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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/271

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SKETCH OF SIR DANIEL WILSON.

powers. The attraction which drew the biographer to his subject was doubtless the similarity of archæological and poetical tastes. Early in life he had published like—Chatterton, under an assumed name—a little volume of verse, entitled Spring Wild Flowers: Poems, by Wil. D'Leina, of the Outer Temple. By request of the publisher, the collection was reprinted in 1875, with the author's name, and with a modestly deprecatory preface, in which he solicits indulgence for these "sins of his youth." But an impartial critic would find nothing to offend and much to be admired in the volume. Caliban: The Missing Link, appeared in 1873, a genial, half-humorous, and wholly shrewd and happy commentary on Shakespeare, Darwin, and Browning, full of keen suggestions, which the admirers of those famous authors would do well to study with care. The vivid recollections of his early home appeared in his Reminiscences of Old Edinburgh, published in 1875, in two charming volumes of mingled history, description, and gossip, beautifully illustrated by pen-and-ink sketches from the author's hand, in his peculiarly vivid and animated style. Among other claims which may be made for this work is that of being the best commentary (next to Scott's own) on the famous "Scotch novels" of the author's illustrious townsman.

For a time the duties of the presidency interrupted Sir Daniel's authorship. But in 1891 appeared a volume on Left-handedness, comprising, as a reviewer remarked, "a careful and comprehensive discussion of the origin and nature of the prevailing distinction between the uses of the two hands and the consequences which follow this distinction." Sir Daniel was himself left-handed; but, like other eminent men who have been subject to this apparent disability—including a personage no less distinguished than the illustrious artist and mechanician, Leonardo da Vinci—he was able to convert it into an advantage by the simple process of cultivating the use of his right hand, and thus making himself ambidexterous. He was accustomed to write with his right hand and draw with his left; and both his handwriting and drawing were of unusual excellence. This volume was followed in 1892 by his latest work—and, as it proved, a posthumous publication—entitled The Lost Atlantis and other Ethnographic Studies. This was a collection of essays on various ethnological and archæological subjects, reprinted from the Transactions of scientific societies, and chiefly from those of the Royal Society of Canada. The volume of four hundred pages comprises only eight essays, but each of them, as a reviewer has said, "is a complete monograph on the special subject to which it relates; and every subject has its peculiar interest and value to students of history and the science of man." These subjects comprise, besides the well-known Atlantis legend, The Vinland of the Northmen, Trade