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Eugenics as a Creed and the Last Decade of Galton's Life 337

made to realise the occurrence of literary faults in the memoirs they publish, occasional articles might be issued "containing a selection of passages that are conspicuous for short-comings."

I must confess that (ii) seems to me a method more likely to produce effect than (i), and it might still be worth the combined efforts of a stylist and a natural philosopher, could they meet-after a satisfactory dinner-on the common ground, like Galton and Spencer, of the "old smoking-room of the Athenaeum*."

Galton was far too modest to pose as a literary critic. Of himself he writes

" I am far too sensible of my own grave deficiencies to assume that position. But a man need not be a cobbler in order to know when his shoe pinches. My standpoint is merely that I find many scientific memoirs difficult to understand owing to the bad style in which they

are written, and that I am conscious of a rare relief when one of an opposite quality comes to my hand." (p. 2.)

Galton does not give any actual illustrations of bad grammar and faulty syntax ; probably he considered that to do so was to pillory individuals, where the whole herd was to blame. When he passes from such errors to other literary defects he does cite a couple of cases, i.e. the contrasted terminations of the two Mendelian terms dominant and recessive (which should be recedent), implying a distinction which does not exist, and the use of such words as " Dimethylbutanetricarboxylate " by modern chemists.

" It is of course understood that these are what have been termed ` portmanteau' words, in which a great deal of meaning is packed, but they are overlarge even for portmanteaux; they might more justly be likened to Saratoga trunks, or to furniture vans." (p. 4.)

The chemists certainly do seem to be rather lacking in imagination, but it would be impossible to make any suggestion to them without a very full understanding of their needs. As to the Mendelian term " recessive," the fault, as far as English is concerned, lies with those biologists who first translated Mendel's papers. It was the discovery of a fit English equivalent, not the invention of a new scientific term t.

Galton then quotes his favourite English poet Tennyson to show how much power there is in the English tongue to express clear ideas in words of few syllables.

" Long English words and circuitous expressions are a nuisance to readers and convey the idea that the writer had not that firm grasp of his subject which everyone ought to have before he takes up his pen." (p. 4.)

But is not the real problem a harder one than Galton admits ? The whole force of the poet's lines lies, not in clear cut definition of the words used, but in their linked atmospheres ; it is just the width of meaning, the long train

* Perhaps a still more effective method, which did not occur to Galton, would have been to have drawn up a petition to the Council of the Royal Society, signed by as many Fellows as possible, drawing attention to the literary quality of scientific memoirs. Probably every Fellow

would have signed, not wishing to be thought a vir obscurus.

t Mendel actually uses "dominirend" and " recessiv." I can find no previous history of the latter word in German, nor has that language a form like "recedent."

P O III   43

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