DALZEL, ANDREW (1742–1806), classical scholar, was born on 6 Oct. 1742, at Gateside, on the estate of Newliston, parish of Kirkliston, Linlithgowshire. He was the youngest of four sons of William Dalzel (d. 1751), a carpenter, who married Alice Linn. He was named after his uncle, Andrew Dalzel (d. 22 Nov. 1755), parish minister of Stoneykirk, Wigtownshire, who adopted him on his father's death. His education was superintended by John Drysdale, D.D. [q. v.], minister of Kirkliston, who sent him to the parish school, and thence with a brother to the Edinburgh University. He was intended for the church, and after graduating M.A. went through the divinity course, but was never licensed. Leaving the university, he became tutor in the Lauderdale family, having as his pupils James, lord Maitland (afterwards eighth earl of Lauderdale), his brother Thomas, and Robert (afterwards Sir Robert) Liston, Dalzel's lifelong friend. With his pupils he attended the lectures on civil law of John Millar at Glasgow. He assisted Alexander Adam, LL.D. [q. v.], rector of the Edinburgh High School, in the preparation of his admirable Latin grammar (published May 1772). Robert Hunter, professor of Greek in the Edinburgh University, was infirm and inefficient. Adam began to teach Greek in the high school, an innovation against which Principal Robertson, apparently prompted by Hunter, protested to the town council on 14 Nov. 1772 as an invasion of the exclusive privilege of the university. The protest was ineffectual, and Hunter retired, resigning (for a consideration of 300l.) half his salary and all class fees to Dalzel, who in December was appointed joint professor by the town council. In 1774 Dalzel travelled with Lord Maitland to Paris, and in 1775 accompanied him to Oxford, entered at Trinity College, and resided for a term. With Thomas Warton, then one of the fellows, he contracted a friendship which led to much correspondence. In 1779 Hunter died, aged 75, and Dalzel became sole professor. His emoluments were 400l. a year and a house.
Dalzel found the studies of his chair at the lowest possible ebb. He did for Greek what Pillans (his pupil in Greek) at a later day did for Latin, combining exactness of scholarship with the cultivation of a taste for the literature of Greece. In his lowest class he had to begin each year with the alphabet. But he succeeded in attracting to his higher classes students from all quarters, and his annotated extracts from Greek literature were adopted as text-books beyond the limits of Scotland. Dalzel was unable to avail himself of the researches of German scholars conducted in their own language, but he was kept informed to some extent of the progress of German scholarship by his friend C. A. Böttiger at Weimar, and he corresponded in Latin with Heyne.
In 1783 Dalzel assisted in founding the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and became one of its secretaries. In 1789 he became a candidate for the office of principal clerk to the general assembly, vacated by the death of Drysdale in the previous year. His competitor was Alexander Carlyle [q. v.], who on a first count gained 145 votes against 143 for Dalzel. Carlyle took his place as clerk and delivered a speech; but on a scrutiny being demanded he gave way, and Dalzel was appointed, being the first layman who had ever held the post. Kay the caricaturist published a fine full-length portrait of him as ‘the successful candidate.’ In September 1789 Dalzel obtained a grant of arms and a common seal (engraved in October) for the Edinburgh University. These it had never previously possessed. He had been (from 1785) librarian at the college in conjunction with James Robertson, professor of oriental languages, on whose death in 1795 he was appointed keeper. Dalzel had a good presence, and lectured with grace and dignity. Lord Cockburn [q. v.] says: ‘He inspired us with a vague but sincere ambition of literature, and with delicious dreams of virtue and poetry.’ In private he was exceedingly beloved. He resigned his chair in 1805, George Dunbar [q. v.], who had acted as his assistant, being promoted to the vacancy. After a long illness Dalzel died on 8 Dec. 1806. He is buried in the Westminster Abbey of Edinburgh, the graveyard of Old Greyfriars. He married (28 April 1786) Anne (b. 18 Oct. 1751, d 22 Dec. 1829), daughter of his old friend Drysdale, and thus became connected with the families of the brothers Adam [q. v.], the architects, and of Principal Robertson. His courtship had been a long one; ‘with a siege of five years,’ it was said, ‘he has conquered his Helen.’ His family consisted of two daughters and three sons. His eldest son, Robert, was counsel at Port Mahon; his second son, William, who was in the artillery, was the only one who left issue; his third son, John (1796–1823), was called to the Scottish bar as an advocate in 1818.
His works are: 1. ‘Short Genealogy of the Family of Maitland, earls of Lauderdale,’ 1785 (printed but not published). 2. ‘Ἀνάλεκτα Ἑλληνικὰ Ἥσσονα, sive Collectanea Græca Minora,’ &c., 1789, 8vo, often reprinted; edited by Dunbar, Edinburgh, 1821, 8vo; London, 1835, 8vo; by White, 1849, 8vo;