Correlation and Application of Statistics to Problems of Heredity 133
P.S. Pray do not trouble to reply to this unless you think anything further from me may be of any use. A. R. W.
Of course I have referred to the one experiment of wind ck no wind as an example, not by any means considering it one of the best experiments. A. R. W.
It will be seen that Wallace had a due appreciation of the necessity for "large numbers "; he recognised that the true method of approaching these problems was statistical. if the time was ripe for such experimental work forty years ago, what must we consider it now?
Apparently it was not till 1895 that Galton having got his Committee on the Measurement of Plants and Animals recurred to Wallace's idea of an experimental farm, which Wallace in 1896 termed a "Biological Farm." But a new possibility had arisen, that of acquiring the Darwin house at Down as a station for experimental evolution. Everything was favourable to such a desirable project. The Darwin family were prepared to part with the house for a national purpose on terms which meant a very large contribution from themselves. Galton named a large sum which an anonymous donor was willing to contribute towards the work of experimentation. There can be little doubt that had the scheme been pushed with energy, Down might thirty years ago have been obtained for a purpose urgently necessary and thoroughly in keeping with the spirit of Charles Darwin's work. But a bold scheme only appeals to the bolder minds, and these seemed to be entirely wanting among the men to whom Galton wrote with the hope of engaging their support for the proposed Biological Farm*, as it was termed in the circular issued by Galton on November 30, 1896. I reprint that document here:
The Committee appointed by the Royal Society, for the Measurement of Plants and Animals, proposes to hold an informal meeting at the Royal Society, on Friday, December 4th, at 4 p.m., which they hope you will favour with your presence.
The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the propriety of asking aid from the Council of the Royal Society in establishing and maintaining a Biological Farm, to supply materials (mostly zoological) appropriate to the investigations on which the Committee is occupied, and for undertaking experiments in breeding during many successive generations for the use of those who study the causes and conditions of Evolution.
The general idea that such a Farm would fulfil, somewhat resembles that which was present to the founders of the physical Institute known as the "Kew Observatory," which has been for many years under a Committee of Management appointed by the Council of the
Royal Society. It was to procure a place where investigators could have experiments carried on at their own cost, subject, of course, to the permission of the Committee of Management, the cost being, in most cases, defrayed out of grants in aid to the investigators, made by the Royal Society or by the British Association.
It is likely that a farm-house with 20 acres of suitably varied land, and some running water, would amply suffice, so long as the experiments were chiefly confined to small animals. The farm would be in the charge of a resident caretaker under the direct authority of a scientific superior, who might hold the office of Secretary to the Committee of Management. It would be his duty to see that their instructions were duly carried out.
Independently of the farm, and perhaps preliminary to the attempt to raise money for its maintenance, the suggested Committee could accomplish a very important service in a similar direction, for the performance of which it is believed that funds would be immediately
* Meldola, who was throughout warmly in favour of such an institution, actually termed it a "Biometric Station" in December, 1896.