Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/384

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the air are hot; let us float on the cool, calm sea; there is room with careful stowage for us all in my barge.' She accepted the invitation, and, with the children, got into the boat. They soon drifted from the shore, and the poet, unconscious of her fears or of their danger, fell into a deep reverie, probably, as Trelawney suggests, reviewing all that he had gone through of suffering and wrong, with no present and no future. Jane spoke to him several times, but her remarks met with no response. "She saw death in his eyes." Suddenly he raised his head, his brow cleared, and his face brightened as with a bright thought, and he exclaimed joyfully, "Now let us together solve the great mystery." "With a woman's instinct Jane knew that her only chance was to distract his thoughts, and, suppressing her terror and assuming her usual cheerful voice, she answered promptly: "No, thank you, not now. I should like my dinner first, and so would the children." This gross material answer to his sublime proposition so shocked the poet that he was brought back to himself, and paddled his cockleshell boat into shallow water.

A deep melancholy pervades all of the poet's letters from Pisa and Leghorn, and it was at this time that he was engaged upon The Triumph of Life, which was left unfinished by his untimely end. The poem closes abruptly with these words: "Then what is life? I cried." A sentence of profound significance, as Mr. Symonds says, when we remember that the questioner was now about to seek its answer in the halls of death. "With all this evidence before us that death was not unwelcome when it came on that fatal Monday in the winds and waves, is it not fair to assume that had it not come as it did a record of suicide would have been added to one of the most interesting as well as one of the most melancholy histories in the annals of English song?

The examples mentioned have been taken at random, and I am well aware that an exhaustive search would have made this paper many times as long. My only aim has been to cite a few prominent examples in illustration of a subject which to my mind is one of fascinating interest, and to draw, if possible, some deductions from them.

Evidence is not lacking to warrant the assumption that genius is a special morbid condition, and the anthropological school of which Lombroso is the brilliant master is daily gaining converts. Although the doctrines which he advocates have recently received a remarkable impetus, they are not essentially new. Centuries ago Seneca taught that there was no great genius without a tincture of madness, and Cicero spoke of the furor poeticus. It is also more than a hundred years since Diderot exclaimed: "Oh, how close the insane and men of genius touch! They are chained, or statues are raised to them." Lamartine speaks of the