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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/359

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GENIUS AND TALENT.

the seal upon Darwin's undoubted apostolate. Other men had had that same aperçu in greater or less degree before him: some of them smaller men, no doubt, and some of them at least his peers in grasp and ability. "Wells had had it years earlier; Patrick Matthew had had it as a passing glimpse; Wallace lighted upon it almost simultaneously; Herbert Spencer trembled more than once with strange nearness upon the very verge of discovery. But what Darwin did was to raise this aperçu into the guiding star and mainspring of his active life; to work away at it early and late; to heap together instances pro and con; to bring out at last after endless toil that banner of a fresh epoch, the Origin of Species, with all its wonderful ancillary treatises. Darwin's mind, though broad and open, a mind of singular candor and acuteness and penetration, was not, in respect of mere general ability, very far above the average constructive mind of the better class of English scientific men. He had twenty contemporaries in the Royal Society who were probably his equals in native intellect and generalizing power. But he had no equals in industry and systematic observation; it was the combination of so much faculty for hard work with so much high organizing intelligence that enabled Darwin to produce so vast a result upon the thought of the world and the future of science, of philosophy, and of politics.

When John Gibson was studying under Canova at Rome, a young English sculptor of the divine genius order—the order represented in our own days by Mr. Richard Belt of funest memory—came to cast a lordly glance in passing around the Roman studios. Gibson himself had been born an artist—not perhaps an artist of the particular type at present exclusively admired by a cultivated clique as supreme and intense, but still in his own way a true and admirable academic artist. Apprenticed first to a wood-carver and then to a stone-cutter, the Welsh working lad determined to make himself a real sculptor. Your boy of talent placed in such circumstances would have considered himself a divinely gifted sculptor already, and would have begun turning out marble nymphs and Ganymedes and Psyches as fast as his active hands could carve them. But Gibson knew better than that. He knew he was a genius, and he determined to behave as such. He went to an anatomy class in Liverpool, where he lived, and he worked with scalpel and saw among the budding surgeons on the bones and muscles of the human frame. When he had studied drawing, modeling, and the use of the chisel, as far as England could then instruct him, he made up his mind to go to Rome; and to Rome he would go, he said, if he had to tramp it on foot. To him thus employed at molding clay in Canova's studio enter the self-taught divine genius, who has come Rome-ward to glance casually right and left at Michael Angelos and