Navigation bar
  Home Start Previous page
 162 of 424 
Next page End  

Hereditary Genius
IT is frequently, and justly, remarked, that the families of great men
are apt to die out; and it is argued from that fact, that men of ability
are unprolific. If this were the case, every attempt to produce a
highly-gifted race of men would eventually be defeated. Gifted
individuals might be reared, but they would be unable to maintain their
breed. I propose in a future chapter, after I have discussed the
several groups of eminent men, to examine the degree in which
transcendent genius may be correlated with sterility, but it will be
convenient that I should now say something about the causes of
failure of issue of Judges and Statesmen, and come to some
conclusion whether or no a breed of men gifted with the average
ability of those eminent men, could or could not maintain itself during
an indefinite number of consecutive generations. I will even go a little
further a-field, and treat of the extinct peerages generally.
First, as to the Judges: there is a peculiarity in their domestic
relations that interferes with a large average of legitimate families.
Lord Campbell states in a foot-note to his life of Lord Chancellor
Thurlow, in his “Lives of the Chancellors,” that when he (Lord
Campbell) was first acquainted with the English Bar, one half of the
judges had married their mistresses. He says it was then the Previous page Top Next page