Characterisation, especially by Letters 575
BRIDGE END, OCKHAM, SURREY. August 12 (St Grouse of the Philistines), 1906.
DEAREST MILLY, The four letters which I return are like the opening of an Etruscan tomb, where all the contents appear just as they were deposited 2000 and more years back. How human we all are ! I can quite understand your having felt just the same about your child and grandchildren as your mother did about me. Erasmus might, or might not, greatly like to see his own letter and others about Loxton. I have to write to him, and will mention their existence, especially that of July 19, 1839, so he can apply to you if he wishes. I recollect so clearly coming home-to Leamington-in 1840, and my sisters all in mourning array for my grandfather; Eva's great-great-grandfather. It is pleasant to read of the strong affection that your mother then had-even at that early date, I mean-for Aunt Brewin, or Aunt Sophia as she then was. We were rated by outsiders as a most united family and the letters show that we were so then. But after my Father's death the hoops that bound together the staves of the family cask seem to have given way, and with independence we mostly flew off in different directions. What good paper and ink they used in 1839-40. It is the bleaching and the shoddy (short fibres) and other material than linen, that cause modern paper to be so weak and perishable. But it is marvellously cheap. I suppose that paper is "pulped" over and over again until it serves no other purpose than to give bulk. The strength, such as it is, being due to a scanty intermixture of proper fibre. It is worth while to scrutinise paper through a strong lens and to notice its curious structure. I have been busy with my machine, out of doors, I sitting under an awning and the machine projecting out into the open, and now that I can test the plan experimentally and for the first time with proper appliances, am more doubtful than ever as to its real usefulness. But there are still some tests to be applied and some variations of method.
Yes, this August is a sad month to me, or rather a month that brings sad and solemn recollections. Dear Emma, I feel the want of her more and more, but she fully lived out her life. There were grounds for fear that her faculties would noticeably weaken before long. There is a Greek phrase, I think, "he was still young and his tomb was not yet in sight." In my fancies, I don't see a tomb but a greenery with some cypresses in it showing over a bit of old brick wall on a hill about a mile off, where the peaceable cemetery lies. There are many small, nice, old-fashioned churches hereabouts and, as Sir Lucius O'Trigger expressed himself, nice quiet lying in the attached churchyards. We feel much at home here, having made many friends last year. The weather continues lovely-no rain ; the trees don't show the want of it, though the gardens do. Your rain is wanted here by the farmers. Best loves.
Ever affectionately, FRANCIS GALTON.
Try to excuse smears and blots.
Lucy Cameron Galton comes here next Saturday for a week. I much look forward to going to you on or about September 4. We leave this on Thursday, August 30, thence to town to refit and to settle matters, and I should be free to come to you on September 3 or 4 (Monday or Tuesday). Please let the exact date stand over for a bit. (You must of course consider your own convenience first.)
ROYAL VICTORIA YACHT CLUB, RYDE, I. OF W. August 14, 1906.
MY DEAR FRANK, Our friend Collins is quite wrong about the compass points as used by seamen. No sailor would dream of saying N.N. West by West half North ; he would say N.N. West half West. No doubt Collins had picked the term up among yachtsmen, who do make ridiculous mistakes among themselves, and there is no one to correct them. In mercy to Collins pray tell him. Many thanks about sister Adele's letter and F. Miller's address. I am glad you like your quarters so well. What a cheerful companion Jenny would make for me; how we would converse and understand each other-like yourself and the camel did some 40 years since at the Zoo, when the camel flopped down on its knees and toppled over a lot of children and two ancient parties. I simply made a run for it-yourself ditto.
I get afloat in steamers often, but not in sailing vessels. How curious it is how people keep on using old terms, now meaningless. The newspapers and others constantly say such and such a company's steamers Sail on such a day in place of saying Leave. They carry no sails and have no masts except for signal uses.
I am as well as possible, but the toss by a cow three years since has spoilt my walking powers and my sea legs. Ever very affectionately yours, ERAS. GALTON.
P.S. Kindest remembrances to Eva.