STONE, EDMUND, an
ingenious self-taught mathematician, was born in Scotland, but neither
the place nor the time of his birth is known. He was the son of a
gardener in the employment of the duke of Argyle, at Inverary, and had
reached his eighth year before he learned to read. He was taught the
letters of the alphabet by a servant, and, with the assistance only of
books, and no guide but his own genius, he learned Latin and French, and
the elements of mathematics. Before he was eighteen he had acquired a
knowledge of geometry and analysis, and his proficiency becoming
accidentally known to the duke, in whose garden he was employed under
his father, an occupation was procured for him which left him leisure
for his favourite studies. Whether he went to London or remained in
Argyleshire is uncertain; but in 1725 he was chosen a fellow of the
Royal Society. Besides several communications to the Philosophical
Transactions, among which is an ‘Account of two Species of Lines of the
Third Order not mentioned by Sir Isaac Newton or Mr. Stirling,’ he
published several useful mathematical works, partly original and partly
translated, a list of which is subjoined. In 1742 or 1743, his name was
withdrawn from the list of the Royal Society, and in his old age he
appears to have been left to poverty and neglect. He died in March of
April 1768. His works are:
A new Mathematical Dictionary. 1726, 8vo.
Conic Sections. Lond. 1723, 4to.
Method of Fluxions. Lond. 1730, 8vo.
The Elements of Euclid. 1731, 2 vols. 8vo. A neat and useful edition.
Euclid’s Elements of Geometry, the first six, the eleventh and twelfth
Books; translated into English from Dr. Gregory’s edition; with notes
and additions. Lond. 1752, 8vo.
The Construction and Principal Uses of Mathematical Instruments, from
the French of M. Bion; to which are added, The Construction and Uses of
such Instruments as are omitted by Bion, particularly of those invented
or improved by the English; 42 plates. Lond. 1758, fol. Second edition,
Lond. 1759, fol.
The whole Doctrine of Parallaxes explained and illustrated, by an
arithmetical and geometrical construction of the Transit of Venus over
the Sun, June 6, 1761; enriched with a new and general method of
determining the places where any transit of this planet, and especially
that which will be June 3, 1769, may be best observed, for the
investigation of its parallax. Lond. 1763, 8vo.
Some Reflections on the Uncertainty of many Astronomical and
Geographical Positions with regard to the Figure and Magnitude of the
Earth, the finding the Longitude at sea by watches, and other operations
of the most eminent astronomers, with some hints towards their
reformation. London, 1768, 8vo.
Concerning two species of Lines of the third order, not mentioned by Sir
Isaac Newton nor by Mr. Stirling. Phil. Trans. 1740, Abr. viii. 392.
STONE, JEROME, a self-taught scholar and poet, the son of a
mariner, was born, in 1727, in the parish of Scoonie, in Fifeshire. His
father died abroad when he was but three years of age, leaving his
mother in very straitened circumstances, and he received his education
at the parish school. He was at first nothing more than a traveling
chapman or pedlar, but afterwards his love of books induced him to
become an itinerant bookseller, that he might have an opportunity of
reading. He studied Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, and, with scarcely any
assistance, made himself proficient in them all. The professors at St.
Andrews having heard of his remarkable acquirements, liberally allowed
him free access to their lectures. He attended the sessions regularly,
and soon came to be distinguished among the students for his proficiency
in almost every branch of learning. He subsequently obtained the
situation of assistant to the rector of the grammar-school of Dunkeld,
and, in three years after, the rectorship itself. Having acquired a
knowledge of the Gaelic language, he was so much charmed with the Gaelic
poetry, that he translated several pieces into English, and sent his
versions to the Scots Magazine, in which they appeared chiefly during
the years 1752, 1755, and 1756. He now commenced a work of great labour
and ingenuity, entitled ‘An Enquiry into the Origin of the Nation and
Language of the Ancient Scots, with Conjectures respecting the primitive
State of the Celtic and other European nations,’ which he did not live
to complete. He died of a fever in 1757, in the thirtieth year of his
age, leaving in manuscript an allegory, entitled ‘The Immortality of
Authors,’ which was published after his death, and has often been