1830 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. Robert Anderson

George Dyer, Obituary in Gentleman's Magazine 100 (April 1830) 375-76.



March 20. In Windmill-street, Edinburgh, aged 78, Robert Anderson, M.D. a gentleman as much regretted in his death as he was esteemed in his life, and well known to the public as the editor and biographer of the British Poets.

He was born at Carnwath, an extensive parish in Lanarkshire, and was educated at a celebrated school in the Royal Burgh of Lanark. His academical studies were prosecuted in the University of Edinburgh, and, after an extended course of literature and science, he there took his Doctor's degree. For several years he practised as a physician at Alnwick, in the County of Northumberland, where he married Miss Grey, a lady related to the noble family of that name; and having thus been emancipated from the necessity of professional exertion, he finally returned to Edinburgh, where be continued to reside for upwards of forty years, in a condition of life removed from affluence, but perfectly consistent with genuine independence and comfort.

The works of Dr. Anderson are various and valuable, and have been favourably received by the public; they are principally critical and biographical: his edition and lives of the British Poets in 14 large volumes, was published in 1795, and was soon followed by an edition of Dr. Moore's works: both were more creditable to the editor than to the publishers, who injured the sale of them by an ill-judged parsimony in bringing them out. He next published the Miscellaneous Works of Dr. Smollett; this passed through six editions; the eighth made up a separate edition under the title of The Life of Tobias Smollett, M.D. with critical Observations on his Works, Edin. 1800; this work is held in great and just estimation, but that which is most admired, is his Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D., with critical observations on his Works, third edition, Edin. 1815, 8vo. He also made numerous contributions to various publications, but more through his fondness for literature than any love of money. His correspondence with literary men was extensive, by whom he was held in the greatest esteem, not more for his talents than the frankness of his temper and the warmth of his heart. He was very attentive to the interest of melt of letters, and peculiarly so to that of young persons in whom he perceived any indications of genius. He was in his politics a sound whig, and from his earliest youth showed the highest respect for the civil and religious liberties of mankind; this his passion appeared even strong in death, for on the very evening before he died, he called for a map of Greece, that he might observe the elements of this new state, in whose future fortune he had felt himself so deeply interested.

Though Dr. Anderson lived to so good art old age, his mental and corporeal faculties betrayed few symptoms of it; he had been uniformly temperate and regular, and he possessed an habitual cheerfulness. He was in many cases kind even to enthusiasm. Though, having reached his 80th year, he had outlived many of his oldest friends, he still enjoyed the society of a respectable circle, who knew how to appreciate his character, and will retain a pleasing sense of his worth, and a lasting affectionate respect for his memory.