Recognized HTML document
Previous Index Next

Fallow Years, 1844-1849   207

where I trust every satisfaction will be afforded. I find of course on the eve of departure that all one's German has vanished as usual, and I shall have to begin the old story again with Ollendorf, satisfying a morbid anxiety as to the hunger of the good baker's

dog, etc. I shall expect lessons in Tigheree, and the scimitar exercise. Your giving up mediculeizing is a great blow ; who is henceforth to tell me pleasant stories about lupus, and purpuristic elephantiasis of the pia mater; you had much better not become a

parson, but come with me to Maimachtin in 3 or 4 years.

Ever most sincerely yours, H. F. HALLAM.

There is little doubt that Galton's view of life was indirectly widened by his residence among and friendship with Mohammedans. He had in later days a great respect and admiration for them ; during his stay in Syria he conformed largely to their way of life and possibly, in a measure, to their religion'. Experience of another great religious faith, the devout followers of which compared in conduct at many points favourably with his own co-religionists, led Galton to a wider view of the origin and function of religion in general, and there is little doubt that from this period he ceased to be an orthodox Christian in the customary sense. Writing in 1869 (see Plate II), Galton says that " the Origin of Species formed a real crisis in my life ; your book drove away the constraint of my old superstition,*- as if it had been a nightmare, and was the first to give me freedom of thought." I think this really means that Galton owed to Darwin a positive faith; his negative attitude towards the old views had arisen thirteen or fourteen years before the publication of The Origin, and had formed to some extent a division between Francis and the more orthodox members of his family. The first blow to orthodoxy came from the experience that more than one religion helped men efficiently in the conduct of life, and brought the ideal into closer touch with the actual as a controlling and purifying factor. Galton taught absolute toleration, both in religious belief and in formal observance ; he was prepared for family prayers, if they aided anybody in his household, and he would have accepted a fetish, had he thought the fetish-worshipper thereby better able to face the moral difficulties -of life; he had none of the intellectual hatred of Huxley or Clifford for what their minds recognised

' Bosworth Smith, who advanced the view in 1874 that Mohammedanism was in some respects better suited than Christianity to the Oriental races and to the negro, writes to Galton in 1875: °' Your view of Islam as compared with Christianity would, I fancy, from what you said to me, be even more favourable than mine."

Previous Index Next