Correspondence with Alphonse de Candolle 139
de parents inconnus et tres varies. Je ne sais ce qu'on pourrait conclure de leurs aptitudes. Rousseau avait mis ses enfants a 1'hSpital. On s'est demande s'ils 4taient devenus quelquechose. Je crois qu'ils sont morts jeune vu les conditions detestables des anciens hopitaux de Paris.
Je vous serai fort oblige de m'envoyer l'article de Fraser's Magazine dont vous me parlez, de meme que de toute redaction avec ou sans critique de mon travail que vous auriez la bonne de publier. En attendant je vous prie de me croire, Monsieur, votre tres devoue collegue,
ALPH. DE CANDOLLE.
P.S. J'ai fait achever par le libraire un exemplaire de mon livre a la Societe Royale. J'espere qu'il est parvenu.
42, RUTLAND GATE, LONDON. May 7/73
MY DEAR SIR, It gave me much pleasure to receive your letter. I assure you I feel like yourself, that the subjects on which we differ are altogether subordinate to the common interest we have in arriving at the truth on the same line of inquiry. My article in the Fortnightly was much shorter than I should have liked to have made it, but there was a difficulty about space and I crammed all I could in what was given to my disposal.
Of the many topics in your work left unnoticed I regretted much not being able to speak of your most just criticism of the misuse of the word 'Nature.' For my part, I will never offend again unless through a slip of the pen. Your work has been read by many of my scientific friends here, and a passage in it prompted one of the most effective parts of by far the most effective speech,-that of Dr Lyon Playfair,-in the recent Parliamentary debate upon Irish University Education. The debate, as perhaps you may have seen, was one of extreme importance to the future of science in Ireland, and the question was how far it should be submitted to or emancipated from Catholic control. Lyon Playfair quoted the effect of Calvinism in Geneva on science, during the time of its ascendancy in wholly suppressing it, which was shown by the immediate start made by science as soon as the strict dogmatic influence began to wane. He spoke with excellent effect and success, and I know that he derived at least that part of his argument from you, because. I had myself directed his attention to your work previously as having a direct bearing on his then proposed speech.
Thank you for your interesting fact about impregnation under the effect of alcoholism. One of course needs many such facts and it occurs to me that perhaps some direct experiment might be made, say with white mice, which breed very frequently and largely, are easily reared and cheap to keep. The he-mouse might be fed on some suitable narcotic stimulant before being put in with the female. I have no idea what stimulant would be suitable, one would have to try cannabis sativa, belladonna, opium, etc. A strong instance (if accurately recorded) of alcoholism combined both with the evil influences Qf close interbreeding and of old age on the part of one of the parents, in producing no bad effect on the offspring, is that of Lot and his daughters (Genesis xix. 31).
You are good enough to remark on my views about improving the human breed, showing the difficulty of detecting and of discovering defects which families scrupulously conceal. But then on the other hand, it must be borne in mind that my primary object is not to deter the bad from, but to encourage the good breeds in, making early marriages. Those who are conscious of being of a good stock would court inquiry, for by having a warranty they would be advantaged. People take such extraordinary pains to found families that they could easily be taught the importance of marrying their sons and daughters to persons likely to cooperate in begetting children capable of supporting the dignity of the family. Hence youths having warranties would be sought after far more than the same persons are sought after now. After many generations, the absence of a warranty would look suspicious.-Encouragement of the best is the surest and safest way of discouraging the inferior. We are such a set of mongrels that except in extreme cases we should not be justified in 'banning' any marriage. All we can say is, that some marriages are more hopeful than others. I therefore go no further at present, than urging that hopeful marriage should be encouraged.
If an autumn's tour should take me to Geneva, I trust you will not think it a liberty if I do myself the pleasure of seeking your personal acquaintance, with a view to some conversation on the many subjects in which we have a strong common interest.
Believe me very faithfully yours, FRANCIS GALTON.
To M. ALPHONSE DE CANDOLLE.