66 Life and Letters of Francis Galton
"Crookes wrote to me that Home's presence was very important, for the experiments were far more successful when he was the medium, than when anyone else was, and he is now in Russia and will not return until May. So I will wait."
One almost imagines that Home fled' before the courteous manner but scrutinising eye of Galton ! Our truthseeker did not immediately give up the pursuit of the hyper-phenomenal. In February of the following year (1873) there is a letter to Huggins about the psychology of the latter's dog ` Kepler2,' and it ends with a few remarks on a suggestion of Huggins' that a medium who untied himself in a room-presumably through spirit assistance-should bQ watched through an aperture. Galton fears the room would be too dark, but says that he will suggest to Crookes that previous experiment be made to see if it is.
Certain letters given in Francis Darwin's Life of Charles Darwin, Vol. in, p. 187, probably indicate the end of Darwin's and Galton's inquiries into spiritualism.
"Spiritualism was making a great stir at this time. During a visit to Erasmus Darwin's in January 1874, a seance was arranged with Mr X., a paid medium, to conduct it. We were a largish party sitting round a dining-table, including Mr and Mrs G. H. Lewes (George Eliot). Mr Lewes, I remember, was troublesome and inclined to make jokes and not play the game fairly and sit in the dark in silence. The usual manifestations occurred, sparks, wind blowing, and some rappings and movings of furniture. Spiritualism made but little effect on my mother's mind [Mrs Charles Darwin] and she maintained an attitude of neither belief nor unbelief." A Century of Family Letters, 1904, Vol. ii, p. 269.
Darwin himself wrote [Jan. 18, 1874] about this seance
"We had great fun, one afternoon, for George hired a medium, who made the chairs, a flute, a bell, and candlestick, and fiery points jump about in my brother's dining-room, in a manner that astounded everyone, and took away all their breaths. It was in the dark, but George and Hensleigh Wedgwood held the medium's hands and feet on both sides all the time. I found it so hot and tiring that I went away before all these astounding miracles, or jugglery, took place. How the man could possibly do what was done passes my understanding. I came downstairs and saw all the chairs, etc., on the table, which had been lifted over the heads of those sitting
1 As Browning puts it
"What? If I told you all about the tricks?
Upon my soul-the whole truth and nought else, And how there's been some falsehood-for your part, Will you engage to pay my passage out, And hold your tongue until I'm safe on board?
Begin elsewhere anew !
Boston's a hole, the herring-pond is wide, V-notes are something, liberty still more, Beside, is he the only fool in the world?"
Mr Sludge, "The Medium," loc. titL pp. 184, 245. Browning's contact with Home appears
to. have been in 1857 or 1858. Sutherland Orr, Life and Letters of R. Browning, p. 216, 1891.
Dramatis personae containing Mr Sludge, "The Medium" dates from 1864. The Galton-Darwin
letters from 1872. Did Galton chance to read Browning? Home's habit of slipping across the
'herring-pond' when the environment was growing difficult for him seems to have, been
a 'Kepler' was one of a family of dogs that feared a butcher's shop and were furious at butchers. Galton writes " What you say about dogs' reasoning reminds me of a phrase used by the master of some performing dogs: '.Dogs, sir, do a deal of pondering'." See Nature, Vol. vu, p. 281, 1873.