The Worlds Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906. Vols. VIIX: British
A Home for Geniuses
By J. M. Barrie (18601937)
From A Window in Thrums
FROM hints he had dropped at odd times I knew that Tammas Haggart had a scheme for geniuses, but not until the evening after Jamies arrival did I get it out of him. Hendry was with Jamie at the fishing, and it came about that Tammas and I had the pig-sty to ourselves.
Of course, he said, when we had got a grip of the subject, I dount pretend as my ideas is to be followed without deeviation, but ondootedly something should be done for geniuses, them bein aboot the only class as we do naething for. Yet theyre fowk to be prood o, an we shouldna let them overdo the thing, nor run into debt; na, na. There was Robbie Burns, noo, as real a genius as ever
Aye, he said thoughtfully, them ats gone canna be brocht back. Weel, my idea is at a home should be built for geniuses at the public expense, whaur they could all live thegither, an be decently looked after. Na, no in London; thats no my plan, but I would haet within an hours distance o London, say five mile frae the market-place, an standin in a bit garden, whaur the geniuses could walk aboot arm in arm, composin their minds.
Weel, theres a difficulty there, because, yell observe, as the public would support the institootion, they would hae a kind o richt to look in. How-some-ever, I daur say we could arrange to fling the grounds open to the public once a week on condition at they didna speak to the geniuses. Im thinkin at if there was a small chairge for admission the home could be made self-supportin. Losh! to think at if there had been sic an institootion in his time a man might hae sat on the bit dike and watched Robbie Burns danderin roond the
Not by no means; na, na. The mair I read aboot geniuses the mair clearly I see as their wy o living alane ower muckle is ane o the things as breaks doon their health and makes them meeserable. I the home they would hae a bedroom apiece, but the parlour an the other sittin-rooms would be for all, so as they could enjoy ane anothers company. The management? Oh, thats aisy! The superintendent would be a medical man appointed by Parliament, and he would hae men-servants to do his biddin.
Nae doubt; an they would see it was the wisest thing they could do. He would be careful o their health, an send them early to bed as weel as hae them up at eight sharp. Geniuses healths is always breakin doon because of late hours, as in the case o the lad wha used often to begin his immortal writins at twal oclock at nicht, a thing at would ruin ony constitootion. But the superintendent would see as they had a tasty supper at nine oclocksomething as agreed wi them. Then for half an hour they would quiet their brains readin oot aloud, time about, frae sic a book as the Pilgrims Progress, an the gas would be turned aff at ten preceesely.
That would be all very well where the inmate only broke the regulations once in a way. But suppose he were to refuse to take his bath day after dayand, you know, geniuses are said to be eccentric in that particularwhat would be done? You could not starve him; geniuses are too scarce.
Na, na; in a case like that he would hae to be reported to the public. The thing would hae to come afore the Hoose of Commons. Aye, the superintendent would get a member o the opposeetion to ask a queistion such as, Can the honourable gentleman, the Secretary of State for Home Affairs, inform the Hoose whether it is a fac that Mr. Sic-a-one, the well-known genius, at present resident in the Home for Geniuses, has, contrairy to regulations, perseestently and obstinately refused to change his linen; and if so, whether the Government proposes to take ony steps in the matter? The newspapers would report the discussion next mornin, an so it would be made public withoot onnecessary ootlay.
Not so. The superintendent would fix the hours o wark, an they would all write, or whatever it was, thegither in one large room. Man, man! it would mak a grand draw for a painter-chield, that room, wi all the geniuses working awa thegither.
What do ye tak me for? Na, na; the superintendent would allow them one glass o toddy every nicht, an mix it himsel; but he would never let the keys o the press, whaur he kept the drink, oot o his hands. They would never be allowed oot o the gairden either, withoot a man to look after them; an I wouldna burthen them wi ower muckle pocket-money. Saxpence in the week would be suffeecient.
I wouldna trust them. The election would hae to be by competitive examination. Na, I canna say wha would draw up the queistions. The schemes juist growin i my mind, but the mair I think ot the better I like it.