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108   Life and Letters of Francis Galton

paper he communicated to Nature on August 11, 1904 (Vol. LXX, pp. 354-6) entitled : "Distribution of Successes and of Natural Ability among the Kinsfolk of Fellows of the Royal Society." Galton received more than 200 replies to a circular with a blank schedule (see our pp. 105-6) which he had sent to the Fellows. In this paper he deals with the 110 which arrived up to a certain date, and contained one or more noteworthy kinsfolk of the Fellow. Galton introduces a slightly arbitrary system of marking, namely 3, 2, 1 or 0 marks to measure more or less noteworthiness, but gives lists of what sort of positions and honours he paid attention to. All Fellows of the Royal Society were given the highest or starred class with 3 marks. In many cases the judgment as to noteworthiness depended on the opinion of the F.R.S. who filled in the schedule, more especially when it concerned the women of his family. Those who will take the trouble to examine the book later published by Galton and Schuster (see our pp. 113-121) will see how differently various Fellows rated "noteworthiness" in their own families ; some consider success as merchant or solicitor, or even the becoming an advocate, as a noteworthy achievement, while others would probably never for a moment suppose such occurrences in their family as more than the ordinary routine of middle-class professional life. Galton for obvious reasons does not provide the marks he allotted to such noteworthiness, and he probably marked it low, but the fact that he gave the highest number of marks to every Fellow of the Royal Society makes his present biographer somewhat sceptical as to the value of his system in grading ability; at the one end you may have a born scientific genius who revolutionises men's ways of thinking of nature, at the other the professional scientist, not known outside his own country, scarcely beyond his own university, and in no way more able than the normal man in any profession who makes a living by his calling. Admittedly Galton's task was a very difficult one and probably his method may have been, if rough, sufficiently accurate to demonstrate the results he considers to flow from it. Let us consider some of these results

In the first place he gives a Table, we may notice, for the successes of male kin of Fellows of the Royal Society through A (Male) and B (Female) lines. In this Table the columns headed "Index of Success" are the total

Successes of Kinsmen of Fellows of the Royal Society.


A. Through Male Lines

B. Through Female Lines


Index of Success


Index of Success

fa fa bro

fa bro son

fa fa

fa bro





me me bro

me si son

me fa

me bro







Total -


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