THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
|SKETCH OF WILLIAM CRANCH BOND.|
IN seconding the obituary resolutions of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on the first director of the Harvard College Observatory, ex-President Quincy used these words: "It is not too much to say that the extent of his knowledge, the winning urbanity of his manners, and his exemplary exactness in life and as an observer, in a great degree effected the attainment of those large means and increased powers which ultimately raised to its present prosperous state the observatory over which through subsequent life he watched, and which he left at death honored and improved by his labors and genius." Let us briefly trace the career which could deserve such a testimonial.
William Cranch Bond was born in Portland, Me., September 9, 1789, being the youngest son in a family of several children. His parents, Hannah (Cranch) and William Bond, were natives of England and were married there. The Bond family can be traced to the time of William the Conqueror, by whom Brandon Manor is said to have been granted to the contemporary ancestor of that line. William Bond was born in Plymouth, and became a clockmaker and silversmith. Having been induced to emigrate to America, he located at Portland, then called Falmouth, and engaged in cutting ship timber which he sent to England. In a short time he brought over his family, but the timber business not proving successful, he removed to Boston in 1793 and took up again his former occupation. His shop stood on one of the corners of Milk and Marlboro (now Washington) Streets, the other being occupied by the Old South Church. William C. Bond was then a Boston boy from the age of four years. He had little opportunity to attend school, for the circumstances of the family, as he afterward told Josiah Quincy, "obliged me to become an apprentice to my father before I had learned the multiplication table." But, judging from his later achievements, young William must have been the kind of boy that picks up knowledge, so his lack of set schooling was not so great a misfortune as it might seem.
His eldest sister described him as having been, at the age of fourteen, "a slender boy with soft gray eyes and silky brown hair, quick to observe, yet shrinking from notice, and sensitive to excess." She adds, in reference to his early developed tastes: "The first that I remember was his intense anxiety about the expected total eclipse of the sun of June 16, 1806. He had then no instrument of his own, but watched the event from a house top on Summer Street through a telescope belonging to Mr. Francis Gray, to which somehow he got access. In so doing he injured his eyes, and for a long time was troubled in his vision."