320 Life and Letters of Francis Galton
than one. innocent person should 'suffer*.' But that is not the sentiment by which natural selection is guided, and it is dangerous to yield far to it." (p. 14.)
Galton admits that a thorough investigation of the kind referred to, even if it were confined to a single grade of a specific degeneracy, is in itself a very serious undertaking
"Masses of trustworthy material must be collected, usually with great difficulty, and be afterwards treated with skill and labour by methods that few at present are competent to employ. An extended investigation into the good or evil done to the state by the offspring of many different classes of persons, some of civic value, others the reverse, implies a huge volume of work sufficient to occupy Eugenics laboratories for an indefinite time." (p. 14.)
It will be seen how thoroughly Galton's mind was imbued with the conception that the science of Eugenics has to deal with mass-phenomena, that it is essentially based on statistics and must adopt the actuarial method, i.e. that it is based on probability reckoned on past experience. This conception leads him directly to his next section: Object Lessons in the Methods of Biometry. He proposes to speak of those fundamental principles of probability, which are chiefly concerned with the newer methods of Biometry, and consequently of Eugenics. " Most persons of ordinary education seem to know nothing about them, -not even understanding their technical terms, much less appreciating the cogency of their results" (p. 15). Galton accordingly sets out to sketch in outline a series of lessons of a Kindergarten type, which a teacher may fill in, and thus lead the ordinarily intelligent person, though he be ignorant of mathematics, to a knowledge of the fundamental ideas on which probability is based. He fears that this will scandalise biometricians j , but he has previously softened their wrath by saying that no man can hope to achieve much in Biometry without a large amount of study, the possession of appropriate faculties and a strong brain !
I do not propose to enter into the nine pages of the Lecture (pp. 15-23) which draft this scheme of " Object Lessons." They have, as I shall indicate later, been developed by W. Palin and Ethel M. Elderton into a-primer of statistics. Most of the ideas have already been considered in this biography; the scheme proceeds in the main from "median" and "quartiles," and covers the simpler forms of variation and correlation.
The final section of the lecture is entitled : Influence of Collective Truths upon Individual Conduct. Galton commences by noting that probability will provide a solid foundation for action in the matter of Eugenics. But the
" stage on which human action takes place is a superstructure into which emotion enters, we are guided on it less by Certainty and by Probability than by Assurance to a greater or lesser
This is the terrible dilemma in which the tender-hearted Condorcet found himself when he came to analyse the probability of criminal trials leading to correct judgments. There, however, life had come into being; here it need not be called into existence.
t I think this was a little poke at his friend, who had really criticised the occasion not the matter of Galton's "object lessons." The friend had indeed already in the "'eighties" given several Kindergarten courses on experimental probability at Gresham College to City clerks and Government employees, who afterwards became statisticians, and besides to a considerable number of bookmakers and professional gamblers who entered keenly into the spirit of -the demonstrations, and whose gratitude took the form of free gifts of " tips" for the Derby and schemes to break the bank at Monte Carlo !