254 Life -and Letters of Francis GGalton
As I have remarked, Galton describes and figures only a small part of his material, but enough to succeed
"in leaving a just impression of the vast variety of mental constitution that exists in the world, and how impossible it is for one man to lay his mind strictly alongside that of another, except in. the rare instances of close hereditary resemblance." (p. 154.)
The next section of the work is entitled Visionaries, and consists substantially of the material we have discussed in our resume of the "Visions of Sane Persons " (see our pp. 243-45). The essential point is the frequency with -which the automatic construction of fantastic figures takes place, and their continued sequence without control of the volition. The transition of such visions to hallucinations was regarded by Galton as only a matter of the intensity of nerve excitement, which might be produced by ill-health, brain-storms or drugs. The following section of the -book under discussion is termed "Nurture and Nature."
"Man," writes our author, "is so educable an animal that it is difficult to distinguish between that part of his character which has been acquired through education. and circumstance and that which was in the original grain of his constitution." (p. 177.)
Galton considers that the character of a nation may not change, but a different phase or, mood of it may become dominant owing to some accident causing the special representatives of that phase to be for a time national leaders.
"The love of art, gaiety, adventure, science, religion may be severally paramount at different times." (p. 178.)
Now follows a passage which I think must be cited as a whole, for it needs some consideration
"One of the most notable changes that can come over a nation is :from ,a state corresponding to that of our past dark ages into one like that of the Renaissance. In the first ease the minds of men are wholly taken up with routine work, and in copying what their predecessors have done; they degrade into servile imitators and submissive slaves to the past. In the second case some circumstance or idea has finally discredited the authorities that impeded intellectual growth, and has unexpectedly revealed new possibilities. Then the mind of the nation is set free, a direction of research is given to it, and all the exploratory and hunting instincts are awakened. These sudden eras of great intellectual progress cannot be due to any alteration in the natural faculties of the race, because there has not been time for that, but to their being directed to productive channels. Most of the leisure of the men of every nation is spent in a round of reiterated actions; if it could be spent in continuous advance along new lines of research in unexplored regions, vast progress would be sure to be made. It has been the privilege -of this generation to have had fresh fields of research pointed out to them by Darwin, and to have undergone a new intellectual birth under the inspiration of his fertile
genius." (pp. 178-9.)
The comparison of the Darwinian movement with that of the Renaissance is a very apt one. But in neither case was it the "mind of the nation which was set free. The movement in Germany, for instance, merely transferred the masses of the people physically and mentally from one bondage;to a second, and where the new ideas did reach them they became symbols of an economic revolt, as in the Peasants' Rebellion, rather than marks of great intellectual progress. So it has been with the Darwinian doctrines, they did just reach and interest the more thinking working men in the seventies,