Jerome Stone

Joseph Robertson, in Lives of Scottish Poets (1821-22) 6:170-71.

JEROME STONE, a native of the parish of Sconie, in Fifeshire, was almost as remarkable an instance as his more celebrated namesake, Edmund Stone, the mathematician, of the power of native genius to raise itself from obscurity. He was at first nothing more than a pedlar boy; he afterwards gave up dealing in trinkets and toys, for the more respectable occupation of an itinerant bookseller: having books, he began to study them; finding some which were in tongues unknown to him, he applied to the learning of Hebrew, then of Greek, and lastly of Latin; and, with little or no assistance, became a proficient in all of them. Passing often in the course of his business through St. Andrew's, his singular acquisitions came at length to the knowledge of the professors; and with a liberality which did them honour, they gave him free access to their lectures. He attended the sessions regularly, and studied with such diligence, that, ere three years more, he was distinguished among the students for proficiency in almost every branch of learning. He now obtained the situation of assistant to the rector of the grammar-school of Dunkeld, and in three years after, the rectorship itself. As the Gaelic was the prevailing language of the district in which he was thus settled, he resolved to add a knowledge of that to his other accomplishments; and when he had done so, was so charmed with the relics of Gaelic poetry which came in his way, that he made translations of many of them into English, which he sent to the Scots' Magazine, where they made their appearance chiefly during the years 1752, 1755, and 1756, and were not a little admired. This was before Macpherson had published any of his dubious versions. Mr. Stone 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, but had only advanced a small way in it, when (1757) a fever put an end to his life, while yet only in the thirtieth year of his age. He left, in manuscript, an allegory entitled The Immortality of Authors, which has been published, and often reprinted since his death. "A lasting monument of lively fancy, a sound judgement, and a correct taste." Stat. Account.