In several of his works Anderson is described as physician to Charles I.
[Anderson's Scottish Baron's Court, 1821; T. H. Burton in S.D.U.K. Dict.; Brit. Mus. Cat.]
ANDERSON, ROBERT (fl. 1668–1696), was a mathematician and silk-weaver of London, whom John Collins, one of the early members of the Royal Society, helped with the loan of books and the supply of scientific information (Stereometrical Propositions, Preface). He devoted special attention to improving the art of gunnery, and during at least twenty-one years from 1671 conducted some thousands of experiments with cannon mounted at his own expense on Wimbledon Common, showing that his means must have been considerable. ‘I am very well assured,’ he says (Genuine Use and Effects of the Gunne, p. 32), ‘I have done more, being a private person, than all the engineers and gunners with their yearly salaries and allowances, since the first invention of this warlike engine.’ He wrote:
- ‘Stereometrical Propositions variously applicable, but particularly intended for Gageing,’ 1668, an ingenious, though uncouth little work, condemned by J. Gregory as ‘pitiful stuff’ (Correspondence of Scientific Men (Rigaud), ii. 258), but mentioned with approval in ‘Phil. Trans.’ iii. 785. An appendix entitled ‘Gaging Promoted’ followed in 1669 (noticed in Phil. Trans. iv. 960).
- ‘The Genuine Use and Effects of the Gunne, as well experimentally as mathematically demonstrated. A new Work of Singular Use unto Generals of Armies, Enginiers, and other Artists. Tam Marte quam Mercurio. With Tables of Projection, etc. by Thomas Streete,’ 1674.
- ‘To hit a Mark, as well upon Ascents and Descents, as upon the Plain of the Horizon,’ 1690. A short Discourse is added ‘Of Granadoes, Carcasses, and Fireballs,’ with ‘Warlike Musick illustrated in several Consorts of Phrygian Flutes, clearly demonstrated by Principles of Musick and Mathematicks;’ the last a ponderous scientific joke.
- ‘To cut the Rigging, and Proposals for the Improvement of Great Artillery,’ 1691.
- ‘The Making of Rockets. In two Parts. The First containing the Making of Rockets for the meanest Capacity. The other to make Rockets by a Duplicate Proposition, to 1,000 pound Weight or higher,’ 1696. Dedicated to Henry, Earl of Romney, Master-General of the Ordnance, from whose favour the author hoped for a trial of his improvements in artillery practice.
- Watts (Bib. Brit.) mentions as the latest of his works a ‘Treatise on the Use and Effects of the Gunne,’ London, 1713, 4to.
[Hutton, Phil. and Math. Dict. i. 116; Montucla, Hist. d. Math. ii. 89; De Morgan in S.D.U.K. Dict. ii. 576.]
ANDERSON, ROBERT, M.D. (1750–1830), editor and biographer of the British poets, was born on 7 July 1750 at Carnwath in Lanarkshire. On the death of his father, a small feuar, or copyholder, in 1760, his family was left in straitened circumstances; but Robert, having received his early education at the parish schools of Carnwath and Libberton, and at the grammar school of Lanark, was sent to the university of Edinburgh to qualify himself for the ministry of the church of Scotland. Soon forsaking theology for medicine, he became surgeon to a dispensary at Bamborough Castle, but, after taking his degree of M.D., he married, and finding himself able to relinquish the practice of his profession, he settled finally at Edinburgh, and devoted himself to literary pursuits. He had already edited a volume of poems, written by himself and James Graeme, a youthful friend who died at an early age in 1782. Anderson also contributed a sketch of his friend's life to the ‘Gentleman's Magazine.’
Some years afterwards, an Edinburgh publishing firm projected the issue of a selection from the edition of the English poets for which Johnson had written his ‘Lives.’ Anderson recommended a much more comprehensive enterprise than the publication of mere extracts from a collection into which no poets anterior to the Caroline age had been admitted, and from which Scottish poets were, as a rule, excluded. His plan was accepted, and thus originated what his publishers styled ‘A Complete Edition of the Poets of Great Britain’ (1792–5), furnished with biographical and critical notices written by the editor. The work consisted originally of thirteen volumes, to which a fourteenth was added in 1807. Chaucer, Surrey, Wyatt, and Sackville are the earliest poets included, and it was with great difficulty that Anderson could induce his publisher to admit any pre-Shakespearian author. His labours as editor procured him the esteem of Bishop Percy, with whom he afterwards regularly corresponded; and Southey (Quarterly Review, July 1814) thanked ‘good old Dr. Anderson’ for what he had succeeded in effecting towards the republication of our older poets, and complimented him on making many of the Elizabethan poets generally accessible for the first time. In 1798 the first edition of the collection, one of 2,000 copies, was nearly sold off, and the issue of a second was contemplated (Percy Correspondence in Nichols's Illustrations of the Literary History of the Eighteenth Century, vii. 74).
Some of the biographical and critical notices which appeared in the collection were ex-