Recognized HTML document

60   Life and Letters of Francis Galton

Issued by the Kew Committee of the Royal Society, was published. Galton includes it both in his list of memoirs and in the bound volumes of his papers, so that it was doubtless compiled by him. It gives information as to the history of the Observatory, the wide range of instruments tested by the stal; the nature of many of the tests and the charges for testing. The Committee' of which Galton was then Chairman was indeed a strong one, and the general progress made in thirty years very noteworthy.

But Galton was not only interested in the methods of testing,but also in the convenience of the building itself and of its environment. General Strachey coming out one day from the Observatory noticed that the Mid-Surrey Golf Club had established a green immediately in front of the Observatory, and thinking how the matter might develop held that some means must be taken to secure a protected area round the building. But the institution possessed no funds for such an expenditure ; accordingly Francis Galton (1893) generously and quietly provided the money, between £300 and £400, for placing a fence enclosing about six acres of ground round the Observatory. Dr Chree, the Superintendent, writing to me in 1912, said

"Sir Francis' interests according to my recollections were more with instruments and their verification than with observational work. He usually professed to regard himself as a poor man of business and finance, but I think this was partly a pretence intended to form an excuse for leaving financial matters largely to General Strachey,-a very great friend of Sir Francis'who liked to deal with matters of that kind....The Kew Committee used to meet once a month with a long vacation in summer-and generally Sir Francis got me to go up to Rutland Gate before each meeting and go through the business with him. His long experience of the Observatory rendered him so familiar with the work that he used to get along wonderfully well as

Chairman, notwithstanding his deafness."

An amusing anecdote may be told to illustrate Galton's kindliness of spirit. With the increase of the testing work the Royal Society officers decided that the then existing system of Kew Observatory accounts-which was of General Strachey's arranging, somewhat primitive, and not requiring any special financial training in the Observatory officials-must be altered, and the Royal Society's auditor proposed a scheme of the complexity naturally dear to the professional mind. General Strachey was much hurt and Galton said privately that something must be devised to soothe General Strachey. This proved easier than might have been anticipated, for the non-financially trained, on close scrutiny of the accounts, discerned that the Royal Society had ;been recovering income tax and inadvertently not paying it over to the Kew Committee ! That Committee was accordingly able to extract a substantial . sum from the Royal Society and General Strachey was thus led to feel he was a match for the financial experts of the Society

One or two miscellaneous papers may be fitly touched on in this chapter because they illustrate either Galton's instrumental ingenuity, or have more or less relation to the subjects here discussed. About 1877 Galton sent a letter to the Field newspaper suggesting a very simple speedometer for bicycles. This was a small sand-glass and all the rider had to do was to

1 Abney, Grylls Adams, Creak, Carey Foster, Admiral Richards, the Earl of Rosse, Riicker, R. H. Scott, Generals Strachey and Walker, and W. T. L. Wharton.