Victoria's Highland Journals
On Tour | Wednesday, August 21, 1867
Arrival at Buccleuch
The morning was beautiful and very mild. We drove through the small suburb of Maxwell Heugh, down into the town of Kelso, and over the bridge which commands a beautiful view of the broad stream of the Tweed and of the Park of Floors, with the fine house itself. Everywhere decorations, and great and most enthusiastic crowds. The little town of Kelso is very picturesque and there were triumphal arches, and no end of pretty mottoes, and every house was decorated with flowers and flags. Fifty ladies dressed in white strewed flowers as we passed. Volunteers were out and bands playing. At the Market place the carriage stopped; an address was presented, not read; and a little girl was held up to give me an enormous bouquet. Immense and most enthusiastic cheering. We then drove on, amidst continued crowds and hearty cheers, up to the very park gates, where the old Sheriff, eighty-five years old, was presented. The park is remarkably fine, with the approach under splendid beech, sycamore, and oak trees. The house very handsome, built originally by Sir John Vanbrugh in 1718, but much improved by the present Duke. You drive under a large porch, and then go up a flight of steps to the hall. The Duke's band was stationed outside. Mr. and Lady Charlotte Russell, Mr. Suttie, and Lady Charles Ker were in the hall. The Duchess took us into the library, where the Duke of Buccleuch joined us, and, after waiting a little while, we had breakfast (ourselves alone) in the really splendid dining-room adjoining, at ten minutes past twelve. This over, the Duchess showed us to our rooms upstairs. I had three that were very comfortable, opening one in to the other: a sitting-room, dressing-room, and the largest of the three, the bedroom, simple, with pretty chintz, but very elegant, nice and comfortable. The children were close at hand. But the feeling of loneliness when I saw no room for my darling, and felt I was indeed alone like a widow, overcame me very sadly! It was the first time I had gone in this way on a visit (like in former times), and I thought so much of all dearest Albert would have done and said, and how he would have wandered about everywhere, admired everything, looked at everything -- and now! Oh! must it ever, ever be so?
On Tour | Thursday, August 22, 1867
The heart of Robert Bruce, the home of Sir Walter Scott
... The little village, or rather town, of Newstead, which we passed through just before coming to Melrose, is very narrow and steep. We drove straight up to the Abbey through the grounds of the Duke of Buccleuch's agent, and got out and walked about the ruins, which are indeed very fine, and some of the architecture and carving in beautiful preservation. David I, who is described as a "sair Saint," originally built it, but the Abbey, the ruins of which are now standing, was built in the fifteenth century. We saw where, under the high altar, Robert Bruce's heart is supposed to be buried; also the tomb of Alexander II, and of the celebrated wizard, Michael Scott. Reference is made to the former in some lines of Sir Walter Scott's in the Lay of the Last Minstrel, which describes this Border country:
They sat them down on a marble stone; A Scottish monarch slept below.
And then when Deloraine takes the book from the dead wizard's hand, it says --
He thought, as he took it, the dead man frowned.
Most truly does Walter Scott say --
If thou wouldst view fair Melrose aright, Go visit it by the pale moonlight.
It looks very ghostlike, and reminds me a little of Holyrood Chapel. We walked in the churchyard to look at the exterior of the Abbey, and then re-entered our carriages and drove through the densely crowded streets...
Another twenty minutes or half-hour brought us to Abbotsford, the well-known residence of Sir Walter Scott. It lies low and looks rather gloomy. Mr. Hope Scott and Lady Victoria (my god-daughter and sister to the present Duke of Norfolk) with their children, the young Duke of Norfolk, and some other relations, received us. Mr. Hope Scott married first Miss Lockhart, the last surviving grandchild of Sir Walter Scott, and she died leaving only one daughter, a pretty girl of eleven, to whom this place will go, and who is the only surviving descendant of Sir Walter. They showed us the part of the house in which Sir Walter lived, and all his rooms -- his drawing-room with the same furniture and carpet, the library where we saw his MS. of Ivanhoe, and several others of his novels and poems in a beautiful handwriting with hardly any erasures, and other relics which Sir Walter had himself collected. Then his study, a small dark room, with a little turret in which is a bust in bronze, done from a cast taken after death, of Sir Walter. In the study we saw his journal, in which Mr. Hope Scott asked me to write my name (which I felt it to be a presumption in me to do), as also the others.
We went through some passages into two or three rooms where were collected fine specimens of old armour, etc., and where in a glass case are Sir Walter's last clothes. We ended by going into the dining-room, in which Sir Walter Scott died, where we took tea...
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