Recognized HTML document
Previous Index Next

Eugenics as a Creed and the Last Decade of Galton's Life 383

7, WELL ROAD, HAMPSTEAD, N.W. May 7, 1909.

MY DEAR FRANCIS GALTON, Reading the section you have sent me it seems so thoroughly good that it appears almost a pity to modify it. At the same time there might be a difficulty supposing at any time-at starting or after a successful career-there was no immediately available man for the post. I have made inquiries and find that in France a University is not forced by the existence of an endowment to fill a chair unless there be some person suitable to hold it. Thus at the Paris "Ecole des Langues orientales vivantes," it is a recognised principle that under circumstances of this kind a professorship may be held in suspense until a suitable man be found, the teaching being meanwhile conducted by a lecturer who has no claims to fill the chair unless he should prove himself suitable in the course of his work. I think this is a very good provision. I should, however, be inclined to limit the vacancy to a period not exceeding five (or even four) years. That is time enough to test a man or two, and for the University to look round. The lawyers would probably know quite easily how to word a codicil, if they consider the present section does not permit of the power required. What is needed is power to hold the professorship in suspense for any period not exceeding four or five years if some person suitable to hold it is not, in the opinion of the Senate, immediately available, and to carry on the work by lecturer or lecturers until a suitable man be found.

Your talk led me to thinking over possible men. It is rather difficult to do so, because the man who might be good now might be too old, or changed in aspirations and form of work, long before any appointment will be made. Besides this, I cannot plan a future contingent on the death of a friend, who is one of the few sympathisers with all the work in hand and without whom it would seem all stale and unprofitable. But I want you to remember that there are still men like Palin Elderton and Raymond Pearl, who are thoroughly keen, full of the vigour of youth and strenuous to any extent, and that there is no reason to fear they will not have successors.

Now to another point which may amuse and interest you. Some account of the Francis Galton Laboratory has got into the Chicago papers, I do not know how or by whom it may have been written. An American writes and says that he is a friend of the wealthiest man in B-, who is immensely interested in Eugenics, and has been experimenting on horses to measure the effect of sympathy on conception ! All this seemed rather vague! But he continues that his friend wants to know if we want help in any way at the Laboratory ! Of course I am going to write to him, and though nothing may come of it, I shall give ample details. Looking at the future, what I should suggest would be : (i) endowment for publication and educationwork, (ii) the formation of a complete library of Eugenics, (iii) if he is inclined for a big thing, the building of an institute in which the future work of the Galton Professor and Laboratory can be carried on. Of course, nothing will probably come of it. These wealthy men are strange in their ways, and change their minds frequently. But if he seems to be keen and likely to do something, I shall, perhaps, ask you to write to him. Of course, one began to dream golden dreams of a Eugenics Institute, a hive of workers, under the control of your future professorsomething like the Institut Solvay at Brussels-but I must not be hopeful on such a very slender basis ! Affectionately, KARL PEARSON.

I return the Extract. I have just been looking at Bateson's book. I take the place of Weldon as the butt for his contempt. There is not the least recognition of the fact that almost every one of the dogmatic statements made by the author a few years back have now been quietly dropped !

42, RUTLAND GATE, S.W. May 12, 1909.

MY DEAR KARL PEARSON, Here is the draught codicil suggested by my lawyers, to whom besides writing on my own behalf, I enclosed your last letter to myself, as helping to make the position clear to them. About the "library," the addition of that word in the codicil as marked in pencil at the side of Clause 10, seems sufficient, but would you prefer more detail? I should mention that the endowment will be considerable. Allowing 10 °/, for legacy duties, I reckon that its value will exceed fifty thousand pounds or, say, an income of £1500. But Chancellors of the Exchequer may make larger inroads than hitherto upon bequests. Excuse bad writing. It is upon my knees. Ever affectionately yours, FRANCis GALTON.

Previous Index Next