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MACLAREN, IAN—M’LENNAN

position, resuming it in 1820, and resigning it again in 1845. In 1820 Maclaren was made editor of the sixth edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. From 1864–1866 he was president of the Geological Society of Edinburgh, in which city he died on the 10th of September 1866.


MACLAREN, IAN, the pseudonym of JOHN WATSON (1850-1907), Scottish author and divine. The son of John Watson, a civil servant, he was born at Manningtree, Essex, on the 3rd of November 1850, and was educated at Stirling and at Edinburgh University, afterwards studying theology at New College, Edinburgh, and at Tübingen. In 1874 he entered the ministry of the Free Church of Scotland and became assistant minister of Barclay Church, Edinburgh. Subsequently he was minister at Logiealmond in Perthshire and at Glasgow, and in 1880 he became minister of Sefton Park Presbyterian church, Liverpool, from which he retired in 1905. In 1896 he was Lyman Beecher lecturer at Yale University, and in 1900 he was moderator of the synod of the English Presbyterian church.” While travelling in America he died at Mount Pleasant, Iowa, on the 6th of May 1907. Ian Maclaren's first sketches of rural Scottish life, Beside the Bonnie Briar Bush (1894), achieved extraordinary popularity and were followed by other successful books, The Days of Auld Lang Syne (1895), Kate Carnegie and those Ministers (1896) and Afterwards and other Stories (1898). Under his own name Watson published several volumes of sermons, among them being The Upper Room (1895); The Mind of the Master (1896) and The Potter's Wheel (1897).

See Sir W. Robertson Nieoll, Ian Maclaren (1908).


MACLAURIN, COLIN (1698–1746), Scottish mathematician, was the son of a clergyman, and born at Kilmodan, Argyllshire. In 1709 he entered the university of Glasgow, where he exhibited a decided genius for mathematics, more especially for geometry; it is said before the end of his sixteenth year he had discovered many of the theorems afterwards published in his Geometria organica In 1717 he was elected professor of mathematics in Marischal College, Aberdeen, as a result of a competitive examination. Two years later he was admitted F.R.S. and made the acquaintance of Isaac Newton. In 1719 he published his Geometria organica, sive descriptio linearum curvarum universalis. In it Maclaurin developed several theorems due to Newton, and introduced the method of generating conics which bears his name, and showed that many curves of the third and fourth degrees can be described by the intersection of two movable angles. In 1721 he wrote a supplement to the Geometria organica, which he afterwards published, with extensions, in the Philosophical Transactions for 1735. This paper is principally based on the following general theorem, which is a remarkable extension of Pascal’s hexagram: “If a polygon move so that each of its sides passes through a fixed point, and if all of its summits except one describe curves of the degrees m, n, p, &c., respectively, the free summit moves on a curve of the degree 2mnp . . . . which reduces to mnp . . . . when the fixed points all lie on a right line.” In 1722 Maclaurin travelled as tutor and companion to the eldest son of Lord Polwarth, and after a short stay in Paris resided for some time in Lorraine, where he wrote an essay on the percussion of bodies, which obtained the prize of the French Academy of Sciences for the year 1724. The following year he was elected professor of mathematics in the university of Edinburgh on the urgent recommendation of Newton. After the death of Newton, in 1728, his nephew, John Conduitt, applied to Maclaurin for his assistance in publishing an account of Newton’s life and discoveries. This Maclaurin gladly undertook, but the death of Maclaurin put a stop to the project.

In 1740 Maclaurin divided with Leonhard Euler and Daniel Bernoulli the prize offered by the French Academy of Sciences for an essay on tides. His Treatise on Fluxions was published at Edinburgh in 1742, in two volumes. In the preface he states that the work was undertaken in consequence of the attack on the method of fluxions made by George Berkeley in 1734. Maclaurin’s object was to found the doctrine of fluxions on geometrical demonstration, and thus to answer all objections to its method as being founded on false reasoning and full of mystery. The most valuable part of the work is that devoted to physical applications, in which he embodied his essay on the tides. In this he showed that a homogeneous fluid mass revolving uniformly round an axis under the action of gravity ought to assume the form of an ellipsoid of revolution. The importance of this investigation in connexion with the theory of tides, the figure of the earth, and other kindred questions, has always caused it to be regarded as one of the great problems of mathematical physics. Maclaurin was the first to introduce into mechanics, in this discussion, the important concept of surfaces of level; namely, surfaces at each of whose points the total force acts in the normal direction. He also gave in his Fluxions, for the first time, the correct theory for distinguishing between maxima and minima in general, and pointed out the importance of the distinction in the theory of the multiple points of curves. In 1745, when the rebels were marching on Edinburgh, Maclaurin took a prominent part in preparing trenches and barricades for its defence. The anxiety, fatigue and cold to which he was thus exposed, affecting a constitution naturally weak, laid the foundation of the disease to which he afterwards succumbed. As soon as the rebel army got possession of Edinburgh Maclaurin fled to England, to avoid making submission to the Pretender. He accepted the invitation of T. Herring, then archbishop of York, with whom he remained until it was safe to return to Edinburgh. He died of dropsy on the 14th of June 1746, at Edinburgh. Maclaurin was married in 1733 to Anne, daughter of Walter Stewart, solicitor-general for Scotland. His eldest son John, born in 1734, was distinguished as an advocate, and appointed one of the judges of the Scottish court of session, with the title of Lord Dreghorn. He inherited an attachment to scientific discovery, and was one of the founders of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, in 1782.

After Maclaurin’s death his account of Newton’s philosophical discoveries was published by Patrick Murdoch, and also his algebra in 1748. As an appendix to the latter appeared his De linearum geometricarum proprietatibus generalibus tractatus, a treatise of remarkable elegance. Of the more immediate successors of Newton in Great Britain Maclaurin is probably the only one who can be placed in competition with the great mathematicians of the continent of Europe at the time.(B. W.)


M'LENNAN, JOHN FERGUSON (1827–1881), Scottish ethnologist, was born at Inverness on the 14th of October 1827. He studied at King’s college, Aberdeen, where he graduated with distinction in 1849, thence proceeding to Cambridge, where he remained till 1855 without taking a degree. He was called to the Scottish bar in 1857, and in 1871 was appointed parliamentary draughtsman for Scotland. In 1865 he published Primitive Marriage, in which, arguing from the prevalence of the symbolical form of capture in the marriage ceremonies of primitive races, he developed an intelligible picture of the growth of the marriage relation and of systems of kinship (see Family) according to natural laws. In 1866 he wrote in the Fortnightly Review (April and May) an essay on “Kinship in Ancient Greece,” in which he proposed to test by early Greek facts the theory of the history of kinship set forth in Primitive Marriage; and three years later appeared a series of essays on “Totemism” in the same periodical for 1869–1870 (the germ of which had been contained in the paper just named), which mark the second great step in his systematic study of early society. A reprint of Primitive Marriage, with “Kinship in Ancient Greece” and some other essays not previously published, appeared in 1876, under the title of Studies in Ancient History. The new essays in this volume were mostly critical, but one of them, in which perhaps his guessing talent is seen at his best, “The Divisions of the Irish Family,” is an elaborate discussion of a problem which has long puzzled both Celtic scholars and jurists; and in another, “On the Classificatory System of Relationship,” he propounded a new explanation of a series of facts which, he thought, might throw light upon the early history of society, at the same time putting to the test of those facts the theories he had set forth in Primitive Marriage. Papers