522 Life and Letters of Francis Galton
and pleasant friends also Vesuvius erupting. It has been an Indian summer to my life. Now it is time to be home to greyer skies. I hear that you sent a sketch of the new house, Prestbury or Edymead. I shall hear much when I return. , But I share your anxiety about the boys. I trust all has ended better than you seemed to have feared. The Italian' papers are alarmist about strikes everywhere, at Rome and in Holland especially. I suppose we shall get through. The last and only time that I was in Siena before, there was a threat of a universal railway strike, during which, and while reinforcements of soldiers could not be sent, the mob were to sack Milan. But the scheme got wind. Siena was put under martial law while Frank Butler and I were there, and the riots at Milan were quelled, but not without blood. It is curious how soon an army of conscripts feel themselves detached from their countrymen and become ready to fire on them, if ordered by their officers. I have nothing of interest to tell you, but am burning to learn more of Radium. What with it, with air-telegraphy and with Rontgen rays we have suddenly become impressed with the magnitude and prevalence of unseen agencies. It will greatly change the view-point of ordinary materialists. As I understand it, if you constructed a suitable carriage for radium, radium could climb a hill. Fancy self-acting locomotives.' Expensive though to make.. Love to Amy and to you all at your home.
Ever affectionately, FRANCIS GALTON.
Correspondence with F. H. Perry Coste.
42, RUTLAND GATE, S.W. July 20, 1903.
DEAR SIR, I have spent 21 hours in partly deciphering your letter, and as I cannot easily spare more time now, have sent it to a typewriter, who will probably make out some phrases that still puzzle me. I was too boastful in saying that I had mastered the art of decipherment; when the typewritten copy reaches me I will answer it in full, but some things I can say now. -
I feel thoroughly your difficulties and your zeal in overcoming them, as regards catching the subjects to print from whether fathers or children, and am heartily obliged for your pains. The new Olivers shall be underlined with red in their pedigree. I will study the latter carefully to-morrow. All your pedigree work has thus far seemed very good to me. I fear that I -am not likely to find any one at Penzance, who would take trouble for me about the Olivers there. The suggestion as regards Scilly is valuable. I will bear it in mind.
Partly from difficulty of decipherment I fear that I have not rightly caught your question as regards the finger-prints of the "odd " parents. Every family pedigree must have an alien fringe, but the odd parent ceases to be alien if he has children, but only then. It would be indeed interesting (if easy) to compare the surnames (as from parish registers) at 50 years interval in some small but conservative place. In those I have seen they change much. You may recollect Doubleday's book, written three-quarters of a century ago, in which he declares that all the families of parishioners, who occupied any notable position, as a rule die out. But the laws of fertility puzzle everybody.
Pray tell me in good time whenever you want forms or schedules. I shall be from home on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday next. The typewritten copy will I hope be ready by my return, when I shall be able to answer further. Very faithfully yours, FRANCIS GALTON.
F. H. PERRY COSTE, ESQ.
42, RUTLAND GATE, S.W. July 22, 1903.
MY DEAR SIR, The typewriter (Dickens's grand-daughter) has performed miracles of decipherment and placed your valuable letter on clear record. Will you very kindly correct it where necessary and insert a few omissions. I return your letters for the purpose. Please let me have all back. I shall not have returned home till Friday evening. Let me tell an anecdote. The late Sir George Gabriel Stokes was a member for many years together with myself of the Meteorological Council. We protested against his handwriting which was perhaps half-way as cacographic as your own. One day he informed us with a mysterious air that his writing would henceforth become remarkably improved. And so it was! He bought a typewriter and used it ever afterwards.
In great haste for an early train. Very faithfully yours, FRANCIS GALTON. F. H. PERRY COSTE, ESQ.