Majesty, at the Reception to take place at the Palace of Holyrood on Friday next, are not to wear a glove on the right hand when presented.

“Regulations for the carriages of those who attend the Reception of Her Majesty at the Palace of Holyrood, on Friday the 2d of September next:—

“The Entree.

“It is ordered,

“The carriages of those having the privilege of the Entree, are to proceed by the Canongate, set down at the principal entrance of the Palace, and then draw up in front of the Palace. In leaving the Palace, the carriages are to take up at the principal entrance, and drive off by the Canongate.

“The General Company.

“The carriages are to proceed by the Regent-road, enter by the northern approach, and set down at the door on the north side of the Palace ; then proceed on to the Queen’s-park, and wait. Upon being called, the carriages are to take up at the gate on the south side of the Palace, and drive off by the south road.


for the carriages of those having the Entree, will be delivered at my chambers, No. 17, Nelson-street, on Thursday next, between eleven and three o’clock.

“The doors will be opened at one o’clock.

“ROB. RUTHERFORD, D. K. of Holyrood.

Palace. of Holyiiood, August 30, 1842.”

The unfortunate alarm of fever which occasioned the desertion of Holyrood upon this occasion, was much deplored by all patriotic Scotsmen, and by no one was the sad necessity more regretted than by the Queen herself, as Her Majesty had an especial wish to have held her drawing-room in the ancient halls of her Royal ancestors. None of the Royal residences possesses a suite of apartments more perfectly adapted for such a purpose, and these had been all fitted up for the occasion. The walls of the throne room were hung with crimson damask, surrounded by a broad moulding of gold. The carpet was a rich crimson—and the whole public rooms, as well as those intended for the private use of the Queen and Prince Albert, were gorgeously furnished. Those of the entree were to have been admitted at the grand entrance, and the general company were to have been set down at the north side of the building, to enter under a newly erected vestibule, and so to have been ushered up stairs into the grand gallery, 147 feet long, by 45 feet wide, whence a regular stream of company might have been kept flowing on through a succession of five large rooms into the presence chamber, 63 feet in length, where those to be presented would have entered by a door in one angle opposite to the throne, afterwards to retire by the door in the other angle of the same end of the room. By this arrangement the whole ceremonial of presentation at Holyrood would have been magnificent. Even the Muse sighed forth the plaint of the venerable Palace itself, in a poetical epistle to the Duke of Hamilton.1 As, however, it was now fixed to take place at Dalkeith Palace, a notice dated the 5th of September was issued, that no persons nor carriages would be admitted into Dalkeith Park on that day, but those going to the Reception at the Palace.

In the meanwhile, preparations were going on with great activity, under the direction of Mr. Burn architect, who covered in the whole of the square area embraced within the front, and the projection of the two wings, by means of a wooden erection and awning, so as to convert it into one great vestibule. The early sound of hammers annoyed the Duke of Buccleuch very much, as he was afraid it might have disturbed the Queen. About eight o’clock, horses were at the door to convey Prince Albert, Colonel Bouverie, and Mr. Anson to Edinburgh, and as His Royal Highness came out to mount, the Duke expressed his anxious regret that Her Majesty should have been subjected to so much noise. The Prince assured his Grace that the Queen had not been disturbed; and observing what had been done, he said, “Ah! this will do very well.”

Exactly at nine o’clock, Prince Albert rode into the court-yard of the University, where he was received by the very Rev. Principal Lee, and Professors Bell and Traill. In the absence of Professor Jameson, of the Natural History class, whose apology of indisposition was tendered by his nephew, Mr. Laurence Jameson, Professor Traill conducted His Royal Highness through the museum of that department. The professor was surprised with the extent and accuracy of the Prince’s knowledge of the various branches of natural history, especially in the department of ornithology, and he could not help saying so; upon which His Royal Highness informed him that he had employed himself for some years in making a complete collection of European birds, and that he had studied practical ornithology in Switzerland, and various other parts of Europe. The learned professor had not long the honour of enjoying the Prince’s conversation, until he discovered that his Royal Highness was exceedingly well read on most other subjects, and that he had never met with one among our nobility or gentry, who, at so early a period of life, had acquired so much general information.

Having received the Prince at the door of the museum, Dr. Traill first conducted him into the lower saloon, appropriated to the specimens of mammalia, and the large animals. The Prince first noticed the fine specimen of the wild ox of Scotland, presented lately to the museum by the Duke of Hamilton. He said that he was aware that it was not only to be found in Scotland, at Hamilton, but that it also existed in Chillingham Park, in England. He made some remarks on the numerous specimens of the feline tribe, and of that of antelopes and deer, and was particularly interested by the huge American elk, and the wild sheep of the Rocky Mountains. On seeing the fine specimen of the fossil elk, he particularly inquired as to its locality, the soil and depth at which it was buried, and appeared struck with the enormous size of its antlers. Some of the cetacea, also, interested him much, especially the walrus, the beluga, and the dugong of the eastern seas. The Port-beagle and Beaumaris sharks, attracted his attention. He asked if they were frequent on the coasts of Scotland, and observed how formidable their teeth must prove to fishermen and sailors where they abound. On noticing the different species of delphinus, he remarked how often navigators, and even naturalists, had confounded the common porpoise with the dolphin of the ancients, and pointed out how they could always be immediately distinguished. In the same room lie noticed the polar and grisly bears, and appeared much interested with the bones of the great fossil whale, found on Lord Abercromby’s estate of Airthrey, near Stirling, and particularly inquired how far the spot was from the present sea, and also by what soil, and at what depth, it had been buried.

When His Royal Highness entered the upper saloon, it was obvious that ornithology was his favourite branch of natural history. He astonished Professor Traill by his familiarity with the rarest specimens in the collection, and with the best writers on the subject. He showed that he had studied the merits of the different systems, and he seemed pleased to find the collection arranged and named according to the system of Cuvier. He expressed himself so as to prove that he was well aware of the injury done to natural history by the inordinate desire which exists for the creation of new genera, from trifling distinctions in character, as well as of that which arises from the obstinate resistance of some naturalists to all change. He spoke of various ornithological works, with the familiarity of an accomplished naturalist, and while examining the Indian birds, he passed a high encomium on the delineations of Gould. The Prince asked if Edinburgh possessed a separate collection of British birds, and highly applauded the utility of such local Faunae.

When the Prince cast his eyes on the beautiful collection of minerals in the centre of this saloon, he particularly inquired into its history. Dr. Traill informed His Royal Highness, that almost the whole of the oryctognostic collection had been the private cabinet of Professor Jameson. “Indeed,” added Dr. Traill, “although the Senatus Academicus may be said to have laid the foundation of this noble museum, by purchasing for £3000 the collections of Dufresne of Paris, consisting chiefly of birds and shells, the present perfection of the whole collection of natural history was chiefly owing to the zeal and munificence of Professor Jameson, who had made large sacrifices of time and money to form a museum worthy of the University.”

While inspecting the grouse family, the Prince stated his conviction that the reported discovery of the red grouse in some of the Scandinavian isles, was owing to the young of an allied species being mistaken for it, and that his own researches had led him to be of the opinion of Linnaeus, that this bird is a species peculiar to the British isles. He asked if the wood grouse or capercailzie had really been extinct in Scotland, until the late importations of the bird by the Marquess of Breadalbane. He mentioned that he had shot it on the continent. In passing through this saloon he praised the collection of corvidae, cuckoos, kingsfishers, colibri, certhiadae, paradised, and pigeons. Among the latter he pointed out a bronze-winged species, which was then living- at Windsor. He asked if the museum yet possessed a specimen of the great African kingsfisher, a recent discovery, and before his attendant had time to point it out, he stooped down to examine the case, and singled it out as one of the rarities of the collection. The Prince was quite aware of the fact, that humming birds, and similar general usually supposed to frequent flowers for their honey, really devour the insects in the nectaries of plants. The magnificent specimen of the quelzal was not new to him, and he was quite familiar with its habits and history. He took especial interest in the room appropriated to British birds. Among other remarks here, he stated, that the young of the great northern diver is often seen on the lakes of Germany—the adult birds never. He considered the two British spotted woodpeckers as perfectly distinct species. On noticing the great bustard, he described the chase of the bird by greyhounds, the creature being unable to rise till the breeze produced by the rapidity of its movements aids the power of its wings. He said, that from all he could learn, the great bustard must now be considered as lost to the British Fauna.

In the room containing the models of mountains, the Prince was so obliging as to point out to Dr. Traill the path by which he had ascended to the Mer-de-Glace and the Jardin, which he described as exceedingly fatiguing. He said that the state of the weather had prevented his attempting the ascent of Mont Blanc, and that in his opinion, the sublimest views w-ere not obtained from the towering summits, but in the recesses of the Allee blanche, and where the Alps impend over Italy. His Royal Highness showed his great familiarity with Alpine sublimities, of which he spoke with animating enthusiasm. Before leaving the western museum, he entered the lecture-room of Professor Jameson, and examined with interest the delineations of icebergs, which were hung up for illustration of the glacial theory.

Before visiting the eastern museum, the Prince was introduced into the Library, and expressed his admiration of its noble hall, 190 feet in length, certainly one of the most beautiful galleries in Europe. Principal Lee conducted His Royal Highness into the small room containing the curious library, bequeathed to the College by Drummond the poet of Hawthornden. The few old MSS. possessed by the University, and the splendid Koran that once belonged to Tippoo Saib, were examined by him with interest. On a table in that room lies the original protest of the German Princes and nobles against the execution of John Huss, with its old seals still appended. Dr. Traill took the liberty of remarking, that perhaps His Royal Highness might find some of his own illustrious ancestors among those noble assertors of liberty of conscience. “That is not probable,” replied the Prince, “because I see that it has been chiefly signed by the nobles of Bohemia.” The Prince was also pleased to examine the small but choice collection of pictures, bequeathed to the University by the late Sir David Erskine of Torry. While walking through the Library, Dr. Traill took the liberty of expressing a hope that Her Majesty the Queen had not suffered from her gracious wish to gratify her loyal subjects, in her recent progress through her ancient Scottish capital, and its port of Leith. “Not at all,” replied His Royal Highness; “Her Majesty has been exceedingly gratified by the demonstrations of attachment and loyalty with which her presence has been hailed by the Scottish nation.”

The Prince was then conducted to the eastern museum over the College gates. This consists of a series of small rooms, containing collections of fishes and serpents, in spirits, and a series of skeletons of animals; with fossil bones from various European localities, especially from Austria, many from America, and a fine series from the foot of the Himalaya range. The attention of His Royal Highness was arrested by the vast fossil remains of elephants, but particularly by the yet unique specimens of the Sivatherium. He also viewed with interest the very curious collection of skulls of different nations; among which the crania of the negro race, with their low facial angle, the broad head of the Mongolian, the narrow forehead of the Malay, and the flattened skulls of the North American Indians, were particularly noticed. One of the latter, from the western coast, appeared almost compressed into a horizontal cake. His Royal Highness drew comparisons between this collection and that of the celebrated Blumen-baeh, with which he appeared to be well acquainted.

The Prince finally inspected the museum intended for illustration of the agricultural lectures of Professor Low. He highly commended the curious collection of models of farm-yards, implements of husbandry, mills, and portraits of the different races of domestic animals, and he expressed great approbation of this method of giving effect to the professorial prelections on a subject of this description, by those excellent substitutes for the realities, as well as by the numerous specimens of soils, seeds, and dried specimens.

The College gates had been kept locked to prevent intrusion, but a vast assemblage of people had collected in the street. As the Prince mounted his horse, he asked Dr. Traill with a smile, “How am I to get through so great a crowd?" Dr. Traill assured him that way would be immediately opened for His Royal Highness, and accordingly this was done spontaneously as he approached the gate. He was received with a deafening shout of applause, with the waving of handkerchiefs, and the uncovering of every head, which he acknowdedged, by bowing repeatedly and most gracefully, to the very neck of his horse.

Prince Albert then proceeded to the Royal Institution on the Mound, where he visited the apartments of the Royal Society, for the purpose of inscribing his name in the list of members, he having been unanimously and by acclamation elected an honorary fellow, at a special meeting, held on the 29th of August. He was accompanied thither by Principal Lee, and Mr. Russell, Treasurer to the Royal Society. Having written his name in the book, the Prince walked through the apartments, and expressed his approbation of the manner in which the Royal Society is accommodated. His Royal Highness then visited the Museum of the Scottish Antiquaries, where he saw the celebrated “Maiden,”—the rude machine by which State criminals were for ages decapitated in Scotland, and which is said to have given origin to the continental guillotine,—John Knox’s pulpit, —the stool which Jenny Geddes threw at the head of the clergyman, who was about to read the liturgy,—David Rizzio’s walking cane,— the old Scottish instrument of torture called the thumbikins,—the ribbon worn by Prince Charles Stuart,—and many other things, which he examined with great curiosity. His Royal Highness then inspected the Gallery of Ancient Pictures in the large room belonging to the Royal Association for the encouragement of the Fine Arts, where he was much pleased with the choice Vandykes. He there met Sir John Robison and Dr. Abercromby.

It is much to be regretted that the limited time which the Prince had to bestow, put it out of his power to inspect the grand collection of casts from ancient sculpture in the gallery, and other apartments above stairs, belonging to the Honourable the Commissioners of the Board of Trustees for the Encouragement of Scottish Manufactures, where the finest specimens of ancient sculpture, from all the foreign collections, are to be seen, and where the celebrated and unrivalled Albacini collection of ancient pictorial busts, acquired at Rome, has been set up, for the admiration and study both of artists and classical scholars, and which are so especially useful to the students in the three classes of the school of design established by the Board.

From the Royal Institution Prince Albert proceeded to the Calton Hill, whence he enjoyed that series of grand panoramic views already described. Returning thence, he rode through George-street and Moray-place, and following the Lothian-road, he went out as far as Morningside, for the purpose of beholding the fine extended view of the city from that point, where its prominent features of the Castle, the Victoria spire, the old Cathedral of St. Giles, Heriot’s Hospital, Salisbury Crags, and Arthur Seat, are seen to great advantage, and then returning by Bruntsfield Links, and the middle walk of the Meadows, to Teviot-row, he proceeded at a good pace by Bristo-street towards Dalkeith. On his arrival at the ducal palace, the Prince expressed the great interest which he had experienced in all he had seen in the Scottish metropolis.

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