Recognized HTML document

64   Life and Letters of Francis Galton


the one hand and the extraordinary character of the thing on the other, quite staggers me; wondering what I shall yet see and learn I remain at present quite passive with my eyes and ears open. Very sincerely yours, FRANCIS GALTON.


5 Bertie Terrace, Leamington. March 31st, '72.

MY DEAR DARWIN Your letter will be a great encouragement to Crookes and I have forwarded it to him to read, telling him what I had written.

About the `female'-I hesitated a full 10 minutes before inserting the word 'it' on the ground that the subject of the story might be identified in after life and that the knowledge of the trick might damage her marrying value! I do not know if I am over fastidious. It is purely my own idea-no objection was raised by any of the family. So do entirely as you like'. Very

sincerely yours, FRANCIS GALTON.

42 Rutland Gate. April 19/72.

MY DEAR DARWIN I have only had one seance since I wrote, but that was with Home in full gas-light. The playing of the accordion, held by its base by one hand under the table and again, away from the table and behind the chair was extraordinary. The playing was remarkably good and sweet2. It played in Sergeant Cox's hands, but not in mine, although it shoved itself, or was shoved under the table, into them. There were other things nearly as extraordinary. What surprises me, is the perfect apparent openness of Miss F. and Home. They let you do whatever you like, within certain reasonable limits, their limits not interfering with adequate investigation. I really believe the truth of what they allege, that people who come as men of science are usually so disagreeable, opinionated and obstructive and have so little patience, that the seances rarely succeed with them. It is curious to observe the entire absence of excitement or tension about people at a seance. Familiarity has bred contempt of the strange things witnessed, and the people find it as pleasant a way of passing an idle evening, by sitting round a table and wondering what will turn up, as in any other way. Crookes, I am sure, so far as it is just for me to give,an opinion, is thoroughly scientific in his procedure. I am convinced, the affair is no matter of vulgar legerdemain and believe it well worth going into, on the understanding that a first rate medium (and I hear there are only 3 such) puts himself at your disposal.

Now considering that the evenings involve no strain, but are a repose, like the smallest of occasional gossip; considering that there is mach possibility of the affair being in many strange respects true; considering that Home will, bona fide, put himself at our disposal for a sufficient time (I assume this from Crookes' letter and believe it, because it would be bad for Home's reputation, if after offering he drew back; but of course this must be made clear); considering,


(Griffin and Minchen, Life of Robert Browning, p. 203, 1910) only did so publicly in this poem, which so strangely echoes Galton's account of the seances.

' This last paragraph refers to an entry in the pedigree of the nose-stroking family.

2 So Browning again

"All was not cheating, sir, I'm positive

I don't know if I move your hand sometimes When the spontaneous writing spreads so far, If my knee lifts the table all that height, Why the inkstand don't fall off the desk a-tilt, Why the accordion plays a prettier waltz Than I can pick out on the piano-forte, Why I speak so much more than I intend Describe so many things I never saw. I tell you, sir, in one sense I believe Nothing at all,-that everybody can, Will, and does cheat; but in another sense I'm ready to believe my very selfThat every cheat's inspired, and every lie Quick with a germ of truth."

Mr Sludga, "The Medium," loc. cit. p. 236.