Recognized HTML document

86   Life and Letters of Francis Galton

- I have given what the reader may consider undue space to this one magazine article, until he comes to see its relation to Galton's later views. It is really an epitome of the great bulk of Galton's work for the rest of his life; in fact all his labours on heredity, anthropometry, psychology and statistical method seem to take their roots in the ideas of this paper. It might almost have, been written as a resume of his labours after they were completed, rather than as a prologue to the yet to be accomplished. It is not only that Galton here gives us clearly his religious creed-religion has - ceased for him to have a supernatural and taken on a purely anthropological value-but he formulates the work he intends to do, and actually did do in the remaining forty-five years of his life. Few realise that Galton was already in 1864 a thorough-going eugenist, that here in the prime of his life-in his 42nd year-he stood free of all the old beliefs which he implicitly accepted ten years earlier'. He acknowledges that his freedom was due to Darwin. But he does not hint that he had stept out beyond Darwin. For Darwin wrote

"You ask whether I shall discuss 'man.' I think I shall avoid the subject, as so surrounded with prejudices, though I fully admit it is the highest and most interesting problem for the naturalist2 "

and Galton said

"I shall treat of man and see what the theory of heredity of variations and the principle of natural selection mean when applied to man."

So he came to sketch out his future work and whither he thought it would lead him in the course of years. Reading this article we see that his researches in heredity, in anthropometry, in psychometry and statistics were not independent studies, they were all auxiliary to his main object-the improvement in the race of man. Those who, ignoring what Galton and others have done, would cast doubt on the inheritance of the mental and moral characters, at once withdraw the foundation stone of Galton's lifework. That principle was essential to his views on the past evolution of man, was the mainstay of his religious belief, and the rock on which he built his scheme for man's future progress. For him the chief difference between barbarous and civilised man lay not in their physical qualities but in their mental or moral aptitudes, and all recent progress has been made by the action .of natural selection on these hereditary characteristics.

It was by furthering this work of selection, by, in a broad sense, the further domestication of man, that Galton hoped to produce supermen. And, however desirable later writers, ignoring Galton, have proclaimed this end to be, they have provided no rational and scientific means, such as he did, of attaining it. Natural, albeit idle curiosity would like to know how Galton's orthodox friends and clerical relations met this bolt from the blue. The only letter, however, that has reached me from 1865 is one of May 31st

' See my account of his Art of Travel, p. 4.

2 Letter of Darwin to Wallace, 1857. Between 1857 and 1871 Darwin's views of these prejudices changed. I venture to think Galton's voice crying in the wilderness had aided in the preparation of public opinion.