Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/272

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

and Commerce in the Stone Age, Pre-Aryan American Man, The Æsthetic Faculty in Aboriginal Races, The Huron-Iroquois—a Typical Race, Hybridity and Heredity, and Relative Brain-weight and Size. The volume may be said to fitly sum up its author's life-long studies of these important topics.

But this anticipates. Sir Daniel's later years were marked by events of grave moment. In 1885 a great and irreparable personal loss befell him in the death of his wife, "after forty-five years of as great wedded happiness as ever fell to the lot of man." The event made little change in his outward demeanor; but how deeply it affected him was shown three years later, when the honor of knighthood was unexpectedly bestowed upon him. In general, as has been said, he cared nothing for merely titular distinctions. For her sake, to gratify her wifely pride and affection, this honor might have been acceptable. As it was, he at first positively declined to accept the title. But pressure from all sides came upon him. He wrote in his own amusing vein: "I have had the honor and glory of knighthood for a full week—telegrams, cable messages, letters of congratulation, time for little else but replying. To a jolly old bumble-bee the process of feeding on honey and being smothered in rose leaves is probably the ideal of happiness; but to a wingless biped like myself a little goes a long way. And what are most covetable honors, now that my Maggie is gone?" But the friendly urgency proved too great for resistance, and he yielded at last to the general desire of the community, which, reasonably enough, saw in the title simply an evidence of well-earned respect and public gratitude.

Not long afterward, his unremitting labors for the advancement of his university were interrupted by a serious calamity. On the 14th of February, 1890, a fire broke out in the principal college building, which destroyed nearly the whole of its contents, including its fine library of thirty-three thousand volumes and most of its museum collections. The president's action was characteristic. Instead of being depressed by the blow, as might have been expected in a man of seventy-four, his spirit rose with the occasion. He was early on the ground, giving every assistance in his power to rescue what could be saved. Returning home late at night, he said to one anxiously watching for him: "Well, the old building's gone; but never mind. It wasn't large enough for us. We'll soon have a better one." To a colleague who came in a few minutes later, saying, "O Mr. President, don't be discouraged," he replied: "Discouraged! I should think not. You'll see, we'll soon have a far finer building." Before sleeping that night he had formed his plans. On the next day, which happened to be Saturday, he so arranged for Monday's lectures being held in various buildings kindly placed at his disposal, that