Page:Footsteps of Dr. Johnson.djvu/152

This page needs to be proofread.


u8 THE CHAPEL AT ABERDEEN.

which the honour was conferred on him. " I doubt," he wrote, " whether any diploma from the City of London be more pompous or expressed in better Latin."

The burgess-ticket or parchment on which the freedom was inscribed, after being read aloud in the hall, was made into a roll, and, with the appending seal, was tied on to the new citizen's hat with red riband. " I wore," wrote Johnson, "my patent of freedom pro more in my hat from the new town to the old, about a mile." In his narrative he states that it is worn for the whole day. In a town of 16,000 inhabitants for Aberdeen had no more at that time 2 it might be supposed that the face of the youngest freeman would thus become known to most of his brother-burgesses. But the population at the present day is seven or eight times as large, and the old custom has died out, perhaps because its use was lost. On those rare occasions when the honour is conferred the diploma is still tied to the hat. The new citizen covers himself for a moment, and then bares his head while he returns thanks. He might, I was told, perhaps wear his ticket for a short distance to his hotel or a club, but certainly not farther. The entry of Johnson's freedom in its good Latin still remains in the City Register. I read it with much interest.

Our travellers, as they passed a Sunday in Aberdeen, went to the English chapel. The word chapel, as my friend Dr. Murray has clearly pointed out in his learned Dictionary, which in England was generally used of the places of worship of the Nonconformists, and in Ireland of those of the Roman Catholics, in Scotland was properly and universally applied to the English churches. It is the term used both by Boswell and Johnson. Mrs. Carlyle in one of her early letters describes a certain Haddington Episcopalian as "a man without an arm, who sits in the chapel." 1 "We found," says Boswell, " a respectable congregation and an admirable organ." By respectable he meant what would a little later have been de- scribed as genteel. " The congregation," wrote Johnson, " was numerous and splendid." The volunteer who accompanied the Duke of Cumberland's army in 1747 described the chapel as the finest he had seen in Scotland. "The handsomest young ladies," he adds, " are generally attendants of those meeting-houses (as they call them here), and are generally esteemed as Jacobites by

1 Wesley 'i, Journal, iii. 461. 2 Pennant's Tour, \. 121.

3 Early Letters off. W. Carlyle, p. 45.

�� �