In the latter end of the autumn of 18--, I set out by myself on an excursion over the northern part of Scotland, and during that time my chief amusement was to observe the little changes of manners, language, etc., in the different districts. After having viewed on my return the principal curiosities in Buchan, I made a little ale-house, or “public,” my head-quarters for the night. Having discussed my supper in solitude, I called up mine host to enable me to discuss my bottle, and to give me a statistical account of the country around me. Seated in the “blue” end, and well supplied with the homely but satisfying luxuries which the place afforded, I was in an excellent mood for enjoying the communicativeness of my landlord; and, after speaking about the cave of Slaines, the state of the crops, and the neighbouring franklins, edged him, by degrees, to speak about the Abbey of Deer, an interesting ruin which I had examined in the course of the day, formerly the stronghold of the once powerful family of Cummin.
“It’s dootless a bonnie place about the abbey,” said he, “but naething like what it was when the great Sir James the Rose came to hide i’ the Buchan woods wi’ a’ the Grahames rampagin’ at his tail, whilk you that’s a beuk-learned man ’ill hae read o’, an’ may be ye’ll hae heard o’ the saughen bush where he forgathered wi’ his jo; or aiblins ye may have seen ’t, for it’s standing yet just at the corner o’ gaukit Jamie Jamieson’s peat-stack. Ay, ay, the abbey was a brave place once; but a’ thing, ye ken, comes till an end.” So saying, he nodded to me, and brought his glass to an end.
“This place, then, must have been famed in days of yore, my friend?”
“Ye may tak my word for that,” said he, “’Od, it was a place! Sic a sight o’ fechtin’ as they had about it! But gin ye’ll gan up the trap-stair to the laft, an’ open Jenny’s kist, ye’ll see sic a story about it, printed by ane o’ your learned Aberdeen’s fouk, Maister Keith, I think; she coft it in Aberdeen for twal’ pennies, lang ago, an’ battered it to the lid o’ her kist.