Roamin in the Gloamin

Queen Victoria at Home

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert,
page 6 of 13

away. His end came on the nation with an appalling suddenness — so much so, that it seemed to reel, as it were, under the stroke, as one would from a swift and cruel blow struck out of the dark, and men asked themselves and each other in bated breath, “Can this be true?” On the 8th December, 1861, it was announced as one of the items of the Court Circular, issued daily, that the Prince was suffering from cold. On the l0th the attack was pronounced to be fever, and it was added that some time would elapse before any pronouncement could be made as to its force. On the 12th he was pronounced to be in great danger, and on the morning of the 14th he began to sink. At midnight the citizens of London were suddenly aroused by the tolling of the great bell of St. Paul’s, a bell never tolled

“Save when kings and heroes die.”

The people heard it with a vague, enquiring wonder, but few guessed the reason for the sad, rolling tones which the tongue of that death-bell sent over the great, startled city on that cold December midnight, and none knew that, half-an-hour before, pale Death, who comes with equal foot to the palaces of kings and the cottages of the poor, had knocked at the great gates of Windsor, and that Albert the Good, surrounded by the Queen, the Prince of Wales, and the Princess Helena, had peacefully entered on his everlasting rest. Never since the day in which the body of the great Duke of Wellington was borne by his mourning chieftains, amidst the assembled thousands, and placed beneath the great dome of St. Paul’s, to the sound of the far-off minute guns and the solemn pealing of the organ, did the nation so universally mourn. All felt that in his death a mighty prince had fallen, and that they had lost, as a people, a wise counsellor and a priceless friend. He has left to the nation the best legacy which a great public man, be he prince or commoner, could bequeath, the stainless record of a noble life, a life which, while he lived it, was of such a nature that—

                            “Whatever leapt into the light,
                            He never should be shamed.”

Possibly the sweetest and most tender experiences, and the happiest seasons, in the domestic life of the Queen, and also that of Prince Albert till death took him away, have been associated with the Scottish Highlands, especially that region of them of which Balmoral is the centre. As far back as 1842 she and Prince Albert paid a lengthened visit to Scotland, and the record which she made in her journal of her first impressions of the grand country and its people of rugged yet noble personality, as she thought, is delightful to read. All connected with this romantic country, scenery, people, old customs, picturesque garb, seemed to come on her like a revelation. Everything she saw fascinated her in her first impressions, and this supreme witchery of all connected with the land has held her heart ever since. On this, her first tour, she visited Edinburgh, Roslyn, Hawthornden, and Dalkeith, and it is pleasant to see from her diary that she was quite conversant with the history and romance of the districts through which she passed, from her delightful references to “The Antiquary,” Allan Ramsay, and Drummond of Hawthornden. But Balmoral was the spot dearest of all to her heart, and to that of her husband, the good Prince. She bought the place in 1848, and never yet since, in sorrow or in joy, has she been away from her dear Highland home as soon as ever the autumn has put the first purple glow on the heather of Deeside and Lochnagar. She describes the old, and former, house at Balmoral as it existed on her arrival with the Prince Conscort in the autumn of 1848:—“It is a pretty little castle in the old Scottish style. There is a picturesque


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