Following his success in reforming the University of Glasgow and his transfer to St Andrews, Melville left the college in the hands of his close friend Thomas Smeaton (1536-1583). Smeaton was an ex-Jesuit who had converted to protestantism in 1572 and who was an able and active polemicist. His sole surviving publication, an 'Orthodox Defence' (Orthodoxa Responsio, Edinburgh, 1579), was a response to the polemical tract De Confusione Calvinianae Sectae apud Scotos (1577) written by the apostate and ex-St Mary's regent Archibald Hamilton. It was under Smeaton that a number of statutes were promulgated in 1581 that favoured the teachings of Ramist works and reiterated the structural reforms of Melville's 'Nova Erectio'. However, in 1582 Smeaton embroiled the college in a riot against the town provost and baillies over their refusal to acccept the new archbishop of Glasgow, Robert Montgomery. This dispute led to the warding of the university regents and the temporary closure of the university for several months. Smeaton died unexpected in early 1583 and was replaced by Patrick Sharp (d.1615), who was much more amenable to royal policy. With the death at the same time of his counterpart at Aberdeen, Alexander Arbuthnot (d2_MelA_050), Melville had not only lost two dear friends, but the two lieutenants he had assumed would consolidate his intellectual programme in the west and north-east, and the opportunity to fully link his work at St Andrews with reform at both King's and Glasgow was over. His sorrow and regret at this turn of events is clear in this epitaph. Reid, Humanism and Calvinism, pp. 95-106. Metre: elegiac couplets.
In Alexandrum Arbuthnetum et Thomam Smetonium, duo nostrae gentis lumina, ad Septemtriones et Meridiem nuper extincta (1583)
In Alexandrum Arbuthnetum et Thomam Smetonium, duo nostrae gentis lumina, ad Septemtriones et Meridiem nuper extincta
Vix, heu, vix raptum deflevimus Arbuthnetum;
vix, heu, justa datis solvimus inferiis;
et premit altera mors, et funere funus acerbat:
et magno extincto lumine majus obit.
Ille quidem Arctoa tenebras de nocte fugabat:
fulgebas medio Glasgua stella die.
Quod si luce sua spoliata est noxque diesque
nostra, eheu, quantis obruimur tenebris!
Aut ergo e tenebris revoca lucem aut hominum lux
Christe redi, ut nobis stet sine nocte dies.
On Alexander Arbuthnot and Thomas Smeaton, two lights of our race in the North and South, recently extinguished
Scarcely, alas, scarcely have we mourned Arbuthnot's carrying off; scarcely, alas, have we been freed from obsequies, with the funeral offerings given; but one death heaps upon another, and a funeral is made bitter with a funeral, and with a great light already extinguished, another falls. That northern star caused the shadows to flee from the night: Glasgow star, you shone in the middle of the day. So if, then, our night and day are despoiled of their light, alas, how great is the darkness by which we are overwhelmed! Christ, light of men, either call back the light from darkness or return, so that our day may continue without night.