Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 59.djvu/383

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373
A STUDY OF BRITISH GENIUS.

A STUDY OF BRITISH GENIUS.

By HAVELOCK ELLIS.

IX.—PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS.

BEFORE summarizing the results of this study and noting a few of the conclusions to which it seems to point, there are still some aspects of British men of genius that the 'Dictionary' serves to make visible. And as these aspects enable us at once both to complete our picture and to confirm some of the impressions we have already obtained, we cannot afford to pass them by. They concern more especially personal appearance and emotional disposition.

As regards stature we have some information in 281 eases; in 218 cases the information is indefinite, in the remaining 63 cases definite. Of the first and largest group, 91 are said to be tall, 53 of average or medium height, while 74 are short. In the smaller group, composed entirely of males, 4 are 5 feet and under;[1] 5 are from 5 feet 1 to 5 feet 4; 14 are from 5 feet 5 to 5 feet 8; 26 are from 5 feet 9 to 6 feet; 14 are over 6 feet. The height of the average Englishman at the present day is 5 feet 8. It may be added that among the general population of the British Islands 68 per cent, are between 5 feet 4 inches and 5 feet 9 inches in height. But the average height of men of the well to-do classes, to which our subjects mainly belong, is somewhat above this. If we say that it is 5 feet 9, we shall probably be near the mark. This is confirmed by Galton, who found that the average height of the fathers of his men of science was 5 feet 912. But if this is so, it would appear that it is the tendency of our men of genius not only to vary widely, but to be tall more frequently than short,[2] The center of the group is really occupied by the individuals who are 5 feet 10, since 29 are below this height and 27 above it.

It must, of course, be recognized that various fallacies would be involved were we to take our data as strictly corresponding to the real facts. The exceptional people are more likely to be mentioned, and the medium-sized to be passed over, while there is always a tendency to describe a person as short or tall, rather than as of average size. It


  1. Pope, 4 feet 6, is excluded, as his excessively low stature was the result of deformity.
  2. I may remark that among the ordinary population there is some reason to suppose that superior intellectual capacity tends to be associated with superior stature; Porter found such an association among school children at St. Louis and Christopher at Chicago.