126 Life and Letters of Francis Galton
well painted buttons were thereby created. The rule of three seemed to show that if so much could be done with three strokes what an enormous amount of skilled work must go to the painting of a portrait which required 20,000 of them. At the same time, it made me wonder whether painters had mastered the art of getting the maximum result from their labour. I make this remark as a confessed Philistine. Anyhow I hope that future sitters will beguile their tedium in the same way that I did, and tell the results*."
Committee for the Measurement of Plants and Animals. It is impossible to pass over in Galton's Life the last decade of the nineteenth century without some reference to this Committee; it took up too much of Galton's energies and consumed too much of his valuable time to remain without some notice in his biography. But the time has hardly yet arrived, when it is possible to write fully about it, and cite at length the voluminous letters and other documents which indicate the parts played by various individuals in first hindering and then entirely perverting the original purposes of the Committee.
The Committee was appointed at Galton's suggestion by the Royal Society Council on January 18, 1894, and consisted of Francis Galton (Chairman), Francis Darwin and Professors Macalister, Meldola, Poulton and Weldon (Secretary), with the very definite purpose of "conducting Statistical Inquiries into the Measurable Characteristics of Plants and Animals." The first report was made in 1896, and consisted of a detailed account of Weldon's measurements on Carcinus mcenas, and also his "Remarks on Variation in Animals and Plants ; ." In the latter paper Weldon emphasised his own view that while "sports" in certain exceptional cases may contribute to evolution, ordinary "continuous" variations were a more probable source of change and further stated, what is almost self-evident, that "the questions raised by the Darwinian hypothesis are purely statistical, and the statistical method is the only one at present obvious by which that hypothesis can be experimentally checked." In asserting this he was only saying that heredity and selection in Nature are mass phenomena and must be treated as such. To those who have read the earlier pages of this chapter, it will be clear that Weldon's view as to the relatively small importance for evolution of. "sports" was opposed to Galton's, but this divergence of opinion by no means caused friction between the Chairman and the Secretary of the Committee. It did, however, call forth reams of criticism and numerous letters of protest from William Bateson to the Chairman. The only addition to the Committee in 1896 was, however, that of the present biographer. That Weldon's paper admitted of criticism not only from the biological, but from the statistical side must be allowed, but the fatal mistake was the old one, the evil of attempting to work through a Committee. Had Weldon's paper been published
* Would the result be that many subjects would have the strained look of those practising mental arithmetic? The late Mr Hope Pinker told me that he was once modelling a bust of Jowett. The Master remained stolidly silent ; Pinker found his task hopeless, and told Jowett that he must throw up his commission, unless the Master consented to talk. "I will try to be good, I will try," replied Jowett, and the portrait was completed. It is not always the artist's fault, if sittings end in a failure.
t See Roy. Soc. Proc. Vol. LVII, pp. 360-382.