During the same month the Princess Royal became engaged to Prince Frederick William of Prussia, who was then visiting Balmoral. Acting on the Queen’s advice, Prince Frederick did not postpone his good fortune until a later date, as he had at first intended, but during a ride up Craig-na-Ban, he picked a piece of white heather (the emblem of ‘good luck’) and offered it to the young Princess, and this gave him an opportunity of declaring his love.
These extracts, printed from the Queen’s Journals, were intended at first for presentation only to members of the Royal Family and Her Majesty’s intimate friends, especially to those who had accompanied her during her tours. It was, however, suggested to the Queen that her people would take even as keen an interest in these simple records of family life, especially as they had already shown sincere and ready sympathy with her personal joys and sorrows.
“The book,” its editor says, “is mainly confined to the natural expressions of a mind rejoicing in the beauties of nature, and throwing itself, with a delight rendered keener by the rarity of its opportunities, into the enjoyment of a life removed, for the moment, from the pressure of public cares.”
It is of particular interest because here the Queen records from day to day her thoughts and her impressions in the simplest language; here she can be seen less as a queen than as a wife and mother. Her interest in her whole household and in all those immediately around her is evident on almost every page. To quote again: “She is, indeed, the Mother of her People, taking the deepest interest in all that concerns them, without respect of persons, from the highest to the lowest.”
As a picture of the Royal Court in those days this is exceedingly valuable, for it shows what an example the Queen and her husband were setting to the whole nation in the simple life they led in their Highland home.
That the old people especially loved her can be seen from the greetings and blessings she received in the cottages she used to visit. “May the Lord attend ye with mirth and with joy; may He ever be with ye in this world, and when ye leave it.”
[Illustration: Queen Victoria in the Highlands G. Amato]
The Queen was never weary of the beauties of the Highlands, and quotes the following lines from a poem by Arthur Hugh Clough to describe ‘God’s glorious works’:
gorgeous bright October,
Then when brackens are changed, and heather blooms are faded,
And amid russet of heather and fern, green trees are bonnie;
Alders are green, and oaks; the rowan scarlet and yellow;
One great glory of broad gold pieces appears the aspen,
And the jewels of gold that were hung in the hair of the birch tree;
Pendulous, here and there, her coronet, necklace, and earrings,
Cover her now, o’er and o’er; she is weary and scatters them from