174 Life and Letters of Francis Galton
Galton concludes as follows, therein re-asserting the difference between somatic and gametic qualities, and at the same time the value of the statistical method
"One result of this investigation is to show very clearly that large variation in individuals from their parents is not incompatible with the strict doctrine of heredity, but is a consequence of it wherever the breed is impure. I am desirous of applying these considerations to the intel
lectual and moral gifts of the human race, which is more mongrelised than that of any other domesticated animal. It has been thought by some that the fact of children frequently showing marked individual variation in ability from that of their parents is a proof that intellectual and moral gifts are not strictly transmitted by inheritance. My arguments lead to exactly the opposite result. I show that great individual variation is a necessity under present conditions; and I maintain that results derived from large averages are all that can be required, and all we could expect to obtain, to prove that intellectual and moral gifts are as strictly matters of
inheritance as any purely physical qualities." (p. 402.)
It is curious that in the face of such a passage as this, there should still exist writers who have not grasped that the inheritance of the mental and moral qualities was a foundation stone of Galton's creed of life. His whole theory of inheritance was developed to account for supposed difficulties in this principle raised by his critics. And the principle itself-the equal inheritance of the psychical and physical characters-was the basis of his proposal to better the race of man by giving primary weight to his nature, and only secondary importance to his nurture. This paper of Galton's is now half-a-century old; I know of no earlier paper which pointed out so definitely the distinction between, the somatic and gametic characters, which emphasised the continuity of the germ-plasm', which raised at the very least doubts as to the inheritance of acquired characters, which asserted that the personal or bodily characters of the offspring were not the product of those of the parents, and taught that the resemblance of father and son was really like that of brothers, for all were products of selected elements of a continuous germplasm. I feel that adequate credit has rarely been given by biologists to Francis Galton for these results, and there is no excuse for this neglect, for the paper in question was not published in an obscure journal, but in the proceedings of the foremost English learned society.
I can only hope that, however late in the day, this Life of Galton may aid in demonstrating the real parentage of -certain now widely-current ideas.
We may now return to the rabbit correspondence.
9, ROYAL CRESCENT, MARINE PARADE, BRIGHTON. August 11/72.
MY DEAR DARWIN, The buck is quite well-the enclosed note just received explains everything. Now that Dr Carter has returned, he will see that all is rightly done. Will you kindly tell your servant to explain to the carrier? Very sincerely yours, FRANCIS GALTON.
I To show how opposed this was to Darwin's views I may cite the 4nimals and Plants..., 1st Edn. Vol. II, p. 383: "The reproductive organs do not actually create the sexual elements; they merely determine or permit the aggregation of the gemmules." "Use or disuse etc. which induced any modification in a structure should at the same time or previously act on the cells... and consequently would act on the gemmules" (p. 382). "Hence, speaking strictly, it is not the reproductive elements nor the buds, which generate new organisms, but the cells themselves throughout the body" (p. 374), i.e. by the production of gemmules which aggregate in buds or sexual elements.