Recognized HTML document
Previous Index Next

496   Life and Letters of Francis Galton

Letters of Galton copied from the Originals by baud Gardiner Odell.


" The first letter is an answer to a letter from my husband_ asking about possible observations and measurements, yielding desirable data, to be made upon infants. My daughter arrived Nov. 5 at Naples where we were spending the winter, my husband being on leave of absence from hiswork at the University of Colorado, U.S.A. Dept. of Biology."

42, RUTLAND GATE, LONDON. October 6 (?), 1894.

DEAR SIR, I cannot help you much. Preyer's books are probably within your reach, at Naples. I have received from time to time from the United States pamphlets on the subject. There is now one on my table by a Mrs Shand (?)-California-Part III, this being on a child aet. 3, the preceding parts being presumably about an earlier age. (It is in a cover like the Smithsonian publications.) I have had so little to do with children in my life, that I have not interested myself in the inquiries about them and am therefore too ignorant to be an adviser. I should think that the observation of the increasing power of muscular co-ordination, and that of muscle with will, would be as good a clue as any to direct you. I suppose the colour-sense is developed quite early?

I heartily wish you would take finger-prints of the child at the earliest possible age, with a view of determining whether there is any alteration in the papillary ridges during babyhood. I have next to no data for investigating this. They are by no means easy to take, partly on account of the restiveness of the infant, chiefly on account of the very slight relief of the papillary ridges. In effect it is very delicate printing. You ought to use the THINNEST possible layer of rather fluid printer's ink, spread on a polished plate, and dabbing the child's fingers on it, dab them immediately after on smooth paper. Don't attempt to get any more than a lightish brown impression-Black is an impossibility.: It is clearness that one wants. Unquestionably the most delicate impression of all, is in varnish thickly spread, that has been exposed- sufficiently long to the air to have a slight pellicle over it. Dabbing the finger on this leaves a beautiful but transient impress, not so transient however as to prevent a cast being taken from it, if the plaster is at hand and in readiness to use. In regard to instruments for measuring the growth of the soft dimensions of a baby, I cannot tell you and doubt much if such measurements are ever to be trusted. You would have to exercise a strictly constant pressure.

Faithfully yours, FRANCIS GALTON.

P.S. I am not "Sir Francis."

To PROF. JOHN GARDINER.

Address to: 42, RUTLAND GATE, LONDON. July 21, 1895.

DEAR MRS GARDINER, Your letter and the most interesting series of prints of your baby's R II reached me on the Continent yesterday morning and I have already gone over them carefully twice, with the aid of such lenses as I have by me.

The general result is that about eight points of reference admit of being compared at different periods of growth and show in a very instructive way how the ridges become more and more sharply differentiated. I must wait till I get back, to study them as thoroughly as they deserve. They ought to be photographically enlarged-that is to say, the best prints and the most important of them. This I will do when I return home. On more than half of the days after birth, from the ninth to the thirty-fifth, on which prints were taken, namely, in the first 18 sets of prints, one and sometimes two prints are clear enough to study. These are always the darkest of their respective sets. From the ninth week to the thirty-first inclusive, six sets were taken, but unfortunately not one of these is distinct enough to be of use. I wonder what the cause of failure here can be? Perhaps thematerials were not so good. That taken in the thirty-sixth week is quite serviceable.

What remains to be done, to thoroughly deal with this finger, is to get some really good impressions now, such as will show the delta as well as the core. For this purpose, if you cannot roll the finger a little, you might take some of the prints slightly from the side of the finger, the thumb side in this case. Also to very kindly let me have some prints, one set in each future


Previous Index Next