362 Life and Letters of Francis Galton
1883. Frank went to the British Association at Southport in September. In the early part of the year he corrected proofs of his Inquiries into Human Faculty, which was published by Easter. He also worked, helped by Croom-Robertson, at means of measuring the sensations. In the August Fortnightly he wrote an article on Medical Life Histories, offering Prizes up to £500. He spent much time on the details. His Record of Family Faculties has just come out, also the Life-History Album, which he edited. He was Chairman of the Anthropometric Committee of the British Association, which published this year its fourth and final Report, and also Chairman of the Local Scientific Societies Committee.
1884. More and more home seems the most fitting place for me and for Frank as he is always full of occupation. This last year he has been chiefly occupied in abstracting and collating from the Family Records for which he offered prizes to the amount of £500. About 150 of these Records were sent in by May 15th, and the statistics they afford will be food for many a month and possibly years. Then Frank took great interest in establishing an Anthro.pometric Laboratory at the International Health Exhibition, South Kensington, and gave no end of time and money to its prosecution ; he gained, however, full recognition from Sir James Paget and others, whose opinion he cared about .... In the summer my great desire to go abroad was stopped by cholera in the south of France and after long debate Frank settled on the English Lakes, and I was quite willing in default of my pet scheme, which I especially had cherished, as there was no English British Association to spoil our holiday, it being held at Montreal."
The Record tells us indeed as much as we know of the whole matter, namely, that in some way the medical profession disapproved of the prizes, and that they were then offered to laymen, who to a considerable extent responded'.
The interval, however, between the Fortnightly paper of 1883 and the appeal to laymen for family records was well employed, and Galton having got in touch with several leaders of medical opinion over the medical registers obtained their aid in preparing his Life-History Album. It may be well to deal with these matters before we return to the Anthropometric Laboratory.
i In the announcement of the prizes of December, 1883, this note occurs after the statement of conditions, etc.: "The above conditions are in lieu of those provisionally sketched out by Mr Galton in the Fortnightly Review of August, 1883, for the purpose 'of eliciting suggestions, and which were subsequently submitted in a more elaborate form to many members of the medical profession. Their present shape is fixed in accordance with the balance of opinions elicited by these preliminaries, which was in favour of throwing them open to general competition and not to medical men only, as at first intended." This is obviously only a formal explanation, and does not indicate the nature of the opinions against confining the scheme to men who were in a much better position than the layman to record family ailments and the causes of death. Possibly the article in the Fortnightly rather impeded than aided his plans; possibly the medical profession of those days resented the intrusion of an outsider into what they might consider to be their own domain, even if they had not cultivated. this portion of it, and showed no haste to do so. There is also another point which has much weight with me : Galton even to the time of his death had a great belief in working his projects through committees. I think it arose by reason of an innate modesty which was always seeking advice from others and accepting their opinions as worth more than his own. These committees often became unwieldy, were composed of incongruous and irresponsible elements, and on more than one occasion perverted or destroyed Galton's original scheme. It is conceivable that the LifeHistory Sub-Committee of the Collective Investigation Committee of the British Medical Association, of which Galton was Chairman, contained elements of this character. Anyone who has endeavoured like the writer to pick out from Galton's Record of Family Faculties a definite disease like phthisis by aid of its numerous lay synonyms or rather intentional pseudonyms will be rapidly convinced that the widening of the field of candidates was not an unmixed advantage. I had already written this note when I chanced to turn up Galton's preface to the second edition of the Life-History Album (p. ix). He there admits to the full the evil of working through a committee, but alas ! it did not cure him of the habit.