Eugenics as a Creed and the Last Decade of Galton's Life 403
Those who preached salvation for men through good works, never thought of adding that the object of such charity must not be an enemy of society. To give to a beggar increased the grace at the disposal of believers, even if the mendicant's poverty and sores were the product of his own licence. Then came those who taught that charity must be organised and due inquiry made as to the character and needs of the recipient. This destroyed the spontaneity of charity, the desire to do at once and easily a good work, and reap immediately that feeling of grace acquired which has descended traditionally from the older faith. Lastly, we have Galton's view of philanthropy, propounding as it does a third view of charity : seek the family of civic worth, the individuals of eugenic stock and confine your help, " whenever help is really needful," to these alone. Our statesmen
`" should regard such families as an eager horticulturalist regards beds of seedlings of some rare variety of plant, but with an enthusiasm of a far nobler and more patriotic kind. For since it has been shown elsewhere that about 10 per cent. of the individuals born in one generation
provide half the next generation, large families that are also eugenic may prove of primary importance to the nation and become its most valuable asset." (p. 76.)
Thousands of pounds are willed every year to charities, not infrequently without knowledge of, or inquiry into the social value of the institutions benefited; it is the old seeking for grace by good works regardless of the recipient. Yet not even mere hundreds of pounds are left by testators, as by Galton, to increase our knowledge of what really makes for national efficiency, or to put into practical use the knowledge so acquired. Year by year the property and endowment of charities, and the number of those living upon them, some good, many worthless, few really under national control, increase to an alarming extent.
Let us turn to the historical source of the Reformation and remember what happened when unthinking belief in " good works" poured into the lap of the Church endowments and estates for the support of masses of men, who did little to increase the efficiency of the nation ; in Galton's sense of the words, many monastic bodies were decadent communities-indolent, slouching, conspicuously slack. The danger to-day appears to come from a different side, but the false principle which is at work is the same, and we can study the analogy with profit.
Galton's second paper is entitled : "Note on the Effects of small and persistent Influences*." Our author was always urging that small but repeated influences will like drops of water ultimately wear away the hardest rock. He preached it to his too impatient followers, who with less insight into the workings of Nature, and into the religious and social evolution of mankind, largely failed to be impressed by it; some were eager for immediate eugenic legislation, when Galton would have had them give repeated if almost impalpable shoves at the right instant to the swing of public opinion. It was in the persistent action of small influences that Galton trusted for a revolutionary change in public opinion with regard to Eugenics. He refers as an analogous illustration to cases in which travellers are deflected from their
* Eugenics Review, Vol. 1, pp. 148-9.