Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/169

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HECTOR MACNEIL. 539


copy of it ; so that the Paris edition of it is incorrect Afterwards, however, he revised the whole, and inserted it in his Treatise of Fluxions. His con- tributions to the Philosophical Transactions, may be seen in different volumes of these collections, from No. 30 to No. 42, both inclusive, and treat on the fol- lowing subjects : " Of the Construction and Measure of Curves," " A New Method of describing all kinds of Cunres," " On Equations with impossible Roots," " On the Description of Curves, with an Account of further Improve- ments, &<x" " An Account of the Annular Eclipse of the Sun at Edinburgh, January 27, 1742-3," " A Rule for finding the Meridianal Parts of a Sphe- roid, with the same exactness as of a Sphere," And " Of the Bases of the Cells wherein the Bees deposite their Honey." These papers conclude the list of our author's writings, which were published during his lifetime. After his death, the friends, to whose judgment he submitted the disposal of his MSS., gave directions for publishing his " Treatise of Algebra," and his " Account of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophical Discoveries. The first of these works, which appeared in 1748, though it had not the advantage to be finished by his own hands, is yet allowed to be excellent in its kind ; containing, in one volume, octavo, of a moderate size, a complete elementary treatise of the science of alge- bra, as far as it had been hitherto carried. Subjoined to it, by way of appen- dix, is a Latin tract, " De Linearum Geometricarum proprietatibus generali- bus, which appears to have been, in our author's judgment, one of the best of his performances, and in which he employed some of the latest hours that he could give to such studies, revising it for the press, as his last legacy to the sciences and the public.

MACNEIL, HECTOR, a poet and miscellaneous writer, was born at Rosebank, near RosKn, in the year 1746. His father had been in the army, where he was patronized by the duke of Argyle, and had mingled in the best company ; but, having offended his patron by selling out without his advice, he was left afterwards to his own resources. He took a farm at Rosebank ; but some im- prudences, and the habit of living in a manner above his income, completely ruined his prospects. As his family was then large, it became necessary that the sons should, as soon as possible, be made independent of him. The only expectation for Hector was from a cousin, who carried on a mercantile concern in Bristol. The father, therefore, confined his education to the mercantile branches, dreading, from his own example, the effect of more refined and clas- sical instruction. The youth discovered excellent parts, with an elegance of taste which seemed to mark him for a different destination from that intended. At the age of eleven, he had written a species of drama, in imitation of Gay. His master earnestly entreated to be allowed to give him some of the higher branches ; but on this his father put a decided negative. The attachment, however, of the teacher to his pupil, induced him to impart secretly some ele- ments of this forbidden knowledge. From the father, meantime, young Mac- neil received many anecdotes of the world, a high sense of honour, and the feelings of a gentleman.

As soon as he had completed his fourteenth year, he was sent off to his cousin at Bristol. On his way, he spent some months at Glasgow, where he completed himself in several branches of his education. His cousin was a rough, boister- ous, West India captain, who could not estimate the genius of Macneil, but was pleased with some instances of his spirit. He first proposed to Hector an ex- pedition in a slave ship to the coast of Guinea ; but was diverted from it by some female friends, who rightly judged this destination wholly unsuited to the youth's disposition. He was, therefore, sent on a voyage to St Christopher's, with the view of making the sea his profession, if he liked it ; otherwise, he was