288 MEMORIES OF MY LIFE
the mind which may be a very repugnant and even painful process. On my part, however, I felt little difficulty in connection with the Origin of f Species, but devoured its contents and assimilated them as fast as they were devoured, a fact which perhaps may be ascribed to an hereditary bent of mind that both its illustrious author and myself have inherited from our common grandfather, Dr. Erasmus Darwin.
I was encouraged by the new views to pursue many inquiries which had long interested me, and which clustered round the central topics of Heredity and the possible improvement of the Human Race. The current views on Heredity were at that time so vague and contradictory that it is difficult to summarise them briefly. Speaking generally, most authors agreed that all bodily and some mental qualities were inherited by brutes, but they refused to believe the same of man. ~ Moreover, theologians made a sharp distinction' between the body and mind of man, on purely dogmatic grounds. A few passages may undoubtedly be found in the works of eminent authors that are exceptions to this broad generalisation, for the subject of human heredity had never been squarely faced, and opinions were lax and contradictory. I t seems hardly credible now that even the word heredity was then considered fanciful and unusual. I was chaffed by a cultured friend for adopting it from the French.
I had been immensely impressed by many obvious cases of heredity among the Cambridge men who were at the University about my own time. The Classical Class List was first established in 1824, consequently the number of " Senior Classics " up to
1864 inclusive was 411 that is to say, the names of