Notes on the Scot Collection in St Andrews University Library
By R. V. Pringle (July 2011)
The publication of T. G. Snoddy's full-scale biography 1 in 1968 brought welcome recognition to a man regarded as one of the most important figures in the cultural, academic and political life of seventeenth-century Scotland, and one whose generosity as a patron of learning and letters deserved to be better known. Sir John Scot of Scotstarvit's encouragement of poets such as William Drummond and Arthur Johnston, his promotion and virtual editorship of the Delitiae poetarum Scotorum, 2 and his unstinting efforts to secure the publication by Blaeu of Scotland's first Atlas, 3 based on the maps of Timothy Pont, are now well attested; perhaps less so his endowment in 1620 of a Chair of Humanity at his old college, St Leonard's in the University of St Andrews, and his imaginative gifts to the library of that College.
On the occasion of the 1620 endowment Scot presented nine works to the College on appropriately classical subjects, and persuaded over fifty friends (including Drummond, his brother-in-law) each to donate one or two more – a total of 80 volumes. His contract with the College included a provision that any books he donated be placed in a 'librarie quhairof the ... regent of humanitie sall have ane key'; and it is clear from the inscription on Scot's own gifts (see below) that he intended them for the specific if not the exclusive use ("In usum et utilitatem Regentis humaniorum literarum et ejusdem classis... ") of the Regent of Humanity and his pupils.
The 1620 gift represents, then, what must be one of the earliest attempts in Scotland to form a ready-made teaching or 'class' library for a specific new chair. Unfortunately, the chair itself attracted hostility from vested interests within the University and proved difficult to establish without protracted legal action and negotiations extending over many years.4 Thus when, in 1646, following a visit to the Low Countries in connection with the printing of the Blaeu maps, Scot gifted several more 5 items of classical interest to the College library,6 it may have been to celebrate the fact that he had finally (as he thought) obtained an Act of Parliament that secured his foundation for all time.7
An important – to the donor – provision of the 1620 contract was that an 'inventar' should be made of Scot's gift in 'tua severall buiks' [ie two copies], 'ane to be keipit be ... Sir Johnne Scott and his airis and ane uther be the principall and regentis of St Leonards College'. It is not certain that any inventory as such 8 was ever compiled, but what has survived is a subscription list 9 begun under Scot's direction in the summer of 1620 and containing the names and in many cases the signatures (see illustration, below) of the donors of particular items. The existence of this list made it possible in the early 1970s for the present writer to reassemble what survived of the original Humanity Class Library, together with what remained of the 1646 donation, as a Special Collection within St Andrews University Library.10
From fol. 7v. of the subscription list, showing items 43-53 (reduced). Click here to see a larger version.
The contents of the library naturally reflect the purpose of Scot's endowment, which was to provide instruction in his old college in 'humanitie and Latyne authors' - presumably for students who intended afterwards to undertake the four years of the arts course.11 For a collective donation it is a surprisingly well-balanced one.12 The major authors, Cicero, Horace and Virgil, are well represented but do not completely predominate. Ancient is balanced against modern, with Erasmus, Pico della Mirandola, Boccaccio and the Strozzis representing Renaissance letters against Ovid, Livy, Plautus, Seneca, Valerius Maximus and the satirists. For the geography of the classical world we have Strabo, Pomponius Mela, Ortelius and Muenster; for its history, Herodotus, Tacitus, Suetonius and a host of others, modern as well as ancient; and for its language Pietro Vettori, the Estiennes, Valeriano Bolzani and C.S. Curio. Agriculture is of course represented by Columella, architecture by Vitruvius, and there are the usual compends and classical anthologies as well as Draud's standard bibliography to round off the collection.
One intriguing aspect of the library is the inclusion in it of a number of Greek or parallel Greek and Latin texts (nos. 16, 20, 24, 32, 44, 51, 53, 58 and 70): editions of Plutarch, Plato, Herodotus, Strabo, Homer, Xenophon, and Drummond of Hawthornden's Aristophanes inevitably raise the question of whether Greek was included in the teaching programme of the Humanity regent at St Andrews, as it undoubtedly was at Edinburgh. There is, alas, no clear evidence either way. What we do know is that the regent was expressly forbidden to teach 'grammar' (i.e. elementary Latin) and he must, therefore, have concentrated for the most part on stylistic aspects, perhaps in conjunction with a rhetorical treatise of the kind used at Edinburgh. There the Humanity Class studied 'Latine authors, poettis and orators' such as Horace, Juvenal, Plautus and Cicero, together with the Rhetoric of (in 1598) Cassander and (in 1628) Talon.13
The new regent was also required to lecture publicly each week in the 'common scholes' of the College, and it is tempting to speculate that these lectures may have encompassed somewhat broader aspects of classical civilization than the niceties of ancient rhetoric. Were the historians of antiquity really read, as has been suggested by some authorities,14 more for their manner than for their matter, or were the historical texts which figure so prominently in Scot's 'Library of Philology' 15 actually used for historical illustration?
But that is obviously too large a question to pursue here.
In transcribing the subscription list I have taken some liberties with its lay-out in the interests of clarity. In the MS. original, names of donors follow rather than precede each entry or group of entries (see illustration above), and the format and place and date of publication are entered in the right-hand margin; also, I have attempted to avoid excessive length by omitting inessential matter in the titles and indicating this in the usual way. Each item is numbered and is accompanied by an explanatory note giving the St Andrews University Library shelfmark of identified volumes, together with any available information as to provenance.
It has not, alas, been possible to identify all of the donors, but one common factor for many of them is membership of a profession traditionally devoted to the pursuit of humane learning. The Scottish advocates and writers (to which group Scot himself belonged in 1620) were of course joint patrons together with the judges and the Town Council of the Humanity Chair at Edinburgh, and it may be that this circumstance partly inspired Scot's gift to his own alma mater.
The books themselves were identified in St Andrews University Library by means of the following or similar inscription (see illustration below) in the hand of the compiler of the subscription list:
Philologie bibliothecam Andreapoli in Gymnasio Leonardino a domino Joanne Scott de Scottistarvet equite aurato cancellarie S.D.A. Regis directore erectam Anno Domini millesimo sexcentesimo vigesimo hujus muneris accessione adornavit et auxit [signature of donor]
Title page of item 57 (reduced). Click here to see a larger version.
In usum et utilitatem Regentis humaniorum literarum et ejusdem classis in Gymnasio Leonardino Andreapoli erect' hoc munus donavit Joannes Scott de Scottistarvet ... [etc.]
The inscriptions are usually found on the title, title verso or flyleaf preceding the title. I have indicated in the notes any significant departures from the general practice.
Nicolson, Thomas (of Cockburnspath)
Note: An asterisk preceding a donor's name denotes the occurrence of his signature; before an entry, it indicates that the entry is in the donor's own handwriting. All other handwriting is that of a single unknown scribe. Both the asterisks and the running number which appears to the left of each entry have been supplied by the present editor.
The catalogue proper begins on fol. 6 but is preceded on fol. 1 by an ornate Latin inscription (see Appendix 1), dated 28 July 1620. announcing Scot's intention to commemorate the Donors and their gifts ('either of money or books') in the pages which follow.
* Cal. Augusti 1620.
2 * Bonfinii historia Ungariae. fol. Francofurti, 1581. Scot.DB924.B7. A duplicate of this volume, inscribed in an almost identical manner, exists in Glasgow University Library (pressmark Bm7-c.3). No information is available as to the circumstances of its arrival, except that it reached Glasgow before 1791. Most probably it was presented or exchanged by St Andrews University Library as a duplicate.
3 * Blondi Flavii de Roma instaurata lib. 3 et de Roma triumphante libri decem. fol. Venetiis, 1511. Scot.DG76.B5. 2 tom. (tom.1 dated 1510). Ownership inscriptions of Edward Scott and John Studley. Contemporary binding by G. Godfrey of Cambridge.
Mr Joannes Rae
* Al[exander] Wylie
* Ja[cobus] Scott
16 * Platonis opera Graece et Latine quae extant omnia ex interpretatione Serrani, typis Henrici Stephani 1578. fol. [Geneva], 1578.
20 Herodotus Grece. fol. Venetiis, 1502. Scot.PA4002.A2B02. Previously owned by Sir Henry Sinclair, Sir Thomas Henryson of Chesters (donor of item 46) and Sir Thomas Nicolson of Carnock (donor of item 53). Contemporary Parisian 'acorn' binding.
21 Justi Lipsii de militia Romana libri quinque, commentarius ad Polybium... fol. Antuerpiae, 1598. Scot.DG89.L5B98. Actually a quarto, and the volume includes Lipsius' Poliorceticon (1596). Ownership inscriptions of Anthony Lynton (1601) and Alexander Drummond (1611).
25 * Strozzi poetae pater et filius. 8°. Parisiis, 1530. Scot.PA8585.S7A17. From the library of Henry Sinclair, Bishop of Ross.18
26 Joannis Pierii Valeriani Bellunensis hieroglyphica sive de sacris AEgyptiorum aliarumque gentium literis commentariorum libri 58...fol. Francofurti ad Moenum, 1614. Scot.PJ1093.V2Cl4. Actually a quarto; pt. 3 is dated 1613.
27 Caii Suetonii Tranquilli de duodecim cesaribus libri octo, ejusdem de illustribus grammaticis et de claris rhetoribus cum animadversionibus Isaci Casauboni. 4°. Apud heredes Jacobi Chovet, [Geneva], 1611. Possibly Scot.PA6700.A2C11, vhich carries the words, 'Philologie bibliothecam', deleted, on the title verso.
32 * Aristophanis comoediae undecim cum scholiis antiquis... fol. Genev[ae], 1607. Scot.PA3875.A2C07 (Gk. & Lat. texts). Variant Latin inscription in donor's own hand. Ownership inscriptions of Mr William Whytlaw (1612).
40 Libri de re rustica: Marci Catonis, Terentii Varronis libri tres, Palladii Rutilii... libri quatuordecim cum Petri Victorii explicationibus in Catonem, Varronem et Columellam... 8°. Parisiis, 1543. Scot.PA6139.R8. Variant Latin inscription in donor's own hand.
* Jo[annes] Wylie
* Patricius Sandeus
44 Plutarchi opera Grece duobus tomis. fol. Basileae, 1542. Probably Scot.PA4367.A2, 2 vol., consisting of the Greek texts of a) the Vitae paralelae, Basle, 1533; and b) the Moralia, Basle, 1542. Both volumes are folios and carry Nicolson's arms on the binding as well as his signature and printed bookplate (1610) on the titles. Both were previously owned by Henry Sinclair, Bishop of Ross,18 and by 'G. Hay'.
45 Hortensii explanationes cum Sulpitii commentariis in Lucanum. fol. Basileae, 1578, mense martio. Scot.PA6478.A2B78 (Pharsalia). Variant Latin inscription in Peirson's own hand dated 3 October 1620.
* T. Henryson
48 Lucae Annei Senece philosophi et Marci Annaei Senece rhetoris quae extant opera. fol. Parisiis, 1619. Scot.PA6661.A2C19; pt. 2 dated 1613. Inscription in Scots in donor's own hand, dated 24 November 1620, and signed 'James Duncane of Ratho'.
50 Pomponii Melae de situ orbis lib. 3 cum commentariis Joachimi Vadiani Helvetii. fol. Parisiis, 1540. Probably Scot.PA6512.A2B40, inscribed on title 'Mr J. Peblis dedicat'. Ownership inscriptions of Alexander Coill, Thomas Galbraith and James Cockburn.
* Tho[mas] Nicolson
53 Ευσαδιου αρχιεπισκοπου Θησσαλονικης παρεκβολαι εις του Ομηρου Ιλιαδα in duobus voluminibus. fol. Romae, 1542. Scot.PA4019.A2B42. Tom. 1-2 of a three-volume work. From the library of Henry Sinclair, Bishop of Ross;18 previously owned by Sir William Sinclair of Roslin.
54 Cosmographie universalis lib. sex autore Sebastiano Munstero. fol. Basilee, 1550, mense martio. ScotG96.M8B50. From the library of Henry Sinclair, Bishop of Ross;18 previously owned by Robert Keith, Commendator of Deer.
56 Divi Erasmi Roterodami operum nonus tomus complectens ipsius apologias. fol. Basileae, 1540. Scot.B785.E6B40. From the library of Henry Sinclair, Bishop of Ross;18 also owned by Robert Forrest.
58 Ξενοφωντος ... omnia que extant opera Joanne Lewenklaio interprete. Editio secunda. fol. Basileae, 1572. Scot.PA4494.A2B72 (Gk. & Lat. texts). Ownership inscription of Adam King.24
60 Michaelis Beutheri fastorum libri duo ... Item ephemeris historica eodem autore. 8°. Basileae, 1556, mense martio. Scot.CE35.B4. Variant Latin inscription in donor's own hand dated 13 December 1620.
61 J. Lipsii saturnalium sermonum libri duo qui de gladiatoribus. 4°. Lugduni Batavorum. Not traced.25
62 Francisci Guicciardini Patricii Florentini historiarum sui temporis libri viginti... una cum Bartholomei Facii rerum gestarum Alfonsi Primi regis primi Neapolitani. fol. Basilee, 1566. Scot.DG539.G8. Previously owned by 'J. Fouler'. Contemporary London binding by 'H. R.'
Al[exander] McDuff 29 ecclesie Scoticane
Williame Maxwell [of Kirkhouse]
68 Dionysii Halicarnassei scripta que extant omnia et historica et rhetorica Grece et Latine opera et studio Friderici Sylburgi veterensis. fol. Francofurdi, 1586. Scot.PA3966.A2B86. Donor inscription, in Scots, in scribe's hand but signed by Maxwell.
69 Brissonii... de solemnibus populi Romani verbis libri octo. 4°. Francofurti, 1592. Scot.DG88.B8B92. Variant Latin inscription in donor's own hand. Ownership inscription, dated 10 January 1603, of Charles Lumisden, Professor of Philosophy at Edinburgh.
79 Junii Juvenalis satyre sexdecim cum veteris scholiastie et Johannis Britannici commentariis... Item Auli Persii Flacci satyrarum liber cum antiquissimis commentariis qui Corinto tribuuntur ... fol. m. Lutetiae, 1613. Not traced.
S.A.U.L. MS. 4010 is a manuscript volume known as the 'Commonplace Book of Sir John Scot.' Although undoubtedly used as such at some stage by Sir John, it is doubtful whether the name truly reflects the volume's original purpose. An inscription on fol. 1 might tend, rather, to suggest that its primary function was to serve as a permanent record of the Humanity Class Library founded by Scot in 1620.
The binding, with its gold-decorated covers and spine (an oval-shaped centre stamp of formal pattern on both covers, surmounted by the initials 'S.I.S.' and enclosed within a border formed by a single fillet; with fleurons on the spine), is not unusually ornate for a commonplace book; but neither would it be out of place on a volume commissioned by Scot to commemorate the new Chair of Humanity: it matches the decorative nature of the calligraphic inscription on fol. 1, which reads as follows:
In pristinum nitorem a barbarie & ignorantia quibuscum hactenus conflictate sunt, Mitiores Musas vindicare, sedulo Dominus Joannes Scotus, ingeniorum fautor certissimus, advisus est. Ideoque Andreapoli, propriis sumptibus, humaniorum literarum professori, de Minervali animo honeste prospexit: Ibique Bibliothecam Philologiae thesauro, veluti promptus utilium provisor, instruere decrevit, primusque viam aliorum liberalitati, sua largitate praeivit, ut qui bonas literas in hac patria florere discupiant, voluntaria vel pecuniae vel librorum accessione eandem augeant. Et ne collati muneris extinguatur memoria sed ut iussit Seneca, qui beneficium dedit taceat, narret qui acceperit, cuiusque donum cum datoris nomine, gemino libro indici, in munificentiae testimonium mansurum posteris inscribi curabit. Munificum datorem diligit Dominus, & quod in usum Reipub: commodum insumitur, sumptus sapienti lucro est. 28. Iulii, Anno Domini 1620. [Italics mine]
The volume as it now stands consists of seventy-seven leaves of roughly foolscap size (35 x 22 cm.), but it is clear from the foliation that there were originally at least ninety-six leaves, made up of twelve eight-leaf gatherings. The foliation begins on the second leaf and runs from 1-80 (fols. 12, 15, 18-20, 22-30 and 33-34 are missing), with twelve leaves unfoliated after fol. 80. Fol. 10 and every tenth leaf thereafter (up to and including fol. 80) are signed by Scot. A separate sequence of pagination begins at the opposite end of the volume and runs, the opposite way up from the foliation, from 1-107, with twenty-three (surviving) leaves unpaginated, so that pp. 24-107 correspond to fols. 39v.- 80, The writing (not all - see below - in Scot's hand) follows the direction and polarity of the foliation (and the binding) on fols. 1-35r. and the leaf preceding fol. 1; and of the pagination on fols. 35v.-, i.e. pp. 1 - .
The contents of the foliated sequence, leaving aside the missing fols. 12, 15, 18-20, 22-30 and 33-34, are :
The contents of the paginated sequence are as follows:
The paste-down leaf on the lower cover of the volume (preceding p. 1) contains verses headed 'Gemme ex Storginiano Ovidiano", all in Scot's hand with his signature at the foot.
It is possible that what I have called hand 'C' is in fact a developed form of Scot's own hand. Even so, there would seem to be at least three distinct hands in the Scotstarvit volume. Thus, although the volume was undoubtedly used by Scot at some time as a commonplace book, it is by no means certain that this was his original intention, and in fact the evidence points convincingly to a prior function. The sequence of foliation is undoubtedly earlier than the pagination and that sequence is occupied, on fol. 1, by an inscription announcing Scot's intention to make a permanent record of the collective donations, and on fols. 6-9, by the list of donations itself. (That the intervening script on fols. 2-5 is later, is proved by the fact that at the foot of fol. 5r. Scot has inserted the direction 'vide fol. 13', thus implying that fols. 6-12 were already otherwise occupied.)
The true nature of this commemorative volume has almost certainly been obscured by the fact that at some point in time the leaves containing the list of donors (fols. 6-14, of which fols. 6-9 form the list itself) became separated from the body of the Scotstarvit volume. The circumstances of this separation are uncertain - on the face of it, it seems unlikely that Scot himself would choose to desecrate the memorial volume by tearing out the vital part of it - but it is known that the leaves turned up as Lot 358 at the sale in Edinburgh in 1861 of the MSS. of Principal John Lee, and documents in the University archives show that negotiations with Lee's heirs were carried out by Principal Porbes for the purpose of re-acquiring them for the University. The leaves are now happily back in St Andrews, preserved in their rightful place as part of the 'Commonplace Book'.
Thesaurus ling[uae] Lat[inae] 3 vol. 19
Authores ling[uae] Lat[inae] in unum corpus redacti 49
Plautus cum notis Paci
[signed] James Preston