this little sketch of the History of St.
Andrews, the Author has made scarcely any use of documents in MS. He
understands that a history much more elaborate and learned is being
written, and gladly leaves the department of manuscript to a far better
qualified student. The history by Mr. Lyon has been used; other materials
have been obtained from books and diaries, especially from the
publications of the Bannatyne, Maitland, and Abbotsford Clubs, and from
those of the Wodrow and Scottish Historical Societies.
The Author has to express
his gratitude to the Librarians of the University Library of St. Andrews,
Mr. MAITLAND ANDERSON, and Mr. SMIITH, who have not only aided him
generally by their kindness and knowledge, but have read over his
The object of the work is
modest. The drawings of Mr.
Hodge [Queen Mary’s chamber was drawn—Mr. Oliphant of Rossie, the owner of
the house, kindly permitting it—by Miss Warrack.] suggested the writing of
the book. We try to present some pictures of the half-obliterated past.
Very many persons yearly visit St.
Andrews; of these some may care to know more of that venerable town than
can be learned from assiduous application to golf. Old students, too, may
like to have a memorial of their Alma Mater, and to glance at the part
which Town and University have played in the history of the country. It is
no mean part, for even after the days of the ancient Church, most of the
Scottish actors in the Reformation and the civil broils of the seventeenth
century were St. Andrews men. The later conditions of life have told
hardly against the oldest, most beautiful, and most academic of Scottish
Universities, but we have a great past, and we should not despair of the
In a certain way the
history of St. Andrews is undeniably disappointing. It was the scene of
great events ; we know that the events occurred, but, as a rule, we do
not, till after the Reformation, find any vivifying details.
Wallace was here, and Bruce, and Edward I., and the Black Douglas. We know
this, and there our knowledge stops;
the history of St. Andrews, for more than half its period, is destitute of
colour and personal fact. These might, indeed, be invented in the
picturesque hypothetical manner, but picturesque hypothesis is not
history. Even in Queen Mary’s time, the execution of Chastelard is
recorded with no detail, except in the dubious narrative of Brantôine. In
James Melville’s Memoirs we first meet with pictures of persons and
scenes, and Melville came after the glory had departed. Even the older
prints of St. Andrews are later than the Reformation; in them
town is already a place of ruins. Often, when gazing at the broken towers
from the High Hole, have I tried to catch the vision of them as they used
to be: to place the spire of St. Leonard’s, shown, as late as 1758, in the
etching copied on page 312. Often have I striven to reconstruct the feudal
and religious city of the past; have tried, and have failed. History, as
Mr. Louis Stevenson says, broods over St. Andrews like an easterly ‘haar,’
grey and cold and blinding, a curtain of mist.