242 Life and Letters of Francis Galton
Two other examinations exist, that might be included in the (b) set
1. That of a Life-Insurance Co. to certify a first-class life, which includes some facts about parents and brothels, together with local inquiries by their agents. I don't know what the cost of this may be in each case, but certainly the fact of being accepted as a first-class life by any notable Life Insurance Co. is an important fact, worthy of recognition.
2. Ordinary literary examination, to show that the man is not a real stupid.
Now fancy that Degrees are offered of a V. II. T. (valid for hereditary transmission of qualities suitable to a citizen of an Imperial Country) would they meet a want, and would they help in forwarding marriages of the fittest and discouraging others in any notable degree? If a well considered answer be "yes" I suppose the action would be to write an article upon it, with plenty of solid stuff in it and then if the idea should take, to follow mainly the direction in which "the cat may jump." If tried, it ought to be tried at first on a small scale, that is in a small community by a self-constituted board, laying down their own conditions and giving their certificate as a " Degree." One great question is that of self maintenance when once fully started and running. I should think the cost of the mere medical and physical examination would not be beyond the powers of, say, Cambridge Undergraduates and I fancy that (always supposing the idea to catch) it might be possible to get some help from the present examining authorities in respect to the (b) condition. I mean that arrangements might be made by which an Examination by one of these should be accepted by the Certificate or Degree-giving board.
I have thought over the subject a good deal and have more to say, but unless what has been said above seems reasonable to persons like yourself, the supplementary remarks would be useless. Will you kindly think this over at odd times during the next 2 or 3 days? I have written about it to no one else.
There is another important point of "what severity of selection should be aimed at." A very moderate one would, I think, meet the need. Say that 3 pass and s fail. The effect on the hypothesis that the successes alone intermarry and keep up the population would roughly put the output of children in the hands of the best half of all possible married couples-9ths of them. (Of course this is the rudest way of putting it; but it will do for present purposes.) If men, like cattle or Mormons, were polygamous a much severer selection would be wanted.
Very sincerely yours, FRANCIS GALTON. 7, WELL ROAD, HAMPSTEAD, N.W. Jan. 10, 1901.
MY DEAR MR GALTON, It would be a very great pleasure to me to know you were going to take the field with regard to what I am convinced is of the greatest national importancethe _breeding from the fitter stocks. If one could only get some one to awaken the nation with regard to its future!-The statesmen, who really have the ear of the populace, never think of the future. They will not touch the question of coal supply nor that of fertility, and yet I am convinced these are far more important for the future existence of the nation than any question of local government, church discipline, or even technical education !-I think I told you we had nearly completed the reduction of our measurements on 1100 families, and one after another of the results confirm the higher series of values, about .5 for parental correlation, that I found from the eye and horse colour data. I shall probably not publish these results for some time, as I have half made up my mind to accept an invitation to lecture at the Lowell Institute in Boston this year and these materials would be a good basis for lectures on Heredity. But they emphasise even more emphatically than your earlier value of -1, the opinions you have expressed on the great part played by good stock in the community. Heredity is really more intense than we supposed it to be 10 years ago. Cannot this be brought forcibly home to our rulers and social reformers ?
Now the difficulty in this case seems to me to be twofold. How can you (i) stop the fertility of the poor stock and (ii) multiply that of the good ? The middle classes are I take it the result of a pretty long process of selection in this country, and I believe that they alone are the classes who largely insure. Your scheme therefore would at first apply only to them, and indeed to the best of them, for the others would not care a rap for a good bill of health, any more than they do for any moral suasion. You might influence by your health degree a small percentage of the whole community, say 4 per cent., but this percentage is probably identical with those you could equally well influence by moral suasion. I mean by preaching the gospel that the stability of the nation depends upon the good stocks breeding fully and the weak exhibiting