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...Frederic, another master-craftsman. Is there any profession in the world which in proportion to its numbers could show such losses as that? In the meantime, out of our own men Robert Louis Stevenson is gone, and Henry Seton Merriman, and many another.
Even those great men who are usually spoken of as if they had rounded off their career were really premature in their end. Thackeray, for example, in spite of his snowy head, was only 52; Dickens attained the age of 58; on the whole,Sir Walter, with his 61 years of life, although he never wrote a novel until he was over 40, had, fortunately for the world, a longer working career than most of his brethren.
He employed his creative faculty for about twenty years, which is as much, I suppose, as Shakespeare did. The bard of Avon is another example of the limited tenure which Genius has of life, though I believe that he outlived the greater part of his own family, who were not a healthy stock. He died, I should judge, of some nervous disease; that is shown by the progressive degeneration of his signature. Probably it was locomotor ataxy, which is the special scourge of the imaginative man.... Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan
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