Childhood and Boyhood 75
for following a profession, and knowing Samuel Galton's character as we do' we may feel confident he would have approved his grandson's final disposition of a large portion of it.
With his return from Boulogne the first period of Francis Galton's life closes ; his childhood is over and his boyhood begins. The letters we have quoted from these early years may appear to the reader to contain little of note. They are indeed just what a healthy normal child would write, but it is that very fact that makes them essentially human documents and gives them their fundamental interest. We rejoice to see that men who have laid their mark on their age are in constitution just such human beings as we ourselves and closely akin to the childworld with which we are all so familiar. Need we attempt to see signs of exceptional ability or to discover foreshadowings of future achievement in the outpourings of healthy childhood? I do not think we can say more than that Francis Galton was a normal child with rather more than average ability, and that possibly only his mother, Violetta, realised instinctively that he was not just like the rest of her children.
From plans and sketches of the Larches drawn by Violetta Galton and her daughters Bessy and Emma we are able to realise the home of Francis Galton's childhood, which appeared to him so delightful, not only from the distance of Boulogne, but from the distance of later life. The house was a spacious one three storied in front and five-windowed across, two tall larches' overtopping the roof stood as sentinels right and left. Two wings went out from the rear, that on the left faced a garden with terrace leading to a summer house. This wing had a bay window, and made the house on this side also three storied and five-windowed across. The right-hand wing ran back to the stable and brewhouse, which had once been Priestley's laboratory. At the back of the house was a large yard terminating in poultry-, coach-, and pig-houses, with cow sheds leading directly to the fields, where the boys used to scamper about on their ponies. We see the very spot where " Ringwood " and his fellows were kept, and the archery ground, and wonder which out of the many flower borders was the patch tended by Frank, where his beloved hollyhocks and
' See pp. 43-48.
2 Mrs Wheler in her Reminiscences says these trees were among the first larches brought to England.