Characterisation, especially by Letters 475
so this is my second letter only. I never have enjoyed a holiday so much and daren't trust myself to look towards its close. We have been three nights at Quisitana*, and I write this in a railway carriage en route to Paestum for the day, whither I make a solitary journey of a total of ten hours' travelling and detention in order to get a two hours' view of the ruins, twelve hours
altogether. Yesterday I did Vesuvius, with George Butler, a lady-like chaperone, a pretty daughter, and also a Newnhain young lady. We got on admirably by being pulled up the ashes on the side All and then up the much more difficult ashes on the cone, CD, and I feel this morning as though I had been all night at a ball held on the sandy seashore, dancing reels and not missing one. It gave one a vivid idea of the muscular effort required to fly; that is, to support oneself in a yielding medium. The sulphur colours were glorious, the "ilapilli" came up in occasional volleys and fell about us dull-red-hot. It was a grand sight looking into the crater at the steam with its glowing foundation;-then we scuttled down, to get out of the way of the next shower of lapilli. The flames were beautiful last night and reached above the cone at times, to a height equal to the height of the cone. To-night they reach to three times its height. Sorrento was the acme of felicity. Amalfi was a falling off and, to our taste, Quisitana is a further descent. We turn northwards in three days to or towards the Italian lakes, thence to the Lake of Geneva, to stay a few days with my niece Milly Lethbridge, and then home, where 1. am pledged to he by May 11 at latest and probably a few days earlier. My Wife has thoroughly enjoyed herself, but of course is not up to the longer excursions, and is beginning to feel the climate. Josephine Butler] joined her husband at Quisitana last night.-Well, well! one can't talk to her about her favourite topics, holding as I do most diametrically opposite views in nearly every particular of faith, morals, and justifiable courses of action; but for all that she is, or was, very charming and keenly alive and sympathetic.
I was very glad to hear your own satisfactory home news and trust that your American letters show that all is going on well and happily there, and also that your Mother is fairly if not wholly well again. We have not been fortunate in meeting many pleasant people. One agreeable acquaintance was in American, Mr Andrew White, once president of, and now a history professor in Cornell University, and for some years U.S. minister in Berlin ++I He knows both Oxford and Cambridge pretty well. I dare say you may have met hire and his wife.
I wonder whether you have been able to strike out important ideas about our procedure of weather predictions, I any sure you will strike out some new ones, and it is high time that original ones should be struck out.
Will you kindly give the enclosed card, or post it, to Scott? You will see what it says. If it should prove quite convenient to fix the first May Meteorological Meeting during the second and not the first week, all the better for me.
Ever affectionately yours, FRANCIS GALTON.
* I have failed to find any such place. It is possibly a very obscurely written Positano, which is S.E. of Sorrento.
f See our Vol : ii, p. 130.
During the biographer's student-days there, 1879-1880; lie most courteously invited to his house English as well as American postgraduates.
To GroRcc DARWIN, ESQ.