The Queen prorogued Parliament in person on the 5th of September, and on the afternoon of the same day her Majesty and the Prince Consort, accompanied by the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal, and Prince Alfred, embarked in the royal yacht at Woolwich for Scotland. Their destination on this occasion was Balmoral Castle. "It is a pretty little castle in the old Scottish style," remarked the Queen, in her journal. "There is a picturesque tower and garden in the front, with a high wooded hill; at the back there is a wood down to the Dee, and the hills rise all around."
Balmoral Castle is a reddish-granite structure in the baronial style. Over the principal entrance are the coat-of-arms, and two bas-reliefs which indicate the character of the building. One of these shows a hunting-lodge under the patronage of St. Hubert, supported by St. Andrew of Scotland and St. George of England, and the other represents groups of men engaged in Highland games. Inside the house is full of relics of the chase, and of expeditions made in the district. The furniture is Scotch, with hangings and carpets representative of various royal tartan sets. The rooms are, of course, not so large as in the royal palaces proper; but they are commodious enough for the restricted circle which has always gathered there with her Majesty. The ball-room is a long and picturesque hall, one story in height, bearing numberless Highland devices on its walls. The yearly ball was an event which many looked forward to, in addition to the royal children, some of whom at least greatly distinguished themselves in Highland reels.
Crathie Church is a little white building standing upon a green and wooded eminence, and looking across the Dee to Balmoral. The gallery of the church, which is the principal seated part of the structure, contains the Queen's pew and that of the Prince of Wales. There are two stained windows in the building, the gifts of her Majesty in memory of her sister, the Princess Hohenlohe, and of Dr. Norman Macleod. The finest orators in the Church of Scotland have preached in this little building, and amongst their auditors have been celebrated British statesmen and men of letters. Near to the Castle are the Queen's cottages, whose occupants are admirably looked after, and who possess many reminders of a concrete character of her Majesty and her family.
There is little wonder, especially considering its associations with the Prince Consort, that the Queen came to love Balmoral dearly. It was one of the happiest of royal homes, and it has become endeared to her Majesty by her annual residences there for upwards of thirty years. It was the birthplace of many hopes, as it was the home of unclouded happiness for an all too brief period, and its memories are now the most ineffaceable from the Queen's affections as she looks back through a long vista to the time when she first visited it with the beloved partner of her life.
During her Majesty's stay in Scotland important events were transpiring abroad. England was comparatively quiet, though the sudden death of the Conservative leader, Lord George Bentinck, caused great sensation. In France, Prince Louis Napoleon had been elected by no fewer than five departments to the new French Chamber, while news came from Frankfort of a terrible riot in which two members of the German States Union were assassinated.
In the ensuing month of November Lord Melbourne, the Queen's first Minister — and a man to whom she had become much attached, in consequence of his almost paternal devotion to her in her early youth — passed away, having been for some time in seclusion. Her Majesty wrote concerning him: "Truly and sincerely do I deplore the loss of one who was a most disinterested friend of mine, and most sincerely attached to me."
The Queen's long-expected visit to Ireland was paid in August, 1849. Her Majesty and Prince Albert, with their four children, embarked at Cowes on the 1st, in the royal yacht, and steered to the westward, convoyed by a squadron of four steamers. A royal progress was made through the city, the Queen being much struck by the noisy but goodnatured crowd, and by the beauty of the women. The royal squadron next sailed to Waterford, and from there went on to Dublin. As the vessels came into Kingstown Harbor, and the Queen appeared on deck, there was a burst of cheering, renewed again and again, from some 40,000 spectators.
Intense enthusiasm filled the hearts of the Irish people and her Majesty's progress from place to place was marked by expressions of great joy. Her Majesty was greatly delighted with her reception by the Irish people of all classes, and before leaving the country she resolved upon creating her eldest son "Earl of Dublin," a title which had been borne by her honored father.
The new London Coal Exchange was opened in October, and the Queen had intended to perform the ceremony in person, but a slight attack of chicken-pox prevented her. Prince Albert took her place, and was accompanied by the Prince of Wales and the Princess Royal, who made their first appearance in public on this occasion. The illustrious party went down the Thames in the royal barge, and there was a grand water pageant such as had not been seen for almost a century.
The Dowager Queen Adelaide died on the 2nd of December, at her country seat of Bentley Priory, at the age of fifty-seven years. Toward the close of November Queen Victoria had paid her last visit to her, afterward writing to King Leopold: "There was death written in that dear face. It was such a picture of misery, of complete prostration, and yet she talked of everything. I could hardly command my feelings when I came in, and when I kissed twice that poor dear thin hand. I love her so dearly. She has ever been so maternal in her affection to me. She will find peace and a reward for her many sufferings." In accordance with the Queen Dowager's wishes, there was no embalming, lying in state, or torchlight procession, and she was buried at Windsor without any pomp or state.
Her Majesty's third son and seventh child was born on the 1st of May, 1850, and as this was the birthday of the Duke of Wellington, it was determined to give him the same name, Arthur. Writing to Baron Stockmar, the Queen said: "It is a singular thing that this so much wished-for boy should be born on the old Duke's eighty-first birthday. May that, and his beloved father's name, bring the poor little infant happiness and good fortune." The child was christened "Arthur William Patrick Albert."
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