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Hereditary Genius
1660 AND 1865
Judges of England, since the restoration of the monarchy in 1660,
form a group peculiarly well adapted to afford a general outline of the
extent and limitations of heredity in respect to genius. A judgeship is a
guarantee of its possessor being gifted with exceptional ability; the Judges
are sufficiently numerous and prolific to form an adequate basis for
statistical inductions, and they are the subjects of several excellent
biographical treatises. It is therefore well to begin our inquiries with a
discussion of their relationships. We shall quickly arrive at definite results,
which subsequent chapters, treating of more illustrious men, and in other
careers, will check and amplify.
It is necessary that I should first say something in support of my assertion,
that the office of a judge is really a sufficient guarantee that its possessor is
exceptionally gifted. In other countries it may be different to what it is with
us, but we all know that in England, the Bench is never spoken of without
reverence for the intellectual power of its occupiers. A seat on the Bench is
a great prize, to be won by the best men. No doubt there are hindrances,
external to those of nature, against a man getting on at the Bar and rising to
a judgeship. The attorneys may not give him briefs when he is a young
barrister; and even if he becomes a successful barrister, Previous page Top Next page