68 Life and Letters of Francis Galton
Such testimony from a mother might mean little had it been written when her son had reached distinction. But Violetta Galton appears to have written only thus of one son, and of him only before he was nine years of age. Did she see in her youngest son something of her father, or did her acquaintance with many men of marked intellectual ability enable her early to appreciate nascent signs of
It must not be thought that Adele's scheme of education had not a modern side. Seeing how fond Francis was of natural history, she taught him a good deal of entomology, a study he became particularly fond of; and soon the boy's perseverance and activity in collecting insects were noteworthy'. He was also fond of studying the history of birds. Geology he was deeply interested in, and when he went with his mother on his second visit to Ramsgate in 1829, " he would entreat her to let the post-boy stop whenever he saw granite, or chalk or any mineral showing itself in the hills."
Some idea of Francis' pursuits and interests can be found in a will he made, boy fashion, some few months before his departure to a school at Boulogne. It runs
I, Francis Galton of the Larches near Birmingham make this my last Will and Testament-I give to my dearest sister Adele for her great kindness in teaching me all my English Books, my Watch, and all my Compound Money and Collection of Beetles
1 It is interesting to find in this very year when Adele was teaching Francis entomology a notice in the records before me of Charles Darwin. Mrs Wheler writes :. " In September (1828) Lucy and I were invited to Osmaston for the Derby Music Meeting, but when the time came Lucy had one of her rheumatic attacks, and Emma went in her place. Catherine Darwin came to us from Shrewsbury and we travelled together. Charles Darwin joined us at Osmaston, and we were a merry party of cousins.... William Fox was making a collection of butterflies, and Charles Darwin immediately began to do the same, and this was the beginning of his interest in collecting. He and William Fox struck up a friendship which continued all their lives." MS. Reminiscences, p. 113. Mrs Fox was the daughter of William- Alvey Darwin, a brother of Erasmus Darwin. Charles Darwin was at this time 19 years of age, and in his Autobiography he tells us that his passion for collecting had been developed before 1817 (Life and Letters, i, p. 27). At that time Darwin was leaving Edinburgh and just going up to Cambridge, and he was already familiar with many men studying natural science. On the other hand Mrs Wheler's incident confirms what Darwin himself tells us (l.c. P., 51) " I was introduced to entomology by my second cousin W. Darwin. Fox, a clever and most pleasant man, who was then at Christ's College and with whom I became extremely familiar."