Page:Studies of a Biographer 4.djvu/224

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STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

master of those useful intellectual tools. It is this pervading vitality which has marked such geniuses as I have known, though it assumes very various forms. A proposition of Euclid, such as 'coaches' hammer into the head of a dunce to be reproduced by rote, developed instantly, when inserted into Clifford's brain, into whole systems of geometry. Genius of a different type was shown by the historian J. R. Green. You pointed out a bit of old wall, or a slope of down, and it immediately opened to him a vista of past ages, illustrating bygone social states and the growth of nations. So Stevenson heard an anecdote and it became at once the nucleus of a story, and he was on the spot a hero of romance plunging into a whole series of thrilling adventures. Connected with this, I suppose, is the invincible boyishness so often noticed as a characteristic of genius. The mind which retains its freshness can sympathise with the child to whom the world is still a novelty. Both Clifford and Green were conspicuous for this possession of the prerogative of genius, and showed it both in being boyish themselves and in their intense sympathy with children. Clifford was never happier than in a child's party, and Green sought relief from the dreariness of a