130 Life and Letters of Francis Galton
(3) Another difficulty is that the experiments are not likely to be so carefully tended & guarded in an establishment as they would be by oneself or by personal friends. I have had some very marked evidence of this in my own experience, which I don't like to. put on paper for fear of causing annoyance.
If the difficulties I have mentioned can be shown to be small, all the rest would be plain sailing. The farm would bear a similar relation to Heredity both plant and animal that the Kew Observatory does to experimenters in Physical Science.
It might grow into a repository of stud books and all about domestic animal breeding, and pay its way well in this department. Also it might become a repository of family genealogies & facts about human heredity, and also pay its way here; the people love to have their genealogies put on record, photos of family portraits preserved, &c. & would pay for the trouble it might cost to keep them.
But the first thing is the experimental farm-in connection with Kew or Chiswick-the Zool. Society & Marine biological laboratories. It could be started moderately under the same roof, so to speak, as one of these, so as to avoid many expenses of a separate establishment, while an independent home was being prepared for it to be entered into if it succeeded.
I have much that would be helpful to say, if you can remove these initial difficulties of prospect. Very sincerely yours, FRANCIS GALTON.
Pray give our united kind remembrances to Mrs Wallace, & accept them yourself. Copy of Letter from Alfred R. Wallace to Francis Galton. PARRSTONE, DORSET. Feby. 7th, 1891.
MY DEAR MR GALTON, On receipt of your interesting letter I sat down & jotted the enclosed notes of the kind of experiments that it seems to me would test the theory of heredity or nonheredity of individually-acquired characters. Also a few as to fertility or sterility of hybrids, & as to the real nature of some of the supposed instincts of the higher animals. I do not myself see much difficulty in carrying out any of these, but then I am not an experimenter as you are. Still, I shall be glad to know exactly where the difficulty or insufficiency lies. If these, or any modifications of them, would be valuable & to the point, it seems to me that the mere keeping the plants and animals in health & properly isolated would fully occupy the keeper or keepers of the farm,-while the actual experiments-the deciding on the separation without selection of the various lots to experiment with,-which should be crossed & when, and other such matters, would recur only at considerable intervals & could be supervised by the members of the Committee, or some of them, by means of, say, a weekly inspection.
I have limited my notes to three points in which I feel most interest, but of course experiments in variation such as Mr Merrifield is carrying on for you, could be added to any extent if there were any danger of the keepers having too little to do !
All the experiments I suggest would require considerable numbers of individuals to be kept healthy and to be largely increased by breeding,-and they would all have to be continued during several years depending on the duration of life of the various species experimented with.
My wife and I are in pretty good health & beg to be kindly remembered to Mrs Galton. As everybody seems to come to Bournemouth we shall hope some day to have a call from you.
Yours very faithfully, ALFRED R. WALLACE.
F. GALTON, Esq., F.R.S.
This letter was accompanied by a detailed list of possible experiments.
42, RUTLAND GATE, S.W. Feb. 12/91.
MY DEAR MR WALLACE, I have thought much & repeatedly over your letter & have talked with. Herbert Spencer & with Thiselton-Dyer, but cannot yet see my way. I hate destructive criticism,-for it is so easy to raise objections,-& want to offer constructive criticism & to help progress but have every point in view & in all the details I see serious difficulty without any considerable gain.