Recognized HTML document
Previous Index Next

234   Life and Letters of Francis Galton

the small section of it to which they belong ; the agricultural lad and lass early and within their district ; the cultured man and woman late and yet within their own circle.

"An enthusiasm to improve the race would probably express itself by granting diplomas to a select class of young men and women, by encouraging their intermarriages, by hastening the time of marriage of women of that high class, and by provision for rearing children healthily. The means that might be employed to compass these ends are dowries, especially fcr those to whom moderate sums are important, assured help in emergencies during the early years of married life, healthy homes, the pressure of public opinion, honours, and above all the introduction of motives of a religious or quasi-religious character.

" Indeed an enthusiasm to improve the race is so noble in its aim that it might well rise to the sense of a religious obligation. In other lands there are abundant instances in which religious motives make early marriages a matter of custom and continued celibacy to be regarded as a disgrace, if not a crime. The customs of the Hindoos, also of the Jews, especially in ancient times, bear this out. In all costly civilizations there is a tendency to shrink from marriage on prudential grounds. It would, however, be possible so to alter the conditions of life that the most prudent course for an X-class person should lie exactly opposite to its present direction, for he or she might find that there were advantages, and not disadvantages in early

marriage, and that the most prudent course was to follow their natural instincts."

When Galton comes to the consideration of "Existing Agencies," we are bound to admit how few endowments of real eugenic value exist at present. Galton suggests what might be done rather than what is already available. With an annual expenditure of £14,000,000 on charities might not more be achieved in producing the healthy fit than in tending the unhealthy weak? How much of this huge charitable expenditure may not really be opposed to eugenic doctrine in its effects ? Galton refers 'to endowments by scholarships and fellowships, but does not say that their present length of tenure is inadequate for his purpose ; he thinks that wealthy men might be proud to befriend poor but promising lads without the patron being " a wretch who supports with insolence and is repaid by flattery." He commends the wise landlord of a large estate who builds healthy cottages and prides himself upon having them occupied by a class of men markedly superior to those in similar positions elsewhere.

" It might well become a point of honor, and as much an avowed object, for noble families to gather fine specimens of humanity around them as it is to procure and maintain fine breeds of cattle, etc., which are costly but repay in satisfaction." (p. 537.)

Our author has his Utopias, as many men have had with less scientific insight behind them. He dreams of settlements or colleges where promising young couples might be provided 'with healthy and convenient quarters. " The tone of the place would be higher than elsewhere on account of the high quality of the inmates, and it would be distinguished by an air of energy, intelligence, health and self-respect, and by mutual helpfulness." He dreams again his dream of 1873 * of a great society with ample funds recording the abler of every social class, seeing to their intermarriage, and establishing personal relations between them.

But while he dreams he realises that the first thing is to justify a crusade in favour of race-improvement ; to show step by step that it is both from the

* See our Vol. ii, pp. 119-122. He dreamt it again in the Utopia he described in the last few months of his life: see the letters of the autumn of 1910 below.

Previous Index Next