Characterisation., especially by Letters 591
in a way that shall not irritate but be conclusive. I have done my best, and I hate newspaper controversy. There is really some spring now in the air, and a snowdrop in the garden, but much that is nasty may happen before spring comes. I suppose your home will be in much beauty even before May. How you will all enjoy it. The account of Guy's motor expenses is very interesting. I see that much effort is being now made to produce small motors at small cost, that will travel at a moderate pace and be good machines. Being one's own chauffeur greatly facilitates matters. My loaned donkey grows lazier and lazier, and more caressing at the same time. If she was not so old, and so prized by her owner, and if neither Eva nor other humanitarian persons saw me, I should make her "taste stick." Do you know that "walloping" is derived from the names of the two (?) Generals or Admirals (?) who were ancestors of Lord Portsmouth, and who walloped the enemies of England? Best loves.
Ever affectionately, FRANCIS GALTON.
MEADOW COTTAGE, BROCKHAM GREEN, BETCHWORTH, SURREY. January 17, 1909.
DEAREST MILLY, As to that newspaper correspondence, I enclose my reply of which I have one duplicate; please therefore return it when you next write. It is in answer to very positive assertions by two men of Anglo-Indian weight, who ought to have informed themselves more exactly when they wrote. I purposely wrote as civilly as possible. Whether more will follow, I know not. Also, I enclose a short letter of mine in this week's Nature, on quite another aubject, "Sequestrated Church Property," which may interest Amy. It arose through Eva's inclination to believe in the supposed curse. Please let me have this back too, when next you write. What interests me the most in this little inquiry is that the average tenure of landed property in England is between 25 and 26 years. Yesterday I had a long letter from Harcourt Butler, from India, enthusiastic about the finger-print system. He has indeed succeeded in life, being now Foreign Secretary to the Government of India, though still young. How responsibility brings out character. It seems to have done so with Signorina Cotta. I pity you with your fire-places. You may recollect my own troubles in Rutland Gate many years ago about the kitchen chimney, when I called in an advertising expert who spoke like an oracle "Sir, I am a practical man and can assure you that all that is wanted is to enlarge the opening of the chimney pot." I allowed him to try, and the chimney smoked as badly, if not worse than before. Then I called in a still greater expert and lie began just as the other, "Sir, I am a practical man and can assure you that all that is wanted is to constrict the aperture of the chimney pot." I think that plan also was tried. Anyhow a much more intelligible cause of the fault suggested itself and that was remedied and all went well. If you could remember, as I do, my dear Sister Adele, your mother, long before you were born, you would probably have associated her as I often do with the fire-place of her bedroom in Lansdowne Place, which had two hobs, on one of which a kettle always stood most conveniently at hand.
Your ants must be a great interest. Do you yet know the features of any one of them? I see that Guy's motor account works out at a trifle under 3d. a mile, exclusive of depreciation of the value of the motor. That ought to be included, but I have not a notion of what it issomewhere between 15 and 20 per cent. of its original cost, I suppose, but quere. Eva is gone for two nights to London. Lady Galton is very ill but not worse, and with no hope of ultimate recovery, for it is senile gangrene. Ever affectionately, FRANCIS GALTON.
MEADOW COTTAGE, BROCKIIAM GREEN, BETCHWORTH, SURREY. January 31, 1909.
DEAREST MILLY, Poor Erasmus! He is so very stoical. When he felt "something give" as he was about to enter the tram and fell on the road, the first thing he said to those who picked him up was, "It's all arranged, and mind I'm to be cremated"! I hear that he is as free from pain and as comfortable as may be, but that the broken bone can never heal, so all his habitual walks and independencies must end. I am extremely sorry for him. He somehow seems to me to have failed to get as much interest and "go" in life as his circumstances might have given him. Thanks for returning the newspaper cutting. Sir W. Herschel wrote subsequently a very nice letter to the Times, which I was very glad of, for he of all men can speak out best on the early stages of finger-prints in India.
Why don't you try Charles Darwin's perfectly successful plan of warming your room? The air enters through the wall, behind the fire-grate, into a compartment closed in front and top,