Search just our sites by using our customised search engine
Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's Trip to Scotland
Chapter XXI. Departure from Taymouth

Years may pass over the towers of Taymouth, ere its inhabitants shall be again awakened to sensations such as those which affected them on the morning of Saturday the 10th of September, when all were early astir. The sun rose gloriously in a cloudless sky, but much as every one desired fine weather on the Queen’s account, the smiling heavens and the joyous features of the landscape, were but little in harmony with the feelings of the inmates of the castle, from the Marquess himself and his interesting Marchioness, down to the humblest of their retainers. The Queen was this day to depart. She, whose countenance had thrown its own sunshine so brilliantly over every thing, as to leave no one sensible that clouds or rain had ever attempted to mar their happiness—the Queen was to depart, and every soul was sunk in gloom at the thought that they must again return to the commonplaces of ordinary life. Sad, sad were their hearts; and it may be surmised that Her Majesty, too, had so far partaken of the inspiring draught of romantic feeling, so generally affecting all, as to make her wear something like a tinge of melancholy. Certain it is, that if the Royal arrangements had not been so made and settled as to render any alteration difficult, the Queen would have gladly postponed her departure from Taymouth until Monday, or even longer. But, as Sovereign of Britain, she is frequently compelled to sacrifice her own wishes and desires. The consideration which she manifested for the delicate health of Lady Breadalbane, and her endeavours upon all occasions to save her from fatigue— the readiness with which she entered into any plan formed for the Royal amusement—her kind expressions of satisfaction with all that was done—and the gracious cordiality of her manner to all who came into her presence—were observed and duly appreciated by every one in the castle. It is not surprising, then, that all these should have made so deep an impression on the minds of its noble owners, as not only to give the highest value in their eyes to the visit of the Queen to Taymouth, as a distinguished honour conferred on them, but also to fill their hearts with the most delightful recollections of it as a period of intense enjoyment.

That the Queen was desirous of carrying with her the freshest reminiscences of this charming place, was evident from the circumstance, that, amidst all the hurry of preparation for departure, she escaped from the great gallery, by the iron stair, at half-past eight o’clock in the morning, and taking Prince Albert’s arm, she walked along the western approach hanging over the river, and so gained the grassy slopes leading up to the Dairy. Again were the damsels of this pretty cottage of milk-white and crystalline quartz taken by surprise. The view from the terrace on which the cottage stands, was this day so clear and sunshiny, and the mountains in the farthest distance were so well defined, that both the Queen and the Prince were amply repaid for their activity. So inviting was the scene, that they climbed to the balcony to enjoy the prospect in still greater perfection, and there indeed it was exquisitely beautiful, and the Prince entered fully into all Her Majesty’s admiration of it. The Queen and the Prince returned with so much expedition from this little morning excursion, that few people were aware they had ever been out of their apartments.

An occurrence of apparently small moment took place at Taymouth, which ought not to be forgotten. Mr. John Alston of Glasgow, is well known as the benefactor of the blind, from his embossed alphabet, in which he has printed the Bible and other books for their use, which they now read with great ease, by means of the mere touch of their finger points. Having also invented a mode of arranging coloured worsteds of all shades, so that those deprived of sight can take them out, and work them into patterns where the colours are introduced with the most delicate gradation, he felt desirous to bring it under the Royal notice. He accordingly requested Lady Belhaven to present to Her Majesty a beautiful hassock, made in this way at the Glasgow Blind Asylum. This her ladyship took an opportunity of doing; and it pleased the Queen so much, that she graciously accepted it, and gave orders for four more of the same kind. Her Majesty, moreover, sent a donation of ten guineas to the valuable institution, whence the hassock came.

The Marquess naturally felt desirous to have some memorial fixed in the soil of Taymouth, which should awaken interesting associations in future ages, with the occurrences of these memorable days. With this view his lordship made an humble request to the Queen, that she would plant a tree, to remain as a thriving and ever-increasing memorial of the Royal visit. He ordered an elegant little spade to be made of the finest steel, with a mahogany shaft, and having its handle covered with crimson velvet, which is preserved at the dairy, with the date, “September 10th, 1842.” This interesting ceremony, which the Queen undertook with the greatest cheerfulness, still remained to be carried into effect.

A portion of the Breadalbane Highland Guard of Honour having been that morning despatched to the western extremity of Loch Tay, to receive the Queen on her arrival there, the remainder stood drawn up opposite the grand entrance, with an air of silent gloom over their manly countenances. The Queen and Prince Albert now got into their carriage with Lady Breadalbane, and drove off, under the salutes of the guards, the fort, and the batteries. They proceeded towards the flower garden, a beautiful spot near the river to the east of the castle, where Lord Breadalbane assisted the Queen to alight, and the interesting operation immediately commenced in presence of the Duke of Buccleuch, Lords Liverpool, Aberdeen, Morton, and Kinnaird, Sir Robert Peel, Mr. Fox Maule, and others, who stood around till the work was finished. Four holes having been already dug, at proper distances from each other, and the young plants, consisting of two oaks and two Scottish firs, from four to five feet high, having been prepared, an oak was put into one of the holes hy the noble Marquess, assisted by his principal forester, Mr. Dewar. The Queen then took the neat little spade in her hands, and went about her work with great grace and alacrity. There was no make-believe in the matter. Finding herself encumbered hy the parasol that hung to her wrist, she handed it to the Marquess— put her foot on the spade—shovelled the earth in very neatly all round—and then trod it firmly about the stem. The gardener could not have done the work more scientifically or expertly. After this Her Majesty proceeded to plant a fir tree with the same care and adroitness. Prince Albert then planted a fir and an oak, to both of which he did even possible justice. That these trees were well and carefully planted, is best proved by the fact, that although the season of the year was not quite that which old Evelyn, or even more modern writers on arboriculture, have recommended as the best for any such work, the Royal hands seem to have shed a blessing on the work, for at this moment the trees are so perfectly fresh and unchanged in their appearance, even in the minutest parts of their spray, as to ensure their bursting forth in full vigour of leaf. Seldom has a more interesting or gratifying scene been performed by any Royal personage. The surrounding landscape, too, was exquisitely beautiful,—the level and shaven turf—the plots of shrubs and flowers—the tall and umbrageous old sheltering trees in close vicinity, standing as if in the character of sponsors, solemnly promising to protect these infant children of royalty from every rude blast. May Heaven prosper these young plants ! and may they long endure, as living emblems of those tender scions, in whose welfare the great interests of a mighty nation are so deeply involved.

Lord Breadalbane had been kept in doubt, until an advanced hour in the morning, as to whether the voyage by water, or the land journey, ought to be considered as the most advisable for the Queen; but he had made preparation for either alternative. The Hon. Mrs. Fox Maule, and his Lordship’s brother-in-law, Mr. Charles Baillie, had gone off early in a carriage and four, to see that every thing was properly arranged for the reception of Her Majesty, at the old family residence of Auchmore, situated on the southern side of the Dochart, just above its point of junction with the western extremity of Loch Tay. Their road lay by Kenmore Bridge, and by the north side of the lake, that being also the Queen’s best route, in the event of Her Majesty going by land. Had the Queen gone by this way, Her Majesty would have seen the lake from a great variety of magnificent points, for it is never lost sight of, until the traveller approaches Killin, where the road runs at the base of the grand and most picturesque mountain cliffs of Craigcaillach, and behind and to the northward of the ruined castle and noble old place of Finlarig, once a retreat sacred to Druidical worship, and a very ancient seat of the Breadalbane family, where the importance and beauty of the site, as estimated bv its barons of old, is proved by the great growth and antiquity of the trees with which its grounds have been so carefully and plentifully planted, having among them many of the finest old Spanish chestnuts any where to be met with. The family burial-place is here, and that, together with the remains of the castle, and the tree on which culprits, or those who happened to “displease the laird,” were wont to be hanged — all stand on a beautiful wooded knoll, rising out of the plain, through which the river Lochy, after leaving its own wild and romantic glen, hastens to join the Dochart. The scenery here is of the highest order of grandeur. The village of Killin itself is not large, but it is very picturesquely situated, on the peninsula between the two rivers, in the midst of an amphitheatre of rocky and wooded steeps. The bridge over the Dochart affords a fine scene—the broad stream above breaking over ten thousand rocky points, and inclosing a most romantic island below, occupied by the ancient burial-place of the MacNabs. In their anxious hope and anticipation that the Queen would come their way, the villagers of Killin had bestirred themselves to ornament their houses, which were whitewashed, and adorned with wreaths of flowers and heather, flags, and mottoes.

Auchmore lies about a mile eastward from Killin. All was in perfect order there, and ready for Her Majesty. It is an old-fashioned house, patched at different times, with a good deal of wood rising towards the southern hill. Within this is a square plot of grass, with gravelled walks and shrubberies, where the detachment of the Breadalbane Guard of Honour was posted. The house has one room of goodly size, with glass doors, and here preparations were made for Her Majesty’s luncheon. A rich level plain, of mingled enclosure and plantation, lies between the house and the angle formed by the river Dochart and the head of Loch Tay. Over this the roebucks are frequently seen bounding, or feeding carelessly, as if aware that they have no cause to be afraid of man. Auchmore is a charming dwelling, of the shooting and fishing-lodge description, and was for some years the residence of the present Marquess before the death of the late Lord Breadalbane. It commands a beautiful and extensive view of the lake, Benlatvers, the passes leading into Glen-Lochy and Glen-Doehart, the druidical groves of Finlarig, and the rugged and most picturesque rocks of Craigcaillach, rising from the woods immediately behind that peaceful and picturesque place of sepulture of the chieftains of Glenurquhy and the lords of Breadalbane.

The place prepared for the Queen’s landing, was a small boat harbour in the Dochart, so little way above the head of Loch Tay, that it is difficult to say whether the water is there river or lake. A beautiful sod fort is raised close to this haven, which had its guns all prepared, and a Royal standard ready to be hoisted. A crowd of people was assembled here, in the hope that the Queen would come by water. At the upper end of the creek a flight of steps, beautifully covered with heather, so as to resemble a Persian carpet, gave access to a rustic building, consisting of a roof with four gables, supported on pillars, decorated with heath, and Highland myrtle. A roadway leading to the house, was mown across the grass.

The interesting ceremony of planting the trees being over, and the weather continuing to be propitious, Lord Breadalbane hastened on foot to that part of the river Tay where the flotilla of boats was moored, about an hundred and fifty yards below the bridge of Kenmore. His Lordship had by this time been informed as to the Queen’s determination. The terrace runs close along the margin of the river, having very noble trees on both sides. A flight of embarkation steps was prepared and covered with crimson cloth. The flotilla consisted of—1st, The Royal Barge, commanded and steered by Captain MacDougall, R.N., of Lorne, carvel-built, and for the occasion, by Mr. M‘Nicholl of Greenock, 32 feet long, 6 feet 10 inches broad, 2 feet 9 inches deep, and eight or ten-oared. This beautiful craft has a deep gold moulding inside, with stem and stern-head beautifully carved and gilt, the lining painted in imitation of the Breadalbane tartan, the inside of the gunwales having a convex gold moulding in the centre, relieved on each side by blue and green. The seats for the rowers arc covered with Breadalbane tartan, of the finest woollen cloth, and the stern seat cushion? with the same material, fringed with gold. The Ro\al seat or cushion, in the centre, is of the richest Breadalbane tartan velvet, surmounted with a beautiful and costly representation of the hoar’s head the Breadalbane crest, and the Scottish thistle in tapestry fringed with gold. The footstool is of the richest crimson velvet, trimmed with gold. The back board is beautifully carved and gilt, the cushion in the centre being stuffed with the finest down, and covered with crimson velvet, and the stern platform is laid with the finest Brussels carpet. The bows are ornamented with the Breadalbane crest and the coronet of a marquess. The awning or canopy is of Breadalbane tartan, of the finest spun silk, decorated in the most tasteful manner with festoons of roses, thistles, and mountain heather, and the awning rods are ornamented with rich gold knobs. The timbers are in one piece, finely rounded, and from the novel manner in which the boat is constructed, no nail-head, point, or rivet, is discernible throughout the whole interior of the boat. The row locks are of highly polished brass, and of a swivel description, adding materially to the general effect of the whole. There were at least fifty applicants for the honour of rowing the Queen in this splendid barge, but it was manned by eight picked boatmen from the slate-quarry island of Easdale, in the far western part of the Breadalbane territories—all first-rate hands at the oar, and having bonnets with gold hands, and Jersey frocks of Breadalbane tartan, with white trowsers, quite in harmony with the decorations ;—it had also the Royal flag and two pipers in the bow. The barge lay close to the place of embarkation ready to receive the Queen. The second boat was the Loch Tav, steered by James Campbell of Dalserf, Lieutenant R.N. It is of the same model and dimensions as the Royal barge, but is fitted up in a less splendid manner. The third boat was that sent down by the Admiralty from Woolwich dockyard, with two Admiralty bargemen, in splendid liveries, for the purpose of carrying the Queen, but the Clyde boat was preferred from her superior build and finish. The Admiralty barge was about 30 feet long, 21 feet broad, and feet deep, with 10 oars, and was distinguished by one of the plain Breadalbane flags. A story was current about Kenmore of a Highlander, who asked one of the Thames men belonging to this boat, whether the Queen was very beautiful. “Beautiful!” exclaimed the Englishman, “why, as to that you shall judge for yourself, when you see Her Majesty. But I’ll tell thee what, friend—there’s not another lady in all England has such a foot and ankle—no, nor in all Scotland neither!” The fourth was a barge “the Galley of Lorne,” built in Greenock. The fifth was a Thames six-pared wherry, employed in towing the boat containing the regimental band, which so filled it that there vTas no room for rowers; these were steered by an Admiralty bargeman.

The Queen, Prince Albert, and Lady Breadalbane, left the castle of Taymouth in the Royal carriage, followed by their suite, amidst the thunder of the guns of the fort and batteries, and the last sad and parting salute of the Breadalbane Guard of Honour. As Her Majesty left the park by the Kenmore gate, there was still some doubt whether she intended to go by land or water, and all eyes were anxiously fixed on the carriage, until it arrived at the dubious point, where the matter was made certain by its turning in at the gate, and along the terrace leading to the little pier.

How the gallant and brawny men of Easdale, selected for the Royal barge, were envied by those of the other boats, when they saw that the Queen was really going by water! Whilst this was supposed to be very doubtful, they had received an ample supply of gratis and ironical advice from their kind friends, “ to take care and do their best, and to row well, and not to splash.” But now that those friendly advisers saw that so great an honour was really to be enjoyed by them, they would have been willing to have died at the west end of the loch, to have been allowed to change places with them. Captain MacDougall himself was in attendance, dressed in the full Highland garb.

The Queen’s carriage drove up with its near wheels within three feet of the carpet laid on the ground, and Captain MacDougall observing this, applied immediately to Lord Kinnaird, who was standing by, for the use of a tartan shawl he had in his hand, and instantly spread it on the ground for Her Majesty to step on. Lord Breadalbane then handed the Queen from the carriage, at a few minutes before eleven o’clock, and seated her in the boat, the whole of the crews having their oars up, the band playing “God Save the Queen,” and a small detachment of the military presenting arms. Lord Breadalbane immediately got into the cockswain’s seat behind, but Her Majesty insisted on his taking his place on her left. The Prince was on her right, and on his right sat the Duchess of Buccleuch, and on Lord Breadalbane’s left the Duchess of Norfolk. The Duke and Duchess of Roxburghe, Sir Robert Peel, Lord Lorne, and two others, took their places in “the galley of Lorne.” The barge “Loch Tay” received the Duke of Buccleuch, Lords Liverpool and Morton, Lord and Lady Belhaven, and Lord and Lady Kinnaird. Lieutenant Campbell, B.X., who steered the boat, wore his full naval uniform, with a St. Jean d’Acre medal.

The effect of this most interesting spectacle of the embarkation, as witnessed from a point a little below the pier, was extremely fine. The combination of objects forming the scene where it took place, is beautiful. A large grassy terrace runs along the southern bank of the river, embowered in magnificent trees, and within it, nearer the bridge, some picturesque cottages, occupied by the gardener and others, are seen peeping from between their immense trunks. The opposite bank of the river is covered with timber of a similar description. Above it rises Drummond hill, with crags of the most picturesque character starting from the thick foliage of its woods. The bridge, about two hundred yards above, is seen uniting the two banks. On this occasion it was hung with garlands, and covered with people, and its grand triumphal arch was surmounted by the Royal banner of England. Beyond its five noble arches, the broad waters of the lake were seen sparkling like fretted crystal, together with the wooded island, and the melting distances. The Royal barge, proud of its precious freight, lay like some gorgeous bird upon the water, by the margin of the stream. The carriages, horses, and people were crowded along the green terrace, or half concealed by the tall steins of the trees. The other barges were nearing the side, and the boats with the band, scattered over the surface of the wide river, the whole forming one of the most beautiful and impressive pictures imaginable.

At the word of command, down went the oars of the Royal barge, and, as if instantaneously gifted with an intense spirit of life, off she darted with the swiftness of a dolphin. Her advance, followed by the other boats, was exceedingly fine ; and as she shot through the centre arch, and was launched upon the pellucid surface of the lake, loud cheers arose from the multitudes covering the bridge, and the gravel beaches, on either side, above it. When their loyal acclamations died away, a certain air of quiet reigned over the scene for some time, adding infinitely to its grandeur, and giving to it the effect of a fairy dream.

After passing the bridge, the boats formed in line on each quarter of the Royal barge, which now came abreast of the wooded island where Queen Sybilla, daughter of Henry I., reposes. If her spirit could have looked upon the passing spectacle, how wonderful to her would have been the contrast with those of the period in which she lived! A Royal salute was tired from the batteries, and from the yachts anchored there, which were all decorated with flag’s. After these thunders had subsided, the sounds from the bands and the pipes on board of the flotilla were faintly heard, until they also died away; yet still it was lovely to look upon that broad and far-withdrawing lake, its sheet of water glittering with the gay flotilla, which continued its stead} onward progress, whilst soft hreezes curled over the surface, vying with the moving shadows in variety of effect; and perfect stillness prevailed amid the wooded steeps on either side, the mountains rising blue and majestic over all. As the leading barge steered more toward the southern side, remarkable for the wild scenery of the falls of Acharn, the people, willing to keep their eyes, to the very last, on that speck which held their Queen, continued to gaze intently until it and the rest of the flotilla disappeared behind a wooded promontory.

Such was the effect of the scene to the spectators, but to those on board, especially in the Royal barge, it was most animating. The Queen seemed to be altogether absorbed in contemplation of the scenery through which she was so swiftly gliding, and ere the boat had turned the wooded point, so as to shut out the now distant spot where, happy herself, she had been for three days the cause of so much happiness to others, she turned round in her seat, and gave it one long last look, saying with great pathos of expression, “ dieu, Taymouth!”

As the Queen proceeded up the lake, she had the mountains of Benbreck and Mealghrianan on her left hand, whilst still farther on, Benlawers and Cairnaclouh were seen upon the right. But grander. elevations arose in the far perspective, and beyond these Benmore was always predominant. The sky was so clear, that all the numerous summits were distinctly visible; and as the sunshine fell on the sides of the mountains, the broad shadows of the fleecy clouds flew rapidly across them. The Queen and the Prince fully enjoyed these changes of effect upon the scenery. Many questions were put by both. The Queen observing the plaid of the steersman hanging over the backboard, asked of what tartan it was. Lord Breadalbane told Her Majesty that it was the MacDougall tartan, and presented the wearer, at the same time mentioning his profession, and that he bore the celebrated Brooch of Lorne which belonged to Robert the Bruce. This led to a conversation on tartans, clans, and chiefs, a subject with which the Queen appeared to be as familiar, as if she had lived all her life in the Highlands. Her Majesty’s observations, and those of the Prince, did not escape the crew. Their ears were all erect to catch every word uttered. Smiles of delight were interchanged among them, as they perceived the interest which Her Majesty took in Highland matters. The Brooch of Lorne has been rendered classical by Sir Walter Scott in his Lord of the Isles ; but as he never saw it, he describes it erroneously in his verses, and he gives a very inaccurate account of its history in his notes. It is not “the brooch of burning gold,” which his poetical imagination would make it. It is of silver, of very curious form and ancient workmanship, and consists of a circular plate, about four inches in diameter, with a tongue like that of a common buckle on the under side. The margin of the upper side has a rim rising from it, with hollows cut in the edge at certain distances, like the embrasures in an embattled wall. From the circle within this rim, eight very delicately worked tapering cones start up at regular intervals to the height of an inch and a quarter, each having a large pearl in its apex. Concentric with these, there is an inner circle, also ornamented with carved work, within which there is a raised circular case occupying the whole disk of the brooch, and slightly overtopping the cones. The circle exterior to this case projects into eight semi-cylinders, relieving it from all appearance of heaviness. The upper part is also very elegantly carved, and the centre is filled by a very large unpolished gem. Nobody has yet been able to determine the nature of this central stone. The present proprietor had it examined some years ago by Messrs. Rundell and Bridge of London, but they could form no judgment regarding it, without its being polished, which, of course, he had too much antiquarian feeling to allow.

After the defeat which Robert Bruce experienced in Perthshire from Edward I., soon after his coronation at Scone, ho was endeavouring to make his way towards the West Highlands with a few followers, when, on the 11th of August 1300, he was encountered at a place, since called Dalrigh, (the King’s field,) near Tyndrum, on the border of Argyllshire, by that powerful chief, or rather potentate, Allaster or Alexander MacDougall of Argyll, the ancestor of Captain MacDougall of Lorne. This hero was then in alliance with England; and being united by marriage to the daughter of the Red John Cumin, whom Bruce had recently slain in the Dominican convent at Dumfries, a fierce combat ensued between the two parties. Whilst Bruce was occupied in protecting the retreat of his men, he came into personal conflict with the great MacDougall, who was struck down by him, and might have been slain on the spot, had not two of his vassals, called MacKeoch, rescued him by seizing the monarch’s plaid, and dragging him from above his adversary. Bruce cut both of them down with his battle-axe; but he was so closely pressed by the other followers of Lorne, that he was obliged to abandon his plaid, which was still clutched in the dying grasp of the MacKeoehs, together with the brooch that had fastened it. This relic continued in the MacDougall family till the year 1647, when the castle of Goalen, in the island of Iverrera, having been taken, sacked, and burned by General Leslie’s troops, Campbell of Inverawe possessed himself of the Brooch of Lorne. In that family it remained until about, thirty-four years ago, when it passed into the hands of a cadet of that house, who, fully aware of its value, appointed it by his testament to be sold, and the proceeds divided among his younger children. It was accordingly sent to Messrs. Rundell and Bridge, to be exposed for sale, at the price of a thousand pounds. It is said that the late George IV., then Prince Regent, offered five hundred pounds for it. This sum was refused, and the brooch withdrawn. Ultimately, in the year 1825, the late General Campbell of Lochneil, being anxious to bestow some mark of grateful regard on his esteemed friend and neighbour MacDougall, purchased the brooch, and presented it to him through his chief, the late Duke of Argyll, at a social meeting of the landholders of the county.

The Queen having taken the brooch in her hand, and examined it fully, asked about the centre stone, and said that “she supposed these were fresh water pearls,” in which supposition Her Majesty was correct. The Marquess then produced some that had been found on his estate, in the streams running into Loch Awe, and the Queen having admired them, she did him the honour to accept of them. Her Majesty inquired if the water of the loch was good to drink, on which the Marquess produced his quach, and the Queen tasted of Loch Tay. She expressed herself much pleased with the pipe music, and she thus so touched the hearts of the boatmen, that they smiled with delight, and stretched with a more powerful bend to their oars. As Her Majesty remarked upon the different tunes she had heard, she expressed her preference for the Hullachan, the reel of Tullochgorum, the Macintoshes’ Lament, and There’s nae luck aboot the boose. The Duchess of Norfolk then repeated the first verse of the words of the last mentioned air.

“And are ye sure the news is true? and are ye sure lie’s weel?
Is this a time to talk o’ wark? mak baste! set by your wheel!
Is this a time to talk o’ wark, when Colin’s at the door?
Gie me my clock! I’ll to the quay, and see him come ashore.
For there’s nae luck aboot the hoose, there’s nae luek ava’,
There’s little pleasure in the hoose, when our gudeman’s awa."

The Marquess then asked the Queen if she would be pleased to hear a Gaelic song, and Her Majesty having assented, the crew were desired to sing, which they did, one man bearing the burden, and the others joining in the chorus. 'When they had finished, the Queen commended their performance, and two other Gaelic songs were afterwards sung by Her Majesty’s command. One of these may serve as a sample of the music, as well as of the words.

Both music and words may appear rude enough when placed on the desk of a grand pianoforte ; but it must be borne in mind, that to do them justice they require to be performed with a yet grander accompaniment than any such instrument can afford—the boat—and the sinewy Highlanders stretching their oars till they make her quiver throughout all her timbers as she dances over the wide surface of the lake—and the surrounding features of nature on a scale, and in a key and tone altogether harmonizing with these native notes of the untaught mountaineer. Every thing is good is its place, and although these notes and words may be considered unfit for polished circles, it is very questionable whether any music savouring of the drawing-room, would be so well adapted to an excursion on a Highland loch, as that of which a specimen is here given.

During the course of the voyage up Loch Tay, which is in itself fifteen miles long, the flotilla frequently crossed and recrossed the lake, for the purpose of enabling the Queen more perfectly to enjoy certain parts of the lovely shores, where the richness of cultivation is everywhere blended with the most romantic wildness of nature ; as well as to catch better views of the different hills and waterfalls, and of particular portions of local scenery, with all which Her Majesty was extremely delighted. At one time it became rather chill, and Lord Breadalbane suggested to the Queen the propriety of putting on a cloak, but this she declined as unnecessary; and although upwards of three hours on the water, she did not seem to he in the least fatigued.

The grandeur of the mountains surrounding the upper part of the lake, seemed to make a strong impression on the Queen. She inquired as to the position of Auchmore, and very much admired the fine combination of Highland features that made up the scene.

For some time before the flotilla entered the mouth of the river Dochart, a flag was seen waving in the midst of the rich flat ground, forming the immediate western boundary of the sheet of water. It was close on the south side of the Dochart, and crowds of people were descried around it. As the fleet drew nearer, a momentary flash appeared, and then came the boom of the first gun from the battery, which had begun to fire its Royal salute thus early, that the smoke might have time fully to dissipate before the Queen should reach the landing-place. The crew stretched to their oars, and gave good way, in order to bring Her Majesty handsomely up the Dochart to a point where a multitude of eyes were on the stretch to behold her—most, if not all of them, for the first time in their lives. At length the landing-place was neared, and as they were hauling in the boat, Lord Breadalbane expressed his anxiety to have it placed as close as possible, upon which the Queen showed her nautical experience, by saying “Oh, she is far enough a-head!”

Opposite the Fort lay the Earl of Sefton in his boat, with his Countess, Earl Craven, and some others on board, and there were various other boats containing persons of distinction. The people collected around the landing-place behaved themselves with a remarkable degree of decorum. Anxious as they all were to see the Queen, there was no crushing, or pushing forward.

When the Royal barge came alongside, Her Majesty wras received by Lady Breadalbane, who had arrived some time before, by the same route that Mrs. Maule had taken in the morning. The Queen and Prince Albert on landing, got immediately into one of the Royal carriages in waiting for them, and Lady Breadalbane took her place with them. Her Majesty observing that there was a delay in starting, was led to ask “Why do we stop?” One of the attendants instantly replied, “For His Royal Highness’s cloak.” On which the Queen said, “Oh! wait for that.” When the Prince’s cloak came, the carriage drove off to Auchmore, attended by an escort of the Carabineers.

The Royal party remained somewhat less than an hour at Auchmore, and had luncheon, to which no less than thirty persons sat down at the Queen’s table. Her Majesty and the Prince seemed surprised at the magnificence of the entertainment produced before them in this remote place. His Royal Highness remarked, that it seemed as if they could go nowhere without being followed by the hospitalities of Taymouth. The scene in front of the house when the Queen took her departure was very striking and picturesque. The space was small, and the Breadalbane Guard of Honour, drawn up in martial array, with the pipes playing the salute, had an imposing effect. The crowd of spectators was likewise very considerable. When the carriages drove to the door, the Queen and the Prince bidding a most cordial farewell to their noble hostess, took their places, and the band striking up “God Save the Queen,” and the detachment of the Breadalbane Guard of Honour having given their last salute, they drove away towards Killin, amidst the enthusiastic cheering of all present, leaving sadness behind them. The Marquess of Breadalbane immediately mounted, and rode off to escort the Queen to the boundary of his property.

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus