360 Life and Letters of Francis Galton
in defining vividly, completely, and concisely the characteristics (medical and other) of the various members of their respective families, and in illustrating the presence or absence of hereditary influences."
We have seen how Galton grew from traveller to geographer, from geographer to ethnologist, from ethnologist to anthropologist, and now the last stage appears : he is chiefly interested in anthropometry because of the contributions he expects from it to heredity ; the anthropologist becomes a geneticist. Looked at superficially Galton's work seems like a comprehensive but confused mosaic of many branches of science. Studied in relation to his life we see a definite pattern, a picture of a long-continued mental development ; each branch of knowledge he acquired fell into its fitting place, and formed a stepping stone to a further advance.
His own interest in Medical Family Registers arises, he tells us, from
" all that can throw light on the physiological causes of the rise and decay of families, and consequently on that of races. Some diseases are persistently hereditary, and others are not; they are variously found in different varieties or subraces of men, and these have various other attributes including various degrees of fertility. We cannot as yet foretell, but we may hope hereafter to do so in a general way, which are the families naturally fated to decay and which to thrive, which are those who will die out and which will be prolific and fill the vacant space." (p. 245.)
In this paper Galton shows that he has realised more fully the difficulty about medical registers
"Most men and women shrink from having their hereditary worth recorded. There may be family diseases of which they hardly dare to speak, except on rare occasions, and then in whispered hints or obscure phrases, as though timidity of utterance could hush thoughts and as though what they fondly suppose to be locked-up domestic secrets may not be bruited about with exaggeration among the surrounding gossips. It seems to me ignoble that a man should be such a coward as to hesitate to inform himself fully of his hereditary liabilities, and unfair that a parent should deliberately refuse to register such family hereditary facts as may serve to direct the future of his children, and which they may hereafter be very desirous of knowing. Parents may refrain from doing so through kind motives; but there is no real kindness in the end." (pp. 245-6.)
Still Galton recognised that the difficulty remains, that the majority of men do fall into his category of ignoble cowards and will not record their family secrets as to disease. Accordingly he proposed to get over the difficulty by inducing medical men, under the bribe of £500 in prizes, to give confidential records of their own families. He hoped that the custom of medical family records having been introduced in this way, doctors would thereafter be not infrequently called upon to draw them up for the satisfaction of the patients themselves, and-Galton adds naively as a lure-" at their expense " ! The particulars Galton proposed should be included in the registers to be provided deal not only with medical details, but with race, conditions of life, marriage, fertility, vigour, keenness of sense, artistic capacity, intelligence, character, etc. He was clearly working up to much of the material he finally asked for from laymen in his "Family Records." A great part of the paper is taken up with the conditions under which the prizes he proposed would be given.