222 Life and Letters of Francis Galton
On this Galton remarks: "It will be seen here, as in every other faculty that has been discussed, the male surpasses the female'." Elsewhere Galton writes'
"The trials I have as yet made on the sensibility of different persons confirm the reasonable expectation that it would, on the whole, be highest among the intellectually ablest. At first owing to my confusing the quality of which I am speaking with tiat of nervous irritability, I fancied that women with delicate nerves who are distressed by noise, sunshine, etc., would have acute powers of discrimination. But this I found not to be the case. In morbidly sensitive persons,.both pain and sensation are induced by lower stimuli than in the healthy, but the number of just perceptible grades of sensation between the two is not necessarily altered.
I found, as a rule, that men have more delicate powers of discrimination than women, and the business experience of life seems to confirm this view. The tuners of pianofortes are men, and so, I understand, are the tasters of tea and wine, the sorters of wool, and the like. These latter occupations are well salaried, because it is of the first moment to the merchant that he should be rightly advised on the real value of what he is about to purchase or to sell. If the sensitivity of women were superior to that of men, the self-interest of merchants would lead to their being always employed, but as the reverse is the case the opposite supposition is likely to
be the true one."
The suggestion here made was worth consideration, but only limited weight can be given to it, when we consider how many callings at that date were closed to women, without their being really unfitted for them. Greater stress must, however, be placed upon Galton's actual observations such as those just recorded for the audibility of high notes. At a later date 3 Galton made experiments on the sensitivity of men and women with regard to their discrimination in touch, using as an aesthesiometer a pair of dividers applied to the nape of the neck. He found that women were superior to men in tactile sensibility in the ratio of about 7 to 6. Galton's result has been confirmed by many later investigators. He also shows in the same paper that women are more variable in sensitivity of touch than men. He dealt with 932 males and 377 females, and worked by the method of median and quartiles. There are irregularities in the tabled data, however, which suggest some anomalies in the recorder's (Sergeant Randall's) method of measurement; they are probably inadequate to influence the main results.
Thus Galton's original generalisation was too sweeping. If we look to the evolutionary standpoint and indulge for a moment in hypotheses, we might suppose natural selection endowed the hunter and warrior with great sensitivity in the matter of sight and sound, while sensitivity to touch after capture may well have played a part in the surrender of the female and successful mating in a much earlier stage of living forms than the human'.
(b) For Sight : Keenness of Vision, measured by an ingenious arrangement, one size of type, diamond, only being used, and the specimen. cards, all
' Loc. cit. pp. 278, 286.
z Journal of the Anthropological Institute, Vol. xii, pp. 472-3, 1883.
3 "The Relative Sensitivity of Men and Women," Nature, Vol. L, p. 40, 1894 (May).
° One may reasonably recognise female sensitivity to touch in the play of tail, rubbing of
fur, and other excitatory actions of the male dog in courtship.