Page:Studies of a Biographer 4.djvu/222

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208
STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

contributors, and I may be allowed to boast that, in his case at least, I did not nip rising genius in the bud—the feat which, according to some young authors, represents the main desire of the editorial mind. Fate, however, withheld from me the privilege of forming such an intimacy as could materially bias my opinions; and so far I have a negative qualification for answering the question which so many people are eager to put: what, namely, will posterity think about Stevenson? I am content to leave the point to posterity; but in trying to sum up my own impressions, corrected by the judgment of his closer friends and critics, I may contribute to the discussion of the previous question: what is the species, not what is the degree, of praise which he will receive? Friendly criticism is apt to fail in this direction. Enthusiasts fancy that to define a man's proper sphere is to limit his merits; they assume that other sects are necessarily hostile, and that they must remove another bust from Poets' Corner in order to make room for doing honour to their favourite. Such controversies lead to impossible problems and attempts to find a common measure for disparate qualities. We may surely by this time agree that Tennyson and Browning excelled in different lines