Characterisation, especially by Letters 447
4 course he can't come through!" "I never thought of that, papa," said the child, as with an immense sigh of relief he turned over and went to sleep.
1 f my uncle derived his genius through his Darwin mother, it is nevertheless certain that HJui Galton father was most in sympathy with the boy's character. His devotion to his father's ineinory was most touching, and only a few weeks ago, when the Copley Medal was offered him, he wrote: "People are always very kind to me, but I wish my father were alive. It would have given him real pleasure." His father had then been dead 66 years!
1 looked upon my uncle Francis as my special uncle, ever since I was quite a little child, but it was not until after the death of his wife (whom I also loved dearly) in 1897, that I was admitted to a closer friendship, and that I ventured to discuss many things-religious matters especially-with him.
Later still, in 1904, when his beloved Sister, Emma Galton, died, he asked me to correspond regularly with him, just as she had done for many years, so that the custom became established from that time forward until his death, for me to write every Friday, and he every Monday or Tuesday.
1 have an amusing recollection of a little trip to Auvergne which he and I took together in the summer of 1904 only a few weeks before he sustained the great sorrow consequent on his Sister, Emma Galton's, death. The heat was terrific, and I felt utterly exhausted, but seeing him perfectly brisk and full of energy in spite of his 82 years, dared not, for very shame, confess to wy miserable condition. I recollect one terrible train-journey, when, smothered with dust and panting with heat, I had to bear his reproachful looks for drawing a curtain forward to ward off a little of the blazing sun in which he was revelling. He drew out a small thermometer which registered 94°, observing: "Yes, only 94°. Are you aware that when the temperature of the air exceeds that of blood-heat, it is apt to be trying?" I could quite believe it!-By and by lie asked me whether it would not be pleasant to wash our face and hands? I certainly thought so, but did not see how it was to be done. Then, with perfect simplicity and sublime disregard of appearances and of the astounded looks of the other occupants of our compartment, a very much "got-up" Frenchman and two fashionably dressed Frenchwomen, he proceeded to twist his newspaper into the shape of a washhand-basin, produced an infinitesimally small bit of soap, and poured some water out of a medicine bottle, and we performed our ablutions-I fear I was too self-conscious to enjoy the proceeding, but it never seemed to occur to him that he was doing anything unusual!
He had ordered rooms at Royat, insisting that they should have a southern aspect. On arriving at the Hotel it was found that they looked due north. Then, for the first and only time since I had known him, lie was guilty of a very forcible and by no means parliamentary ejaculation. A minute or two later he turned round and saw me. He appeared exceedingly uncomfortable, and at last could stand it no longer : "Er-er-did you hear what-er-I said just now?" I could not resist the temptation of declaring myself extremely pained and shocked, but he was so genuinely distressed I bad to hasten and assure him I was only talking nonsense.
He half-killed me by his energy at Royat. We used to sally forth at 4 a.m. and take a walk before the heat of the day. That was really enjoyable, but I felt by no means enthusiastic when we started off again when the sun was at its highest, and walked and trammed wheresoever it was hottest. He always chose the sunny side of the road, but occasionally I rebelled and left him to his sun whilst I walked in the shade. He really was a salamander! I can see bun now, sitting at his work-table in the window at Royat, with the broiling sun streaming down upon his bald head. Even to think of it is almost enough to give one a sunstroke.
But it was not long after our Royat visit (where he had gone to visit his wife's grave) that his strength gradually began to fail. His sister's death, soon after our return, was a terrible blow to him. I do not know what he would have done, but for his great-niece Eva Biggs, who devoted herself to him as if she had been his daughter. The few remaining years of his life brought him much sorrow-the death of his eldest sister at the age of nearly 98 and of his brother, aged 94, leaving him the only survivor of his family. My Mother-his Sister Adele had died many years before. However, with the exception of his deafness, he retained all his faculties to a wonderful extent. His eyesight was extraordinarily good, and he could read the smallest print up to the last. The diaries he kept for many years were not, I suppose, more than 2 or at most 21 inches square, and his writing in them was necessarily so minute that I could not see to read it. His sense of smell was also singularly acute, and I imagine that of