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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/91

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TWO GIFTS TO FRENCH SCIENCE.

working life by all so fortunate as to make his acquaintance. In an interview I had with him a few weeks before his death, when his disease had already gained a strong hold upon him and he was nearly speechless, he expressed himself freely concerning the future, although he uttered every word with difficulty, and it was easy to see that it caused him pain. The topic was science, and he wanted to talk about it.

When he was president of the Academy of Sciences, a few years ago, he sacrificed himself to be equal to the honor that had been conferred upon him. Speaking was already becoming very difficult to his tired vocal organs. He made extreme efforts during the whole year to fulfill his duty as president, and was punctual at the Monday sessions to the end.

In 1896, feeling the advance of age, he determined to make a splendid present to the Academy of Sciences. The Due d'Aumale had given Chantilly to the Institute. M. Antoine d'Abbadie gave the Academy of Sciences his magnificent Chateau d'Abbadie, near Hendaye, in the Basses-Pyrénées, on the coast of the Bay of Biscay. The academy will enter upon the possession of this property, of three hundred and ten hectares of land surrounding it, and of a capital producing a revenue of forty thousand francs (eight thousand dollars) after the death of Madame d'Abbadie. Only a single condition is imposed on the gift. Having carried on his astronomical work at Abbadia and begun there to catalogue the stars and study the variations of gravity, he asked in exchange for his incomparable gift that the academy should complete in fifty years a catalogue of five hundred thousand stars. The bureau of the academy dispatched its president, M. Cornu, and its perpetual secretary, M. Bertrand, to Abbadia as its representatives to express its gratitude to M. and Madame d'Abbadie. The faith of the academy was pledged to continue the work begun by M. d'Abbadie, and a commemorative medal was given him bearing on one side a portrait of Arago, and on the other a minute of the gift and the thanks of the company.

The Château of Abbadia will therefore be devoted to the determination of the stars that are not yet catalogued. Probably, as was the donor's thought, the religious orders or some of the secular priests will perform this colossal labor. The chaplain of the chateau has already given his service to the work. In any case, those who may live in the chateau will have no cause to complain of their home. Abbadia is a very interesting structure, built from plans by Viollet-le-Duc, modified and carried out by the architect Duthoit, with suggestions of the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. The observatory adjoins the chateau, which it antedates thirty years in building, and has a meridian telescope and the essential astronomical