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THE

INFIRMITIES OF GENIUS.

CHAPTER I.

THE EFFECTS OF LITERARY HABITS.

It is generally admitted that erary men are an irritable race, subject to many infirmities, both of mind and body; that worldly prosperity and domestic happiness are not very often the result of their pursuits.

Eccentricity is the “badge of all their tribe;" and so many errors accompany their career, that fame and frailty would almost seem to be inseparable companions. Perhaps it is wisely ordained that such should be the case, to check the pride of human intellect, and to render those humbler capacities contented with their lot, to whom nature has denied the noblest of her gifts.

It is the unfortunate tendency of literary habits to enamour the studious of the seclusion of the closet, and to render them more conversant with the philosophy and erudition of bygone times, than with the sentiments and feelings of their fellow-men. Their knowledge of the world is, in a great measure, derived from books, not from an acquaintance with its active duties; and the con

sequence is, that when they venture into its busy haunts, they bring with them a spirit of uncompromising independence, which arrays itself at once against every prejudice they have to encounter : such a spirit is but ill calculated to disarm the hostility of any casual opponent, or in the circle where it is exhibited “ to buy golden opinions” of any “ sorts of people.” If the felicitous example of the poet of the drawing room seduce them into the haunts of fashionable life, they find themselves still less in their element; the effort to support the dignity of genius in a common-place conversation, costs them, perhaps, more fatigue than the composition of half a volume would occasion in their study. Or if any congenial topic engage attention, they may have the good sense to sub. due their ardour, and endeavour to assume an awkward air of fashionable nonchalance; they may attempt to be agreeable, they may seem to be at ease, but they are on the stilts of literary abstraction all the time, and they cannot bow them down to kiss the crimson robe of good society with graceful homage. But these are the minor inconveniences that arise from long indulgence in literary habits; the graver ones are those that arise from im. paired health and depressed spirits, the inevitable consequences of excessive mental application. Waywardness of temper, testiness of humour and capriciousness of conduct, result from this depression; and under such circumstances the errors of genius are estimated too often by their immediate consequences, without any reference to predisposing causes. The fact is, the carriage of genius is unlikely to conciliate strangers, while its foibles are calculated to weary even friends, and its very glory to make bitter rivals of its contemporaries and comrades.

Accordingly we find that its ashes are hardly cold,

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