Queen Victoria’s Return


On Tuesday, 20th September, 1842, the Liverpool Mail reported to safe return of Queen Victoria from Scotland along with several humorous articles related to the visit scavenged from other newspapers. We start with the straightforward report of an apparently uneventful journey and a look back at the start of Victoria’s first Scottish adventure. The hidden significance of some of the details are then revealed in two satirical articles.

From the Liverpool Mail – Tuesday 20 September 1842

Queen Victoria’s tour in Scotland is accomplished. Thursday morning was fine, and Dalkeith Palace was in a bustle before daybreak with preparations for the departure. The Queen and Prince breakfasted at seven o’clock; at ten minutes to eight they entered their carriage; and, followed by tbe suite, with an escort of Dragoons, they repaired througb part of Edinburgh to Granton Pier. Tbe preparations were far less elaborate than on that day fortnight, when all Edinburgh was rushing out of bed or from the breakfast-table, and came too late to see tbe passing Sovereign on her arrival; but the worthy citizens had learned not to be belated, and the roads to the pier and the vicinity of the landing-place were crowded. Guards of honour, including tbe Body Guard of Royal Archers, were stationed on spot. Tbe Queen walked down the pier resting either hand on tbe arm of the Duke of Buccleuch and the Earl of Liverpool. Several military, naval, and other gentlemen, with the Lord Justice Clerk, stood by to make their farewell obeisance. At twenty-four minutes to ten, under salute of artillery, tbe Queen embarked board the Trident steamer. Some gentlemen look leave of the royal pair board; among them Lord Adolphus Fitzclarence, tbe commander of the yacht that brought them to Scotland; and said something that made them both laugh. In a quarter of hour the steamer was under way in Leith roads; tbe Duke Duchess of Buccleuch and a host of people watching it, as, amid the salutes of the ships of war the Frith [sic] of Forth, it passed swiftly out to sea.

Her Majesty passed the Farn Islands on Thursday evening a quarter past six, and was Tynemouth half-past ten. A large party went out of the Tyne in the morning on board the Vesta to meet the royal squadron, which they did before reached Farn Islands, Tbe Black Eagle steam-boat sailed some miles in advance of the Trident, and a good way  off to seaward. The Monarch and another steamer sailed alongside, towards tbe landward side. The party on board the Vesta got quite near Her Majesty, and saluted her in gallant style. Her Majesty, with the greatest kindness and condescension, came on deck aud politely returned tbe salute, so did Prince Albert and Lord Adolphus Fitzclarence, commander of tbe squadron. Her Majesty was dressed in a blue cloak and plain white satin bonnet. Both she and Prince Albert looked well.

The Earl of Haddington arrived at Woolwich on Friday night; all tbe authorities of the Dockyard were astir; the place was illuminated full of life; aud tbe preparations for Queen’s debarkation were so complete, that two false alarms of her arrival. at half-past ten aud half-past twelve, caused no confusion. Bellringers at Woolwich, Greenwich, and Deptford, stood through the night to their ropes, feeling that England expected “every man to do his duty” and thus all remained, awaiting the roar of cannon aud the ring of bells to announce the Queen’s return to English land.
Her Majesty wore a tartan satin dress. The Prince, who was in plain clothes, appeared rather sunburnt. Her Majesty is said to have experienced no inconvenience, on her return, from sea sickness.

Sea-sickness had been offered as a reason for Victoria’s early arrival in Edinburgh on 1st September, leading to an amusing, if lengthy report, in the Caledonian Mercury.

From the Caledonian Mercury – Saturday 03 September 1842

The Lord Provost, Magistrates, and Council had been summoned at an early hour; but little dreaming of the precipitancy of the Royal movements, they were on their way to the  barrier, when they were informed that her MAJESTY had entered the gate, and was far on her way through the city. As for the other public bodies, none of them had even assembled at the rendezvous, far less taken any part in the Royal cavalcade.
We cannot convey any idea of the scene which followed. People looked at each other in foolish amazement; and various of the public bodies, who were individually repairing to their respective rendezvous, were arrested on the spot, and stood looking around them with a vacant gaze. The Lord Provost, Magistrates, and Council, in their doubt and extremity, ordered their carriages to drive round to the Regent Terrace, so as to intercept the Royal progress; but in the circumstances they received no special notice, beyond the gracious acknowledgments which were paid to all around.
We have farther heard, and regret to say, that her Majesty suffered a good deal from sea-sickness during the voyage, which compelled her, as far as possible, to keep on deck, where a couch was prepared for her accommodation. This may account, in some degree, for the Queen’s anxiety to get ashore as soon as possible; and all who have felt the nausea of sickness daring a considerable voyage, know full well the longing to get on terra firma.

Some of the press, however, had correctly guessed that Queen Victoria was in the early stages of  pregnancy and that the sea-sickness was morning sickness. And set the theory out in satirical song!

From the Liverpool Mail – Tuesday 20 September 1842

(From the Edinburgh Weekly Journal.)

Then one and all around me throng, 
My story won’t detain you long, 
And this the burden of my song— 
The row in the Council Chambers.
Having met, it was proposed there
To hire of donkey-carts a pair,
To carry their freedom-of-city affair
To Albert at Dalkeith Palace fair.

But ’twas said that Thunder-my-gun Tagore
Had waited on them some time before.
And Albert should think no great bore
To come to the Council Chambers.
Then one and all around me throng, 
My story won’t detain you long, 
And this the burden of my song— 
The row in the Council Chambers.

Mr. Robertson said, “I see weel that
Some like to figure in cockpit hat,
but it’s mair befittin’, I tell ye what,
To bide in tbe Council Chambers.
Ye’d like to air yer goons a puckle,
But I’m no like some folk that chuckle
About seekin’ and findin’ an ancient buckle, –
I tell ye the donkey-carts cost ower muckle.
But if ye’re fixed to air yer coats,
Just let your courtiers pay yer shots
Then gang, if ye like, to Johnny Groats
And leave me at the Council chambers.”
Then one and all around me throng, 
My story won’t detain you long, 
And this the burden of my song— 
The row in the Council Chambers.

Then each his neighbour began to rate.
To meet the Queen for being too late,
And not being ready to go in state,
In their robes from the Council Chambers.
Mr. Black then made an explanation,
And look much time in its relation,
M‘Auley said, “It’s botheration:-
You all deserve flagellation.
Sir R. Peel told me he was there,
The cavalry too, with sabres bare,
And wondered the baillies kept in their lair
In their rooms of their Council Chambers.”
Then one and all around me throng,
My story won’t detain you long,
And this the burden of my song—
The row in the Council Chambers.

M’Aulay said —”At Dalkeith that day,
The servants, in haste to get us away,
Stowed me by mistake in the Provost’s chay,
Coming back to the Council Chambers,
Folk thought me your lordship to my vexation.
And hooted and hiss’d without cessation,
Till I was pulled from my situation,
An I underwent much salivation.
You need not cry ‘Oh! oh!’ to me,
I won’t by your crowing silenced be—
Was that your popularity,
My Cock the Council Chambers?”
Then one and all around me throng, 
My story won’t detain you long, 
And this the burden of my song— 
The row in the Council Chambers.

Then Grierson said—”I’ll certify I
heard Peel say them words, when I
Went to Dalkeith as a deputy
From tbe Edinburgh Council Chambers.
And I did tell the Noble Three
‘To see Queen we’d happy be;
Gie’s but an hoor, ’an ye will see
The maist finest effoosion o’loyaltie.’
Peel said noughts, but lookit blue
At Aberdeen—he at Buccleuch;
Then out o’ the room the threesome flew
Frae the men o’ the Council Chambers.”
Then one and all around me throng, 
My story won’t detain you long, 
And this the burden of my song— 
The row in the Council Chambers.

M’Aulay then told how ’twas said,
The Queen should have remain’d in bed
Until they all were breakfasted,
And off from the Council Chambers.
He told how the Provost, Sir James, did say,
Mr. Black bad never felt how wae
It was to be in the family way,
Or he’d never expected the Queen to stay.
Then all was hubbub, and one did cry-
“I fear, if this meets the public eye,
It won’t much raise the dignity
Of they of the Council Chambers.”
Then one all around me throng,
My story hasn’t detain’d you long,
With this the burden of my song—
The row in the Council Chambers.

The Liverpool Mail also included a spoof article about the delayed freedom-of-the-city ceremony that sheds considerable light on the politics of the time, although today the innate racism sits uneasily. Here is the opening section:

From the Liverpool Mail – Tuesday 20 September 1842

(From the Aberdeen Constitution.)

I, Bamboo Calliscot the servant of the great Dwarganath Tagore, being far from native country of Hindustan. think it right that I should send to my fellow-servant,  Byondare, an account of the wonderful things that I have seen this foreign land, which is called by the divers names of Scotland. Scotia, Caledonia, and the Land of Cakes, although some of the highland rajah-poots, who wear petticoats of unseemly brevity, say that its true name is Albyn.

When our good master gave notice that he was coming to this country, I inquired of some of the red, blue, and yellow men, who are servants to the rajahs of  London, what sort of a country Scotland was, and they told me that it was an extraordinary country for having great store provisions, and that the people of London would very soon be starved to death if the Scotch people did not send every day immense steam-ships loaded with cattle, salmon, and other substantials  for their support. So I, Heddajee. was glad to learn that there was no danger that either I or my good master would famished in a far country.

When we arrived in the great city of Scotland, which is called Edinburgh, my good master was  received with much kindness by the great men of the place. The town council, who are the men appointed by the people called ten-pounders to rule over them, invited my master to receive the freedom ol the city, which is a piece parchment, with a lump red wax at the end thereof. And my master went to their meeting-place, and along with him went the Christian Brahmin who baptised you at Calcutta, and the chief magistrate or Lord Provost of Glasgow, who is a man that not only rules over the people, but also sells as much cloth in year as would reach from here to Hindustan and back again; and many more persons were there see the ceremony, and I, Heddajee, was there also.

And there sat the Lord Provost at the head the table. with all the great men about him, who are chosen by the people called ten-pounders as the wisest and best qualified in the city to give the Lord Provost advice. But I, Heddajee, did not think that they looked any wiser-like than ordinary men. Then the Lord Provost made a speech to my master, and my master made a speech to him, which every body said was a better speech than the Lord Provost’s, and yet my master is not a Lord Provost. But one of the officers told me that my master might made a Lord Provost, now that had got the freedom of the city, pro- vided he would put himself upon the municipal roll, which is a machine for making Lord Provosts that I have not yet seen.

Princess Alice was born in April 1843, the second of Victoria’s daughters. Princess Royal Vicky (shown in the 1842 painting above) accompanied her parents on the trip to Scotland.

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