The monastery of Aberbrothick is of great renown in the history of Scotland. Its ruins afford ample testimony of its ancient magnificence: Its extent might, I suppose, easily be found by following the walls among the grass and weeds, and its height is known by some parts yet standing. The arch of one of the gates is entire, and of another only so far dilapidated as to diversify the appearance.
Crossing the Firth, after landing on Inchkeith, they arrived at St Andrews which had long been an object of interest to Johnson. They passed Leuchars, Dundee, and Aberbrothick.
Presenting me with a packet which had been intrusted to him by Lord Douglas, he told me my patron had been forcibly carried on board a vessel at Montrose, to be conveyed with the unhappy Baliol to the Tower of London. Douglas, on this outrage, sent to the monastery at Aberbrothick, and under the pretense of making a religious confession before he sailed, begged a visit from the sub-prior.
Dr Johnson said, 'A wind, or not a wind? that is the question'; for he can amuse himself at times with a little play of words, or rather sentences. I remember when he turned his cup at Aberbrothick, where we drank tea, he muttered, Claudite jam rivos, pueri. I must again and again apologize to fastidious readers, for recording such minute particulars.
He told us, there was a colony of Danes in his parish ; that they had landed at a remote period of time, and still remained a distinct people. Dr. Johnson shrewdly inquired whether they had brought women with them. We were not satisfied as to this colony. We saw, this day, Dundee and Aberbrothick, the last of which Dr.
Johnson said, 'A wind, or not a wind? that is the question ; for he can amuse himself at times with a little play of words, or rather sentences. I remember when he turned his cup at Aberbrothick, where we drank tea, he muttered Claudite jam rivos, pueri' . I must again and again apologize to fastidious readers, for recording such minute particulars.
Moncur, of Aberbrothick, had agreed to assist me at the Sacrament, and will doubtless still lend his services. Mr. Carfrae or Mr. Trail will take my place if my successor is not elected by that time. The Sacrament cups are in the vestry press, of which you will find the key beneath the clock in my parlor. The tokens are in the topmost drawer in my bedroom.
With the vigorous purpose of discharging his duty, even to the very rigour, he tried to while away the time with some of the pious hymns which he had learned in the convent in which he had found shelter after the death of his father allowing in his own mind, that, but for the change of a novice's frock for the rich military dress which he now wore, his soldierly walk in the royal gallery of France resembled greatly those of which he had tired excessively in the cloistered seclusion of Aberbrothick.
The father looked at him attentively, and then proceeded: "But for you, virtuous Southron, I will give you a pilgrim's habit. Travel in that privileged garb to Montrose; and there a brother of the church, the prior of Aberbrothick, will, by a letter from me, convey you in a vessel to Normandy; thence you may safely find your way to Guienne."
In Scotland the necessaries of life are easily procured, but superfluities and elegancies are of the same price at least as in England, and therefore may be considered as much dearer. We stopped a while at Dundee, where I remember nothing remarkable, and mounting our chaise again, came about the close of the day to Aberbrothick.