262 Life and Letters of Francis Galton
extreme divergences at least confirm Galton's statement that the mental differences of mankind are so great that evolution has ample material to select from !
Galton starts his philosophical creed with a section on The Observed Order of Events: his thesis here is that the universe is a single entity and we ourselves are part of a mysterious whole "behind which lies the awful mystery of the origin of all existence," the purpose of the universe. He considers that the conditions which direct the evolution of living forms are on the whole marked by their persistence in improving the birthright of successive generations.
"They determine at much cost of individual comfort, that each plant and animal shall on the general average be endowed at its birth with more suitable natural faculties than those of its representative in the preceding generation. They ensure, in short, that the inborn qualities of the terrestrial tenantry shall become steadily better adapted to their homes and to their mutual needs." (p. 299.)
"If we summon before our imagination in a single mighty host, the whole number of living things from the earliest date at which terrestrial life can be deemed to have probably existed, to the latest future at which we may think it can probably continue, and if we cease to dwell on the mis-carriages of individual lives or single generations, we shall plainly perceive that the actual tenantry of the world progresses in a direction that may in some sense be
described as the greatest happiness of the greatest number." (p. 300.)
Galton remarks how, while the motives of individuals in the lowest stages were purely self-regarding, they have broadened out as evolution went on. Subjects of affection and interest other than self become increasingly numerous as intelligence and depth of character develop, and as civilisation extends. He notes that as civilisation has advanced the sacrifice of personal repose to the performance of social duties has become more common.
"Life in general may be looked upon as a republic where the individuals are for the most part unconscious that while they are working for themselves they are also working for the public good." (p. 300.)
This was indeed a refreshingly optimistic opinion ! Even the period which the physics of that day fixed for the available heat of the sun, upon which organic life depends, did not daunt Galton. There are countless abortive seeds and germs; among a thousand men selected at random some are crippled, others insane, idiotic or otherwise incurably imperfect in body or mind; what if our "world may rank among other worlds as one of these"? We know that our own-life is built up of the separate lives of billions of cells of which our body is composed. They form a vast nation, members of which are always dying, while others grow to take their place. The continual sequence of these little lives-unconscious of the whole-has its outcome in the larger and conscious life of the man as a whole. Even this world of ours and
"our part in the universe may possibly in some distant way be analogous to that of cells in an organised body, and our personalities may be the transient but essential elements of an immortal and cosmic mind." (p. 302.)
Thus Galton, the pantheist, again puts forth as a possibility his beautiful, but unproven and unprovable dream (cf. our p. 114). All he can say of it is that at least it is not inconsistent with observed facts. Yet even while he