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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/370

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peak of solitary grandeur. Here and there individuals rise a little above the mass, and form as a whole the body of thinkers. Here and there individuals rise a little above the body, and form as a whole the smaller group of men of talent. Here and there individuals rise a little above the group, often in the merest details of their personal idiosyncrasy, and attain more or less distinctly to the level which most of us recognize as genius. But from first to last the various stages of intellect or of special faculty rise gradually one above the other; the differences between the men themselves are minute; it is the differences between the effects produced upon others that elevate some on so high an imaginary pedestal above their fellows.

I know that to say all this may look invidious. I know that the polite crowd of clubs and drawing-rooms, which can not see the importance of a psychological question for its own sake, apart from personalities, will read in it throughout nothing but envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness. However, on that point I am not afraid. I don't think any man living has a profounder respect than I have for the genius of Matthew Arnold, and William Morris, and Herbert Spencer, and George Meredith. I'm sure no man living has a more generous appreciation than I have for the genius of Andrew Lang and Austin Dobson, of James and Howells, of Robert Louis Stevenson and Walter Besant. I know that genius simply swarms among us; that in this age one may see such men as Croll wasting, like spendthrifts, upon a solitary problem of the glacial epoch, vast constructive and organizing powers which in any other age would have secured them world-wide fame and reputation; such men as Beddoe, working for pure love, with inexhaustible industry, through a whole lifetime, at questions which everybody else ignores and neglects; such men as Galton, filled to the brim with ingenuity, acuteness, and insight, till it oozes out at their finger-ends, pouring forth in abundance upon an unheeding world the suggestive results of their piercing, keen, and all-sided thinking. I know that genius is choking and strangling itself in the keen struggle for recognition and consequent usefulness. But I know also that if genius is a drug, talent is a weed in modern London; and that talent too deserves its due honor. Men of ability throng thick around us—men of ability so exceptionally high that in any less richly gifted age than ours it would be universally recognized and crowned as genius. The commoner such talent becomes in the world the more supereminent must be the powers, or the more peculiar the twist, or the more marked the originality which will suffice to raise it into the higher category. In other words, what is talent to-day would have been genius yesterday; what is genius to-day will be but talent as men reckon to-morrow.—Fortnightly Review.