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134

Life and Letters of Francis Galton

available. That is, they might communicate with persons, many of high social position, who are breeders on a large scale in their own grounds, thereby initiating a widely spread system of co-operation in carrying out experiments desired by the Committee. It is not to be expected that the several results would be equally trustworthy with those made under specially trained management as in the proposed farm. On the other hand, whenever it was found that similar experiments made simultaneously at many different places led to the same results, those results would eminently deserve confidence. The incidental advantage of interesting influential persons in the work of the Committee would be great.

The cost of the complete scheme does not seem likely to be very formidable. It would be chiefly made up of the rental of the farm, the erection of enclosures, hutches, etc., the small initial cost of the animals, their feed, and the wages of the caretaker and assistants. The salary

of the Secretary need not at first be large, since the duties of the office would not then be so onerous as to prevent his holding other appointments.

The meeting will be asked to consider this scheme, amending and altering it as desirable, to discuss its cost, and the ways of meeting that cost. If, after this, the prevalent feeling should be in favour of further proceedings, the meeting might appoint an Executive Committee, not consisting exclusively 'of Fellows of the Royal Society, to examine the subject closely in its various details, to consider the precise experiments that Might be first undertaken, and to report to an adjourned meeting.


FRANCIS GALTON

(Chairman of the Committee of the Royal Society for the Measurement of Plants and Animals).

42, RUTLAND GATE, S.W.

November 30th, 1896.

The response was most heartrending. Even such warm friends of Galton as Sir J. D. Hooker and Herbert Spencer were not helpful. The former thought that experiments on plants could be undertaken at Kew, and no new station was needful; the latter thought the course suggested impolitic, the proposed purchase of the Darwin house was no doubt appropriate as a matter of sentiment, but most inappropriate as a matter of business. He would be disinclined to cooperate if any such imprudent step were taken*. Great matters must spring from small germs, which would only justify themselves by their success. Real encouragement came only from Adam Sedgwick, from Meldola, and from Weldon ("Surely £4000 can be raised somehow ! "). The Darwin brothers it is needless to say wrote most generously and helpfully, but the scheme fell dead even among the biologists who thought it worth while to come to the meeting with the view of discussing it. There was among them no broad conception of what a station for experimental evolution might achieve for their science, and there was not the slightest chance of enthusiasm and energy being put into the project so that it might be carried to a successful issue. The money for the acquisition of Down was still to be found, but there was the sum of £2000 assured by the anonymous donor j', and one distinguished biologist, thinking a bird in the hand was worth two in the bush, asked, if they had not come to allot that sum for their experimental work, what had they come for? I never left a meeting with a greater feeling of despair, and this was shared by Weldon, and to a lesser extent by Galton, who was consoled to some extent by Francis Darwin's writing that, however much he regretted the Down project could not be worked, he was not going to

* As a matter of fact Spencer had not been consulted, but had heard of the matter indirectly through Adam Sedgwick, and had then written to Galton to know what it was all about!

t "There is assurance that a sum of £2000 would be available to start the undertaking, if a thoroughly satisfactory programme could be agreed to."


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