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The Persian nobility have, by the selection of Circassian. wives, eradicated their old coarse physiognomy, as seen in the Guebres, their progenitors. Many of the Spanish nobility illustrate the opposite results, from intermarriage among themselves. It is with mind as with the weapon of the warrior and the tool of the workman-temper is everything—and temper is intimately connected with temperament and cerebral susceptibility. While the nervous are prone to be irritable; the sanguine irascible and passionate; the bilious slow, persistent, and often violent; the lymphatic are most inclined to inaction, and disposed to sail with the wind. Those of the apathetic constitution have sellom disturbed the current of events, either by their deeds, their negotiations, or their conquests. Talent they sometimes possess; genius never. They float with the food, or cast anchor till the returning tide ; they never go against the stream.
The tomb-maker who built the bust of Shakspere at Stratford, was not aware of this important relation between form, capacity, and character; while the picture by Jansen, the portrait of Shakspere's daughter, and the Mask said to be taken after death, all harmonise with the law of relation between form and capacity, power and results.
Although it may be conceded that education and favourable circumstances have great influence on organisations adapted to receive the rays of light and intelligence, and to make them manifest; yet, no amount of culture will raise the idiot into a philosopher, or convert the sluggish offspring of the feeble or the imbecile, into the highly-organised sensitive child of genius. The transmission of aptitude is shown too in the fact, that the children of linguists, and those of mathematicians, learn languages and numbers sooner than those of uneducated parents. The children of musicians, when both parents are musically inclined, learn inore easily than others; and this susceptibility, when inherited during three generations, often results in the extraordinary powers called talent and genius.
The biographers of Shakspere have hitherto attempted to explain the marvellous powers of the poet by the external influences with which he was surrounded, by what books he read, and where he resided. They mention his parents, it is true, but they almost ignore the heritage of his ancestry.
They forget that many thousands have been surrounded by similar circumstances of nature, condition, and education; but which no doubt contributed their due influence on the mental organism of a highly sensitive character, derived from many generations of a superior stock, where the physical, the mental, and the moral elements were in harmonious proportions, as in the Ardens and the Shaksperes.
Moral beauty of character, too, is dependent on this harmonious balance of the organic forces in the constitution, and especially so, in the just proportion between the various regions of the cerebral and the vital powers of the body. A vigorous and healthy organism that gives soundness to the bones, will fix its index in the complexion, impart a sparkling lustre to the eye, and give grace to the outline, the forn, carriage, and expression. The face is thus the epitome of the body, repeating in miniature the inward emotions; and every organic action is pleasing from its truth, directness, and fitness of expression in the body and mind.
It is a just remark of an able writer who says, that, “ The union of certain temperaments and combinations of mental organs, are highly conducive to health, talent, and morality in the offspring; and that these conditions may be discovered and taught with far greater certainty, facility, and advantage, than is generally imagined.”
When, however, the sensitive, nervous organisation of a race or family is developed into the highest state of sensibility and refinement, ending in talent, eccentricity, and genius, the vitality becomes weak and effete, and the race dies out in a generation or two, as in the case of Shakspere, Milton, Corneille, Scott, Burke, Byron, Moore, Mozart, and many others, whose names are known no more among men.
Scott, like Shakspere, was desirous of founding a family, but the name and inheritance passed to female descendants. Our greatest poet had only one son, who died early ; his daughter, Susanna Hall, had one girl, and she died childless. The explanation must be sought in the fact, that in men of high culture and sensibility, the physical and the vital parts of the human organism are sacrificed to the nervous--the brain is exercised at the expense of the body, and exhausted in the very manifestations by which the poet or artist becomes known, and by which he influences the world. Their works become their best effigies. There is an
important lesson in this uniform result. Nature, as positive as fate, will not tolerate a succession of geniuses in the same family ; a great soul shines like a fixed star in the intellectual firmament; she is satisfied, records the name, closes the registry, and seals the book.
Lord Byron was a memorable instance of this inflexible law. He was the son of a man of strong and wayward passions, and a mother equally impulsive and eccentric. In the heritage of his family we may find the seeds of his ardent passions, the elements of his character and his genius. He was the son of Captain John Byron, of the Guards, and Catherine Gordon, heiress of George Gordon, the descendant of Sir William Gordon, the third son of the Earl of Huntly, by his Countess the Princess Jane Stuart, daughter of James I. of Scotland. His paternal grandfather was the celebrated Admiral John Byron, whose account of his shipwreck and sufferings is one of the most interesting books of its kind in the English language. Byron's father was one of the most handsome and most profligate men of his day, and was called “ Mad Jack Byron.” He seduced Amelia, Marchioness of Carmarthaen, daughter of the Earl of Holderness; whom, on being divorced from her husband, he married.
Originally of Normandy, the first of the family came over with William the Conqueror. Doomsday Book inentions Ralph de Burun as holding lands in Nottinghamshire. His descendants were feudal barons of Horestan, in Derbyshire, and they became possessed of the lands of Rochdale, in Lancashire, in the reign of Edward I. Newstead Abbey was, in the reign of Henry VIII., conferred on Sir John Byron, who was also Constable of Nottingham Castle, and Master of Sherwood Forest. Two of the poet's ancestors distinguished themselves at the siege of Calais, and were found among the slain at Cressy. Another brother fought on the side of Richmond at Bosworth Field. The Byrons adhered to the cause of Charles I., and Sir John Byron had the charge of the escort which conveyed the plate contributed by the University for the royal use. AE Edge Hill seven brothers of the family fought on the side of the king.
A grand-uncle, the fifth Lord Byron, and his immediate predecessor, was a very passionate man, and killed his cousin, Mr. Chaworth, in a duel fought in the dark, and was tried by the House of Peers for manslaughter, found guilty, pleaded his privilege, and was discharged. Captain Byron, the father of the poet, was a widower, deeply in debt when he married the “Donny Miss Gordon," of Gight, and as the rhyme indicated
“To squander the lands o’ Gight awa'.” The property of the lady, worth about £23,500, was all wasted by the end of the second year of the marriage, and a separation then took place between them.
The mother of the poet was quick in her feelings, violent in her temper, and strong in her affections. She had a comely countenance, was somewhat diminutive in size, and inclined to embonpoint. In these brief outlines we have the sketch and the heritage of the “ Author of Childe Harold." The poet became united to Miss Millbanke who was endowed with a highly sensitive nervous constitution and temperament. She had great delicacy and susceptibility, conjoined with large endowments in the moral and intellectual regions of the brain, a finely organised system, indicated by her refined and delicately moulded features, and in the structure of her beautifus hands; so nobly open and generous in acts of judicious benevolence and charity, bespeaking the exquisite susceptibility of her heart.* Their only child, Ada, whom Byron feelingly apostrophises in one of his most passionate utterances, was, in the lower part of the features, her large brain and her tendency to embonpoint, very like the poet, and in the form of her forehead like her mother.t The poet asks her
Is thy face like thy mother's, my fair child
Ada ! sole daughter of my house and heart?
And then we parted—not as now we part.
* "A lady who devoted the summer and the autumn of her days to the steady and systematic practice of wholesale charity in the highest sense, and whom many a poor curate's family, and many a poor reformatory child, will have reason to bless to the end of their days.”—London Daily Paper.
+ Lord Byron wrote upon a proof sheet of Marino Faliero, "Ada, all but the mouth, is the picture of her mother, and I am glad of it."
She was, when I knew her, buoyant, hearty, and energetic, with an independent and inquisitive spirit; endowed with warm affections, a vigorous mind, and a strong willmarks of the stock from which she sprung. She was rather tall, handsome, and elegant in her manners; endowed with great capabilities, and possessed high attainments as a linguist and a musician. She was a frequent and early visitor at the Agricultural School at Ealing Grove, to watch the progress of the experiment so useful in proving the practicability of combining industrial training with mental culture, in schools for the middle and working classes. A lively interest was manifested by her in the progress of the boys, and especially in that of a fine dark eyed boy, nine years of age, about whom she always enquired during her stay. Both in the physiognomy of the features and the manifestation of the character, I was often reminded of Byron; and, like him, she died at the early age of thirty-seven.
After the death of Ada, then the Countess of Lovelace, her eldest son left home and the proud towers of East Horsley. He was content to earn his daily subsistence by the sweat of his brow in the iron ship-building yard of Mr. Scott Russell at Blackwall. At an early age he entered the Royal Navy, but soon left it. He then attempted to enter as a common sailor before the mast of a merchant vessel trading with America. Afterwards, he entered the shop of the millwright as a mechanic. But Lord Ockham, Baron Wentworth, the grandson of the author of “Childe Harold,” enjoyed only a brief existence among the living, as he died at the early age of twenty-six ; showing in the short story of his life, that genius and eccentricity were nearly related.
Poetry, Sculpture, Painting, and Music, are peculiarly dependent on special organisations, united to fine temperament. Dugald Stewart and others, erroneously hold that talent and genius for these arts are the “result of acquired habits, and gradually formed by particular habits of study or of business." But the maxim is founded in truth which says, Poets are born, not made ; although study and fitting outward circumstances are necessary to their full development and expression. Activity, sensibility, and fineness of appreciation-or acuteness of perception-must be combined as the foundation for ultimate success; and these attributes