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St. Andrews

IN 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 proof-sheets.

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 future.

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 the 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.

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