DEATH HASTENED BY DUTIES
"FELT AS RESPONSIBLE AS IF HE WERE ON FIRING LINE."--DR. HALL.
Professor Sabine, who died yesterday at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital after a surgical operation, came to Harvard as a graduate student in 1887. His exceptional ability was immediately recognized by Professor John Trowbridge, who soon took him as an associate in research, and not long afterward enlisted him as a teacher in one of our laboratory courses.
For several years Sabine was so much engrossed in teaching and in giving informal guidance to promising students, who came to him by a sort of inevitable attraction, that he found little time for further work of research. But the building of the Fogg Museum started him on a career of investigation and invention which has been unique.
The auditorium of this Museum proved to be hopelessly bad in its acoustic qualities, and President Eliot, who had learned to appreciate Sabine's qualities, asked him to find a remedy. Up to that time success in the building of an auditorium seemed to be almost a matter of chance, and the best architects acknowledged it to be such. In fact it was one of the most famous architects in America who had designed the Fogg Museum.
Sabine undertook the task put before him, and worked at it assiduously for some months with entire success so far is the auditorium of the Fogg Museum was concerned. But he was not content with this success. He proposed to study himself the problem of acoustics with such thoroughness as to make it a part of science. In the course of a few years he was able to do what no other man, so far as we know, had ever been able to do, that is, to foretell with confidence and accuracy from the mere plan and materials of a proposed auditorium what the acoustic qualities of the finished hall would be.
For ten or fifteen years now he has been recognized in well-informed circles, not so wide as they should be, as the foremost authority in the world on acoustics. If I do not say the only authority, it is merely because others have learned from him; for he made no secret of his discoveries, but gave them freely to architects and others with a generosity which has been sometimes ill requited.
During the War Professor Sabine, who was in Europe for more than a year beginning with the summer of 1916, made an especial study of problems in aviation, and on his return to this country he was at once taken into the most intimate counsels of the Air Service at Washington. Almost every week until the signing of the armistice he spent at least two or three days in the Government service travelling back and forth between Cambridge and Washington constantly. Frequently he hoped for a respite, but inevitably a telegram would summon him from Cambridge after he had been here two or three days.
He has known for the last two years that he had a very serious malady, which nearly ended his life in Paris in the year 1916. And he has known that a surgical operation was needed to make his condition safe, but he never could find the time for it. He felt that he was on the firing line as much as if he were at the front in France and that neglect of pressing Government service would be desertion. After the signing of the armistice he found time at last to take thought for his own health, but it was too late