The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

II. Historians, Biographers and Political Orators

§ 36. John Hill Burton

John Hill Burton’s History of Scotland, from 1688 to 1745, of which the first portion appeared in 1853, was enlarged by successive additions of earlier periods, and, after Tytler’s death, was, in 1870, finally published as extending from Agricola to the last Jacobite rising. Burton, after showing great activity as a periodical writer, editor and journalist, had, in 1846, published The Life and Correspondence of David Hume, of whose economical writings he had made a special study, and had followed this successful effort with some lesser productions in Scottish biography. He afterwards reprinted some of his contributions to journalism in the two most popular of his books, The Book Hunter (1860) and the very interesting Scot Abroad (1862). His History of Scotland justified his appointment as Scottish historiographer-royal; but, although the fruit of long and unwearying research, it is ill-arranged and loose in composition, and only held the field because of the absence of a competitor in command of the same abundance of material. As editor of two volumes of The Scottish Registers, he rendered an enduring service to the study of Scottish history, which was continued by David Masson. Burton’s History of the Reign of Queen Anne (1880), though containing curious matter, is as little satisfactory a piece of work as ever came from a historian’s hands; but it was the last larger effort of a long and laborious life.