236 Life and Letters of Francis Galton Of these results Galton writes that they
"have forcibly shown to me the great imperfection in my generalising powers; and I am sure that most persons would find the same if they made similar trials. Nothing is a surer sign of high intellectual capacity than the power of quickly seizing and easily manipulating ideas of a very abstract nature. Commonly we grasp them very imperfectly, and hold on to their skirts with great difficulty. In comparing the order in which the ideas presented themselves, I find that a decided precedence is assumed by the Histrionic ideas, whenever they occur; that verbal associations occur first and with great quickness on many occasions, but on the whole they are only a little more likely to occur first than second; and that Imagery is decidedly more likely to be the second, than the first of the associations called up by a word. In short, gesturelanguage appeals the most quickly to our feelings." (pp. 161-2.)
"Perhaps the strongest of the impressions left by these experiments regards the multifariousness of the work done by the mind in a state of half-unconsciousness, and the valid reason they afford for believing in the existence of still deeper strata of mental operations, sunk wholly below the level of consciousness, which may account for such mental phenomena as cannot otherwise be explained'. We gain an insight by these experiments into the marvellous number and nimbleness of our mental associations, and we also learn that they are very far indeed from being infinite in their variety. We find that our working stock of ideas is narrowly limited, but that the mind continually recurs to them in conducting its operations, therefore its tracks necessarily become more defined and its flexibility diminished as age advances." (p. 162.)
There can be little doubt that Galton broke new ground in these papers both as to substance and method. - But they produced little repercussion among English psychologists; not improbably because it is an easier task to experiment on another's mind than on one's own mind.
Galton's work of 1879 undoubtedly turned his thoughts to Mental Imagery, and he issued in November of that year a schedule containing Questions on the Faculty of Visualising'. On the data obtained from this questionnaire Galton published in Mind for July, 1880, a paper entitled "Statistics of Mental Imagery'." The scope of this paper was twofold namely to indicate how very varied is the intensity of visualising in the male members of the English Race and to indicate how Galton's method of ranking or of percentiles (see our Chapter XII) could be applied to such psychometric statistics.
' In the Nineteenth Century •(p. 433) Galton writes : "The unconscious operations of the mind frequently far transcend the conscious ones in intellectual importance. Sudden inspirations and those flashings out of results which cost a great deal of conscious effort to ordinary people, but are the natural outcome of what is known as genius, are undoubtedly products of unconscious cerebration. Conscious actions are motived, and motives can make themselves attended to, whether consciousness be present or not. Consciousness seems to do little more than attest the fact that the various organs of the brain do not work with perfect ease or cooperation. Its position appears to be that of a helpless spectator of but a minute fraction of a huge amount of automatic brain work."
2 Galton suggested the morning's breakfast table as an object for visualisation and requested answers to the following questions: (1) Illumination? (2) Definition? (3) Completeness? (4) Colouring? (5) Extent of Field of View? He then turned to various concrete examples of visualisation and asked his examinees to state whether they could visualise (6) Printed pages? (7) Furniture? (8) Persons? (9) Scenery? (10) Geography? (11) Military Movements? (12) Mechanism? (13) Geometry? (14) Numerals? (15) Card Playing? (16) Chess? There is no doubt that the answers he received under (14) were the original source of his later work on "Visualised Numerals."
' Vol. v, pp. 301-18.