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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/419

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SKETCH OF CLEVELAND ABBE.

In the beginning he was the one man in the service who knew much of meteorology, and from that time to the present he has been conspicuously the representative of that science in Government employ. The constant change in the personnel of a bureau of the army, the continued coming in of this officer and the going out of that, is one of the serious obstacles in the way of the successful cultivation of a science, either pure or applied, under a military regime. The weather service has been preserved from stagnation and decay by the continued presence of such an ardent student as Professor Abbe. On all important questions touching the scientific work of the service, his advice has been sought by the Chief Signal Officer; most plans for its improvement and extension have originated with him, and he has done much to stimulate the study of meteorology outside of the service as well as within it."

We are informed by Mrs. Hazen, widow of the late Chief of the Signal Office, that Professor Abbe was always held in high esteem by her husband, "and relied on not only as a very scientific man, but as a loyal friend." This sentence brings out another salient trait in his character—his loyalty to his chief. Readers of the "Monthly" will recollect the tribute which he improved the first opportunity after General Hazen's death to pay to his character and the worth of his work for science; but they do not know, for that is matter of personal confidence, that he was extremely anxious that General Hazen should receive full credit for all that he did, all that he helped to do, and all that he was in any way the means of having done for science; and particularly that he should be vindicated from the unfriendly criticisms which the newspapers had cast against him—all of which Professor Abbe believed to be unjust and unfounded.

Professor Abbe's efforts, while engaged at the Cincinnati Observatory, to furnish accurate time to the watchmakers and the public clocks of the city have already been mentioned. This service he regarded as always a daily duty in a well-organized observatory. Similar work was already performed by a number of observatories in America and Europe, one of the earliest instances of it being the giving of the time to the city and province of the Magnetic Observatory at Toronto in 1842. The British Astronomer Royal began the dropping of the noon time-ball at Deal in 1852, and was followed by the United States Naval Observatory at Washington in 1855. An automatic apparatus for controlling the public clock from the observatory was ordered in Cincinnati in 1870. Afterward the Pennsylvania Railroad Company intrusted its time-signals to the Allegheny Observatory, under Langley. In 1877 an arrangement was made between the Naval Observatory and the Western Union Telegraph Company for delivering time-signals at important places in the United States.

The inconveniences arising from the ever-varying standards of local time, which required a change of the watch for every few miles of traveling east or west, had attracted an increasing attention for many