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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/856

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834
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

SKETCH OF JAMES POLLARD ESPY.

METEOROLOGY is one of the youngest of the sciences. Most of what is settled and systematized has been developed within the memory of men who are still living. The contributions of Americans to research in this branch have been among the most important. Among the earlier labors in this field none deserve or have received wider recognition than those of Prof. Espy. He may, indeed, be regarded with justice as the founder of the science as at present cultivated in relation to storm predictions.

James P. Espywas born in Westmoreland County, Pa., May 9, 1785, and died in Cincinnati, Ohio, January 24, 1860. While he was still an infant his father moved to the Blue Grass region of Kentucky; but, on finding the institution of slavery antagonistic to the principles inherited from his Huguenot ancestry, he removed after a few years to the Miami Valley in Ohio. One of his daughters had in the mean time married a Kentuckian of Mount Sterling, and James, remaining with this sister for the sake of the opportunity, became, at eighteen years of age, a student in Transylvania University, at Lexington. Here he was visited in 1805 by an elder brother, who was engaged in the practice of the law in Pennsylvania, who wrote of him: "I met my brother James, whom I had not seen since he was an infant. I found him at the university, where he had made considerable progress in the dead languages and in general science. He shows an ardent desire for knowledge, and promises to be both intelligent and useful." He was graduated in 1808, and went to Xenia, Ohio, where he taught school and studied law. Of this part of his career, Mrs. L. M. Morehead, his niece, in her "Few Incidents"[1] of his life, says that "his love for teaching amounted to enthusiasm, and, although he completed his law studies, he finally abandoned the idea of choosing the law as his profession, and determined to follow the bent of his inclination, and become a conscientious instructor of youth." To his latest years "he considered this a noble profession, and even in old age was fond of drawing out young students to talk over their lessons with him, both hearing them and asking them questions." Either before or after this—the authorities differ—he filled creditably and satisfactorily the position of principal of the academy at Cumberland, Md., where he married Miss Margaret Pollard, who afterward gave him her full sympathy and encouragement in his meteorological researches.

In 1817 Mr. Espy became a teacher in the classical department of the Franklin Institute, a position in which, according to the

  1. "A Few Incidents in the Life of Professor James P. Espy, by his Niece, Mrs. L. M. Morehead," Cincinnati, Robert Clarke & Co.