Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 48.djvu/129

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ALEXANDER DALLAS BACHE. 119

his death. In this work he took a lively interest and rendered important service.

As to the connection of Prof. Bache with the Smithsonian In- stitution we can not have better testimony than that of him who was identified with the institution for more than thirty years, its first secretary. Prof. Henry says : " In 1846 he had been named in the act of incorporation as one of the regents of the Smith- sonian Institution, and by successive re-election was continued by Congress in this office until his death, a period of nearly twenty years. To say that he assisted in shaping the policy of the estab- lishment would not be enough. It was almost exclusively through his predominating influence that the policy which has given the institution its present celebrity was, after much opposition, finally adopted." * Not the least of Bache's services to the institution was securing Henry for its secretary. The latter states, in the place just quoted, that " it was entirely due to the persuasive influence of the professor " that he was induced to take the posi- tion.

Although not fond of physical exertion. Prof. Bache had been accustomed to spend part of each summer in a tent at some station of the survey on the top of a mountain, where he took part in the measurement of angles and directed the movements of field parties at other stations. The civil war brought added labors upon him so that his constant presence in Washington was re- quired, and his health no longer obtained the yearly recuperation of this season of outdoor life. Being solicited by the Governor of Pennsylvania to plan lines of defense for Philadelphia, he con- sented, although overburdened with other public duties, and per- sonally superintended the construction of some of the works. Unaccustomed for many years to direct exposure to the sun, this undertaking brought on the first indications of the malady that ended his life. He had been subject to attacks of "sick head- ache " a tendency which he seems to have inherited and now various symptoms of softening of the brain came upon him in succession. For several months he was very anxious about the business of the Coast Survey, and with difficulty could be re- strained from attempting to perform the duties of his office. As the malady increased, however, his attention was gradually with- drawn from the exterior world, with which he almost ceased to hold active communication. A trip to Europe, covering a period of eighteen months, produced no permanent benefit. He died a short time after his return, at Newport, R. I., February 17, 1867.

The ability and worth of Dallas Bache brought him many and high honors. There were few for our leading learned societies

  • Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences, i, 197, 198,

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