12 AUGUST 1905, Page 18


OP recent years the University of St. Andrews has, thanks to numerous benefactions from former students, Mr. Carnegie's gift, University legislation, association with Dundee and the College there which was founded some time ago, the energetic initiative of its Professors and officials, and its increasing popularity as a centre for female education, taken a new lease of life and activity. And among the enterprises to which it has devoted itself is that of discovering the facts of its own history. A department of this enterprise is illustrated by the present interesting volume, in which, at the request of the University Court, Professor Herkless and Mr. R. K. Hannay have, with the help of such documents as are available, set forth the history of the long suppressed Monastery, Hospice, and College of St. Leonard. In the first section of the book, which is written with admirable lucidity and succinctness by • • The College of St. Leonard : being Documents, with Translations, Notes, and Historical Introductions. Prepared and Edited by John Restless and Robert XfUT Hannay. London W. Blackwood and Sons. [7s. Gcl.1

Professor Herkless, there is traced the connection of St. Andrews with the saint, who is understood to have died about the year 559 in the little clearing in the forest of Pauvain, ten miles from Limoges, which had been gifted to him by Theodebert, King of Austrasia. The saint became, so to say, fashionable in the ninth century, and numerous hospitals, churches, and Colleges were erected to his memory in the two subsequent centuries, both in England and Scotland, although Professor Herkless says that it would be mere conjecture to say that "the name came direct from France, brought by returning pilgrims, or to affirm that the cult of the saint spread from England to Scotland."

There is no document showing exactly when the hospital and church—the latter, by the way, still exists, and has recently been allotted a new "local habitation"—were either founded or named. The first mention of the hospital is made hi a Bull of Innocent IV. of date 1248. The earliest allusion to the church occurs in a document which records a meeting held in 1413 "in ecclesia parochiali sancti leonardi infra civitatem sancti andree." The College did not acquire its final charter till 1545, and did not secure possession of the Priory of St. Andrews, which it continued to occupy, till 1580. St. Leonard's can never be said to have had a truly prosperous career. Yet it played a prominent part in the history of intellectual and religious thought in Scotland, especially at the Reformation.

As Professor Herkless points out-

" Not a few of those who came to great position in the Church, and, as politicians and lawyers, in the State, had in the sixteenth and seventeenth or eighteenth century drunk of St. Leonard's Well. Alesius turned to the new faith and, as a scholar, served the cause of the reformed theology. John Hamilton, who clung to the old, was Catholic Archbishop of St. Andrews to the last, and for his greed and his crimes died on the scaffold. A hundred years after the Reformation, when Charles II. had been restored, James Guthrie suffered for his ecclesiastical and political doctrines, and was a martyr or a felon. Many of the houses of ancient and honourable names, and among these the houses of Seaforth, Atholl, Southesk, Argyll, Lovat, Wemyss, sent sons to St. Leonard's. Of these the most notable, if not first in worth, was Archibald Campbell, the great Marquess' of Argyll. In the seventeenth century law had an expounder, or laws an administrator, in Sir George Mackenzie, while letters found a representative in Sir Robert''Aytoun."

It is indeed interesting to note how closely St. Leonard's College was associated, especially during the earlier period of its history, with that of Scotland through its most eminent men. John Knox and the two Melvilles figure in these early annals ; Regent Moray was Commendator of its old Priory ; Cardinal Beaton confirmed the original charter; George Buchanan was one of its first Principals.

Although, as has been seen, St. Leonard's declared for Protestantism, the fact did not at first spell prosperity :—

"At the Reformation St. Leonard's adhered to the new faith, and acted probably under the influence of James Stuart, the future regent, who as eommendator of the priory had direct connection with the college. The adherence to the new faith seems to have given no inspiration to the new institution itself, and old studies and old methods continued to prevail. At the period of the Reformation, indeed, the whole university, and with it St. Leonard's, was in decadence. Ten students attended the college in 1557, four in 1560, and twelve in 1563. In 1566 and 1567 no students seem to have been enrolled ; but in 1569 the number in attendance was twenty-four."

The history of St. Leonard's, as probably of every College in the world, was marked by disturbances among the students :— "The daily life in the college was not always peaceful, as may be seen from the account of a strife which occurred in 1607 between the students of St. Salvator's and those of St. Leonard's. So serious was that strife that it was reported to the secret council. In the official narrative of the council it was described as `Jame very grite insolence'; and the combatants, it was stated, used swordis, battonis, and utheris wapponis.' The trouble between the two colleges had continued for a longtime, fostering 'private grudges, emulations, and miscontentment,' and had at last burst out in active and open hostility.' The council enacted that the students should be kept within their own college bounds; and that for recreation the St. Leonard's students should address themselves to the St. Nicholas fields and those of St. Salvator's to the common links. The enactment, however, did not produce peace, and com- missioners were appointed with power to punish offenders."

St. Leonard's started badly from the standpoints both of administration and of finance. Mr. Hannay, who is responsible for the second part of the volume dealing with the College and for the very scholarly appendices, says :—

"If the College had been based purely upon the communal idea of Monasticism, and if this idea had been consistently and logically followed from the outset, there would have been decay,

but there would not have been so much disorder. The strings of the purse would have been held by one specific administrative authority, a fact tardily and only half realised when appeal was made to the Cardinal for a rigorous and necessarily futile interference."

Confusion seems to have reigned in all the early accounts of the management of St. Leonard's, as well as in that management itself. So much is this the case that Mr.

Hannay has to describe the history of the College as "chaotic," and speaks of the "astounding confusion which it has been my almost hopeless task to disentangle." Yet although Professor Herkless tells us that "the College was always burdened with debt owing to exceptional expenditure for repairs and to the failure to obtain the full rents from the lands" that had been assigned to it, he disputes the state- ment of the late Lord Bute that the College "may be said to have collapsed from inanition." He points out that the union of the College with the sister and older institution of St. Salvator's removed many of its money difficulties. "Buildings could be sold and were sold; but even after the sales the united College authorities were unable, and did not consider themselves obliged, to preserve the structures, such as the church, for which there were or could be no purchasers."

But one is tempted to say with Samuel Johnson, who visited St. Andrews in 1773, shortly after the dissolution of the College had taken place : "It is surely not without just reproach that a nation of which the commerce is yearly extending and the wealth increasing denies any participa- tion of its prosperity to its literary societies ; and while its merchants or its nobles are raising palaces, suffers its universities to moulder into dust." As things are, nothing remains of St. Leonard's but the ruins of the chapel, the bell which hangs in the University steeple, and the charters which Mr. Hannay has reproduced. But its story as now told by Professor Herkless and his colleague is a valuable contribution to that literature of ascertained facts upon which the future and definitive history of Scotland will be based.