Personal Identification and Description 141
England, but, what in the sequel has proved more important, the use of finger-prints. The fact that such prints are now practically adopted in the Criminal Investigation Departments of all civilised countries, is striking testimony to Galton's work and to his energy. Attempts have been made to belittle his achievement in this matter. Galton's claim is not based on his being the first to suggest this use off finger-prints, or on being the first actually to apply them. It lies in the fact that general police adoption of finger-prints resulted from his activities. It is easy to make suggestions, it wants an additional mental quality to get them carried out by administrative bodies, always and often justly conservative in character*.
In Galton's lecture at the Royal Institution in 1888 on "Personal Identification'," he gave an account (pp. 3-5) of Bertillon's method-bertillonage as it came to be called-the basis of which lies in recording the anthropometric measurements of criminals. Galton believed in the serviceableness of this method, but he held also that its efficiency had been overrated, because its inventor much underestimated the high correlations, which Galton surmised, and which were later demonstrated to exist between the various measurements taken. He then made his first public reference, as far as I am aware, to those "most beautiful and characteristic of all superficial marks" the
°'small furrows, with the intervening ridges and their pores, that are disposed in a singularly complex yet regular order on the under surfaces of the hands and the feet. I do not now speak of the large wrinkles in which chiromantists delight, and which may be compared to the creases in an old coat, or to the deep folds in the hide of a rhinoceros, but of those fine lines of which the buttered fingers of children are apt to stamp impressions on the margins of the books
they handle, that leave little to be desired on the score of distinctness."
Galton then refers to the work of Purkenje in 1823, Kollmann 1883, Sir William Herschel and Dr Faulds, etc., much in the same terms as in his Finger Prints of 1892T. In this lecture Galton submitted on the problem of permanence
"a most interesting piece of evidence, which thus far is unique, through the kindness of Sir Wm. Herschel. It consists of the imprints of the first two fingers of his own hand made in 1860 and in 1888 respectively, that is, at periods separated by an interval of twenty-eight years."
Galton analyses the minutiae (see our p. 178) in an adequate, but less thorough manner than he did later by the aid of sevenfold photographic enlargements and the tracing in of the ridges. It is clear that Galton was actively interested in finger-printing, and his remarks on p. 15 show that he had been experimenting in many ways on the most advantageous and
* An executive department has not only to consider the cost of installing an innovation, and afterwards of its maintenance, but likewise whether the resulting advantages will compensate for the additional expenditure.
f See our Vol. ii, p. 306; also the Journal Royal Institution, May 25, 1888, or Nature, June 28, 1888.
+ He does not refer to the paper by Nehemiah Grew in the Phil. Trans. of 1684 (Vol. xiv, pp. 566-67). That paper has a very good, i.e. well engraved, illustration of the ridges on the palm of the hand and on the fingers. A rather curious representation of the pores on the ridgesnot referred to in the text-appears also to belong to Grew's paper. Grew emphasises that the pores are on the ridges, not in the furrows, and speaks of them as little fountains for the discharge of sweat, There is no statement as to permanence or as to personal identification.