540 Life and Letters of Francis Galton
CASA -, BORRDIGHERA, ITALY. March 2, 1905.
DEARRST DILLY, This stationery that we find drawers full of here is grand, is it not? It is all put at my service. I am grieved at your account of Guy and sympathise all the more from my somewhat similar afflictions, but the coming spring is in favour of him and this change of climate is fast curing me. But the weather here is far from paradisical. It has been so for 21 days in all, but rainy and often chilly all the rest. The past frost and drought have made cruel havoc with the gardens, so the spring show of flowers will be far poorer than it has been within recent memory. We are lodged luxuriously. It was very lucky for us that the lessor of this villa had to leave it for some weeks in order to seek a divorce from her husband in Edinburgh, and that she wanted cash for the purpose. So I made an offer of - of what she asked and got the house and two excellent servants, all in perfect order, till the end of March. I shall try and get, first the Arthur Butlers (he and his daughter) who are at San Remo, and then Mrs Litchfield*, who is at Cannes, to come here successively, each for a week. The garden is such a nice, rambling luxury, with good shelters against wind. It is mostly sold already to be broken up and built over in the spring. The Italian railroad services are greatly hindered by the methodised obstruction on them, adopted in lieu of strikes. There seems so little public spirit in Italy, that strikers of all kinds are free to bully the public. I dare say they would retaliate interference with the knife. I constantly wonder how society can be carried on by people who are so abject as most people are. I have been reading Hodgkin's account of the slowly perishing Roman Empire, and the pictures of depravity in it are horrible; yet the Empire was long in dying. There are capital books about here; some in this house, others at friends' houses, and others again at a good subscription library. I have been hearing folk-lore tales lately. Thus, a shepherd was missing; his sheep returned, but not he; three or four days passed and the relations consulted the, priest, who said, he will come back soon but you must ask him no questions. He did come back, silent and altered, but at length told his tale. He saw a cavern and went in and found a joyous company, dancing and feasting, who made much of him. This modern Tannhauser remained as he thought many days and at length entreating to go, they conducted him out, but on taking leave said: "If it was not for what you have in your pocket, you never could have got away." It was a piece of salt, a bit of what he had taken with him to give to the sheep. Salt is supposed to have many occult virtues. Another story was about a man falling in on a particular saint's eve with a masked procession carrying lighted tapers; the last who passed him gave him his or her taper, which be took home and put in a drawer; in the morning he found' it was a dead man's finger. So he consulted the priest, who said, wait a year and then go again, and give back the finger to the man who gave it you, but take' a tom
-cat with you. This he did, carrying the cat in an apron. When all was over, the cat was dead. The priests must be full of these legends, and ought to be very suggestive too, if they are always consulted and must give appropriate advice. I have been reading again White's' history of Selboriae. Besides all its natural history, merit and charm, what beautiful English it is. It was written about 1770, the time when my father was borne. Loves to you all.
Ever affectionately FRANCIS GALTON.
CASA -, 13ORDIGITERA, ITALY. March 10, 1905.
DEAR WELDON, Alas for optional Greek!-Wee are now in brilliant sunshine and warm weather, and I sit most of the day in a wooden shed in the garden, where I get through a fair amount of work. I wish you and Mrs Weldon were in this pretty villa to enjoy it also. You have a capital subject in working up latent characters in races that apparently breed true. Shorthorns ought to yield useful facts. It is interesting about the 13 mice; I instead of . The enclosed cutting was sent to me; though the conclusion is rubbish,' you might like to see the alleged facts if you do not already know about them.
AV hat you say is quite a new idea to me, that the loss of power by the embryo to regenerate the whole from a part is unconnected with the loss of power in the adult to regenerate lost limbs. Certainly a, remaining piece of begonia leaf does not renew the lost part. Your book' when it comes out will be full of interest. I don't expect to go farther' South than here. The place suits me perfectly and I want to get, as well as I can, and not to fall back into invalidism
* Charles Darwin's eldest surviving daughter.
t White's History first appeared in 1789, Tertius Galton was born in 1783.