154 Life and Letters of Francis Galton
capitalist was forthcoming to fructify it by a valuable, if far from fully adequate, endowment?
There is one last citation which I must make from this chapter, because it has as much bearing on our nation to-day as it had fifty years ago; also it conveys Galton's views on those "social duties" which not a little fell to his lot
"The influences which we have been considering are those which urge men to pursue science rather than literature, politics, or other careers; but we must not forget that there are deep and obscure movements of national life, which may quicken or depress the effective ability of
the nation as a whole. I have not considered the reasons why one period is more productive of great men than another, my inquiry being limited, for the reasons stated in the first pages of this book, to one period and nation. But it may be remarked, that the national condition most favourable to general efficiency is one of self-confidence and eager belief of great works capable of accomplishment. The opposite attitude is indifferentism, founded on sheer uncertainty of what is best to do, or on despair of being strong enough to achieve useful results; a feeling such as that which has generally existed in recent years among wealthy men in respect to pauperism and charitable gifts. A common effect of indifferentism is to dissipate the energy of the nation upon trifles; and this tendency seems to be a crying evil of the present day in our own country. In illustration of this view, I will quote the following extract from a letter of one of my correspondents, who I should add is singularly well qualified to form a just opinion on the matter to which he so forcibly calls attention :-`The principal hindrance to inquiry and all other intellectual progress in the people of whom I see much, is the elaborate machinery for wasting time which has been invented and recommended under the name of "social duties." Considering the mental and material capital of which the richer classes have the disposal, I believe that much more than half the progressive force of the nation runs to
waste from this cause'." (pp. 227-8.)
The evils pointed out by Galton have intensified rather than diminished since 1874, and especially since the Great War. Scientists have become more and more professional, that is there are fewer and fewer men of means, who pursue science for the pleasure of it. Science is now almost entirely one of the professional roads to a living. An examination of the testamentary dispositions published from day to day in the newspapers shows how little the meaning of science for national welfare, how little the social value of -knowledge, have penetrated the minds of the wealthy. `Conscience money' is amply provided for a variety of charities, many of which are with high probability anti-social in their effects. There is small doubt that salvation by `good works' is still dominant in the minds of many, and `good works' are still identified with charity by the majority of testators. A wealthy man will breed pheasants for sport, or dogs and pigs for prize points', but he would not spend a fraction of the money in striving to discover the laws of heredity, which might, if we had knowledge of them, aid not only national agriculture, but what Galton termed viriculture. The `social duties' demand flowers, vegetables and fruit, and these a large establishment of gardeners and their underlings. But it is left to the florists to discover and make new varieties, and horticulture is part of the menial service of the establishment, not an intellectual pursuit of the proprietor ; while his dogand cattle-breeding follow narrow conventional lines, and their success is measured by the number of silver cups on a sideboard.
1 Usually settled by the ignorant with a total disregard of the usefulness of the animal and in complete ignorance of its natural history.