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396   Life and Letters of Francis Galton

The discussion which followed the lecture was of the usual character and not very profitable. The lecture, however, shows that Galton himself had not weakened in his faith in the advantages of his proposal. That the matter was dropped in 1890, without any published criticism of a damaging kind, will make it more difficult for success to be achieved when the matter comes up for discussion again, as it evidently must ; we shall be - told that the proposer himself abandoned the scheme in 1890, and why should it be resurrected? . The only answer can be that we really do not know why Galton gave up the fight. His reasons given twenty years after the campaign are not conclusive'. Who was the high authority of the War Office who wrote a careful minute, and what evidence is there that he possessed the requisite anthropological and physiological knowledge? Galton, as we have said before, was very apt to assume,.that other men's judgments, whatever their real intelligence, must certainly be better than his own, and the present was probably a case in point.


During the four years 1886-1889 Galton was President of the Anthropological Institute, and gave not only four presidential addresses, but took a considerable part in its proceedings, and worked for its welfare2. The first of his presidential addresses (1886) was on the inheritance of stature, and will be dealt with in our next chapter. The second presidential address (1887) is of a mixed character : it describes the then recent progress of anthropology, and it gives some suggestions and thoughts arising therefrom'. It is followed by an obituary notice of Dr George Busk, which I happen to know was written by Galton himself'. Among other matters he refers to the anthropological collections recently established in London and Oxford, to the projected Imperial Institute and to the foundation of the International

I Memories, p. 214. Some experiments undertaken at Marlborough and reported by Meyrick and Eve (Marlborough College Natural History Society, 1889) seem to me very wide of the point. The actual anthropometric measurements were placed before eleven masters

who were asked to mark them according to their own arbitrary opinion having regard to the boys' ages. Probably none of those masters bad any idea of the variations of and the correlations betwen the measurements; it is hardly likely that they had the physiological or medical knowledge- adequate for appreciating the relative values of the tests, nor any idea of how the individual boys would rank in a population of a like class. The conclusion that "there is probably greater vagueness in this examination than in most school examinations" was probably perfectly correct as applied to an examination for physical fitness conducted in such a manner.

2 The Report of the Council for 1888 contains the words : "Mr Francis Galton's second term of office, as President, has now expired, and the Council desires to put on record its sense of the valuable services which he has rendered to the Institute and to the cause of Anthropological Science in general, during the past four years. The many ways in which Mr Galton has promoted the interests of the Institute demand, in an exceptional manner, the grateful acknowledgment of the members." Journal of the Anthropological Institute, Vol. xviii, p. 400.

$ Journal of the Anthropological Institute, Vol. xvi, pp. 387-402.

4 Galton wrote a considerable number of notices of dead friends, Spottiswoode, Marianne North, Herbert Spencer and George Busk, among others. They are graceful tributes to his friends' work.