Page:Footsteps of Dr. Johnson.djvu/139

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but seems careless of pleasing the eye. There are no little gardens before the houses, no roses trained up the walls, scarcely any flowers in the windows. Take care of the beautiful, the useful will take care of itself" has not been a gospel sounded in Scottish ears.

The road to the Tay, which Boswell enlivened by leading Johnson to discuss the doctrine of transubstantiation, lay through a pleasant undulating country that bears luxuriant crops and at the pre- sent time is no longer wanting in trees. Their chaise was taken across the Firth in a ferry-boat at a charge of four shillings. How Johnson, who always delighted in what he called " the accommodations of life," would have exulted in the great bridge which now spans the flood! He would have noticed too with pleasure the long avenue of young trees planted along the bank. Passing through Dundee, " a dirty despicable town " as he describes it, but now the seat of a vast commerce, they came about the close of the day to the ruined abbey of Aberbrothick. 1 The sight of these fragments of " stupen- dous magnificence " struck Johnson perhaps more than anything which he saw on the whole of his tour. " I should scarcely have regretted my journey," he said, " had it afforded nothing more than the sight of Aberbrothick." John Wesley declared that he " knew nothing like the Abbey in all North Britain. I paced it and found it an hundred yards long. The breadth is proportionable. Part of the west-end which is still standing shows it was full as high as Westminster Abbey." : It had been left in much the same state of neglect as the Cathedral of St. Andrews. Boswell, " whose in- quisitiveness was seconded by great activity," wanted to climb one of the towers. " He scrambled in at a high window, but found the stairs within broken, and could not reach the top." The entrance to the other tower they could not discern, and as the night was gathering upon them he gave up the attempt. Not clearly remembering Johnson's account, I told the old man who shows the Abbey that I had read in an old book that a hundred years and more ago the staircase was broken down. " Then they Iced" he answered angrily, indignant for its reputation for antiquity. I learnt from him that an ancient inn, which had been recently pulled down, had been found to have been built of the hewn stones taken from the Abbey. In the ruins no doubt for many a long year the

1 Or Abtrbrothofk, as it is called in Soulhey's written Arbroath, in accordance with the pro- Ballad of the ftuhcape Bell. The name is now nunciation.

  • Wesley's Journal, iii. 397.


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