Note illustrating Francis Galton's Views on Religion.
I found the following remarks in Francis Galton's handwriting among material collected for a new edition of Inquiries into Human Faculty. Its bearing on what has been said on pp. 257, 282, and in the footnote, p. 102 will be obvious. The date of the manuscript must be about 1892.
Probably every one has at some time had the feeling that if a dearly loved parent were taken from him, the grief and loneliness after the loss would be insupportable; yet parents die, and their children, after a burst of poignant grief, recover themselves and survive, and most persons of middle age are orphans, leading happy lives full of interests, and mellowed rather than saddened by recollections of the past. The early loves of men and women are intense; they are wholly bound up in one another and the words 'for ever' and the like are the stock expressions of their phraseology, but how transient in many cases are these dispositions. The mind is not wholly dependent on its anchorage to any one given sentiment; if it be cut adrift, at least in early life, after a short while new interests will arise, to which it will moor itself as securely as before. The sense of necessary dependence on any given sentiment may be very strong, but its reality is belied by the experience of what daily occurs around us. Thus if a suspicion were lodged in the mind of a fervent Roman Catholic that the Virgin Mary exercised no protective power over him, the dread lest that suspicion should grow into a conviction would be a far worse terror to him than the anticipation of any earthly orphanage; yet Protestants holding that view lead lives as calm as those of the Catholics. Similarly, the thought to the Christian of being orphaned of Christ is no less horrible; but Jews and Unitarians, some of high position in society, and others, philosophers and men of letters, having no belief in the incarnation and intercessory powers of Christ, live and die as contentedly as Christians. So again, the thought of being orphaned of the paternal guidance of a being having the peculiar attributes of the Jewish Jehovah, would give a terrible shock to many, yet it is notorious that the majority of thoughtful Germans and numerous English Agnostics, whose views on other subjects are treated with general respect and who lead well balanced and contented lives, do not entertain that belief. It is astonishing how devoid of sympathetic intelligence most men are. They are afraid to face the fact that good and able men disagree fundamentally on the elements of religious doctrine, and that therefore no certainty can be claimed for any one of these doctrines. At the best they are only persuasions.