Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 59.djvu/226

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216
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ton, the poet, at seventeen, to Bishop Morton, the scholar (born in the seventeenth century), and Sir Edward Sabine, the man of science (born in the eighteenth century), at ninety-five. They are distributed as follows in five-year age-periods:

 
Age at Death Under 20 20-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-49 50-54
Men of Genius 1 2 5 13 13 29 48 51
Age at Death 55-59 60-64 65-69 70-74 75-79 80-84 85-89 90 and over
Men of Genius 66 84 108 116 86 49 35 14
 

If we consider the number for each year separately, certain points emerge which are disguised by the five-year age-period, though the irregularities become frequently marked and inexplicable. A certain order, however, seems to be maintained. There is scarcely any rise from twenty-seven to thirty-eight, and even at forty-five only three individuals died; but, on the whole, there is a slow rise after thirty-eight, leading to the first climax at forty-nine, when sixteen individuals died; this climax is maintained at a lower level to fifty-four, when there is a marked fall to a level scarcely higher than that which prevailed between the ages of forty-one and forty-three. This lasts for three years; then there is a sudden rise from seven deaths at fifty-six, to twenty-five deaths at fifty-seven, and this second climax is again maintained at a somewhat lower level to the age of sixty-seven, when the highest climax is attained, with thirty-one deaths. Thereafter the decline is slow but steady, with a final climax of twenty deaths at seventy-eight. It is curious that each climax is sudden, and preceded by a fall.

A noteworthy point here seems to be the very low mortality between the ages of fifty-three and fifty-seven. It seems to confirm Galton's conclusion, based on somewhat similar data, that a group of men of genius is in part made up of persons of unusually feeble constitutions and in part of persons of unusually vigorous constitutions. After the first climax at forty-nine the feeble have mostly died out. The vigorous are then in possession of their best powers and working at full pressure; fifty-seven appears to be a critical age at which exhaustion and collapse are specially liable to occur. The presence of these two classes—the abnormally weak and the abnormally vigorous —would be in harmony with the explanation I have already ventured to offer of the deficiency of medium-sized families left by our men of genius.

The age of the women is ascertainable in thirty-nine cases. The average is extremely high; four died before forty, but nine lived to over eighty, and two of these were over ninety.