Eugenics as a Creed and the Last Decade of Galton's Life 271
is in precisely such almost instinctive motives that he hoped to find ultimately a foundation for that highest form of patriotism, eugenic morality. Several of the contributors to the discussion emphasised the difference between " barbarous " and "civilised " peoples, suggesting that what anthropology tells of the former cannot be applied to the latter. To the careful student of mankind there are no rigid cateories such as barbarism and civilisation to him the civilisation of to-day is' the barbarism of to-morrow, and he can only smile when he is told that civilisation was born in and spread from Egypt. The man of to-day believes, of course, that his religions and his institutions are products of his " high " civilisation ; he does not see their growth through the ages and their roots in the fertile mud of what he terms "barbarism." He believes that the basal laws of his own psychic growth differ in some undefined way from those which controlled that of his far-distant ancestor. Galton thought otherwise
"The subservience of civilised races to their several religious superstitions, customs, authority and the rest, is frequently as abject as that of barbarians. The same classes of motives that direct other races direct ours, so a knowledge of their customs helps us to realise
the wide range of what we may ourselves hereafter adopt, for reasons as satisfactory to us in those future times, as they are or were to them at the time when they prevailed." (p. 12.)
I have had several times to refer to Galton's views on religion in the course of this biography. The study of evolution had brought him freedom from the traditional faiths ; like many of the leading men of science of his day he was an agnostic. But he was not an iconoclastic freethinker, he was willing that old faiths should remould themselves to new ideas, where some would have felt that it was futile to pour new wine into old skins. Even the ancient faiths in their old skins might help certain natures to-day. I well remember what he said to me when one of his closest relatives was received into the Catholic Church : " It may be a stable guide for emotional natures, it would be of no service to you or me." He was not only tolerant of others' views, but his sympathy induced him to satisfy where it lay in his power their religious cravings, even at the risk of his action being misinterpreted*.
* I venture to quote here a very characteristic and beautiful letter to his niece dated from 42, Rutland Gate, July 30, 1907
"I should be glad to have family prayers as of old. The household needs a few minutes of daily companionship in reverent thought and ritual. The first morning when I had returned home after dear Louisa's death, we the remainder of the household reassembled as usual, but-oh the pitifulness of it-when half-way through the prayers, I lost all control of my voice, and fairly broke down, and dismissed the household. I never recommenced the custom ; partly shrinking from its memories ; largely because I. felt that at least one of the heads should be able to join in the prayers without any reservation. This as I understand from your letter you would do now.
"I have again looked at the old and well-remembered prayer-book. It is sadly dilapidated and when last used required caution in handling. I will bring it with me. It might be replaced with advantage. Both Louisa and I felt that the psalms became monotonous, and that it would be well to read alternatively or otherwise parts of the rest of the Bible. I will get a Bible for the purpose of marking out suitable passages, also a prayer book. (It interested ro much to find that the published list of Mr Gladstone's favourite psalms was almost identical with my own selection.) It would also be well to increase the variety of the prayers. Mine were 14 collects, two for each week day. We will consider all this at Hindhead. You know and will respect my limitations in
selecting passages. I must be true to my own convictions as you will be to yours."
Galton's conviction was that prayer is subjective in its influence and should be an inspiration, not a petition. I may quote extracts from three letters to his nieces, which support this statement. April 9, 1907: "I think in earnest prayer of you and poor Fred, for I can pray