Anderson, George

, a young man of extraordinary talents, was born at Weston, a village near Aylesbury, in Buckinghamshire, in Nov. 1760. His father was a peasant of the lower order, who died when his son was young, leaving him to the care of providence: from his mother and an elder brother he received some little instruction, and particularly by the latter he was taught the rudiments of arithmetic. His chief occupation, however, was in the field, where his family were obliged to procure a subsistence, and here, like his predecessor in early fortune, James Ferguson, he became enamoured of mathematical science, and devoted what hours he could spare to this study, although with disadvantages which in most men would have prevented the attempt, or interrupted the progress. Yet such was his application, that in 1777, he transmitted to the London Magazine the solution of some problems which had appeared in that work, and he had the satisfaction to see his letter admitted. As he had signed this letter with his name, and dated it from Weston, it happened to fall under the inspection of Mr. Bonnycastle, the well-known author of various mathematical and astronomical works, and now mathematical master to the Royal Academy, Woolwich, who was not less pleased than surprised at this attempt of a young man from the sama county with himself, of whom he had never heard. Mr. Bonnycastle, accordingly, on his next visit in Buckinghamshire, procured an interview with the young genius, whom he found threshing in a barn, the walls of which were covered with triangles and parallelograms. Such was young Anderson’s bashfulness, however, that Mr. Bonnycastle could not draw him into conversation, until he won hfs heart by the loan of Simpson’s Fluxions, and two or threeother books.

Mr. Anderson’s extraordinary talents becoming now the talk of the neighbourhood, he soon found a generous and steady patron in the Rev. Mr. King, then vicar of Whitchurch, who determined to send him to the university: and, after some preliminary instruction at the grammarschool belonging to New College, Oxford, he entered of Wadliam College. Here he applied himself to the study | of classical learning, but his principal acquirements continued to be in his favourite science. At the usual time, he took the degree of M. A. and was admitted to deacon’s orders, but whether from the want of a successful prospect, or from disinclination, he gave up all thoughts of the church, and came to London in 1785, in consequence of an invitation from Scrope Bernard, esq. M. P. brother-inlaw to Mr. King. After two or three months, Mr. Bernard introduced him to Mr. now lord Grenville, and he recommended him to Mr. Dundas (lord Melville), who was then at the head of the board of India controul, in which he obtained an appointment. His salary was at first small, but he soon discovered such ability in arithmetical calculations and statements, that his salary was liberally increased^ and himself promoted to the office of accountantgeneral. While employed in preparing the complicated accounts of the India budget for 1796, he was seized with an indisposition, which was so rapidly violent as to put au end to his useful life in less than a week. He died Saturday, April 30, of the above year, universally lamented by his friends, and was interred in St. Pancras church-yard. His character was in all respects truly amiable: although his intercourse with the learned and polite world had taken off the rust of his early years, yet his demeanour was simple and modest. His conversation, which, however, he rarely obtruded, was shrewd; and he appeared to possess some share of humour, but this was generally repressed by a hesitating bashfulness, of which he never wholly got rid. His death was lamented in the most feeling and honourable terms by the president of the India board, as a public loss; and by his interest, a pension was procured for Mrs. An,­derson, a very amiable young woman, whom Mr. Anderson married in 1790. Mr. Anderson published only two works, the one, “Arenarius, a treatise on numbering the sand.” This, which appeared in 1784, was a translation of the Arenarius of Archimedes, from the Greek, to which Mr. Anderson added notes and illustrations. The design is to demonstrate the possibility of enumerating the particles of sand which would compose a mass equal in bulk to the whole solar system, or any other determinate magnitude whatever. The translator, in his preface, gives some account of the knowledge of the ancients in arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and of the Pythagorean or Aristarchian system of the world; and to render his publication as complete as possible, he added, from the Latin, the | Dissertation of Christopher Clavius, on the same subject as the Arenarius. Mr. Anderson’s other publication was a very candid and dispassionate “General view of the variations which have taken place in the affairs of the East India Company since the conclusion of the war in India in 1781,” 8vo. 1791. 1


Necrology, p. 2^5, communicated by his friends. —Gent. Mag.