Page:Footsteps of Dr. Johnson.djvu/141

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

is slowly supplanting the old Scotch term spoiisc. On one side of the great gateway two ugly arches have been lately built as en- trances to pompous family burial places. These excrescences should surely be removed and the dead left to their quiet insignifi- cance. On the outside, underneath a lofty wall, a pleasant bowling- green has been laid out for public enjoyment, with flower borders running round. The town was keeping a public holiday the day I was there, and the ground was thronged with players and spectators. I was sorry to see in many places that ivy in the true cockney spirit has been trained up the ruins. Unless the strong sea-breezes, which cut off the tops of the trees as soon as they show their heads too high, come to the rescue, it will in time hide the dark red sand- stone beneath a uniform mantle of green. Though the ruins are now cared for, and the ground cleared of the long grass and weeds which hindered Johnson from tracing the foundations, nevertheless the lofty wall close to the main entrance is disgraced by huge adver- tisements. As the stranger approaches the venerable pile from the High Street he gives one angry thought to the Town Council which leases it to the dealers in sewing machines, in blue, and in Irish whisky for advertising their wares. " Where there is yet shame there may in time be virtue." Would that this protest of mine may rouse a feeling of shame in the unworthy guardians of so glorious a ruin !


The road along which Johnson and Boswell drove as they journeyed from Dundee through Arbroath to Montrose, is described by Defoe as a " pleasant way through a country fruitful and be- spangled, as the sky in a clear night with stars of the biggest mag- nitude, with gentlemen's houses, thick as they can be supposed to stand with pleasure and conveniency." * Our travellers in the latter part of the drive saw nothing of all this, for the sun had set before they left the great Abbey ; it was not till eleven at night that they arrived at Montrose. There they found but a sorry inn, where, writes Boswell, " I myself saw another waiter put a lump of sugar with his fingers into Dr. Johnson's lemonade, for which he called him ' rascal ! ' It put me in great glee that our

' Uefoe's Tour, p. 179.

�� �