Recognized HTML document
Previous Index Next

Eugenics as a Creed and the Last Decade of Galton's Life 317.


Thank you much for your suggestions, but I can't conscientiously adopt those that relate to yourself. The errors of date of the two Huxley lectures were serious (I can now trace how it occurred; I had bothered over it). I dare not think of Hampstead now, feeling that I mayn't be fit for more than a bath chair, hereafter. An oak floor makes a hard bed for an invalid, as my ribs, etc. loudly proclaim in their language of feeling. It is a good biblical phrase "the iron entered into my soul"; that is just what the oak has done-also Hudibras'

"Now am I out of Fortune's power. He that is down can fall no lower*."

I wonder whether, when the lecture is over, I could persuade Miss Elderton to write a primer of the proposed lessons. If the idea takes, it would be worth her while. Ladies often do these things better than men. Ever yours affectionately, FRANCIS GALTON.

Thanks for the appreciative account of your doings at Oxford t. I return it.


Galton was beginning as the result of his experience of the women workers in the Biometric and Eugenics Laboratories to have a higher opinion of the contributions of academically trained women to science. (See Vol. ii, pp. 132-4.)

7, WELL ROAD, HAMPSTEAD, N.W. May 27, 1907.

MY DEAR FRANCIS GALTON, I am so very sorry indeed to hear of your accident, although I am glad you can be humorous as to its incidents. But you really ought not to be, so to speak, out of range of the household and unable to summon them for six hours! You must have someone in your dressing-room within call. You ought at least to have bells and sticks within reach.

I shall still hope that it may be possible for you to deliver the lecture yourself, for although I would not have you make any effort that would have risk to health in it, I still know what a great pleasure it would be to many at Oxford to hear you speak yourself. As soon as you have got this over, you must see Miss Elderton and talk your project over with her.

Always affectionately, KARL PEARSON.

You must not let anything I have said induce you to attempt more than you feel quite capable of, but it would be were it possible so fine to speak to Oxford in one's 86th year!


It is high time that we turn to the Oxford Lecture itself ; the letters above printed will suggest 'to the reader how much time and thought its preparation cost Galton. Strange are the vagaries of chance, the outward plumage of Galton's lecture on Eugenics approached the wrapper-colours of the Edinburgh Review and Eugenics Laboratory Publications ! (See p. 313 above.)

After a vivid and brief characterisation of Herbert Spencer

"Spencer's strong personality, his complete devotion to a self-imposed and life-long task, together with rare gleams of tenderness visible amidst a wilderness of abstract thought, have left a unique impression on my mind that years fail to weaken" (p. 5),


Galton passes to the aid which Spencer gave him personally by discussing with quick sympathy and keen criticism in the old smoking room of the Athenaeum Club, while waiting for a game of billiards, the ideas with which Galton at the time was teeming. We may imagine that the process was scarcely mutual ; it is hard to think of Herbert Spencer seeking criticism of his ideas, although they naturally met with it, when he gave expression to them (see Memories of My Life, pp. 178, 257-8). For Galton, Spencer was


* See Vol. I, p. 64.

t The Oxford Magazine, May 23, 1907, p. 345.


Previous Index Next