Anderson, Walter

, D. D. a native of Scotland, for fifty years minister of Chirnside, where he died at a very advanced age, July 1800, deserves some notice in this work as the author of the History of France, which was published in 1769, under the title of “The History of France during the reigns of Francis II. and Charles IX. To which is prefixed, a Review of the General History of the Monarchy, from its origin to that period,” 2 vols. 4to. The success of these volumes was very indifferent; yet in 1775, the author published “The History of France, from the commencement of the reign of Henry III. and the rise of the Catholic league to the peace of Vervins, and the establishment of the famous edict of Nantes, in the reign of Henry IV.” 1 vol. 4to. In 1783, he published two more volumes, containing his history “From the commencement of the reign of Lewis XIII. to the general peace of Munster.” The reception of this was equally discouraging with that of the former works. Dr. Anderson displays none of the essential qualities of historic writing, no research into the secret springs of action, no discrimination of character, and no industry in accumulating and examining authorities. Even as a compiler, he is guided only by one set of materials which he found in the French writers, and may therefore be consulted by the English reader, as a collector of their opinions, while he is highly censurable in not having recourse to original papers and documents respecting the affairs occasionally introduced pertaining to his own country. His style is uniformly tame and defaced by colloquial barbarisms.

His next publication deserves to be mentioned in more favourable terms. It was entitled “The Philosophy of ancient Greece investigated, in its origin and progress, to the acras of its greatest celebrity, in the Ionian, Italic, and Athenian schools, with remarks on the delineated systems of their founders,” 4to. His principal object appears to have been to supply the deficiencies in Mr. Stanley’s work, and to give place to remarks upon the reasoning employed by the most eminent of the Grecian philosophers, in support of their physical, theological, and moral systems; to give a fuller and more connected display of their theories and arguments, and to relieve the frigidity of their bare details, by interspersing observations. In this work he displays much learning, and is in general | both accurate and perspicuous, although he is still deficient in the graces of style. Perhaps it would have been more successful, had it not appeared at the same time with Dr. Eufield’s excellent abridgement of Brucker’s history of philosophy. In his youth he is said to have published “The Life of Crœsus,” 12mo, which he sold himself, and is now become scarce. 1


Gent. Mag. vol. LXX, &c.