Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 27.djvu/465

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447
GENIUS AND INSANITY.

Co. all the same. Mr. Spencer had, in reality, very little to do with the edition. For the Introduction, the had taste with which the notes were embellished, and the newspaper quotation describing the doings in a branch of the positivist church in London which Mr. Harrison does not like, he is not to be held to account.

For his offense in correcting some injurious misrepresentations in a controversial volume published for the use of a people three thousand miles away, the London "Times" declares that Mr. Spencer has made the amende honorable by destroying the book; and this is the general English view. The equally general American view is, that this extreme proceeding was ridiculous, that it benefited nobody, and gratuitously deprived many readers in this country of a valuable work on an important subject. It is, at any rate, desirable that the responsibility for this result should be fixed where it justly belongs. Mr. Spencer made two proposals to Harrison looking to the preservation of the work, both of which were absolutely fair, but neither of which was accepted. Mr. Spencer would have been justified in making a stand upon either of these propositions, and refusing further concessions; but Mr. Harrison's rejection of his overtures left the matter in so unsatisfactory a shape that nothing remained for Mr. Spencer but to cut the knot by ordering the book suppressed.


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GENIUS AND INSANITY.

By JAMES SULLY.

THE problems which have so long perplexed the thoughtful mind in presence of that dark yet fascinating mystery, the nature and origin of genius, have recently propounded themselves with new stress and insistence. Whatever may be said against Mr. Froude's neglect of the pruning-knife in publishing Carlyle's "Journals and Letters," the psychologist at least will be grateful to him for what is certainly an unusually full and direct presentment of the temperament and life of genius. Here we may study the strange lineaments which stamp a family likeness on the selected few in whose souls has burned the genuine fire of inspiration. These memoirs disclose with a startling distinctness the pathetic as well as the heroic side of the great man. In Carlyle we see the human spirit in its supreme strength jarred and put out of tune by the suffering incident to preternaturally keen sensibilities and an unalterably gloomy temperament.

In this strange record, too, we find ourselves once more face to face with what is perhaps the most fascinating of the fascinating problems surrounding the subject of intellectual greatness, that of its relation to mental health. Carlyle compels the attentive reader to propound to himself anew the long-standing puzzle, "Is genius something