Recognized HTML document

78   Life and Letters of Francis Galton

and finds that only one-third of them have been married and had children. After drawing attention to the ages which thought it quite natural that the strongest lance should win the fairest lady in the tournament, Galton concludes the first part of his lecture half humorously, half earnestly as follows

"Let us, then, give reins to our fancy and imagine a Utopia-or a Laputa if you will-in which a system of competitive examination for girls, as well as for youths, had been so developed as to embrace every important quality of mind and body, and where a considerable sum was yearly allotted to the endowment of such marriages as promised to yield children who would grow into eminent servants of the State. We may picture to ourselves an annual ceremony in that Utopia or Laputa, in which the Senior Trustee of the Endowment Fund would address ten deeply-blushing young men, all twenty-five years old, in the following terms : `Gentlemen, I have to announce the results of a public examination, conducted on established principles; which show that you occupy the foremost places in your year, in respect to those qualities of talent, character, and bodily vigour, which are proved, on the whole, to do most honour and best service to our race. An examination has also been conducted on established principles among all the young ladies of this country who are now of the age of twenty-one, and I need hardly remind you, that this examination takes note of grace, beauty, health, good temper, accomplished housewifery and disengaged affections, in addition to noble qualities of heart and brain. By a careful investigation of the marks you have severally obtained, and a comparison of them, always on established principles, with those obtained by the most distinguished among the young ladies, we have been able to select ten of their names with special reference to your individual qualities. It appears that marriages between you and these ten ladies, according to the list I hold in my hand, would offer the probability of unusual happiness to yourselves, and what is of paramount interest to the State, would probably result in an extraordinarily talented issue. Under these circumstances if any or all of these marriages should be agreed upon the Sovereign herself will give away the brides, at a high and solemn festival six months hence in Westminster Abbey. We on our part are prepared, in each case, to assign 5,0001. as a wedding present, and to defray the cost of maintaining and educating your children, out of the ample funds entrusted to our disposal by the State.'

If a twentieth part of the cost and pains were spent in measures for the improvement of the human race that are spent in the improvement of the breed of horses and cattle, what a galaxy of genius might we not create! We might introduce prophets and high priests of civilisation into the world, as surely as we can propagate idiots by mating cretins. Men and women of the present day are, to those we might hope to bring into existence, what the pariah dogs of the streets of an Eastern town are to our own highly-bred varieties.

The feeble nations of the world are necessarily giving way before the nobler varieties of mankind; and even the best of these, so far as we know them, seem unequal to their work. The average culture of mankind is become so much higher than it was, and the branches of knowledge and history so various and extended, that few are capable even of comprehending the exigencies of our modern civilisation; much less of fulfilling them. We are living in a sort of intellectual anarchy, for the want of master-minds. The general intellectual capacity of our leaders requires to be raised, and also to be differentiated. We want abler commanders, statesmen, .thinkers, inventors, and artists. The natural qualifications of our race are no greater than they used to be in semi-barbarous times, though the conditions amid which we are born are vastly more complex than of old. The foremost minds of the present day seem to stagger and halt under an intellectual load too heavy for their powers." (pp. 165-6.)

Here was Galton fifty years ago calling out for the `superman,' much as the younger men of to-day are doing. But he differed from them in that he saw a reasoned way of producing the superman, while they do not seem to get further than devoutly hoping that either by a lucky `sport' or an adequate exercise of will power he will one day appear !

One point-possibly the tragedy of his own life-Galton overlooked you may be a man of wide intelligence, of a gifted stock with fertile parents,