Sault, Richard (DNB00)

SAULT, RICHARD (d. 1702), mathematician and editor, kept in 1694 'a mathematick school' in Adam's Court, Broad Street, near the Royal Exchange, London. Dunton the publisher, learning of him and his skill in mathematics, supplied him with much literary work. When the notion of establishing the 'Athenian Gazette, resolving weekly all the most nice and curious Questions propos'd by the Ingenious,' occurred to Dunton, he sought Sault's aid as joint editor and contributor. The first number came out on 17 March 1690–1, and the second on 24 March. Before the third number Dunton and Sault had joined to them Dunton's brother-in-law, Samuel Wesley, rector of South Ormsby in Lincolnshire, afterwards of Epworth, the father of John and Charles Wesley. In the Rawlinson manuscripts in the Bodleian Library (Nos. 72, 65) are 'Articles of agreement between Sam. Wesley, clerk, Richard Sault, gent., and John Dunton, for the writing the Athenian Gazette, or Mercury, dated April 10, 1691. Originally executed by the three persons.' Sault was reputed to be 'a gentleman of courage, and a little inclined to passion,' and on one occasion was 'about to draw on Tom Brown,' one of the editors of a rival publication, the 'Lacedemonian Mercury,' 'upon which Mr. Brown cried "Peccavi.”' Dunton published in 1693 'The Second Spira, being a fearful example of an Atheist who had apostatized from the Christian religion, and died in despair at Westminster, Dec. 8, 1692. By J. S.' Dunton obtained the manuscript from Sault, who professed to know the author. The original Spira was an Italian advocate and reputed atheist, whose tragic death had been portrayed in a popular biography first issued in 1548, and repeatedly reprinted in Italian and French. The preface to Dunton's volume was signed by Sault's initials, and the genuineness of the information supplied was attested by many witnesses. With it is bound up 'A Conference betwixt a modern Atheist and his friend. By the methodizer of the Second Spira,' London, John Dunton, 1693. Thirty thousand copies of the 'Second Spira' sold in six weeks. It is one of the seven books which Dunton repented printing (Life, p. 158), for he came to the conclusion that Sault was only depicting his own mental and moral experiences, and, as proof that Sault 'had really been guilty of those unlawful freedoms which, in the married state, might very well sink him into melancholy and trouble of mind,' he printed in his memoirs a letter from Sault's wife, in which she accused her husband of a loose life. In 1694 Sault wrote 'A Treatise of Algebra' as an appendix to Leybourne's 'Pleasure with Profit.' Sault's algebra occupies fifty-two pages; it included Raphson's 'Converging Series for all manner of adfected equations,' which Sault highly valued. In the same year Sault published a translation of Malebranche's 'Search after Truth,' with a preface signed by himself. In February 1694–5 (Cooper) the programme of a projected scheme of a new royal academy stated that the mathematics would be taught in Latin, French, or English by Sault and Abraham De Moivre [q. v.] (Houghton's Collections for Husbandry and Trade, 22 Feb. 1694–5, No. 134). In the 'Philosophical Transactions' for 1698 (xx. 425) is a note by Sault on 'Curvæ Celerrimi Descensus investigatio analytica excerpta ex literis R. Sault, Math. Do.,' which shows that Sault was acquainted with Newton's geometrical theory of vanishing quantities, and with the notation of fluxions. In 1699 Sault published a translation into English from the third Latin edition of 'Breviarium Chronologicum,' by Gyles Strauchius, D.D., public professor in the university of Wittenberg. The preface is signed R. S. (cf. Cooper, p. 45). About 1700 'Mr. Sault, the Methodizer, removed to Cambridge, where his ingenuity and his exquisite skill in algebra got him a very considerable reputation.' He died there in May 1702 in great poverty, being 'supported in his last sickness by the friendly contributions of the scholars, which were collected without his knowledge or desire.' He was buried in the church of St. Andrew the Great on 17 May 1702. On the title-page of the third edition of his translation of Strauchius, Sault is designated F.R.S., but his name is not in the list of fellows in Thomson's 'History of the Royal Society.'

[Dunton's Life and Errors, 1818, which has much about Sault; Cooper's paper in the Communications made to the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, No. xv. 1865, pp. 37, seq.]

H. F. B.