Recognized HTML document
Previous Index Next

276   Life and Letters of Francis Galton

May I add that I am sure it will be a matter of rejoicing and gratification to Biologists generally if you see your way to accept this position and become our President at the next meeting in this cotintry. I am asking Professor George Darwin, the President-Elect for this year's meeting, to write to you also-so I hope you will receive a letter from him in the course of a day or two. I am, dear Mr Galton, Yours very sincerely, W. A. HERDMAN, Gen. Secretary.

This letter was backed up by one from George Darwin.


MY DEAR GALTON, You will perhaps already have received an official intimation that you were yesterday unanimously nominated Prest. of the B.A. for the York meeting. I had the pleasure of proposing your name, and I pointed out that you ought to have been nominated years ago, and that the fact that men of science were formerly somewhat blind to the great work that you have done gave no excuse for omitting even this belated recognition. That you may not think that this is merely my personal opinion, I should add that speaker after speaker endorsed what I have said. We all hope that you may feel yourself able to accept the nomination. It was pointed out as an objection that your deafness would be a diTulty in as much as presiding at the Council meetings could hardly be carried out efficiently by you. To this most, perhaps all, considered that there was a complete answer-you have only to absent yourself from Council meetings. During the present year Balfour never comes-as we knew he would not-and we get through our business with the aid of the V.P.'s.

I hope that you will not allow this consideration to deter you from acceptance, and, if you will take it, my advice to you would be that you should not attend any Council meetings during your year of office, when you would have to take the chair, or at least should ask a V.P. to preside. I cannot of course judge whether you will feel yourself disposed to undertake the duties, but I can only very heartily express the hope that you will feel you have the strength to do so. Yours very sincerely, G. H. DARWIN.

To this letter I add Galton's reply

42, RUTLAND GATE, S. W. May 9, 1905.

MY DEAR GEORGE DARWIN, It was only last night that I returned and found your very kind letter and that of Prof. Herdman to whom I have just written. I am deeply sensible of the proposed honour and fully recognise the unique opportunity afforded to the President of the Brit.. Assocn of drawing the attention of the whole scientific world to such views as he may put forward. Also I am cordially grateful to the thoughtful way in which you propose to make the work less laborious and independent of my deafness. But the fatal fact remains that I am not strong enough even under all these alleviations. The preceding excitement would be enough to upset me. I cannot stand even a moderate amount of flurry. It is of no use for me to fight against impossibilities. Long since I have learnt to renounce many tempting pleasures, and must do so now. The only chance I have of doing useful work during the remainder of my life, lies in doing it quietly and living very simply much like an invalid, and in never undertaking to tie myself to a day when I might prove quite unfit. Once before when Sir William Flower was President and the names of possible persons were to be considered at a Council meeting at which I was present, he with the previous assent of the other General Officers, emphatically proposed me at the first. I immediately begged to be left out of account, being too painfully conscious even then of the limitations of my strength. Notwithstanding kindly pressure, I persisted in the refusal. It would be foolishly rash if I made the venture now.

Ever sincerely yours, FRANCIS GALTON.

P.S. I have had a pleasant and healthful 22 months in the Riviera (Bordighera), but missed your sister. I saw Miss Shaen during her brief visit there. What an eventful August you will have at the Cape. I heartily wish you every possible success and pleasure. But what a racket it will be !

During this year Galton was very busy with the superintendence of his Eugenics Record Office and many of his letters relate to proposed work, to

Previous Index Next