History Of Friedrich Ii Of Prussia, Called Frederick The Great "Genius Means Transcendent Capacity Of Taking Trouble"

Thomas Carlyle

"Genius Means Transcendent Capacity Of Taking Trouble"

Context: Many have been the attempts to define genius. The word itself is derived from the Latin gignere, to beget, and it was believed that a spirit watched over everyone from birth. The puzzle was that some people showed signs of outstanding ability early in life; others not until late, or never. What was the contribution of the person himself to the revelation of that genius? The Frenchman Buffon in 1707 is supposed to have tried to describe genius as "une grande aptitude à la pacience," embodied in an English proverb: "Genius is patience." But others believed the man's own efforts were also necessary. A genius must work meaningfully at his task. Said Jan Walaeus in a volume about the Dutch theologian Antonius Walaeus, (1647): "Genius is an intuitive talent for labor." We have the common saying: "Genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains." Carlyle however, developed the idea more extensively:

. . . His labor in these years, the first of Little Fritz's life, must have been great; the pushing and pulling, strong and continual. The good plan itself, this comes not of its own accord; it is the fruit of "genius (which means transcendent capacity of taking trouble, first of all). . . .