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318   Life and Letters of Francis Galton

a whetstone whereon he could give his conceptions greater sharpness and clarity, and he confesses in the present lecture that he misses this much in his old age. And yet looking back on all that correspondence of some twenty years, re-reading our letters, it seems to me that both Weldon and I were ever seeking to guide our master into what we thought the straight and narrow path*. But the following passage shows how badly we had failed

"Among the many things of which age deprives us, I regret few more than the loss of contemporaries. When I was young I felt diffident in the presence of my seniors, partly owing to a sense that the ideas of the young cannot be in complete sympathy with those of the old. Now that I myself am old it seems to me that my much younger friends keenly perceive the same difference, and I lose much of that outspoken criticism which is an invaluable help to all who

investigate." (p. 6.)

After this preliminary reference to Herbert Spencer, Galton began with a section on the History of Eugenics. He referred to the accident that the word " Eugenics " should have occurred in the titles of both Boyle and Herbert Spencer lectures and passes that praise on the Boyle lecturer to which I raised objection in my letter reproduced above (see p. 316). He then mentioned the coining of the word " Eugenics," in his Human Faculty of 1883, and recapitulates his creed wherein man is to control organic evolution, as he controls physical nature, and eugenic conceptions are to attain a religious validity-are indeed to become phases of a "categorical imperative." In this creed he emphasises

"the essential brotherhood of mankind, heredity being to my mind a very real thing; also the belief that we are born to act, and not to wait for help like able-bodied idlers whining for doles. Individuals appear to me as finite detachments from an infinite ocean of being, temporarily endowed with executive powers. This is the only answer I can give to myself in reply to the perpetually recurring questions of Why? Whence? and Whither? The immediate `Whither?' does not seem wholly dark, as some little information may be gleaned concerning the direction in which Nature, as far as we know it, is now moving. Namely towards the evolution of mind,

body, and character in increasing energy and co-adaptation." (p. 8.)

Galton re-states the view that we men may very likely be the chief, perhaps the only executives on earth, and that as such we are responsible for our success or failure to further certain obscure purposes, which we must strive to ascertain'. Our instructions, if obscure, are yet "sufficiently clear to justify our interference with the pitiless course of Nature, whenever it seems possible to attain the goal towards which it moves by gentler and kindlier ways " (p. 9). Galton admits that in 1883 the idea of directed evolution did not appeal to investigators, " it was too much in advance of the march of popular imagina

* I have before me at this moment a long paper by Galton in manuscript dated April 1890; it is on the topic of "Sexual Generation and Cross Fertilisation." It appears to have received the coup de grdce from a letter of Weldon's which is attached to it, suggesting that Galton should make a study of modern cytological ideas before proceeding further. It seems to me that the criticism of youth, bursting with the newer knowledge, may not always be of advantage to the inspirations of enthusiastic age with a riper practical experience and a much longer period of close observation. Youth makes its mistakes regardless of the counsel of age, and sometimes those very mistakes bring to it "la gloire." Let old age blunder without restraint from the young, and possibly after-generations may see in those very blunders not the least luminous rays in the aureole of genius.

t Jonathan Hutchinson asked what was his religion replied : "I am a good planetarian." So might Galton have asserted. -

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