442 Life and Letters of Francis Galton
aids them, but it would be of no service to you and me." Thus he would explain to his biographer that sympathy in expression and action which might not unreasonably appear irreconcilable with his own faith. Without being deeply interested in history he had, as every man of culture, an understanding for the past; he realised that each worn-out phase of mankind's mental evolution is not a ruin to serve as a quarry for to-day's uses, but rather a monument to be preserved, even fenced about to protect it from the ravages of the profit-seeker, or indeed from the sacrilege of the scoffer. It is in this spirit that the reader must weigh some of the letters of Galton and some of the statements about him in the following pages. Galton was as strong an agnostic as Darwin or Huxley, but he was not, like the latter, an iconoclast; as I will venture to put it, the stirps of Galton and Darwin had a more generous historical background than that of Huxley, and this even more so in Galton's case. He has spoken in several places of the unconscious working of the mind. There is a conscious family tradition, and again. an unconscious one; our mentality is what it is in accordance with the tradition of our stirp, and works unwittingly in the track of the past. The Galton stirp-witness its quakers and its devout catholics-had a deep religious sense-not unbroken by a tendency to wander at times from the current phases of morals and of religion, but it had also a kingly spirit in the best sense of the words-an understanding of the nature and the needs of those dependent upon it. Roll into one the characteristics of the Plantagenet, the Stewart, the Savile, the Sedley and the Darwin stirps, and we can thus, and only thus, fully appreciate the complex nature of Galton's mind. We can trace therein his impulse towards travel, his fallow years, his inventive genius, his sympathy with deeply religious natures, his zeal for knowledge, and his mirthfulness. Width of mind in any individual usually takes its origin in the happy combination of several stirps of strong but diverse intellectual character. A danger arises when intimates, especially relatives, appraise a great and wide-minded man; they are apt to emphasise that side of his character which has appealed most strongly to them, and of which for that very reason he may have sounded the note. In the case of blood relatives that note may be the characteristic of the part of their stirp common to both, or indeed, if they are of the full blood, as brothers, the one may be dominated exclusively by one factor of their common stirp *.
In reading family letters written originally for no other eyes than those of the recipients, we must ever bear this in mind. When a man soars above his fellows to altitudes they have not yet attained, it is only natural that his intercourse with them should remain largely on the old plane familiar to all of them. The letters of Galton show him as son, as brother, as uncle, and as great-uncle-those which might have limned him in his courtship and marriage failed to reach his biographer. Yet the letters which I have seen, apart from their bearing on Galton's own history, cover upwards of a century of family life, and are in themselves witness to the great changes
* Thus in the children of Charles Darwin one marks in isolation factors which were combined in their father and great-grandfathers.