College, Dublin, and Captain (afterwards Sir) James Clark Ross [q. v.], the first systematic magnetic survey ever made of the British Islands. He extended it single-handed to Scotland in 1836, and in conjunction with Lloyd, Ross, and additional observers, in the following year to England. With the exception of the mathematical section of the Irish report, which was Professor Lloyd's, the reports—published by the British Association—were mainly Sabine's, as was also a very large share of the observations, more particularly the laborious task of combining them, by equations of condition, to obtain the most probable mean results.
Sabine was promoted to be brevet-major on 10 Jan. 1837, and did duty at Woolwich. On 22 April 1836 Humboldt wrote to the Duke of Sussex, president of the Royal Society, in reference to a conversation he had recently held in Berlin with Sabine and Lloyd, and urged the establishment throughout the British empire of regular magnetic stations similar to those which, mainly by his influence, had been for some time in operation in Northern Asia. The proposal was reported upon by Mr. (afterwards Sir) George Airey, astronomer royal, and Mr. Samuel Hunter Christie [q. v.] (see Royal Soc. Proc. vol. iii.). A committee on mathematics and physics, appointed in May, of which Sabine, Lloyd, and Lieutenant (afterwards Sir) William Thomas Denison [q. v.] were prominent members, worked out the details, and towards the end of the year a definite official representation was made to government to establish magnetic observatories at selected stations in both hemispheres, and to despatch a naval expedition to the South Antarctic regions to make a magnetical survey of them. In the spring of 1839 the scheme was approved by the government.
The fixed observatories were to be established at Toronto in Canada, St. Helena, and the Cape of Good Hope, and at stations to be determined by the East India Company, while other nations were invited to co-operate. Sabine was appointed to superintend the whole, and the observatories began their work in 1840. Sabine's first publication of results was a quarto volume in 1843 of ‘Observations on Days of Unusual Magnetic Disturbance,’ which was followed by a second volume on the same subject in 1851. The subsequent publications, which were entirely edited by Sabine, who wrote an introduction to each volume, were: Toronto, 1842–1847, in 3 vols., dated 1845, 1853, and 1857 respectively (observations were carried on from 1848 to 1853, but were not printed); St. Helena, 1843–9, in 2 vols., dated 1850 and 1860; Cape of Good Hope, the magnetic observations to 1846, 1 vol., dated 1851, and the meteorological to 1848, 1 vol., dated 1880; Hobart Town, Tasmania, to 1842, in 3 vols., dated 1850, 1852, and 1853 respectively. To enable Sabine to cope with the work, a small clerical staff was maintained by the war office at Woolwich for about twenty years.
In 1839 Sabine was appointed general secretary of the British Association, a laborious office which he held for twenty years, with the single exception of 1852, when he occupied the presidential chair at Belfast. In 1840 he commenced the series of ‘Contributions to Terrestrial Magnetism,’ which comprised fifteen papers in the ‘Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society,’ spread over thirty-six years. This gigantic work was a survey of the general distribution of magnetism over the globe at this epoch. In it is to be found every observation of any authority taken by sea or land since 1818 or thereabouts, arranged in zones of 5° and 10° of latitude, and taken in the order of longitude eastwards from Greenwich round the globe. Illustrative maps were prepared for it in the hydrographical department of the admiralty, under the supervision of Captain (afterwards Rear-admiral Sir) Frederick Evans, R.N. Several of the numbers appeared after Sabine had lost the aid of his staff of clerks at Woolwich. Numbers 11, 13, 14, and 15 contain a complete statement of the magnetic survey of the globe, in the double form of catalogue or tables and of magnetic maps.
On 25 Jan. 1841 Sabine was promoted to be regimental lieutenant-colonel. On 1 Dec. 1845 he was elected foreign secretary of the Royal Society. In 1849 he was awarded one of the gold medals of the society for his papers on terrestrial magnetism. On 30 Nov. 1850 he was elected treasurer to the society. On 11 Nov. of the following year he was promoted to be regimental colonel, and on 14 June 1856 major-general. Between 1858 and 1861, at the request of the British Association, he undertook to repeat the magnetic survey of the British Isles. Dr. Lloyd was again his coadjutor, and, as before, Sabine reduced and reported the results relating to the elements of dip and force, Evans dealing with the declination. In 1859 he edited the ‘Letters of Colonel Sir Augustus Fraser, K.C.B., commanding the Royal Horse Artillery in the Army under the Duke of Wellington, written during the Peninsular and Waterloo Campaigns.’
Sabine was elected president of the Royal