Eugenics as a Creed and the Last Decade of Galton's Life 373
MEADOW COTTAGE, BROCKHAM GREEN, BETCHWORTH. February 20, 1909.
MY DEAR ]KARL PEARSON, Can you give me a line of guidance as to the value of Miss Mary Dendy's data on Feeble-Minded Children, of which she sent you copies? (She fears they were not satisfactory.) My reason is that I have corresponded with her and she estimates that, for every F.M. her institution takes in, two F.M.'s are prevented from coming into existence. I asked for the grounds of this estimate and she writes offering to send masses of original or of copied data, which I do not want. My object in writing to you is merely to learn in a general way whether her grasp of statistics seems to you to be fairly good, or otherwise? I was much struck with the goodness of her evidence.
All this arises out of a forthcoming little book from Cambridge, about which the Horace Darwins and the W hethams are keen. Its purpose is to give a short account of the contents of the Blue Book. They have persuaded Sir Edward Fry to write a short (and excellent) preface, and me to write a short paper also, which I have done, calling it " Segregation." The weakest points in this are want of good evidence for the great average fecundity of the F.M. women, and for the happiness of the segregates in labour-colonies, etc. It was as to the former of these that I wrote to Miss M. Dendy, and I have suggested that she might be asked to contribute also as to the latter. I am sorry to bore you with all this rigmarole.
We leave here on this day week, Saturday 26, for the Crown Hotel, Lyndhurst, where I have taken rooms for a week certain, with power of staying on. How lovely this weather is !
Affectionately yours, FRANCIS GALTON.
UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, LONDON, W.C. February 21, 1909.
MY DEAR FRANCIS GALTON, We have in the Laboratory eight or nine MS. volumes covering the records of nearly 1000 feeble-minded children provided for us by Miss Dendy but copied at cur expense. We have only partially analysed these, and we did not go steadily at them because we had our doubts as to whether in the cases of relatives no entry meant in all cases that the relatives were sound, or that it was not really known whether they were sound or not. An examination of our data for Birmingham and Manchester showed such very different percentages of alcoholism and insanity in the F.M. stocks, that it did not seem feasible to advance farther without more certainty of the method of examination and record. Miss Dendy was most kind, and, of all the people working at the feeble-minded that I have come across, the most businesslike in her record and her talk. But in a long personal interview which Miss Elderton and I had with her, we did not feel confident that the categories "sound" and "nothing known" had been really kept apart. In few cases had the inquirer gone beyond the mother and investigated the weight to be given to her answers. We could not press the point further, because Miss Dendy rather resented our cross-examination as a charge on her own credibility. I did not feel that her data were untrustworthy, but I did not feel confident enough about the point mentioned to undertake heavy work on them, while we had better material unreduced. I believe that as far as the size of fraternity of feeble-minded goes, the results are quite trustworthy and I have used them, but I should use them with regard to heredity somewhat cautiously.
The next point we come to is exceedingly difficult. You may take it as certain that the feeble-minded stocks are very prolific. But the feeble-minded girl or woman is not generally selected as a wife. She is seduced and often bears illegitimate child after child in one or other workhouse. You will find a good deal of evidence for this in the Report. Often she becomes a prostitute and loses her power of bearing children. I do not think that in any of these degenerate cases, the actual degenerates are so socially dangerous as the degenerate-bearing stocks, which are generally most fertile. A great many epileptics are, however, married and appear to bear largely feeble-minded, albinotic and insane, as well as epileptic children. I should certainly think Miss Dendy was correct, however, in saying that to segregate a feeble-minded girl is to save society from one or two feeble-minded, or more accurately degenerate, children. I have heard from more than one woman who works among the feeble-minded, that at certain ages and times they cannot be allowed out for five minutes without offering themselves to the first man they meet. You have in their cases the imperial passion unrestrained. Does not this answer your second question? Given such a dominant impulse, and prevent its fulfilment by segregation, how can the segregated be "happy "I It will be like a caged and foodless animal