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Hereditary Genius
CLASSIFICATION OF MEN
ACCORDING TO THEIR REPUTATION.
THE
arguments by which I endeavour to prove that genius is hereditary,
consist in showing how large is the number of instances in which men who
are more or less illustrious have eminent kinsfolk. It is necessary to have
clear ideas on the two following matters before my arguments can be
rightly appreciated. The first is the degree of selection implied by the words
“eminent and “illustrious.” Does eminent mean the foremost in a hundred, in
a thousand, or in what other number of men? The second is the degree to
which reputation may be accepted as a test of ability.
It is essential that I, who write, should have a minimum qualification
distinctly before my eyes whenever I employ the phrases “eminent” and the
like, and that the reader should understand as clearly as myself the value I
attach to those qualifications. An explanation of these words will be the
subject of the present chapter. A subsequent chapter will be given to the
discussion of how far “eminence may be accepted as a criterion of natural
gifts. It is almost needless for me to insist that the subjects of these two
chapters' are entirely distinct
I look upon social and professional life as a continuous examination. All
are candidates for the good opinions of others, and for success in their
several professions, and they
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