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178   Life and Letters of Franeis Galton

the Presidents of the several sections of the British Association, form a body of little less than two hundred men, now living, a considerable portion of whom stand in more than one of the above categories. Other methods of selection give fifty or a hundred additional names.

Falling as you do within the range of this inquiry, may I ask of you the favour of furnishing me with information) If you should desire any portions of what you may send to be considered as private, they will be used in no other way than to afford material for general conclusions.

I send herewith a schedule which contains the questions to which I am seeking replies.


It would not I think be indiscreet to give in two notable instances the replies as to "special talents, as for mechanism, practical business habits, music, mathematics, etc.," also those on hereditary characteristics.


Special talents, none, except for business, as evinced by keeping accounts, being regular in correspondence, and investing money very well; very methodical in my habits. Steadiness; great curiosity about facts, and their meaning; some love of the new and marvellous.

Somewhat nervous temperament, energy of body shown by much activity, and whilst I had health, power of resisting fatigue. An early riser in the morning. Energy of mind shown by vigorous and long-continued work on the same subject, as 20 years on the Origin of Species and 9 years on Cirripedia. Memory bad for dates or learning by rote; but good in retaining a general or vague recollection of many facts. Very studious, but not large acquirements. I think fairly independently, but I can give no instances. I gave up common religious belief almost independently from my own reflections. I suppose that I have shown originality in science, as I have made discoveries with regard to common objects. Liberal or radical in politics. Health good when young-bad for last 33 years.

Father. Practical business habits; made a large fortune and incurred no losses. Strong social affection and great sympathy with the pleasures of others; sceptical as to new things; curious as to facts; great foresight; not much public spirit; great generosity in giving away money and assistance. Freethinker in religious matters, great power of endurance.

Mother. Said to have been very agreeable in conversation.


Strong natural talent for mechanism, music and art in general, but all wasted and uncultivated. Believe I am reckoned a good chairman of a meeting. I always find that I acquire influence, generally more than I want, in bodies of men and that administrative and other work gravitates to my hands. Impulsive and apt to rush into all sorts of undertakings without counting cost or responsibility. Love my friends and bate my enemies cordially. Entire confidence in those whom I trust at all and much indifference towards the rest of the world. A profound religious tendency capable of fanaticism, but tempered by no less profound theological scepticism. No love of the marvellous as such, intense desire to know facts; no very intense love of my pursuits at present, but very strong affection for philosophical and social problems; strong constructive imagination; small foresight; no particular public spirit; disinterestedness arising from an entire want of care for the rewards and honours most men seek, vanity too big to be satisfied by them.

Father. A good musician and possessed a curious talent for drawing heads with pen and ink'. Impulsive but kindly; nothing otherwise remarkable.

Mother. Very impulsive and strong partizan; strong affections, marked religiosity and a constructive imagination worthy of a novelist. Physically and mentally I am far more like my mother than my father. Family generally, hot temper and tenacity of purpose; considerable power of expression in writing and speaking.

DOWN, BECKENIIAM, KENT. May 28th, 1873.

MY DEAR GALTON, I have filled up the answers as well as I could; but it is simply impossible for me to estimate the degrees.

My mother died during my infancy and I can say hardly anything about her. It is so impossible for anyone to judge about his own character that George first wrote several of the answers about myself, but I have adopted only those which seem to me true.

1 Inherited by his son: see Life, Vol. I, p. 4. The writer possesses a number of sketches by T. H. Huxley drawn on blotting paper and scraps of paper, probably at a committee meeting.