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a moderate degree of opulence, sufficient to enable him to purchase an estate and mansion at Hammarby, near Upsal, where he chiefly resided during the last fifteen years of his life. There he had a museum of natural history, upon which he gave lectures, and to which he was constantly making additions from the contributions of travellers and men of science in various parts of the world.
His health, during a great part of his life, enabled him to pursue his researches with vigor and activity; but in May, 1774, he had an apoplectic attack, which obliged him to relinquish the most laborious part of his professorial duties, and close his literary labors. A second attack occurred in 1776, and he afterwards experienced a third ; but his death did not take place till January 11, 1778. Besides his works on natural history, he published a classified Materia Medica, and a systematic treatise on nosology, entitled Genera Morborum. Few men in the history of science have shown such boldness, zeal, activity, and sagacity, as Linnæus; natural science is under unspeakable obligations to him, though the different systems established by him may be superseded by more perfect
Charles XIV., king of Sweden, in 1819, ordered a monument to be erected to him in his native place.
This benefactor of those “who go down to the deep in ships," was born at Salem, Mass., March 26, 1773, his father being Habakkuk Bowditch, first a ship-master, and then a cooper of that town. Most great men are said to be blessed with superior mothers, and Nathaniel Bowditch appears not to furnish a refutation of the rule. His mother was indeed an excellent woman, discharging her duties with exemplary fidelity. By her death, Nathaniel was deprived of his best friend, at the age of ten years; but she had lived long enough to imbue his mind and heart with those principles of integrity, which are the best guide of life. From her, he is said to have learned his first instruction as to the nature and value of truth, in the following manner :
While a child, playing behind his mother, he had, unobserved by her, unrolled a ball of yarn, from which she was knitting, and involved it in inextricable confusion. When she discovered the mischief, and addressed him with some severity of manner, he denied having done it. She at once entered into a serious conversation with him, and while she told him that the original matter of offence was but trifling, she explained to him so fully the meanness and criminality of falsehood, and urged him with so much earnestness never again to be guilty of it, that this lesson of his infancy became indelibly impressed upon his heart. It appears that Nathaniel was a favorite in the family, where there were seven children. His superiority was manifest in childhood, and the mother appreciated his character. The house where he spent a part of his early days is still standing in Danvers, to which place the family removed for a time—and is thus described by Mr. Young:
“My walk brought me among the pleasant farmhouses of a retired hamlet, in Essex county; and I found the plain two-story house, with but two rooms in it, where he dwelt with his mother; and I saw the chamber-window where he said she used to sit and show him the new moon, with the old moon in her arm,' and, with the poetical superstition of a sailor's wife, jingle the silver in her pocket, that her husband might have good luck, and she good tidings from him, far off upon the sea. I entered that house and two others in the vicinity, and found three ancient women who knew her well, and remembered her wonderful boy. I sat down by their firesides, and listened with greedy ear to the story, which they gladly told me, of that remarkable child, remarkable for his early goodness, as well as his early greatness.
“ The first of these women whom I saw and interrogated, said that Nat was a beautiful, pice, likely, clever, thoughtful boy. Learning came natural to him, and his mother used to say he would make something or nothing. I asked her whether she had ever heard what became of him. “Oh, yes,' she replied, • he became a great man, and went to Boston, and had a mighty deal of learning.' What kind of learning?' I asked. “Why,' she answered, “I believe
he was a pilot, and knew how to steer all vessels.' This evidently was her simple and confused idea of • The Practical Navigator.'
“ The second old lady stated, that · Nat went to school to her aunt, in the revolutionary war, in the house where we were sitting, when he was about three years old, and that she took mightily to him, and that he was the best scholar she ever had. He learnt amazing fast, for his mind was fully given to it. He did not seem like other children. He seemed better. His mother was a beautiful nice woman.'
“ The third old lady said, that · Nat was a little, still creature; and his mother a mighty free, goodnatured woman. She used to say, “who should be cheerly if a Christian should n't ?” Her children took after her, and she had a particular way of guarding them from evil.””
The family returned from Danvers to Salem, when Nathaniel was about seven years old, and he was now sent to the best school in that town.
The privileges that it afforded, however, were exceedingly scanty, and far beneath those of the poorest district school in Massachusetts at the present day. The subject of our memoir, however, took full advantage of these opportunities. It is even said, that such was his proficiency in arithmetic, that he readily solved questions which the teacher supposed to be beyond his ability, and suspecting that he had obtained assistance, and attempted to impose upon him, he was in one instance on the point of chastising him.
Even these poor advantages were relinquished at the age of ten years, when he was taken by his father into the cooper's shop, that he might assist in the support of the family. Not long after, he was entered as a clerk in a ship-chandlery, in which employment he continued till 1795. His leisure time was chiefly devoted at first to arithmetic, and afterwards, as he advanced, to mathematics. His slate and pencil were so constantly in hand as to attract attention, and one person remarked to him satirically, that if he kept on ciphering, he had no doubt that in time he might become an almanac-maker. He also tried his dexterity in philosophical experiments. He constructed a curious barometer with his own hand, and there is still in existence a wooden sun-dial which he made in 1792.
These were the pursuits of his leisure moments, and deeply as they interested him, they rarely interfered with the active discharge of his duties. At one time, however, a customer called, and purchased a pair of hinges. When the man came in, the young clerk was deeply engaged in a mathematical problem. When the customer had departed, he returned to his problem, thinking he would finish it before he charged the hinges. He became involved in his mathematics, and forgot to make the entry. Shortly after, the purchaser came to pay for his purchase. It happened that the master of the establishment was there; the youth's neglect was exposed, and the lesson it afforded did not pass unheeded. He has often said that he never forgot the hinges.
His interest in mathematics increased. He became acquainted with algebra, and learned the elements of navigation from a British sailor, then residing at