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Hereditary Genius
141
COMMANDERS.
IN
times of prolonged war, when the reputation of a great
commander can alone be obtained, the profession of arms affords a
career that offers its full share of opportunities to men of military
genius. Promotion is quick, the demand for able men is continuous,
and very young officers have frequent opportunities of showing their
powers. Hence it follows that the list of great commanders,
notwithstanding it is short, contains several of the most gifted men
recorded in history. They showed enormous superiority over their
contemporaries by excelling in many particulars. They were foremost
in their day, among statesmen and generals, and their energy was
prodigious. Many, when they were mere striplings, were distinguished
for political capacity. In their early manhood, they bore the whole
weight and responsibility of government; they animated armies and
nations with their spirit; they became the champions of great
coalitions, and coerced millions of other men by the superior power of
their own intellect and will.
I will run through a few of these names in the order in which they
will appear in the appendix to this chapter, to show what giants in
ability their acts prove them to have been, and how great and original
was the position they occupied at ages when most youths are kept in
the background of general society, and hardly suffered to express
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