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the first of an eminent family of learned men in Scotland, was the

, the first of an eminent family of learned men in Scotland, was the son of the Rev. Mr. John Gregory, minister of Drumoak in the county of Aberdeen, and was born at Aberdeen in November 1638. His mother was a daughter of Mr. David Anderson of Finzaugh, or Finshaugh, a gentleman who possessed a singular turn for mathematical and mechanical knowledge. This mathematical genius was hereditary in the family of the Andersons, and from them it seems to have been transmitted to their descendants of the names of Gregory, Reid, &c. Alexander Anderson, cousin -german of the said David, was professor of mathematics at Paris in the beginning of the seventeenth century, and published there several valuable and ingenious works; as may be seen in our vol. II. The mother of James Gregory inherited the genius of her family; and observing in her son, while yet a child, a itrong propensity to mathematics, she instructed him herself in the elements of that science. His education in the languages he received at the grammar-school of Aberdeen, and went through the usual course of academical studies at Marischal college, but was chiefly delighted with philosophical researches, into which a new door had been lately opened by the key of the mathematics. Galileo, Kepler, and Des Cartes were the great masters of this new method; their works, therefore, Gregory made his principal study, and began early to make improvements upon their discoveries in optics. The first of these improvements was the invention of the reflecting telescope, which still bears his name; and which was so happy a thought, that it has given occasion to the most considerable improvements made in optics, since the invention of the telescope. He published the construction of this instrument in his “Optica promota,1663, at the age of twenty-four. This discovery soon attracted the attention of the mathematicians, both of our own and foreign countries, who immediately perceived its great importance to the sciences. But the manner of placing the two specula upon the same axis appearing to Newton to be attended with the disadvantage of losing the central rays of the larger speculum, he proposed an improvement on the instrument, by giving an oblique position to the smaller speculum, and placing the eye-glass in the side of the tube. It is observable, however, that the Newtonian construction of that instrument was long abandoned for the original or Gregorian, which is now always used when the instrument is of a moderate size; though Herschel has preferred the Newtonian form for the construction of those immense telescopes which he has of late so successfully employed in observing the heavens.