Application and use of the Cube Root


The mathematics in the notebook ends abruptly with the title “Application and use of the Cube Root” and subtitle, “Problem 1st.” Immediately beneath the subtitle is another subtitle, “Vision of Charles the 11th.” This turns out not to be a cube root problem set in the context of a king’s vision. Apparently, Macdonald had lost interest in his mathematics. Instead of mathematics, what appears in the notebook is a verbatim copy of an excerpt from an article entitled, “Remarkable Vision of Charles XI. of Sweden”. It appears in the inaugural issue of Fraser’s Magazine (Vol. 1, No. 1, February 1830) published three years after Macdonald wrote the mathematics in his notebook. Born in 1654, Charles XI reigned from 1660 until his death in 1697. The article describes bloody apparitions that Charles saw one evening in his palace shortly after his wife’s death in 1693. The writer of the article claimed that these apparitions foreshadowed the assassination of a later king of Sweden in 1792. Fraser’s Magazine was a general and literary journal published out of London, England. What Macdonald copied from the article was not the ghost story, but instead a political description of Charles XI, including how “he changed the entire constitution of his country.”