Characterisation, especially by Letters 553
HOTEL GASSION, PAU, FRANCE. November 14, 1905. (Post-card.)
B' had a nephew, I believe; that is all I know about his family. I wish indeed that I knew more. Your letter reached me after a long round, hence the delay. The acceptance of the portrait by the Council, and its destination, have given me the greatest pleasure. Thank you all. I am so sorry to miss your fresh account of S. African experiences. We are probably here for the winter. F. GALTON.
Professor Sir G. H. Darwin, K.C.B., F.R.S.
HOTEL GASSION, PAU. November 24, 1905.
My DEAR BESSV, The blowing up into the air of the "pincushion" legend* is like the loss of a dear friend to me. I can only bow my head in grief, and submit. But it ought to have been true. Did not at all events our grandmother see a Doctor every week?-also with some ceremony? Where can I have got these notions from? Mrs Schim.'st virtues, however, I will still stand up for. She had plenty of warm friends up to her death, and Douglas, to whom I mentioned her iniquities, rather laughed at the account with scepticism. I have latterly found a fourth admirer but only of her "Port-Royal" collections and enthusiasms.
We spent last Tuesday afternoon, which was beautifully fine, at Lourdes, and saw the place pretty thoroughly, including the going up a funicular railway to a famous mountain view. The place is wonderfully beautiful, and white, and clean, with abundance of smooth sward and a rushing river, which comes on here past Pau. I drank the holy water, of course, straight from the tap, and did not find it cold. Oh ! the flare of wax candles in the Grotto, and the crutches and sticks fastened to its sides and roof, as votive offerings. There was no crowd of pilgrims, but many very devout-looking, praying people.
We can't get lively. The air is so unexhilarating even on the finest days. This place has, I find, that reputation, so I expect we shall soon make trial of Biarritz (three or four hours off).
I am very sorry about the Studdys' bad drains. I gave your messages to Eva. Tell us when you next write, how Mrs Skipwith progresses. You will be glad to see Penelopel again. It is of course a trial to every one to see alterations in old places, but what we two went through that day, in our search for Ladywood, Duddeston, and the Larches, can hardly be beaten by the experience of any one else.
I am news-less, day follows day monotonously with its meals and sleeps, newspapers, novels, and with sadly too little out of door exercise. The weather is usually so bad. Yesterday was execrable, and we have no GO in us just now. They want me to write a book on " Eugenics" and I am disposed to accept the offer. If I see my way to do it, it will give pleasant occupation for a year. But it will be a difficult job to do creditably. Many loves to all.
Ever affectionately yours, FRANCIS CALTON.
HOTEL D'ANGLETERRE, BIARRITZ. December 10, 1905.
DEAREST MILLY, I will go through your letter in order, leaving the Tollemaches to the end, after I have seen them. Demolins is the man you mention. I have not yet read but have sent for his Anglo-Scuxons. His French of To-day is, to say the least, stimulating, but I find it raises many unsolved questions and criticisms, and especially as to whether his foundations are as solid as he believes. But I must read more before judging how far his methods would really help in "Eugenics" inquiries. So glad that you have Amy back, and a house full of sons and grandsons. The "Hilda" disaster must have come very home to you; all the more after your "Alliance" shock. I am so glad that you are again in correspondence with Mrs Benson, whom I myself knew only slightly, but whom I always heard so highly spoken
* The good lady was reported too have found it difficult to remember the names of the various parts of her frame and still more the locality of the pains she had experienced during the course of the week previous to the doctor's visit. So she caused a doll to be made and stuck a pin into the appropriate place as each pain troubled her. The doctor at his weekly visits gravely extracted pin after pin and discussed the corresponding pain and its cause.
t Mrs Schimmelpenninck, Calton's aunt, the well-known writer.
Widow of Francis Galton's brother Darwin.
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