Gifts of Genius eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 195 pages of information about Gifts of Genius.

    “My father! oh, father! and dost thou not see
    Where the Erl-king’s daughters are waiting for me?”
    “My child! ’tis no phantom!  I see it now plain;
    ’Tis but the grey willow that waves in the rain.”

    “Thy sweet face hath charmed me!  I love thee, my joy! 
    And com’st thou not willing, I’ll seize thee, fair boy!”
    “Oh, father! dear father! his touch is so cold! 
    He grasps me!  I cannot escape from his hold!”

    Sore trembled the father, he spurs through the wild,
    And folds yet more closely his terrified child;
    He reaches his own gate in darkness and dread—­
    Alas! in his arms lay the fair child—­dead!



Fenelon died at Cambray, January 7, 1715, aged 64, some years after the death of Bossuet, his antagonist, and shortly before the death of his royal patron and persecutor, Louis XIV.  The conscience of Christendom has already judged between the two parties.  Never was the spirit of the good archbishop more powerful than now.  Whilst ambitious ecclesiastics may honor more the name of Bossuet, the heart of France has embalmed in its affections the name of his victim, and our common humanity has incorporated him into its body.  When Fenelon’s remains were discovered in 1804, the French people shouted with joy that Jacobinism had not scattered his ashes, and a monument to his memory was forthwith decreed by Napoleon.  In 1826, his statue was erected in Cambray, and three years after, a memorial more eloquent than any statue, a selection from his works, exhibiting the leading features of his mind, bore witness of his power and goodness to this western world.  The graceful monument which the wife of Follen thus reared to his memory was crowned by the hand of Channing with a garland that as yet has shown no trace of decay.

To any conversant with that little work, or with the larger productions of Fenelon’s mind, need I say a single word of tribute to his character or gifts?  Yet something must be said to show the compass of his character, for common eulogium is too indiscriminate in praise, exaggerating certain amiable graces at the expense of more commanding virtues.

He was remarkable for the harmony of his various qualities.  In his intellect, reason, understanding, fancy, imagination, were balanced in an almost unexampled degree.  The equilibrium of his character showed itself alike in the exquisite propriety of his writings and the careful and generous economy of his substance.  He died without property and without debt.  Some critics have denied him the praise of philosophical depth.  They should rather say, that his love of prying analytically into the secret principles of things was counterbalanced by the desire to exhibit principles in practical combination, and by his preference of truth and virtue in its living portraiture to moral

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Gifts of Genius from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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