Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/123

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113
SKETCH OF EDWARD ATKINSON.

after the experience of a hundred séances, he still persists in making a grab at the empty air behind the frame, in the obstinate hope of corroborating the material existence of his Doppelgänger. After thoroughly familiarizing himself with the contents of my sitting-room, he has ceased to overhaul my shelves; but the introduction of any novel object at once re-excites his curiosity, and for similar reasons the wary four-handers of the South American tropics promptly emerge from their hiding-places at sight of a speckled dog — a zoölogical phenomenon too wondrous to be ignored from motives of discretion. An unfamiliar sound, the tinkling of a cow-bell in a new clearing, or the whirr of a buzz-saw, is equally sure to attract the attention of the four-handed aborigines. They will pursue the strolling bell-ringer for miles, and often stop to compare notes in a sort of solemn whisper.

But that scientific enthusiasm of our tree-climbing cousins is apt to be dampened by the first drop of night-dew. In daytime the restless vigilance of the tree-man enables him to hold his own against his wiliest foes; but after sunset the owl-eyes of the prowling Felidæ give them a fatal advantage, and the instinct of night-fear may thus deeply, and perhaps indelibly, have impressed itself upon the mental organism of our forefathers, A petted four-hander of the bolder species, the East Indian Rhesus, for instance, will contract a habit of pursuing his penchant of free inquiry to any length, even through the door of a shooting-gallery, which he will push wide open to ascertain the cause of the abnormal detonations; but after dark the same investigator will flee from the rustle of a dry leaf, and watch the shadow of a fluttering curtain with the rapt expectancy of a second adventist.

Inveterate habits persist. The progress of evolution has changed our spooks from hairy bugbears into soft-handed familiars, and may yet change them into kid-gloved exquisites; but, with or without claws, ghosts will probably continue to appear after sunset.


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SKETCH OF EDWARD ATKINSON.

THE subject of the present sketch holds a prominent position among American writers who have made most valuable contributions to political and economic science. His essays, all in this or related departments, are characterized by far-reaching grasp of thought, boldness and absolute independence in discussion, and the clear and direct manner in which the principle he is seeking to develop is presented.

Edward Atkinson was born in Brookline, Mass., February 10, 1827. Having fitted for college, it became expedient for him to go to work at an early age, and he served his time, after August