88 Life and Letters of Francis Galton
grapher indeed needs courage, when he starts upon the task of conveying to his readers even a moiety of the original ideas-both as to methods and conclusions-offered by this mass of material. It would need undoubtedly a robust conscience to realise that not for many years, possibly never again, will one individual read through practically the whole of Galton's published and unpublished writings, and then be confident that no idea of ripe suggestiveness, which might have developed in the minds of others into a noble scientific or social growth, has escaped his record ! And yet the biography of a man of such a productive mentality and of such a lengthy activity as Galton should not only describe the many-sidedness of its subject, but enable readers of many tastes to find out what is of special interest to them in his writings. Galton's biographer has to provide an index to a veritable encyclopaedia, as well as trace the evolution of an original mind. The general scheme of Hereditary Genius was outlined in the first part of "Hereditary Talent and Character," but Galton's more complete demonstration of the heredity of mental aptitudes took five further years of work'.
Galton's book is written with more gravity and less suggestiveness than his preliminary magazine article, and this is fitting.
- "I propose to show in this book that a man's natural abilities are derived by inheritance, under exactly the same limitations as are the form and physical features of the whole organic world. Consequently, as it is easy, notwithstanding these limitations, to obtain by careful selection a permanent breed of dogs or horses gifted with peculiar powers of running, or of doing anything else, so it would be quite practicable to produce a highly-gifted race of men by judicious marriages during several consecutive generations. I shall show that social agencies of `an ordinary character, whose influences are little suspected, are at this moment working towards the degradation of human nature, and that others are working towards its improvement. I conclude that each generation has enormous power over the natural gifts of those that follow, and maintain that it is a duty that we owe to humanity to investigate the range of that power, and to exercise it in a way that, without being unwise towards ourselves, shall be most advantageous to future inhabitants of the earth." (p. 1.)
In his preface Galton tells us that he was drawn to the subject of hereditary genius in the course of a purely ethnological inquiry into the mental peculiarities of different races.
As the quotation at the head of this chapter indicates, Galton had been led from Geography to Man, but when he came to examine, the peculiar characteristics of human races, he found their psychical characteristics as marked and as permanent as their physical characteristics. Such a result
' In L. G.'s Record these years are represented by continual poor health in both Husband and Wife. They are also years of long continental travels and many home visits. We read under 1869 for example: "My health very troublesome till June and a great hindrance to my doing much. Frank in good health and able to dine out again. Went to Bertie Terrace [Francis Galton's mother's] at Easter and was not the better for it. Emma ['Sister Emma'] came to us in March and June. Lucy Wheler [Mrs Studdy] in May. Started in July for the Tyrol and Bavaria, Venice and home by the Spriigen, returned Oct. 4. Met the R; Gurneys and Mrs Bather at Basle. Went to Julian Hill [Mrs Galton's mother's] and Bertie Terrace -before settling down. Dear Mr North died October 26 at Hastings. Frank's book 'Hereditary -Genius' published in November, but not well received, but liked by Darwin and men of note. He began his experiments in Transfusion and became a member of the Zoological and Royal Institution. I attended Tyndall's Lectures after Easter. Spent Christmas at home and alone."