Hereditary Genius

Francis Galton





Sir William Sydney,        John Dudley, Earl of Warwick
      Soldier and knight         and Duke of Northumberland; Earl
       of renown                 Marshal. “The minion of his time.”
   _________|_________              ___________|___
  |                   |            |               |
Lucy, marr.   Sir Henry Sydney = Mary  Sir Robt. Dudley,  William Herbert
Sir James     three times Lord |       the great Earl of  1st E. Pembroke
Harrington   Deputy of Ireland.|       Leicester.         Statesman and
     __________________________|____________              soldier.
    |                 |                     |               |
Sir Philip Sydney,  Sir Robert,           Mary   = 2d Earl of Pembroke.
Scholar, soldier, 1st Earl Leicester,  Epitaph   |
  courtier.       Soldier & courtier.  by Ben    |
                      |                Johnson   |
                      |                          |
                   Sir Robert, 2d Earl.       3d Earl Pembroke,
                   “Learning, observation,    Patron of letters.
                   and veracity.”
         |            |                     |
  Philip Sydney,   Algernon Sydney,     Dorothy,
   3d Earl,          Patriot.            Waller's
one of Cromwell's  Beheaded, 1683.     “Saccharissa.”













First published in 1869.
Second Edition, with an additional preface, 1892.

Fifith corrected proof of the first electronic edition, 2019.
Based on the text of the second edition.

The page numbering and layout of the second edition have been preserved, as far as possible, to simplify cross-referencing.

This is a corrected proof.

This document forms part of the archive of Galton material available at

Original electronic conversion by Michal Kulczycki, based on a facsimile prepared by Gavan Tredoux.  Many errata were detected by Diane L. Ritter.

This edition was edited, cross-checked and reformatted by Gavan Tredoux.






















The Right of Translation and Reproduction is Reserved


Prefatory Chapter To The Edition Of 1892. vii

Preface_ v

Contents_ vii

ERRATA_ viii

Introductory Chapter. 1

Classification Of Men According To Their Reputation. 6

Classification Of Men According To Their Natural Gifts. 14

Comparison Of The Two Classifications_ 37

Notation_ 50

The Judges Of England Between  1660 and 1865_ 55











POETS. 225



















Prefatory Chapter To The Edition Of 1892.

THIS volume is a reprint of a work published twenty-three years ago, which has long been unpurchasable, except at second-hand and at fancy prices. It was a question whether to revise the whole and to bring the information up to date, or simply to reprint it after remedying a few staring errata. The latter course has been adopted, because even a few additional data would have made it necessary to recast all the tabulations, while a thorough reconstruction would be a work of greater labour than I can now undertake.

At the time when the book was written, the human mind was popularly thought to act independently of natural laws, and to be capable of almost any achievement, if compelled to exert itself by a will that had a power of initiation. Even those who had more philosophical habits of thought were far from looking upon the mental faculties of each individual as being limited with as much strictness as those of his body, still less was the idea of the hereditary transmission of ability clearly apprehended. The earlier part of the book should be read in the light of the imperfect knowledge of the time when it was written, since what was true in the above respects

for the year 1869 does not continue to be true for 1892.  Many of the lines of inquiry that are suggested or hinted at in this book have since been pursued by myself, and the results have been published in various memoirs. They are for the most part epitomised in three volumes—namely, English Men of Science (1874), Human Faculty (1883), Natural Inheritance (1889); also to some small extent in a fourth volume, now about to be published, on Finger Marks.

The fault in the volume that I chiefly regret is the choice of its title of Hereditary Genius, but it cannot be remedied now. There was not the slightest intention on my part to use the word genius in any technical sense, but merely as expressing an ability that was exceptionally high, and at the same time inborn. It was intended to be used in the senses ascribed to the word in Johnson's Dictionary, viz. “Mental power or faculties. Disposition of nature by which any one is qualified to some peculiar employment. Nature; disposition.” A person who is a genius is defined as—A man endowed with superior faculties. This exhausts all that Johnson has to say on the matter, except as regards the imaginary creature of classical authors called a Genius, which does not concern us, and which he describes as the protecting or ruling power of men, places, or things. There is nothing in the quotations from standard authors with which Johnson illustrates his definitions, that justifies a strained and technical sense being given to the word, nor is there anything of the kind in the Latin word ingenium.

Hereditary Genius therefore seemed to be a more expressive and just title than Hereditary Ability, for ability does not exclude the effects of education, which

genius does.  The reader will find a studious abstinence throughout the work from speaking of genius as a special quality. It is freely used as an equivalent for natural ability, in the opening of the chapter on “Comparison of the Two Classifications.” In the only place, so far as I have noticed on reading the book again, where any distinction is made between them, the uncertainty that still clings to the meaning of the word genius in its technical sense is emphatically dwelt upon (p. 320). There is no confusion of ideas in this respect in the book, but its title seems apt to mislead, and if it could be altered now, it should appear as Hereditary Ability.

The relation between genius in its technical sense (whatever its precise definition may be) and insanity, has been much insisted upon by Lombroso and others, whose views of the closeness of the connection between the two are so pronounced, that it would hardly be surprising if one of their more enthusiastic followers were to remark that So-and-So cannot be a genius, because he has never been mad nor is there a single lunatic in his family. I cannot go nearly so far as they, nor accept a moiety of their data, on which the connection between ability of a very high order and insanity is supposed to be established. Still, there is a large residuum of evidence which points to a painfully close relation between the two, and I must add that my own later observations have tended in the same direction, for I have been surprised at finding how often insanity or idiocy has appeared among the near relatives of exceptionally able men. Those who are over eager and extremely active in mind must often possess brains that are more excitable and peculiar than is consistent with soundness. They are likely to become crazy at times,

and perhaps to break down altogether.  Their inborn excitability and peculiarity may be expected to appear in some of their relatives also, but unaccompanied with an equal dose of preservative qualities, whatever they may be. Those relatives would be “crank,” if not insane.

There is much that is indefinite in the application of the word genius. It is applied to many a youth by his contemporaries, but more rarely by biographers, who do not always agree among themselves. If genius means a sense of inspiration, or of rushes of ideas from apparently supernatural sources, or of an inordinate and burning desire to accomplish any particular end, it is perilously near to the voices heard by the insane, to their delirious tendencies, or to their monomanias. It cannot in such cases be a healthy faculty, nor can it be desirable to perpetuate it by inheritance. The natural ability of which this book mainly treats, is such as a modern European possesses in a much greater average share than men of the lower races. There is nothing either in the history of domestic animals or in that of evolution to make us doubt that a race of sane men may be formed who shall be as much superior mentally and morally to the modern European, as the modern European is to the lowest of the Negro races. Individual departures from this high average level in an upward direction would afford an adequate supply of a degree of ability that is exceedingly rare now, and is much wanted.

It may prove helpful to the reader of the volume to insert in this introductory chapter a brief summary of its data and course of arguments. The primary object was to investigate whether and in what degree natural ability was hereditarily transmitted.  This could not be easily

accomplished without a preliminary classification of ability according to a standard scale, so the first part of the book is taken up with an attempt to provide one.

The method employed is based on the law commonly known to mathematicians as that of “frequency of error,” because it was devised by them to discover the frequency with which various proportionate amounts of error might be expected to occur in astronomical and geodetical operations, and thereby to estimate the value that was probably nearest the truth, from a mass of slightly discordant measures of the same fact.

Its application had been extended by Quetelet to the proportions of the human body, on the grounds that the differences, say in stature, between men of the same race might theoretically be treated as if they were Errors made by Nature in her attempt to mould individual men of the same race according to the same ideal pattern. Fantastic as such a notion may appear to be when it is expressed in these bare terms, without the accompaniment of a full explanation, it can be shown to rest on a perfectly just basis. Moreover, the theoretical predictions were found by him to be correct, and their correctness in analogous cases under reasonable reservations has been confirmed by multitudes of subsequent observations, of which perhaps the most noteworthy are those of Professor Weldon, on that humble creature the common shrimp (Proc. Royal Society, p. 2, vol. 51, 1892).

One effect of the law may be expressed under this form, though it is not that which was used by Quetelet. Suppose 100 adult Englishmen to be selected at random, and ranged in the order of their statures in a row; the statures of the 50th and the 51st men would be almost identical, and would represent the average of all the

statures.  Then the difference, according to the law of frequency, between them and the 63rd man would be the same as that between the 63rd and the 75th, the 75th and the 84th, the 84th and the 90th. The intervening men between these divisions, whose numbers are 13, 12, 9, and 6, form a succession of classes, diminishing as we see in numbers, but each separated from its neighbours by equal grades of stature. The diminution of the successive classes is thus far small, but it would be found to proceed at an enormously accelerated rate if a much longer row than that of 100 men were taken, and if the classification were pushed much further, as is fully shown in this book.

After some provisional verification, I applied this same law to mental faculties, working it backwards in order to obtain a scale of ability, and to be enabled thereby to give precision to the epithets employed. Thus the rank of first in 4,000 or thereabouts is expressed by the word “eminent.” The application of the law of frequency of error to mental faculties has now become accepted by many persons, for it is found to accord well with observation. I know of examiners who habitually use it to verify the general accuracy of the marks given to many candidates in the same examination. Also I am informed by one mathematician that before dividing his examinees into classes, some regard is paid to this law. There is nothing said in this book about the law of frequency that subsequent experience has not confirmed and even extended, except that more emphatic warning is needed against its unchecked application.

The next step was to gain a general idea as to the transmission of ability, founded upon a large basis of homogeneous facts by which to test the results that might be afterwards obtained from more striking but less homogeneous data. It was necessary, in seeking for these, to

sedulously guard against any bias of my own; it was also essential that the group to be dealt with should be sufficiently numerous for statistical treatment, and again, that the family histories of the persons it contained should be accessible, and, if possible, already published.

The list at length adopted for this prefatory purpose was that of the English Judges since the Reformation. Their kinships were analysed, and the percentage of their “eminent” relations in the various near degrees were tabulated and the results discussed. These were very striking, and seemed amply sufficient of themselves to prove the main question. Various objections to the validity of the inferences drawn from them may, however, arise; they are considered, and, it is believed, disposed of, in the book.

After doing this, a series of lists were taken in succession, of the most illustrious statesmen, commanders, literary men, men of science, poets, musicians, and painters, of whom history makes mention. To each of these lists were added many English eminent men of recent times, whose biographies are familiar, or, if not, are easily accessible. The lists were drawn up without any bias of my own, for I always relied mainly upon the judgment of others, exercised without any knowledge of the object of the present inquiry, such as the selections made by historians or critics. After the lists of the illustrious men had been disposed of, a large group of eminent Protestant divines were taken in hand—namely, those who were included in Middleton's once well known and highly esteemed biographical dictionary of such persons. Afterwards the Senior Classics of Cambridge were discussed, then the north country oarsmen and wrestlers. In the principal lists all the selected names were inserted, in which those who

were known to have eminent kinsmen were printed in italics, so the proportion of failures can easily be compared with that of the successes. Each list was followed, as the list of the judges had been, with a brief dictionary of kinships, all being afterwards tabulated and discussed in the same way. Finally the various results were brought together and compared, showing a remarkable general agreement, with a few interesting exceptions. One of these exceptions lay in the preponderating influence of the maternal side in the case of the divines; this was discussed and apparently accounted for.

The remainder of the volume is taken up with topics that are suggested by the results of the former portion, such as the comparative worth of different races, the influences that affect the natural ability of nations, and finally a chapter of general considerations.

If the work were rewritten, the part of the last chapter which refers to Darwin's provisional theory of pangenesis would require revision, and ought to be largely extended, in order to deal with the evidence for and against the hereditary transmission of habits that were not inborn, but had been acquired through practice. Marvellous as is the power of the theory of pangenesis in bringing large classes of apparently different phenomena under a single law, serious objections have since arisen to its validity, and prevented its general acceptance. It would, for example, almost compel us to believe that the hereditary transmission of accidental mutilations and of acquired aptitudes would be the rule and not the exception. But leaving out of the question all theoretical reasons against this belief, such as those which I put forward myself many years ago, as well as the more cogent ones adduced by Weissman in late years,—putting these wholly aside, and

appealing to experimental evidence, it is now certain that the tendency of acquired habits to be hereditarily transmitted is at the most extremely small. There may be some few cases, like those of Brown-Sequard's guinea-pigs, in which injury to the nervous substance of the parents affects their offspring; but as a general rule, with scarcely any exception that cannot be ascribed to other influences, such as bad nutrition or transmitted microbes, the injuries or habits of the parents are found to have no effect on the natural form or faculties of the child. Whether very small hereditary influences of the supposed kind, accumulating in the same direction for many generations, may not ultimately affect the qualities of the species, seems to be the only point now seriously in question.

Many illustrations have been offered, by those few persons of high authority who still maintain that acquired habits, such as the use or disuse of particular organs in the parents, admit of being hereditarily transmitted in a sufficient degree to notably affect the whole breed after many generations. Among these illustrations much stress has “been laid on the diminishing size of the human jaw, in highly civilized peoples. It is urged that their food is better cooked and more toothsome than that of their ancestors, consequently the masticating apparatus of the race has dwindled through disuse. The truth of the evidence on which this argument rests is questionable, because it is not at all certain that non-European races who have more powerful jaws than ourselves use them more than we do. A Chinaman lives, and has lived for centuries, on rice and spoon-meat, or such over-boiled diet as his chopsticks can deal with. Equatorial Africans live to a great extent on bananas, or else on cassava, which, being usually of the poisonous kind, must be well boiled

before it is eaten, in order to destroy the poison.  Many of the Eastern Archipelago islanders live on sago. Pastoral tribes eat meat occasionally, but their usual diet is milk or curds. It is only the hunting tribes who habitually live upon tough meat. It follows that the diminishing size of the human jaw in highly civilized people must be ascribed to other causes, such as those, whatever they may be, that reduce the weight of the whole skeleton in delicately nurtured animals.

It seems feasible to subject the question to experiment, whether certain acquired habits, acting during at least ten, twenty, or more generations, have any sensible effects on the race. I will repeat some remarks on this subject which I made two years ago, first in a paper read at a Congress in Paris, and afterwards at the British Association at Newcastle. The position taken was that the experiments ought to be made on a large scale, and upon creatures that were artificially hatched, and therefore wholly isolated from maternal teachings. Fowls, moths, and fish were the particular creatures suggested. Fowls are reared in incubators at very many places on a large scale, especially in France. It seemed not difficult to devise practices associated with peculiar calls to food, with colours connected with food, or with food that was found to be really good though deterrent in appearance, and in certain of the breeding-places to regularly subject the chicks to these practices. Then, after many generations had passed by, to examine whether or no the chicks of the then generation had acquired any instinct for performing them, by comparing their behaviour with that of chicks reared in other places. As regards moths, the silkworm industry is so extensive and well understood that there would be abundant opportunity for analogous experiments with moths,

both in France and Italy. The establishments for pisciculture afford another field. It would not be worth while to initiate courses of such experiments unless the crucial value of what they could teach us when completed had first been fully assented to. To my own mind they would rank as crucial experiments so far as they went, and be worth undertaking, but they did not appear to strike others so strongly in the same light. Of course before any such experiments were set on foot, they would have to be considered in detail by many competent minds, and be closely criticised.

Another topic would have been treated at more length if this book were rewritten—namely, the distinction between variations and sports. It would even require a remodelling of much of the existing matter. The views I have been brought to entertain, since it was written, are amplifications of those which are already put forward in pp. 354-5, but insufficiently pushed there to their logical conclusion. They are, that the word variation is used indiscriminately to express two fundamentally distinct conceptions: sports, and variations properly so called. It has been shown in Natural Inheritance that the distribution of faculties in a population cannot possibly remain constant, if, on the average, the children resemble their parents. If they did so, the giants (in any mental or physical particular) would become more gigantic, and the dwarfs more dwarfish, in each successive generation. The counteracting tendency is what I called “regression.” The filial centre is not the same as the parental centre, but it is nearer to mediocrity; it regresses towards the racial centre. In other words, the filial centre (or the fraternal centre, if we change the point of view) is always nearer, on the average, to the racial centre than the parental centre was.  There

must be an average “regression” in passing from the parental to the filial centre.

It is impossible briefly to give a full idea, in this place, either of the necessity or of the proof of regression; they have been thoroughly discussed in the work in question. Suffice it to say, that the result gives precision to the idea of a typical centre from which individual variations occur in accordance with the law of frequency, often to a small amount, more rarely to a larger one, very rarely indeed to one that is much larger, and practically never to one that is larger still. The filial centre falls back further towards mediocrity in a constant proportion to the distance to which the parental centre has deviated from it, whether the direction of the deviation be in excess or in deficiency. All true variations are (as I maintain) of this kind, and it is in consequence impossible that the natural qualities of a race may be permanently changed through the action of selection upon mere variations. The selection of the most serviceable variations cannot even produce any great degree of artificial and temporary improvement, because an equilibrium between deviation and regression will soon be reached, whereby the best of the offspring will cease to be better than their own sires and dams.

The case is quite different in respect to what are technically known as “sports.” In these, a new character suddenly makes its appearance in a particular individual, causing him to differ distinctly from his parents and from others of his race. Such new characters are also found to be transmitted to descendants. Here there has been a change of typical centre, a new point of departure has somehow come into existence, towards which regression has henceforth to be measured, and consequently a real

step forward has been made in the course of evolution.  When natural selection favours a particular sport, it works effectively towards the formation of a new species, but the favour that it simultaneously shows to mere variations seems to be thrown away, so far as that end is concerned.

There may be entanglement between a sport and a variation which leads to a hybrid and unstable result, “well exemplified in the imperfect character of the fusion of different human races. Here numerous pure specimens of their several ancestral types are apt to crop out, notwithstanding the intermixture by marriage that had been going on for many previous generations.

It has occurred to others as well as myself, as to Mr. Wallace and to Professor Romanes, that the time may have arrived when an institute for experiments on heredity might be established with advantage. A farm and garden of a very few acres, with varied exposure, and well supplied with water, placed under the charge of intelligent caretakers, supervised by a biologist, would afford the necessary basis for a great variety of research upon inexpensive animals and plants. The difficulty lies in the smallness of the number of competent persons who are actively engaged in hereditary inquiry, who could be depended upon to use it properly.

The direct result of this inquiry is to make manifest the great and measurable differences between the mental and bodily faculties of individuals, and to prove that the laws of heredity are as applicable to the former as to the latter. Its indirect result is to show that a vast but unused power is vested in each generation over the very natures of their successors—that is, over their inborn faculties and dispositions. The brute power of doing this by means of appropriate marriages or abstention from marriage undoubtedly

exists, however much the circumstances of social life may hamper its employment.[1] The great problem of the future betterment of the human race is confessedly, at the present time, hardly advanced beyond the stage of academic interest, but thought and action move swiftly nowadays, and it is by no means impossible that a generation which has witnessed the exclusion of the Chinese race from the customary privileges of settlers in two continents, and the deportation of a Hebrew population from a large portion of a third, may live to see other analogous acts performed under sudden socialistic pressure. The striking results of an evil inheritance have already forced themselves so far on the popular mind, that indignation is freely expressed, without any marks of disapproval from others, at the yearly output by unfit parents of weakly children who are constitutionally incapable of growing up into serviceable citizens, and who are a serious encumbrance to the nation. The questions about to be considered may unexpectedly acquire importance as falling within the sphere of practical politics, and if so, many demographic data that require forethought and time to collect, and a dispassionate and leisurely judgment to discuss, will be hurriedly and sorely needed.

The topics to which I refer are the relative fertility of different classes and races, and their tendency to supplant one another under various circumstances.

The whole question of fertility under the various conditions of civilized life requires more detailed research than it has yet received. We require further investigations into the truth of the hypothesis of Malthus, that there is really no limit to over-population beside that which is

afforded by misery or prudential restraint.  Is it true that misery, in any justifiable sense of that word, provides the only check which acts automatically, or are other causes in existence, active, though as yet obscure, that assist in restraining the overgrowth of population? It is certain that the productiveness of different marriages differs greatly in consequence of unexplained conditions. The variation in fertility of different kinds of animals that have been captured when wild and afterwards kept in menageries is, as Darwin long since pointed out, most notable and apparently capricious. The majority of those which thrive in confinement, and apparently enjoy excellent health, are nevertheless absolutely infertile; others, often of closely allied species, have their productivity increased. One of the many evidences of our great ignorance of the laws that govern fertility, is seen in the behaviour of bees, who have somehow discovered that by merely modifying the diet and the size of the nursery of any female grub, they can at will cause it to develop, either into a naturally sterile worker, or into the potential mother of a huge hive.

Demographers have, undoubtedly, collected and collated a vast amount of information bearing on the fertility of different nations, but they have mainly attacked the problem in the gross and not in detail, so that we possess little more than mean values that are applicable to general populations, and are very valuable in their way, but we remain ignorant of much else, that a moderate amount of judiciously directed research might, perhaps, be able to tell.

As an example of what could be sought with advantage, let us suppose that we take a number, sufficient for statistical purposes, of persons occupying different social classes, those who are the least efficient in physical, intellectual, and moral grounds, forming our lowest class, and

those who are the most efficient forming our highest class.  The question to be solved relates to the hereditary permanence of the several classes. What proportion of each class is descended from parents who belong to the same class, and what proportion is descended from parents who belong to each of the other classes? Do those persons who have honourably succeeded in life, and who are presumably, on the whole, the most valuable portion of our human stock, contribute on the aggregate their fair share of posterity to the next generation? If not, do they contribute more or less than their fair share, and in what degree? In other words, is the evolution of man in each particular country, favourably or injuriously affected by its special form of civilization?

Enough is already known to make it certain that the productiveness of both the extreme classes, the best and the worst, falls short of the average of the nation as a whole. Therefore, the most prolific class necessarily lies between the two extremes, but at what intermediate point does it lie? Taken altogether, on any reasonable principle, are the natural gifts of the most prolific class, bodily, intellectual, and moral, above or below the line of national mediocrity? If above that line, then the existing conditions are favourable to the improvement of the race. If they are below that line, they must work towards its degradation.

These very brief remarks serve to shadow out the problem; it would require much more space than is now available, before it could be phrased in a way free from ambiguity, so that its solution would clearly instruct us whether the conditions of life at any period in any given race were tending to raise or to depress its natural qualities.

Whatever other countries may or may not have lost, ours has certainly gained on more than one occasion by the infusion of the breed of selected sub-races, especially of that of the Protestant refugees from religious persecution on the Continent. It seems reasonable to look upon the Huguenots as men who, on the whole, had inborn qualities of a distinctive kind from the majority of their countrymen, and who may, therefore, be spoken of as a sub-type—that is to say, capable, when isolated, of continuing their race without its showing any strong tendency to revert to the form of the earlier type from which it was a well-defined departure. It proved, also, that the cross breed between them and our ancestors was a singularly successful mixture. Consequently, England has been largely indebted to the natural refinement and to the solid worth of the Huguenot breed, as well as to the culture and technical knowledge that the Huguenots brought with them.

The frequency in history with which one race has supplanted another over wide geographical areas is one of the most striking facts in the evolution of mankind. The denizens of the world at the present day form a very different human stock to that which inhabited it a dozen generations ago, and to all appearance a no less difference will be found in our successors a dozen of generations hence. Partly it may be that new human varieties have come into permanent or only into temporary existence, like that most remarkable mixed race of the Normans many centuries ago, in whom, to use well-known words of the late Professor Freeman, the indomitable vigour of the Scandinavians, joined to the buoyant vivacity of the Gaul, produced the conquering and ruling race of Europe. But principally the change of which I spoke is due to great alterations in

the proportions of those who belong to the old and well established types.  The Negro now born in the United States has much the same natural faculties as his distant cousin who is born in Africa; the effect of his transplantation being ineffective in changing his nature, but very effective in increasing his numbers, in enlarging the range of his distribution, and in destroying native American races. There are now some 8,000,000 of Negroes in lands where not one of them existed twelve generations ago, and probably not one representative of the race which they displaced remains there; on the other hand, there has been no corresponding diminution of numbers in the parent home of the Negro. Precisely the same may be said of the European races who have during the same period swarmed over the temperate regions of the globe, forming the nuclei of many future nations.

It is impossible, even in the, vaguest way, in a brief space, to give a just idea of the magnitude and variety of changes produced in the human stock by the political events of the last few generations, and it would be difficult to do so in such a way as not to seriously wound the patriotic susceptibilities of many readers. The natural temperaments and moral ideals of different races are various, and praise or blame cannot be applied at the discretion of one person without exciting remonstrance from others who take different views with perhaps equal justice. The birds and beasts assembled in conclave may try to pass a unanimous resolution in favour of the natural duty of the mother to nurture and protect her offspring, but the cuckoo would musically protest. The Irish Celt may desire the extension of his race and the increase of its influence in the representative governments of England and America, but the wishes of his Anglo-Saxon or Teuton fellow-sub-

jects may lie in the opposite direction; and so on indefinitely.  My object now is merely to urge inquiries into the historical fact whether legislation, which has led to the substitution on a large scale of one race for another, has not often been the outcome of conflicting views into which the question of race hardly entered at all, and which were so nearly balanced that if the question of race had been properly introduced into the discussion the result might have been different. The possibility of such being the case cannot be doubted, and affords strong reason for justly appraising the influence of race, and of hereafter including it at neither more nor less than its real value, among the considerations by which political action will be determined.

The importance to be attached to race is a question that deserves a far larger measure of exact investigation than it receives. We are exceedingly ignorant of the respective ranges of the natural and acquired faculties in different races, and there is too great a tendency among writers to dogmatise wildly about them, some grossly magnifying, others as greatly minimising their several provinces. It seems however possible to answer this question unambiguously, difficult as it is.

The recent attempts by many European nations to utilize Africa for their own purposes gives immediate and practical interest to inquiries that bear on the transplantation of races. They compel us to face the question as to what races should be politically aided to become hereafter the chief occupiers of that continent. The varieties of Negroes, Bantus, Arab half-breeds, and others who now inhabit Africa are very numerous, and they differ much from one another in their natural qualities. Some of them must be more suitable than others to thrive under that form of moderate civilization which is likely to be intro-

duced into Africa by Europeans, who will enforce justice and order, excite a desire among the natives for comforts and luxuries, and make steady industry, almost a condition of living at all. Such races would spread and displace the others by degrees. Or it may prove that the Negroes, one and all, will fail as completely under the new conditions as they have failed under the old ones, to submit to the needs of a superior civilization to their own; in this case their races, numerous and prolific as they are, will in course of time be supplanted and replaced by their betters.

It seems scarcely possible as yet to assure ourselves as to the possibility of any variety of white men to work, to thrive, and to continue their race in the broad regions of the tropics. We could not do so without better knowledge than we now possess of the different capacities of individuals to withstand their malarious and climatic influences. Much more care is taken to select appropriate varieties of plants and animals for plantation in foreign settlements, than to select appropriate types of men. Discrimination and foresight are shown in the one case, an indifference born of ignorance is shown in the other. The importance is not yet sufficiently recognized of a more exact examination and careful record than is now made of the physical qualities and hereditary antecedents of candidates for employment in tropical countries. We require these records to enable us to learn hereafter what are the conditions in youth that are prevalent among those whose health subsequently endured the change of climatic influence satisfactorily, and conversely as regards those who failed. It is scarcely possible to properly conduct such an investigation retrospectively.

In conclusion I wish again to emphasise the fact that the improvement of the natural gifts of future generations

of the human race is largely, though indirectly, under our control.  We may not be able to originate, but we can guide. The processes of evolution are in constant and spontaneous activity, some pushing towards the bad, some towards the good. Our part is to watch for opportunities to intervene by checking the former and giving free play to the latter. We must distinguish clearly between our power in this fundamental respect and that which we also possess of ameliorating education and hygiene. It is earnestly to be hoped that inquiries will be increasingly directed into historical facts, with the view of estimating the possible effects of reasonable political action in the future, in gradually raising the present miserably low standard of the human race to one in which the Utopias in the dreamland of philanthropists may become practical possibilities.


THE idea of investigating the subject of hereditary genius occurred to me during the course of a purely ethnological inquiry, into the mental peculiarities of different races; when the fact, that characteristics cling to families, was so frequently forced on my notice as to induce me to pay especial attention to that branch of the subject. I began by thinking over the dispositions and achievements of my contemporaries at school, at college, and in after life, and was surprised to find how frequently ability seemed to go by descent. Then I made a cursory examination into the kindred of about four hundred illustrious men of all periods of history, and the results were such, in my own opinion, as completely to establish the theory that genius was hereditary, under limitations that required to be investigated. Thereupon I set to work to gather a large amount of carefully selected biographical data, and in the meantime wrote two articles on the subject, which appeared in Macmillan's Magazine in June and in August, 1865. I also attacked the subject from many different sides and sometimes with very minute inquiries, because it was long before the methods I finally adopted were matured. I mention all this, to show that the foundation for my theories is broader than appears in the book, and

as a partial justification if I have occasionally been betrayed into speaking somewhat more confidently than the evidence I have adduced would warrant.

I trust the reader will pardon a small percentage of error and inaccuracy, if it be so small as not to affect the general value of my results. No one can hate inaccuracy more than myself, or can have a higher idea of what an author owes to his readers, in respect to precision; but, in a subject like this, it is exceedingly difficult to correct every mistake, and still more so to avoid omissions. I have often had to run my eyes over many pages of large biographical dictionaries and volumes of memoirs to arrive at data, destined to be packed into half a dozen lines, in an appendix to one of my many chapters.

The theory of hereditary genius, though usually scouted, has been advocated by a few writers in past as well as in modern times. But I may claim to be the first to treat the subject in a statistical manner, to arrive at numerical results, and to introduce the “law of deviation from an average” into discussions on heredity.

A great many subjects are discussed in the following pages, which go beyond the primary issue,—whether or no genius be hereditary. I could not refuse to consider them, because the bearings of the theory I advocate are too important to be passed over in silence.




Introductory Chapter


Classification Of Men According To Their Reputation


Classification Of Men According To Their Natural Gifts


Comparison Of The Two Classifications




The Judges Of England Between 1660 And 1863




English Peerages, Their Influence Upon Race




Literary Men


Men Of Science










Senior Classics Of Cambridge




Wrestlers Of The North Country


Comparison Of Results


The Comparative Worth Of Different Races


Influences That Affect The Natural Ability Of Nations


General Considerations







P. 2, line 10.—The title of the work should have been as in p. 363, line 8.

P. 13, line 5.—Read “a quarter of a million” instead of “half a million,” and modify the calculation in the next 5 lines accordingly.

P. 22, 5 lines from bottom.—Mr. Goulbum's kinships are wrongly stated; they are given correctly in p. 301.

P. 50, Chapter on Notation.—No reference has been made here to a folding sheet which will be found near the end of the book. Its insertion was an after-thought for the convenience of the reader, who may unfold and consult it without the trouble of turning over his page.



*,* I am glad of this opportunity to correct a mistake in an article I published this spring, in Macmillan's Magazine, on the “English Judges.” I gave in it, provisional results from unrevised data, corresponding to those in column E in the table p. 61; but by a clerical error in the computation, I made the entry under Sons more nearly equal to those under Fathers and Brothers, than it should have been.





The “Genealogical Table of Montagu and North” to be placed to face page 97; and the “Alphabetical List of the Letters and the Relationships to which they correspond,” to face page 376.


Introductory Chapter.

I PROPOSE to show in this book that a man's natural abilities are derived by inheritance, under exactly the same limitations as are the form and physical features of the whole organic world. Consequently, as it is easy, notwithstanding those limitations, to obtain by careful selection a permanent breed of dogs or horses gifted with peculiar powers of running, or of doing anything else, so it would be quite practicable to produce a highly-gifted race of men by judicious marriages during several consecutive generations. I shall show that social agencies of an ordinary character, whose influences are little suspected, are at this moment working towards the degradation of human nature, and that others are working towards its improvement. I conclude that each generation has enormous power over the natural gifts of those that follow, and maintain that it is a duty we owe to humanity to investigate the range of that power, and to exercise it in a way that, without being unwise towards ourselves, shall be most advantageous to future inhabitants of the earth.

I am aware that my views, which were first published four years ago in Macmillan's Magazine (in June and August 1865), are in contradiction to general opinion; but the arguments I then used have been since accepted, to my great gratification, by many of the highest authorities on heredity. In reproducing them, as I now do, in a much more elaborate form, and on a greatly enlarged basis of induction, I feel assured that, inasmuch as what I then wrote was sufficient to earn the acceptance of Mr. Darwin (“Domestication of Plants and Animals,” ii. 7), the increased amount of evidence submitted in the present volume is not likely to be gainsaid.

The general plan of my argument is to show that high reputation is a pretty accurate test of high ability; next to discuss the relationships of a large body of fairly eminent men—namely, the Judges of England from 1660 to 1868, the Statesmen of the time of George III., and the Premiers during the last 100 years—and to obtain from these a general survey of the laws of heredity in respect to genius. Then I shall examine, in order, the kindred of the most illustrious Commanders, men of Literature and of Science, Poets, Painters, and Musicians, of whom history speaks. I shall also discuss the kindred of a certain selection of Divines and of modern Scholars. Then will follow a short chapter, by way of comparison, on the hereditary transmission of physical gifts, as deduced from the relationships of certain classes of Oarsmen and Wrestlers. Lastly, I shall collate my results, and draw conclusions.

It will be observed that I deal with more than one grade of ability. Those upon whom the greater part of my volume is occupied, and on whose kinships my argument is most securely based, have been generally reputed as endowed by nature with extraordinary genius. There are so few of these men that, although they are scattered

throughout the whole historical period of human existence, their number does not amount to more than 400, and yet a considerable proportion of them will be found to be interrelated.

Another grade of ability with which I deal is that which includes numerous highly eminent, and all the illustrious names of modern English history, whose immediate descendants are living among us, whose histories are popularly known, and whose relationships may readily be traced by the help of biographical dictionaries, peerages, and similar books of reference.

A third and lower grade is that of the English Judges, massed together as a whole, for the purpose of the prefatory statistical inquiry of which I have already spoken. No one doubts that many of the ablest intellects of our race are to be found among the Judges; nevertheless the average ability of a Judge cannot be rated as equal to that of the lower of the two grades I have described.

I trust the reader will make, allowance for a large and somewhat important class of omissions I have felt myself compelled to make when treating of the eminent men of modern days. I am prevented by a sense of decorum from quoting names of their relations in contemporary life who are not recognised as public characters, although their abilities may be highly appreciated in private life. Still less consistent with decorum would it have been, to introduce the names of female relatives that stand in the same category. My case is so overpoweringly strong, that I am perfectly able to prove my point without having recourse to this class of evidence. Nevertheless, the reader should bear in mind that it exists; and I beg he will do me the justice of allowing that I have not overlooked the whole of the evidence that does not appear in my pages. I am deeply conscious of the imperfection of my work, but my sins are those of omission, not of commission.

Such errors as I may and must have made, which give a fictitious support to my arguments, are, I am confident, out of all proportion fewer than such omissions of facts as would have helped to establish them.

I have taken little notice in this book of modern men of eminence who are not English, or at least well known to Englishmen. I feared, if I included large classes of foreigners, that I should make glaring errors. It requires a very great deal of labour to hunt out relationships, even with the facilities afforded to a countryman having access to persons acquainted with the various families; much more would it have been difficult to hunt out the kindred of foreigners. I should have especially liked to investigate the biographies of Italians and Jews, both of whom appear to be rich in families of high intellectual breeds. Germany and America are also full of interest. It is a little less so with respect to France, where the Revolution and the guillotine made sad havoc among the progeny of her abler races.

There is one advantage to a candid critic in my having left so large a field untouched; it enables me to propose a test that any well-informed reader may easily adopt who doubts the fairness of my examples. He may most reasonably suspect that I have been unconsciously influenced by my theories to select men whose kindred were most favourable to their support. If so, I beg he will test my impartiality as follows:—Let him take a dozen names of his own selection, as the most eminent in whatever profession and in whatever country he knows most about, and let him trace out for himself their relations. It is necessary, as I find by experience, to take some pains to be sure that none, even of the immediate relatives, on either the male or female side, have been overlooked. If he does what I propose, I am confident he will be astonished at the completeness with which the results will confirm my

theory.  I venture to speak with assurance, because it has often occurred to me to propose this very test to incredulous friends, and invariably, so far as my memory serves me, as large a proportion of the men who were named were discovered to have eminent relations, as the nature of my views on heredity would have led me to expect.

Classification Of Men
According To Their Reputation.

THE arguments by which I endeavour to prove that genius is hereditary, consist in showing how large is the number of instances in which men who are more or less illustrious have eminent kinsfolk. It is necessary to have clear ideas on the two following matters before my arguments can be rightly appreciated. The first is the degree of selection implied by the words “eminent” and “illustrious.” Does eminent mean the foremost in a hundred, in a thousand, or in what other number of men? The second is the degree to which reputation may be accepted as a test of ability.

It is essential that I, who write, should have a minimum qualification distinctly before my eyes whenever I employ the phrases “eminent” and the like, and that the reader should understand as clearly as myself the value I attach to those qualifications. An explanation of these words will be the subject of the present chapter. A subsequent chapter will be given to the discussion of how far “eminence” may be accepted as a criterion of natural gifts. It is almost needless for me to insist that the subjects of these two chapters are entirely distinct.

I look upon social and professional life as a continuous examination. All are candidates for the good opinions of others, and for success in their several professions, and they

achieve success in proportion as the general estimate is large of their aggregate merits. In ordinary scholastic examinations marks are allotted in stated proportions to various specified subjects—so many for Latin, so many for Greek, so many for English history, and the rest. The world, in the same way, but almost unconsciously, allots marks to men. It gives them for originality of conception, for enterprise, for activity and energy, for administrative skill, for various acquirements, for power of literary expression, for oratory, and much besides of general value, as well as for more specially professional merits. It does not allot these marks according to a proportion that can easily be stated in words, but there is a rough common-sense that governs its practice with a fair approximation to constancy. Those who have gained most of these tacit marks are ranked, by the common judgment of the leaders of opinion, as the foremost men of their day.

The metaphor of an examination may be stretched much further. As there are alternative groups in any one of which a candidate may obtain honours, so it is with reputations—they may be made in law, literature, science, art, and in a host of other pursuits. Again: as the mere attainment of a general fair level will obtain no honours in an examination, no more will it do so in the struggle for eminence. A man must show conspicuous power in at least one subject in order to achieve a high reputation.

Let us see how the world classifies people, after examining each of them, in her patient, persistent manner, during the years of their manhood. How many men of “eminence” are there, and what proportion do they bear to the whole community?

I will begin by analysing a very painstaking biographical handbook, lately published by Routledge and Co., called “Men of the Time.” Its intention, which is very fairly and honestly carried out; is to include none but those

whom the world honours for their ability. The catalogue of names is 2,500, and a full half of it consists of American and Continental celebrities. It is well I should give in a foot-note[2] an analysis of its contents, in order to show the exhaustive character of its range. The numbers I have prefixed to each class are not strictly accurate, for I measured them off rather than counted them, but they are quite close enough. The same name often appears under more than one head.

On looking over the book, I am surprised to find how large a proportion of the “Men of the Time” are past middle age. It appears that in the cases of high (but by no means in that of the highest) merit, a man must outlive the age of fifty to be sure of being widely appreciated. It takes time for an able man, born in the humbler ranks of life, to emerge from them and to take his natural position. It would not, therefore, be just to compare the numbers of Englishmen in the book with that of the whole adult male population of the British isles; but it is necessary to confine our examination to those of the celebrities who are past fifty years of age, and to compare their number with that of the whole male population who are also above fifty years. I estimate, from examining a large part of the book, that there are about 850 of these men, and that

500 of them are decidedly well known to persons familiar with literary and scientific society. Now, there are about two millions of adult males in the British isles above fifty years of age; consequently, the total number of the “Men of the Time” are as 425 to a million, and the more select part of them as 250 to a million.

The qualifications for belonging to what I call the more select part are, in my mind, that a man should have distinguished himself pretty frequently either by purely original work, or as a leader of opinion. I wholly exclude notoriety obtained by a single act. This is a fairly well-defined line, because there is not room for many men to be eminent. Each interest or idea has its mouthpiece, and a man who has attained and can maintain his position as the representative of a party or an idea, naturally becomes much more conspicuous than his coadjutors who are nearly equal but inferior in ability. This is eminently the case in positions where eminence may be won by official acts. The balance maybe turned by a grain that decides whether A, B, or C shall be promoted to a vacant post. The man who obtains it has opportunities of distinction denied to the others. I do not, however, take much note of official rank. People who have left very great names behind them have mostly done so through non-professional labours. I certainly should not include mere officials, except of the highest ranks, and in open professions, among my select list of eminent men.

Another estimate of the proportion of eminent men to the whole population was made on a different basis, and gave much the same result.  I took the obituary of the year 1868, published in the Times on January 1st, 1869, and found in it about fifty names of men of the more select class. This was in one sense a broader, and in another a more rigorous selection than that which I have just described. It was broader, because I included the

names of many whose abilities were high, but who died too young to have earned the wide reputation they deserved; and it was more rigorous, because I excluded old men who had earned distinction in years gone by, but had not shown themselves capable in later times to come again to the front. On the first ground, it was necessary to lower the limit of the age of the population with whom they should be compared. Forty-five years of age seemed to me a fair limit, including, as it was supposed to do, a year or two of broken health preceding decease. Now, 210,000 males die annually in the British isles above the age of forty-five; therefore, the ratio of the more select portion of the “Men of the Time” on these data is as 50 to 210,000, or as 238 to a million.

Thirdly, I consulted obituaries of many years back, when the population of these islands was much smaller, and they appeared to me to lead to similar conclusions, viz. that 250 to a million is an ample estimate.

There would be no difficulty in making a further selection out of these, to any degree of rigour. We could select the 200, the 100, or the 50 best out of the 250, without much uncertainty. But I do not see my way to work downwards. If I were asked to choose the thousand per million best men, I should feel we had descended to a level where there existed no sure data for guidance, where accident and opportunity had undue influence, and where it was impossible to distinguish general eminence from local reputation, or from mere notoriety.

These considerations define the sense in which I propose to employ the word “eminent.” When I speak of an eminent man, I mean one who has achieved a position that is attained by only 250 persons in each million of men, or by one person in each 4,000. 4,000 is a very large number—difficult for persons to realise who are not accustomed to deal with great assemblages.  On the

most brilliant of starlight nights there are never so many as 4,000 stars visible to the naked eye at the same time; yet we feel it to be an extraordinary distinction to a star to be accounted as the brightest in the sky. This, be it remembered, is my narrowest area of selection. I propose to introduce no name whatever into my lists of kinsmen (unless it be marked off from the rest by brackets) that is less distinguished.

The mass of those with whom I deal are far more rigidly selected—many are as one in a million, and not a few as one of many millions. I use the term “illustrious “when speaking of these. They are men whom the whole intelligent part of the nation mourns when they die; who have, or deserve to have, a public funeral; and who rank in future ages as historical characters.

Permit me to add a word upon the meaning of a million, being a number so enormous as to be difficult to conceive. It is well to have a standard by which to realize it. Mine will be understood by many Londoners; it is as follows:— One summer day I passed the afternoon in Bushey Park to see the magnificent spectacle of its avenue of horse-chestnut trees, a mile long, in full flower. As the hours passed by, it occurred to me to try to count the number of spikes of flowers facing the drive on one side of the long avenue—I mean all the spikes that were visible in full sunshine on one side of the road. Accordingly, I fixed upon a tree of average bulk and flower, and drew imaginary lines—first halving the tree, then quartering, and so on, until I arrived at a subdivision that was not too large to allow of my counting the spikes of flowers it included. I did this with three different trees, and arrived at pretty much the same result: as well as I recollect, the three estimates were as nine, ten, and eleven. Then I counted the trees in the avenue, and, multiplying all together, I found the spikes to be just about 100,000 in

number.  Ever since then, whenever a million is mentioned, I recall the long perspective of the avenue of Bushey Park, with its stately chestnuts clothed from top to bottom with spikes of flowers, bright in the sunshine, and I imagine a similarly continuous floral band, of ten miles in length.

In illustration of the value of the extreme rigour implied by a selection of one in a million, I will take the following instance. The Oxford and Cambridge boat-race excites almost a national enthusiasm, and the men who represent their Universities as competing crews have good reason to be proud of being the selected champions of such large bodies. The crew of each boat consists of eight men, selected out of about 800 students; namely, the available undergraduates of about two successive years. In other words, the selection that is popularly felt to be so strict, is only as one in a hundred. Now, suppose there had been so vast a number of universities that it would have been possible to bring together 800 men, each of whom had pulled in a University crew, and that from this body the eight best were selected to form a special crew of comparatively rare merit: the selection of each of these would be as 1 to 10,000 ordinary men. Let this process be repeated, and then, and not till then, do you arrive at a superlative crew, representing selections of one in a million. This is a perfectly fair deduction, because the youths at the Universities are a hap-hazard collection of men, so far as regards their thews and sinews. No one is sent to a University on account of his powerful muscle. Or, to put the same facts into another form:— it would require a period of no less than 200 years, before either University could furnish eight men, each of whom would have sufficient boating eminence to rank as one of the medium crew. Twenty thousand years must elapse before eight men could be furnished, each of whom would have the rank of the superlative crew.

It is, however, quite another matter with respect to brain power, for, as I shall have occasion to show, the Universities attract to themselves a large proportion of the eminent scholastic talent of all England. There are nearly a quarter of million males in Great Britain who arrive each year at the proper age for going to the University: therefore, if Cambridge, for example, received only one in every five of the ablest scholastic intellects, she would be able, in every period of ten years, to boast of the fresh arrival of an undergraduate, the rank of whose scholastic eminence was that of one in a million.

Classification Of Men
According To Their Natural Gifts.

I HAVE no patience with the hypothesis occasionally expressed, and often implied, especially in tales written to teach children to be good, that babies are born pretty much alike, arid that the sole agencies in creating differences between boy and boy, and man and man, are steady application and moral effort. It is in the most unqualified manner that I object to pretensions of natural equality. The experiences of the nursery, the school, the University, and of professional careers, are a chain of proofs to the contrary. I acknowledge freely the great power of education and social influences in developing the active powers of the mind, just as I acknowledge the effect of use in developing the muscles of a blacksmith's arm, and no further. Let the blacksmith labour as he will, he will find there are certain feats beyond his power that are well within the strength of a man of herculean make, even although the latter may have led a sedentary life. Some years ago, the Highlanders held a grand gathering in Holland Park, where they challenged all England to compete with them in their games of strength. The challenge was accepted, and the well-trained men of the hills were beaten in the foot-race by a youth who was stated to be a pure Cockney, the clerk of a London banker.

Everybody who has trained himself to physical exercises discovers the extent of his muscular powers to a nicety. When he begins to walk, to row, to use the dumb bells, or to run, he finds to his great delight that his thews strengthen, and his endurance of fatigue increases day after day. So long as he is a novice, he perhaps flatters himself there is hardly an assignable limit to the education of his muscles; but the daily gain is soon discovered to diminish, and at last it vanishes altogether. His maximum performance becomes a rigidly determinate quantity. He learns to an inch, how high or how far he can jump, when he has attained the highest state of training. He learns to half a pound, the force he can exert on the dynamometer, by compressing it. He can strike a blow against the machine used to measure impact, and drive its index to a certain graduation, but no further. So it is in running, in rowing, in walking, and in every other form of physical exertion. There is a definite limit to the muscular powers of every man, which he cannot by any education or exertion overpass.

This is precisely analogous to the experience that every student has had of the working of his mental powers. The eager boy, when he first goes to school and confronts intellectual difficulties, is astonished at his progress. He glories in his newly-developed mental grip and growing capacity for application, and, it may be, fondly believes it to be within his reach to become one of the heroes who have left their mark upon the history of the world. The years go by; he competes in the examinations of school and college, over and over again with his fellows, and soon finds his place among them. He knows he can beat such and such of his competitors; that there are some with whom he runs on equal terms, and others whose intellectual feats he cannot even approach. Probably his vanity still continues to tempt him, by whispering in a new strain. It

tells him that classics, mathematics, and other subjects taught in universities, are mere scholastic specialities, and no test of the more valuable intellectual powers. It reminds him of numerous instances of persons who had been unsuccessful in the competitions of youth, but who had shown powers in after-life that made them the foremost men of their age. Accordingly, with newly furbished hopes, and with all the ambition of twenty-two years of age, he leaves his University and enters a larger field of competition. The same kind of experience awaits him here that he has already gone through. Opportunities occur—they occur to every man—and he finds himself incapable of grasping them. He tries, and is tried in many things. In a few years more, unless he is incurably blinded by self-conceit, he learns precisely of what performances he is capable, and what other enterprises lie beyond his compass. When he reaches mature life, he is confident only within certain limits, and knows, or ought to know, himself just as he is probably judged of by the world, with all his unmistakeable weakness and all his undeniable strength. He is no longer tormented into hopeless efforts by the fallacious promptings of overweening vanity, but he limits his undertakings to matters below the level of his reach, and finds true moral repose in an honest conviction that he is engaged in as much good work as his nature has rendered him capable of performing.

There can hardly be a surer evidence of the enormous difference between the intellectual capacity of men, than the prodigious differences in the numbers of marks obtained by those who gain mathematical honours at Cambridge. I therefore crave permission to speak at some length upon this subject, although the details are dry and of little general interest. There are between 400 and 450 students who take their degrees in each year, and of these, about 100 succeed in gaining honours in mathematics, and

are ranged by the examiners in strict order of merit. About the first forty of those who take mathematical honours are distinguished by the title of wranglers, and it is a decidedly creditable thing to be even a low wrangler; it will secure a fellowship in a small college. It must be carefully borne in mind that the distinction of being the first in this list of honours, or what is called the senior wrangler of the year, means a vast deal more than being the foremost mathematician of 400 or 450 men taken at hap-hazard. No doubt the large bulk of Cambridge men are taken almost at hap-hazard. A boy is intended by his parents for some profession; if that profession be either the Church or the Bar, it used to be almost requisite, and it is still important, that he should be sent to Cambridge or Oxford. These youths may justly be considered as having been taken at hap-hazard. But there are many others who have fairly won their way to the Universities, and are therefore selected from an enormous area. Fully one-half of the wranglers have been boys of note at their respective schools, and, conversely, almost all boys of note at schools find their way to the Universities. Hence it is that among their comparatively small number of students, the Universities include the highest youthful scholastic ability of all England. The senior wrangler, in each successive year, is the chief of these as regards mathematics, and this, the highest distinction, is, or was, continually won by youths who had no mathematical training of importance before they went to Cambridge. All their instruction had been received during the three years of their residence at the University. Now, I do not say anything here about the merits or demerits of Cambridge mathematical studies having been directed along a too narrow groove, or about the presumed disadvantages of ranging candidates in strict order of merit, instead of grouping them, as at Oxford, in classes, where their names

appear alphabetically arranged.  All I am concerned with here are the results; and these are most appropriate to my argument. The youths start on their three years' race as fairly as possible. They are then stimulated to run by the most powerful inducements, namely, those of competition, of honour, and of future wealth (for a good fellowship is wealth); and at the end of the three years they are examined most rigorously according to a system that they all understand and are equally well prepared for. The examination lasts five and a half hours a day for eight days. All the answers are carefully marked by the examiners, who add up the marks at the end and range the candidates in strict order of merit. The fairness and thoroughness of Cambridge examinations have never had a breath of suspicion cast upon them.

Unfortunately for my purposes, the marks are not published. They are not even assigned on a uniform system, since each examiner is permitted to employ his own scale of marks; but whatever scale he uses, the results as to proportional merit are the same. I am indebted to a Cambridge examiner for a copy of his marks in respect to two examinations, in which the scales of marks were so alike as to make it easy, by a slight proportional adjustment, to compare the two together. This was, to a certain degree, a confidential communication, so that it would be improper for me to publish anything that would identify the years to which these marks refer. I simply give them as groups of figures, sufficient to show the enormous differences of merit. The lowest man in the list of honours gains less than 300 marks; the lowest wrangler gains about 1,500 marks; and the senior wrangler, in one of the lists now before me, gained more than 7,500 marks. Consequently, the lowest wrangler has more than five times the merit of the lowest junior optime, and less than one-fifth the merit of the senior wrangler.

Scale of merit among the men who obtain mathematical honours at Cambridge.

The results of two years are thrown into a single table.

The total number of marks obtainable in each year was 17,000.


Number of marks obtained by candidates.

Number of candidates in the two years, taken together, who obtained those marks.

Under 500


500 to 1,000


1,000 to 1,500


1,500 to 2,000


2,000 to 2,500


2,500 to 3,000


3,000 to 3,500


3,500 to 4,000


4,000 to 4,500


4,500 to 5,000


5,000 to 5,500


5,500 to 6,000


6,000 to 6,500


6,500 to 7,000


7,000 to 7,500


7,500 to 8,000




The precise number of marks obtained by the senior wrangler in the more remarkable of these two years was 7,634; by the second wrangler in the same year, 4,123; and by the lowest man in the list of honours, only 237. Consequently, the senior wrangler obtained nearly twice as many marks as the second wrangler, and more than thirty-two times as many as the lowest man. I have received from another examiner the marks of a year in which the senior wrangler was conspicuously eminent.

He obtained 9,422 marks, whilst the second in the same year—whose merits were by no means inferior to those of second wranglers in general—obtained only 5,642. The man at the bottom of the same honour list had only 309 marks, or one-thirtieth the number of the senior wrangler. I have some particulars of a fourth very remarkable year, in which the senior wrangler obtained no less than ten times as many marks as the second wrangler, in the “problem paper.” Now, I have discussed with practised examiners the question of how far the numbers of marks may be considered as proportionate to the mathematical power of the candidate, and am assured they are strictly proportionate as regards the lower places, but do not afford full justice to the highest. In other words, the senior wranglers above mentioned had more than thirty, or thirty-two times the ability of the lowest men on the lists of honours. They would be able to grapple with problems more than thirty-two times as difficult; or when dealing with subjects of the same difficulty, but intelligible to all, would comprehend them more rapidly in perhaps the square root of that proportion. It is reasonable to expect that marks would do some injustice to the very best men, because a very large part of the time of the examination is taken up by the mechanical labour of writing. Whenever the thought of the candidate outruns his pen, he gains no advantage from his excess of promptitude in conception. I should, however, mention that some of the ablest men have shown their superiority by comparatively little writing. They find their way at once to the root of the difficulty in the problems that are set, and, with a few clean, apposite, powerful strokes, succeed in proving they can overthrow it, and then they go on to another question. Every word they write tells. Thus, the late Mr. H. Leslie Ellis, who was a brilliant senior wrangler in 1840, and whose name is familiar to many generations of Cambridge men as a

prodigy of universal genius, did not even remain during the full period in the examination room: his health was weak, and he had to husband his strength.

The mathematical powers of the last man on the list of honours, which are so low when compared with those of a senior wrangler, are mediocre, or even above mediocrity, when compared with the gifts of Englishmen generally. Though the examination places 100 honour men above him, it puts no less than 300 “poll men” below him. Even if we go so far as to allow that 200 out of the 300 refuse to work hard enough to get honours, there will remain 100 who, even if they worked hard, could not get them. Every tutor knows how difficult it is to drive abstract conceptions, even of the simplest kind, into the brains of most people—how feeble and hesitating is their mental grasp—how easily their brains are mazed—how incapable they are of precision and soundness of knowledge. It often occurs to persons familiar with some scientific subject to hear men and women of mediocre gifts relate to one another what they have picked up about it from some lecture—say at the Royal Institution, where they have sat for an hour listening with delighted attention to an admirably lucid account, illustrated by experiments of the most perfect and beautiful character, in all of which they expressed themselves intensely gratified and highly instructed. It is positively painful to hear what they say. Their recollections seem to be a mere chaos of mist and misapprehension, to which some sort of shape and organization has been given by the action of their own pure fancy, altogether alien to what the lecturer intended to convey. The average mental grasp even of what is called a well-educated audience, will be found to be ludicrously small when rigorously tested.

In stating the differences between man and man, let it not be supposed for a moment that mathematicians are

necessarily one-sided in their natural gifts. There are numerous instances of the reverse, of whom the following will be found, as instances of hereditary genius, in the appendix to my chapter on “science.” I would especially name Leibnitz, as being universally gifted; but Ampere, Arago, Condorcet, and D'Alembert, were all of them very far more than mere mathematicians. Nay, since the range of examination at Cambridge is so extended as to include other subjects besides mathematics, the differences of ability between the highest and lowest of the successful candidates, is yet more glaring than what I have already described. We still find, on the one hand, mediocre men, whose whole energies are absorbed in getting their 237 marks for mathematics; and, on the other hand, some few senior wranglers who are at the same time high classical scholars and much more besides. Cambridge has afforded such instances. Its lists of classical honours are comparatively of recent date, but other evidence is obtainable from earlier times of their occurrence. Thus, Dr. George Butler, the Head Master of Harrow for very many years, including the period when Byron was a schoolboy, (father of the present Head Master, and of other sons, two of whom are also head masters of great public schools,) must have obtained that classical office on account of his eminent classical ability; but Dr. Butler was also senior wrangler in 1794, the year when Lord Chancellor Lyndhurst was second. Both Dr. Kaye, the late Bishop of Lincoln, and Sir E. Alderson, the late judge, were the senior wranglers and the first classical prizemen of their respective years. Since 1824, when the classical tripos was first established, the late Mr. Goulburn (brother of Dr. Goulburn, Dean of Norwich, and son of the well-known Serjeant Goulburn) was second wrangler in 1835, and senior classic of the same year. But in more recent times, the necessary labour of preparation, in order to acquire the highest

mathematical places, has become so enormous that there has been a wider differentiation of studies. There is no longer time for a man to acquire the necessary knowledge to succeed to the first place in more than one subject. There are, therefore, no instances of a man being absolutely first in both examinations, but a few can be found of high eminence in both classics and mathematics, as a reference to the lists published in the “Cambridge Calendar” will show. The best of these more recent degrees appears to be that of Dr. Barry, late Principal of Cheltenham, and now Principal of King's College, London (the son of the eminent architect, Sir Charles Barry, and brother of Mr. Edward Barry, who succeeded his father as architect). He was fourth wrangler and seventh classic of his year.

In whatever way we may test ability, we arrive at equally enormous intellectual differences. Lord Macaulay (see under “literature” for his remarkable kinships) had one of the most tenacious of memories. He was able to recall many pages of hundreds of volumes by various authors, which he had acquired by simply reading them over. An average man could not certainly carry in his memory one thirty-second—ay, or one hundredth—part as much as Lord Macaulay. The father of Seneca had one of the greatest memories on record in ancient times (see under “literature” for his kinships). Porson, the Greek scholar, was remarkable for this gift, and, I may add, the “Porson memory” was hereditary in that family. In statesmanship, generalship, literature, science, poetry, art, just the same enormous differences are found between man and man; and numerous instances recorded in this book, will show in how small degree, eminence, either in these or any other class of intellectual powers, can be considered as due to purely special powers. They are rather to be considered in those instances as the result of concentrated efforts, made by men who are widely gifted.  People lay

too much stress on apparent specialities, thinking overrashly that, because a man is devoted to some particular pursuit, he could not possibly have succeeded in anything else. They might just as well say that, because a youth had fallen desperately in love with a brunette, he could not possibly have fallen in love with a blonde. He may or may not have more natural liking for the former type of beauty than the latter, but it is as probable as not that the affair was mainly or wholly due to a general amorousness of disposition. It is just the same with special pursuits. A gifted man is often capricious and fickle before he selects his occupation, but when it has been chosen, he devotes himself to it with a truly passionate ardour. After a man of genius has selected his hobby, and so adapted himself to it as to seem unfitted for any other occupation in life, and to be possessed of but one special aptitude, I often notice, with admiration, how well he bears himself when circumstances suddenly thrust him into a strange position. He will display an insight into new conditions, and a power of dealing with them, with which even his most intimate friends were unprepared to accredit him. Many a presumptuous fool has mistaken indifference and neglect for incapacity; and in trying to throw a man of genius on ground where he was unprepared for attack, has himself received a most severe and unexpected fall. I am sure that no one who has had the privilege of mixing in the society of the abler men of any great capital, or who is acquainted with the biographies of the heroes of history, can doubt the existence of grand human animals, of natures pre-eminently noble, of individuals born to be kings of men. I have been conscious of no slight misgiving that I was committing a kind of sacrilege whenever, in the preparation of materials for this book, I had occasion to take the measurement of modern intellects vastly superior to my own, or to criticise the genius of the most magnificent

historical specimens of our race.  It was a process that constantly recalled to me a once familiar sentiment in bygone days of African travel, when I used to take altitudes of the huge cliffs that domineered above me as I travelled along their bases, or to map the mountainous landmarks of unvisited tribes, that loomed in faint grandeur beyond my actual horizon.

I have not cared to occupy myself much with people whose gifts are below the average, but they would be an interesting study. The number of idiots and imbeciles among the twenty million inhabitants of England and Wales is approximately estimated at 50,000, or as 1 in 400. Dr. Seguin, a great French authority on these matters, states that more than thirty per cent of idiots and imbeciles, put under suitable instruction, have been taught to conform to social and moral law, and rendered capable of order, of good feeling, and of working like the third of an average man. He says that more than forty per cent. have become capable of the ordinary transactions of life, under friendly control; of understanding moral and social abstractions, and of working like two-thirds of a man. And, lastly, that from twenty-five to thirty per cent. come nearer and nearer to the standard of manhood, till some of them will defy the scrutiny of good judges, when compared with ordinary young men and women. In the order next above idiots and imbeciles are a large number of milder cases scattered among private families and kept out of sight, the existence of whom is, however, well known to relatives and friends; they are too silly to take a part in general society, but are easily amused with some trivial, harmless occupation. Then comes a class of whom the Lord Dundreary of the famous play may be considered a representative; and so, proceeding through successive grades, we gradually ascend to mediocrity. I know two good instances of hereditary silliness short of imbecility,

and have reason to believe I could easily obtain a large number of similar facts.

To conclude, the range of mental power between—I will not say the highest Caucasian and the lowest savage—but between the greatest and least of English intellects, is enormous. There is a continuity of natural ability reaching from one knows not what height, and descending to one can hardly say what depth. I propose in this chapter to range men according to their natural abilities, putting them into classes separated by equal degrees of merit, and to show the relative number of individuals included in the several classes. Perhaps some persons might be inclined to make an offhand guess that the number of men included in the several classes would be pretty equal. If he thinks so, I can assure him he is most egregiously mistaken.

The method I shall employ for discovering all this, is an application of the very curious theoretical law of “deviation from an average.” First, I will explain the law, and then I will show that the production of natural intellectual gifts comes justly within its scope.

The law is an exceedingly general one. M. Quetelet, the Astronomer-Royal of Belgium, and the greatest authority on vital and social statistics, has largely used it in his inquiries. He has also constructed numerical tables, by which the necessary calculations can be easily made, whenever it is desired to have recourse to the law. Those who wish to learn more than I have space to relate, should consult his work, which is a very readable octavo volume, and deserves to be far better known to statisticians than it appears to be. Its title is “Letters on Probabilities,” translated by Downes. Layton and Co. London: 1849.

So much has been published in recent years about statistical deductions, that I am sure the reader will be prepared to assent freely to the following hypothetical case:—Suppose a large island inhabited by a single race,

who intermarried freely, and who had lived for many generations under constant conditions; then the average height of the male adults of that population would undoubtedly be the same year after year. Also—still arguing from the experience of modern statistics, which are found to give constant results in far less carefully-guarded examples—we should undoubtedly find, year after year, the same proportion maintained between the number of men of different heights. I mean, if the average stature was found to be sixty-six inches, and if it was also found in any one year that 100 per million exceeded seventy-eight inches, the same proportion of 100 per million would be closely maintained in all other years. An equal constancy of proportion would be maintained between any other limits of height we pleased to specify, as between seventy-one and seventy-two inches; between seventy-two and seventy-three inches; and so on. Statistical experiences are so invariably confirmatory of what I have stated would probably be the case, as to make it unnecessary to describe analogous instances. Now, at this point, the law of deviation from an average steps in. It shows that the number per million whose heights range between seventy-one and seventy-two inches (or between any other limits we please to name) can be predicted from the previous datum of the average, and of any one other fact, such as that of 100 per million exceeding seventy-eight inches.

The diagram on p. 28 will make this more intelligible. Suppose a million of the men to stand in turns, with their backs against a vertical board of sufficient height, and their heights to be dotted off upon it. The board would then present the appearance shown in the diagram. The line of average height is that which divides the dots into two equal parts, and stands, in the case we have assumed, at the height of sixty-six inches. The dots will be found to be ranged so symmetrically on either side of the line of


average, that the lower half of the diagram will be almost a precise reflection of the upper. Next, let a hundred dots be counted from above downwards, and let a line be drawn below them. According to the conditions, this line will stand at the height of seventy-eight inches. Using the data afforded by these two lines, it is possible, by the help of the law of deviation from an average, to reproduce, with extraordinary closeness, the entire system of dots on the board.

M. Quetelet gives tables in which the uppermost line, instead of cutting off 100 in a million, cuts off only one in a million. He divides the intervals between that line and the line of average, into eighty equal divisions, and gives the number of dots that fall within each of those divisions. It is easy, by the help of his tables, to calculate what would occur under any other system of classification we pleased to adopt.

This law of deviation from an average is perfectly general in its application. Thus, if the marks had been made by bullets fired at a horizontal line stretched in front of the target, they would have been distributed according to the same law. Wherever there is a large number of similar events, each due to the resultant influences of the same variable conditions, two effects will follow. First, the average value of those events will be constant; and,

secondly, the deviations of the several events from the average, will be governed by this law (which is, in principle, the same as that which governs runs of luck at a gaming-table).

The nature of the conditions affecting the several events must, I say, be the same. It clearly would not be proper to combine the heights of men belonging to two dissimilar races, in the expectation that the compound results would be governed by the same constants. A union of two dissimilar systems of dots would produce the same kind of confusion as if half the bullets fired at a target had been directed to one mark, and the other half to another mark. Nay, an examination of the dots would show to a person, ignorant of what had occurred, that such had been the case, and it would be possible, by aid of the law, to disentangle two or any moderate number of superimposed series of marks. The law may, therefore, be used as a most trustworthy criterion, whether or no the events of which an average has been taken, are due to the same or to dissimilar classes of conditions.

I selected the hypothetical case of a race of men living on an island and freely intermarrying, to ensure the conditions under which they were all supposed to live, being uniform in character. It will now be my aim to show there is sufficient uniformity in the inhabitants of the British Isles to bring them fairly within the grasp of this law.

For this purpose, I first call attention to an example given in Quetelet's book. It is of the measurements of the circumferences of the chests of a large number of Scotch soldiers. The Scotch are by no means a strictly uniform race, nor are they exposed to identical conditions. They are a mixture of Celts, Danes, Anglo-Saxons, and others, in various proportions, the Highlanders being almost purely Celts. On the other hand, these races, though diverse in origin, are not very dissimilar in character.  Consequently,

it will be found that their deviations from the average, follow theoretical computations with remarkable accuracy. The instance is as follows. M. Quetelet obtained his facts from the thirteenth volume of the Edinburgh Medical Journal, where the measurements are given in respect to 5, 738 soldiers, the results being grouped in order of magnitude, proceeding by differences of one inch. Professor Quetelet compares these results with those that his tables give, and here is the result. The marvellous accordance between fact and theory must strike the most unpractised eye. I should say that, for the sake of convenience, both the measurements and calculations have been reduced to per thousandths:—


Measures of the chest in inches.

Number of men per 1,000, by experience.

Number of men per 1,000, by calculation.

Measures of the chest in inches.

Number of men per 1,000, by experience.

Number of men per 1,000, by calculation.

















































I will now take a case where there is a greater dissimilarity in the elements of which the average has been taken. It is the height of 100,000 French conscripts. There is fully as much variety in the French as in the English, for it is not very many generations since France was divided into completely independent kingdoms. Among its peculiar races are those of Normandy, Brittany, Alsatia, Provence, Bearne, Auvergne—each with their special characteristics; yet the following table shows a most striking agreement between the results of experience

compared with those derived by calculation, from a purely theoretical hypothesis:—


Height of Men

Number of men




Under 61.8



61.8 to 62.9



62.9 to 63.9



63.9 to 65.0



65.0 to 66.1



66.1 to 67.1



67.1 to 68.2



68.2 to 69.3



Above 69.3



The greatest differences are in the lowest ranks. They include the men who were rejected from being too short for the army. M. Quetelet boldly ascribes these differences to the effect of fraudulent returns. It certainly seems that men have been improperly taken out of the second rank and put into the first, in order to exempt them from service. Be this as it may, the coincidence of fact with theory is, in this instance also, quite close enough to serve my purpose.

I argue from the results obtained from Frenchmen and from Scotchmen, that, if we had measurements of the adult males in the British Isles, we should find those measurements to range in close accordance with the law of deviation from an average, although our population is as much mingled as I described that of Scotland to have been, and although Ireland is mainly peopled with Celts. Now, if this be the case with stature, then it will be true as regards every other physical feature —as circumference of head, size of brain, weight of grey matter, number

of brain fibres, &c.; and thence, by a step on which no physiologist will hesitate, as regards mental capacity. 

This is what I am driving at—that analogy clearly shows there must be a fairly constant average mental capacity in the inhabitants of the British Isles, and that the deviations from that average—upwards towards genius, and downwards towards stupidity—must follow the law that governs deviations from all true averages.

I have, however, done somewhat more than rely on analogy. I have tried the results of those examinations in which the candidates had been derived from the same classes. Most persons have noticed the lists of successful competitors for various public appointments that are published from time to time in the newspapers, with the marks gained by each candidate attached to his name. These lists contain far too few names to fall into such beautiful accordance with theory, as was the case with the Scotch soldiers. There are rarely more than 100 names in any one of these examinations, while the chests of no less than 5,700 Scotchmen were measured. I cannot justly combine the marks of several independent examinations into one fagot, for I understand that different examiners are apt to have different figures of merit; so I have analysed each examination separately. I give a calculation I made on the examination last before me; it will do as well as any other. It was for admission into the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, December 1868. The marks obtained were clustered most thickly about 3,000, so I take that number as representing the average ability of the candidates. From this datum, and from the fact that no candidate obtained more than 6,500 marks, I computed the column B in the following table, by the help of Quetetet's numbers. It will be seen that column B accords with column A quite as closely as the small number of persons examined could have led us to expect.


Number of marks obtained by the

Number of Candidates who obtained those marks.


A. According to fact.

B. According to theory.

6,500 and above





5,800 to 6,500





5,000 to 5,800





4,400 to 5,100





3,700 to 4,400





3,000 to 3,700





2,300 to 3,000





1,600 to 2,300





1,100 to 1,600

Either did not



400 to 1,100

venture to compete,



below 400

or were plucked.



The symmetry of the descending branch has been rudely spoilt by the conditions stated at the foot of column A. There is, therefore, little room for doubt, if everybody in England had to work up some subject and then to pass before examiners who employed similar figures of merit, that their marks would be found to range, according to the law of deviation from an average, just as rigorously as the heights of French conscripts, or the circumferences of the chests of Scotch soldiers.

The number of grades into which we may divide ability is purely a matter of option. We may consult our convenience by sorting Englishmen into a few large classes, or into many small ones. I will select a system of classification that shall be easily comparable with the numbers of eminent men, as determined in the previous chapter. We have seen that 250 men per million become eminent; accordingly, I have so contrived the classes in the following table that the two highest, F and G, together with X (which includes all cases beyond G, and which are unclassed),

shall amount to about that number—namely, to 248 per million:—


Classification Of Men According To Their Natural Gifts.


Grades of natural

Numbers of men comprised in the several grades of natural ability,

whether in respect to their general powers, or to special aptitudes.

ability, separated by equal intervals.


In each million


In total male population of the United Kingdom,







of the same age.

viz. 15 millions, of the undermentioned ages :—



viz. one in
























































































all grades below e

all grades above G







On other side of average








Total, both sides








The proportions of men living at different ages are calculated from the proportions that are true for England and Wales. (Census 1861, Appendix, p. 107.)

Example.—The class F contains 1 in every 4,300 men. In other words, there are 233 of that class in each million of men. The same is true of class f. In the whole United Kingdom there are 590 men of class F (and the same number of f) between the ages of 20 and 30; 450 between the ages of 30 and 40; and so on.

It will, I trust, be clearly understood that the numbers of men in the several classes in my table depend on no uncertain hypothesis. They are determined by the assured law of deviations from an average. It is an absolute fact that if we pick out of each million the one man who is naturally the ablest, and also the one man who is the most stupid, and divide the remaining 999,998 men into fourteen classes, the average ability in each being separated

from that of its neighbours by equal grades, then the numbers in each of those classes will, on the average of many millions, be as is stated in the table. The table may be applied to special, just as truly as to general ability. It would be true for every examination that brought out natural gifts, whether held in painting, in music, or in statesmanship. The proportions between the different classes would be identical in all these cases, although the classes would be made up of different individuals, according as the examination differed in its purport.

It will be seen that more than half of each million is contained in the two mediocre classes a and A; the four mediocre classes a, b, A, B, contain more than four-fifths, and the six mediocre classes more than nineteen-twentieths of the entire population. Thus, the rarity of commanding ability, and the vast abundance of mediocrity, is no accident, but follows of necessity, from the very nature of these things.

The meaning of the word “mediocrity” admits of little doubt. It defines the standard of intellectual power found in most provincial gatherings, because the attractions of a more stirring life in the metropolis and elsewhere, are apt to draw away the abler classes of men, and the silly and the imbecile do not take a part in the gatherings. Hence, the residuum that forms the bulk of the general society of small provincial places, is commonly very pure in its mediocrity.

The class C possesses abilities a trifle higher than those commonly possessed by the foreman of an ordinary jury. D includes the mass of men who obtain the ordinary prizes of life. E is a stage higher. Then we reach F, the lowest of those yet superior classes of intellect, with which this volume is chiefly concerned.

On descending the scale, we find by the time we have reached f, that we are already among the idiots and im-

beciles. We have seen in p. 25, that there are 400 idiots and imbeciles, to every million of persons living in this country; but that 30 per cent of their number, appear to-be light cases, to whom the name of idiot is inappropriate. There will remain 280 true idiots and imbeciles, to every million of our population. This ratio coincides very closely with the requirements of class f. No doubt a certain proportion of them are idiotic owing to some fortuitous cause, which may interfere with the working of a naturally good brain, much as a bit of dirt may cause a first-rate chronometer to keep worse time than an ordinary watch. But I presume, from the usual smallness of head and absence of disease among these persons, that the proportion of accidental idiots cannot be very large.

Hence we arrive at the undeniable, but unexpected conclusion, that eminently gifted men are raised as much above mediocrity as idiots are depressed below it; a fact that is calculated to considerably enlarge our ideas of the enormous differences of intellectual gifts between man and man.

I presume the class F of dogs, and others of the more intelligent sort of animals, is nearly commensurate with the f of the human race, in respect to memory and powers of reason. Certainly the class G of such animals is far superior to the g of humankind.

Comparison Of The Two Classifications

Is reputation a fair test of natural ability? It is the only one I can employ—am I justified in using it? How much of a man's success is due to his opportunities, how much to his natural power of intellect?

This is a very old question, on which a great many commonplaces have been uttered that need not be repeated here. I will confine myself to a few considerations, such as seem to me amply adequate to prove, what is wanted for my argument.

Let it clearly be borne in mind, what I mean by reputation and ability. By reputation, I mean the opinion of contemporaries, revised by posterity—the favourable result of a critical analysis of each man's character, by many biographers. I do not mean high social or official position, nor such as is implied by being the mere lion of a London season; but I speak of the reputation of a leader of opinion, of an originator, of a man to whom the world deliberately acknowledges itself largely indebted.

By natural ability, I mean those qualities of intellect and disposition, which urge and qualify a man to perform acts that lead to reputation. I do not mean capacity without zeal, nor zeal without capacity, nor even a combination of both of them, without an adequate power of doing a great deal of very laborious work.  But I mean

a nature which, when left to itself, will, urged by an inherent stimulus, climb the path that leads to eminence, and has strength to reach the summit—one which, if hindered or thwarted, will fret and strive until the hindrance is overcome, and it is again free to follow its labour-loving instinct. It is almost a contradiction in terms, to doubt that such men will generally become eminent. On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence in this volume, to show that few have won high reputations, without possessing these peculiar gifts. It follows that the men who achieve eminence, and those who are naturally capable, are; to a large extent, identical.

The particular meaning in which I employ the word ability, does not restrict my argument from a wider application; for, if I succeed in showing—as I undoubtedly shall do—that the concrete triple event, of ability combined with zeal and with capacity for hard labour, is inherited, much more will there be justification for believing that any one of its three elements, whether it be ability, or zeal, or capacity for labour, is similarly a gift of inheritance.

I believe, and shall do my best to show, that, if the “eminent” men of any period, had been changelings when babies, a very fair proportion of those who survived and retained their health up to fifty years of age, would, notwithstanding their altered circumstances, have equally risen to eminence. Thus—to take a strong case—it is incredible that any combination of circumstances, could have repressed Lord Brougham to the level of undistinguished mediocrity.

The arguments on which I rely, are as follow. I will limit their application for the present, to men of the pen and to artists. First, it is a fact, that numbers of men rise, before they are middle-aged, from the humbler ranks of life to that worldly position, in which it is of no importance to their future career, how their youth has been passed.

They have overcome their hindrances, and thus start fair with others more fortunately reared, in the subsequent race of life. A boy who is to be carefully educated is sent to a good school, where he confessedly acquires little useful information, but where he is taught the art of learning. The man of whom I have been speaking, has contrived to acquire the same art in a school of adversity. Both stand on equal terms, when they have reached mature life. They compete for the same prizes, measure their strength by efforts in the same direction, and their relative successes are thenceforward due to their relative natural gifts. There are many such men in the “eminent” class, as biographies abundantly show. Now, if the hindrances to success were very great, we should expect all who surmounted them, to be prodigies of genius. The hindrances would form a system of natural selection, by repressing all whose gifts were below a certain very high level. But what is the case? We find very many who have risen from the ranks, who are by no means prodigies of genius; many who have no claim to “eminence,” who have risen easily in spite of all obstacles. The hindrances undoubtedly form a system of natural selection that represses mediocre men, and even men of pretty fair powers—in short, the classes below D; but many of D succeed, a great many of E, and I believe a very large majority of those above.

If a man is gifted with vast intellectual ability, eagerness to work, and power of working, I cannot comprehend how such a man should be repressed. The world is always tormented with difficulties waiting to be solved—struggling with ideas and feelings, to which it can give no adequate expression. If, then, there exists a man capable of solving those difficulties, or of giving a voice to those pent-up feelings, he is sure to be welcomed with universal acclamation. We may almost say that he has only to put his pen to paper, and the thing is done.  I am here speaking

of the very first-class men—prodigies—one in a million, or one in ten millions, of whom numbers will be found described in this volume, as specimens of hereditary genius.

Another argument to prove, that the hindrances of English social life, are not effectual in repressing high ability is, that the number of eminent men in England, is as great as in other countries where fewer hindrances exist. Culture is far more widely spread in America, than with us, and the education of their middle and lower classes far more advanced; but, for all that, America most certainly does not beat us in first-class works of literature, philosophy, or art. The higher kind of books, even of the most modern date, read in America, are principally the work of Englishmen. The Americans have an immense amount of the newspaper-article-writer, or of the member-of-congress stamp of ability; but the number of their really eminent authors is more limited even than with us. I argue that, if the hindrances to the rise of genius, were removed from English society as completely as they have been removed from that of America, we should not become materially richer in highly eminent men.

People seem to have the idea that the way to eminence is one of great self-denial, from which there are hourly temptations to diverge: in which a man can be kept in his boyhood, only by a schoolmaster's severity or a parent's incessant watchfulness, and in after life by the attractions of fortunate friendships and other favourable circumstances. This is true enough of the great majority of men, but it is simply not true of the generality of those who have gained great reputations. Such men, biographies show to be haunted and driven by an incessant instinctive craving for intellectual work. If forcibly withdrawn from the path that leads towards eminence, they will find their way back to it, as surely as a lover to his mistress.  They do not

work for the sake of eminence, but to satisfy a natural craving for brain work, just as athletes cannot endure repose on account of their muscular irritability, which insists upon exercise. It is very unlikely that any conjunction of circumstances, should supply a stimulus to brain work, commensurate with what these men carry in their own constitutions. The action of external stimuli must be uncertain and intermittent, owing to their very nature; the disposition abides. It keeps a man ever employed—now wrestling with his difficulties, now brooding over his immature ideas—and renders him a quick and eager listener to innumerable, almost inaudible teachings, that others less keenly on the watch, are sure to miss.

These considerations lead to my third argument. I have shown that social hindrances cannot impede men of high ability, from becoming eminent. I shall now maintain that social advantages are incompetent to give that status, to a man of moderate ability. It would be easy to point out several men of fair capacity, who have been pushed forward by all kinds of help, who are ambitious, and exert themselves to the utmost, but who completely fail in attaining eminence. If great peers, they may be lord-lieutenants of counties; if they belong to great county families, they may become influential members of parliament and local notabilities. When they die, they leave a blank for awhile in a large circle, but there is no Westminster Abbey and no public mourning for them—perhaps barely a biographical notice in the columns of the daily papers.

It is difficult to specify two large classes of men, with equal social advantages, in one of which they have high hereditary gifts, while in the other they have not. I must not compare the sons of eminent men with those of non--eminent, because much which I should ascribe to breed, others might ascribe to parental encouragement and ex-.

ample.  Therefore, I will compare the sons of eminent men with the adopted sons of Popes and other dignitaries of the Roman Catholic Church. The practice of nepotism among ecclesiastics is universal. It consists in their giving those social helps to a nephew, or other more distant relative, that ordinary people give to their children. Now, I shall show abundantly in the course of this book, that the nephew of an eminent man has far less chance of becoming eminent than a son, and that a more remote kinsman has far less chance than a nephew. We may therefore make a very fair comparison, for the purposes of my argument, between the success of the sons of eminent men and that of the nephews or more distant relatives, who stand in the place of sons to the high unmarried ecclesiastics of the Romish Church. If social help is really of the highest importance, the nephews of the Popes will attain eminence as frequently, or nearly so, as the sons of other eminent men; otherwise, they will not.

Are, then, the nephews, &c. of the Popes, on the whole, as highly distinguished as are the sons of other equally eminent men? I answer, decidedly not. There have been a few Popes who were offshoots of illustrious races, such as that of the Medici, but in the enormous majority of cases the Pope is the ablest member of his family. I do not profess to have worked up the kinships of the Italians with any especial care, but I have seen amply enough of them, to justify me in saying that the individuals whose advancement has been due to nepotism, are curiously undistinguished. The very common combination of an able son and an eminent parent, is not matched, in the case of high Romish ecclesiastics, by an eminent nephew and an eminent uncle. The social helps are the same, but hereditary gifts are wanting in the latter case.

To recapitulate: I have endeavoured to show in respect to literary and artistic eminence:—

1.    That men who are gifted with high abilities—even men of class E—easily rise through all the obstacles caused by inferiority of social rank.

2.    Countries where there are fewer hindrances than in England, to a poor man rising in life, produce a much larger proportion of persons of culture, but not of what I call eminent men.

3.    Men who are largely aided by social advantages, are unable to achieve eminence, unless they are endowed with high natural gifts.

It may be well to add a few supplementary remarks on the small effects of a good education on a mind of the highest order. A youth of abilities G, and X, is almost independent of ordinary school education. He does not want a master continually at his elbow to explain difficulties and select suitable lessons. On the contrary, he is receptive at every pore. He learns from passing hints, with a quickness and thoroughness that others cannot comprehend. He is omnivorous of intellectual work, devouring in a vast deal more than he can utilise, but extracting a small percentage of nutriment, that makes, in the aggregate, an enormous supply. The best care that a master can take of such a boy is to leave him alone, just directing a little here and there, and checking desultory tendencies.

It is a mere accident if a man is placed in his youth in the profession for which he has the most special vocation. It will consequently be remarked in my short biographical notices, that the most illustrious men have frequently broken loose from the life prescribed by their parents, and followed, careless of cost, the paramount dictation of their own natures: in short, they educate themselves. D'Alembert is a striking instance of this kind of self-reliance. He was a foundling (afterwards shown to be well bred as respects ability), and put out to nurse as a pauper baby,

to the wife of a poor glazier.  The child's indomitable tendency to the higher studies, could not be repressed by his foster-mother's ridicule and dissuasion, nor by the taunts of his schoolfellows, nor by the discouragements of his schoolmaster, who was incapable of appreciating him, nor even by the reiterated deep disappointment of finding that his ideas, which he knew to be original, were not novel, but long previously discovered by others. Of course, we should expect a boy of this kind, to undergo ten or more years of apparently hopeless strife, but we should equally expect him to succeed at last; and D'Alembert did succeed in attaining the first rank of celebrity, by the time he was twenty-four. The reader has only to turn over the pages of my book, to find abundant instances of this emergence from obscurity, in spite of the utmost discouragement in early youth.

A prodigal nature commonly so prolongs the period when a man's receptive faculties are at their keenest, that a faulty education in youth, is readily repaired in after life. The education of Watt, the great mechanician, was of a merely elementary character. During his youth and manhood he was engrossed with mechanical specialities. It was not till he became advanced in years, that he had leisure to educate himself, and yet by the time he was an old man, he had become singularly well-read and widely and accurately informed. The scholar who, in the eyes of his contemporaries and immediate successors, made one of the greatest reputations, as such, that any man has ever made, was Julius Caesar Scaliger. His youth was, I believe, entirely unlettered. He was in the army until he was twenty-nine, and then he led a vagrant professional life, trying everything and sticking to nothing. At length he fixed himself upon Greek. His first publications were at the age of forty-seven, and between that time and the period of a somewhat early death, he earned his remark

able reputation, only exceeded by that of his son.  Boyhood and youth—the period between fifteen and twenty-two years of age, which afford to the vast majority of men, the only period for the acquirement of intellectual facts and habits—are just seven years—neither more nor less important than other years—in the lives of men of the highest order. People are too apt to complain of their imperfect education, insinuating that they would have done great things if they had been more fortunately circumstanced in youth. But if their power of learning is materially diminished by the time they have discovered their want of knowledge, it is very probable that their abilities are not of a very high description, and that, however well they might have been educated, they would have succeeded but little better.

Even if a man be long unconscious of his powers, an opportunity is sure to occur—they occur over and over again to every man—that will discover them. He will then soon make up for past arrears, and outstrip competitors with very many years' start, in the race of life. There is an obvious analogy between the man of brains and the man of muscle, in the unmistakeable way in which they may discover and assert their claims to superiority over less gifted, but far better educated, competitors. An average sailor climbs rigging, and an average Alpine guide scrambles along cliffs, with a facility that seems like magic to a man who has been reared away from ships and mountains. But if he have extraordinary gifts, a very little trial will reveal them, and he will rapidly make up for his arrears of education. A born gymnast would soon, in his turn, astonish the sailors by his feats. Before the voyage was half over, he would outrun them like an escaped monkey. I have witnessed an instance of this myself. Every summer, it happens that some young English tourist who had never previously planted his foot

on crag or ice, succeeds in Alpine work to a marvellous degree.

Thus far, I have spoken only of literary men and artists, who, however, form the bulk of the 250 per million, that attain to eminence. The reasoning that is true for them, requires large qualifications when applied to statesmen and commanders. Unquestionably, the most illustrious statesmen and commanders belong, to say the least, to the classes F and G of ability; but it does not at all follow that an English cabinet minister, if he be a great territorial lord, should belong to those classes, or even to the two or three below them. Social advantages have enormous power in bringing a man into so prominent a position as a statesman, that it is impossible to refuse him the title of “eminent,” though it may be more than probable that if he had been changed in his cradle, and reared in obscurity, he would have lived and died without emerging from humble life. Again, we have seen that a union of three separate qualities—intellect, zeal, and power of work—are necessary to raise men from the ranks. Only two of these qualities, in a remarkable degree, namely intellect and power of work, are required by a man who is pushed into public life; because when he is once there, the interest is so absorbing, and the competition so keen, as to supply the necessary stimulus to an ordinary mind. Therefore, many men who have succeeded as statesmen, would have been nobodies had they been born in a lower rank of life: they would have needed zeal to rise. Talleyrand would have passed his life in the same way as other grand seigneurs, if he had not been ejected from his birthright, by a family council, on account of his deformity, and thrown into the vortex of the French Revolution. The furious excitement of the game overcame his inveterate indolence, and he developed into the foremost man of the period, after Napoleon and Mirabeau.  As for sovereigns, they belong

to a peculiar category. The qualities most suitable to the ruler of a great nation, are not such as lead to eminence in private life. Devotion to particular studies, obstinate perseverance, geniality and frankness in social relations, are important qualities to make a man rise in the world, but they are unsuitable to a sovereign. He has to view many interests and opinions with an equal eye; to know how to yield his favourite ideas to popular pressure, to be reserved in his friendships and able to stand alone. On the other hand, a sovereign does not greatly need the intellectual powers that are essential to the rise of a common man, because the best brains of the country are at his service. Consequently, I do not busy myself in this volume with the families of merely able sovereigns; only with those few whose military and administrative capacity is acknowledged to have been of the very highest order.

As regards commanders, the qualities that raise a man to a peerage, may be of a peculiar kind, such as would not have raised him to eminence in ordinary times. Strategy is as much a speciality as chess playing, and large practice is required to develop it. It is difficult to see how strategical gifts, combined with a hardy constitution, dashing courage, and a restless disposition, can achieve eminence in times of peace. These qualities are more likely to attract a man to the hunting-field, if he have enough money; or if not, to make him an unsuccessful speculator. It consequently happens that generals of high, but not the very highest order, such as Napoleon's marshals and Cromwell's generals, are rarely found to have eminent kinsfolk. Very different is the case, with the most illustrious commanders. They are far more than strategists and men of restless dispositions; they would have distinguished themselves under any circumstances. Their kinships are most remarkable, as will be seen in my chapter on commanders, which includes the names of Alexander, Scipio, Hannibal,

Caesar, Marlborough, Cromwell, the Princes of Nassau, Wellington, and Napoleon.  Precisely the same remarks are applicable to demagogues. Those who rise to the surface and play a prominent part in the transactions of a troubled period, must have courage and force of character, but they need not have high intellectual powers. Nay, it is more appropriate that the intellects of such men should be narrow and one-sided, and their dispositions moody and embittered. These are not qualities that lead to eminence in ordinary times. Consequently, the families of such men, are mostly unknown to fame. But the kinships of popular leaders of the highest order, as of the two Gracchi, of the two Arteveldes, and of Mirabeau, are illustrious.

I may mention a class of cases that strikes me forcibly as a proof, that a sufficient power of command to lead to eminence in troublous times, is much less unusual than is commonly supposed, and that it lies neglected in the course of ordinary life. In beleaguered towns, as for example during the great Indian mutiny, a certain type of character very frequently made its appearance. People rose into notice who had never previously distinguished themselves, and subsided into their former way of life, after the occasion for exertion was over; while during the continuance of danger and misery, they were the heroes of their situation. They were cool in danger, sensible in council, cheerful under prolonged suffering, humane to the wounded and sick, encouragers of the faint-hearted. Such people were formed to shine only under exceptional circumstances. They had the advantage of possessing too tough a fibre to be crushed by anxiety and physical misery, and perhaps in consequence of that very toughness, they required a stimulus of the sharpest kind, to goad them to all the exertions of which they were capable.  The result of what I have said, is to show that in

statesmen and commanders, mere “eminence” is by no means a satisfactory criterion of such natural gifts as would make a man distinguished under whatever circumstances he had been reared. On the other hand, statesmen of a high order, and commanders of the very highest, who overthrow all opponents, must be prodigiously gifted. The reader must judge the cases I quote, in proof of hereditary gifts, by their several merits. I have endeavoured to speak of none but the most illustrious names. It would have led to false conclusions, had I taken a larger number, and thus descended to a lower level of merit.

In conclusion, I see no reason to be dissatisfied with the conditions under which I am bound, of accepting high reputation as a very fair test of high ability. The nature of the test would not have been altered, if I had attempted to readjust each man's reputation according to his merits, because this is what every biographer does. If I had possessed the critical power of a St. Beuve, I should have merely thrown into literature another of those numerous expressions of opinion, by the aggregate of which, all reputations are built.

To conclude: I feel convinced that no man can achieve a very high reputation without being gifted with very high abilities; and I trust I have shown reason to believe, that few who possess these very high abilities can fail in achieving eminence.


I ENTREAT my readers not to be frightened at the first sight of the notation I employ, for it is really very simple to understand and easy to recollect. It was impossible for me to get on without the help of something of the sort, as I found our ordinary nomenclature far too ambiguous as well as cumbrous for employment in this book.

For example, the terms “uncle,” “nephew,” “grandfather,” and “grandson,” have each of them two distinct meanings. An uncle may be the brother of the father, or the brother of the mother; the nephew may be the son of a brother, or the son of a sister; and so on. There are four kinds of first cousins, namely, the sons of the two descriptions of uncles and those of the two corresponding aunts. There are sixteen kinds of first cousins “once removed,” for either A. may be the son of any one of the four descriptions of male or of the four female cousins of B., or B. may bear any one of those relationships to A. I need not quote more instances in illustration of what I have said, that unbounded confusion would have been introduced had I confined myself in this book, to our ordinary nomenclature.

The notation I employ gets rid of all this confused and cumbrous language. It disentangles relationships

in a marvellously complete and satisfactory manner, and enables us to methodise, compare, and analyse them in any way we like.

Speaking generally, and without regarding the type in which the letters are printed, F. stands for Father; G. for Grandfather; U. for Uncle; N. for Nephew; B. for Brother; S. for Son; and P. for Grandson (Petit-fils in French).

These letters are printed in capitals when the relationship to be expressed has passed through the male line, and in small type when through the female line. Therefore U. is the paternal uncle; G. the paternal grandfather; N. is a nephew that is son of a brother; P. a grandson that is the child of a son. So again, u. is the maternal uncle; g. the maternal grandfather; n. a nephew that is son of a sister; p. a grandson that is the child of a daughter.

Precisely the same letters, in the form of Italics, are employed for the female relations. For example, in correspondence with U. there is U. to express an aunt that is the sister of a father; and to u. there is u. to express an aunt that is the sister of a mother.

It is a consequence of this system of notation, that F. and B. and S. are always printed in capitals, and that their correlatives for mother, sister, and daughter are always expressed in small italicised type, as f., b., and s.

The reader must mentally put the word his before the letter denoting kinship, and was after it. Thus:—

Adams, John; second President of the United States. S. John Quincey Adams, sixth President. P. C. F. Adams, American Minister in England; author.

would be read—

His (i.e. John Adams') son was J. Q. Adams.

His “ “ grandson was C. F. Adams.

The following table comprises the whole of this notation:—


    G.             G.                    g.             g.
  Grandfather =  Grandmother        Grandfather.   = Grandmother.
    __________|_________________     ______________|______________
   |          |                 |   |              |              |
   U.         U.                F.  f.             u.             u.
   Uncle     Aunt         Father. = Mother     Uncle.       Aunt.
         |                        |                          |
         B.                  The Person                      b.
     Brother.                 Described                   Sister.
    _____|_______           ______|________             _____|____
   |             |         |               |           |          |
  N.            N.      S.                s.          n.         n.
  Nephew      Niece     Son.            Daughter     Nephew    Niece.
             ____|_____                ____|_____
            |          |              |          |
            P.         P.             p.         p.
          Gr.-son   Gr.-daughter   Gr.-son    Gr.-daughter


Two or more letters are employed to express relationships beyond the compass of this table. Thus the expression for a first cousin, speaking generally, is US., which admits of being specialized in four different forms, namely, US., US., uS., and uS. As a matter of fact, distant relationships will seldom be found to fall under our consideration.

The last explanation I have to make, is the meaning of brackets [] when they enclose a letter. It implies that the person to whose name the letter in brackets is annexed has not achieved sufficient public reputation to be ranked, in statistical deductions, on equal terms with the rest.

For facility of reference I give lists, in alphabetical order, of all the letters, within the limits of two letters, that I employ. Thus I always use GF. for great-grandfather, and not FG., which means the same thing.

Alphabetical List Of The Letters,
And The Male Relationships To Which They Correspond.[4]

B. Brother.

F. Father.

G. g. Grandfather.

GB. gB. GB. gB. Great-uncle.

GF. gF. GF. gF. Great-grandfather.

GG. gG. GG. gG. Gg. gg. Gg. gg. Great-great-grandfather.

GN. gN. GN. gN. Gn. gn. Gn. gn. First cousin, once removed, ascending.

GU. gU. GU. gU. Gu. gu. Gu. gu. Great-great-uncle.

N. n. Nephew.

NS. nS. NS. nS. Great-nephew.

P. p. Grandson.

PS. pS. PS. pS. Great-grandson.

PP. pP. PP. pP. Pp. pp. Pp. pp. Great-great-grandson.

S. Son.

U. u. Uncle.

UP. uP. Up. uP. up. Up. up. First cousin, once removed, descending.

US. uS. US. uS. First cousin.

[ Ed. This page intentionally left blank. ]

The Judges Of England Between
1660 and 1865

THE Judges of England, since the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, form a group peculiarly well adapted to afford a general outline of the extent and limitations of heredity in respect to genius. A judgeship is a guarantee of its possessor being gifted with exceptional ability; the Judges are sufficiently numerous and prolific to form an adequate basis for statistical inductions, and they are the subjects of several excellent biographical treatises. It is therefore well to begin our inquiries with a discussion of their relationships. We shall quickly arrive at definite results, which subsequent chapters, treating of more illustrious men, and in other careers, will check and amplify.

It is necessary that I should first say something in support of my assertion, that the office of a judge is really a sufficient guarantee that its possessor is exceptionally gifted. In other countries it may be different to what it is with us, but we all know that in England, the Bench is never spoken of without reverence for the intellectual power of its occupiers. A seat on the Bench is a great prize, to be won by the best men. No doubt there are hindrances, external to those of nature, against a man getting on at the Bar and rising to a judgeship. The attorneys may not give him briefs when he is a young barrister; and even if he becomes a successful barrister,

his political party may be out of office for a long period, at a time when he was otherwise ripe for advancement. I cannot, however, believe that either of these are serious obstacles in the long run. Sterling ability is sure to make itself felt, and to lead to practice; while as to politics, the changes of party are sufficiently frequent to give a fair chance to almost every generation. For every man who is a judge, there may possibly be two other lawyers of the same standing, equally fitted for the post, but it is hard to believe there can be a larger number.

If not always the foremost, the Judges are therefore among the foremost, of a vast body of legal men. The Census speaks of upwards of 3,000 barristers, advocates, and special pleaders; and it must be recollected that these do not consist of 3,000 men taken at hap-hazard, but a large part of them are already selected, and it is from these, by a second process of selection, that the judges are mainly derived. When I say that a large part of the barristers are selected men, I speak of those among them who are of humble parentage, but have brilliant natural gifts—who attracted notice as boys, or, it may be, even as children, and were therefore sent to a good school. There they won exhibitions and fitted themselves for college, where they supported themselves by obtaining scholarships. Then came fellowships, and so they ultimately found their way to the Bar. Many of these have risen to the Bench. The parentage of the Lord Chancellors justifies my statement. There have been thirty of them within the period included in my inquiries. Of these, Lord Hardwicke was the son of a small attorney at Dover, in narrow circumstances; Lord Eldon (whose brother was the great Admiralty Judge, Lord Stowell) was son of a “coal fitter;” Lord Truro was son of a sheriff's officer; and Lord St. Leonards (like Lord Tenterden, the Chief Justice of Common Pleas) was son of a barber. Others

were sons of clergymen of scanty means. Others have begun life in alien professions, yet, notwithstanding their false start, have easily recovered lost ground in after life. Lord Erskine was first in the navy and then in the army, before he became a barrister. Lord Chelmsford was originally a midshipman. Now a large number of men with antecedents as unfavourable to success as these, and yet successful men, are always to be found at the Bar, and therefore I say the barristers are themselves a selected body; and the fact of every judge having been taken from the foremost rank of 3,000 of them, is proof that his exceptional ability is of an enormously higher order than if the 3,000 barristers had been conscripts, drawn by lot from the general mass of their countrymen. I therefore need not trouble myself with quoting passages from biographies, to prove that each of the Judges whose name I have occasion to mention, is a highly gifted man. It is precisely in order to avoid the necessity of this tedious work, that I have selected the Judges for my first chapter.

In speaking of the English Judges, I have adopted the well-known “Lives of the Judges,” by Foss, as my guide. It was published in 1865, so I have adopted that date as the limit of my inquiries. I have considered those only as falling under the definition of “judges” whom he includes as such. They are the Judges of the Courts of Chancery and Common Law, and the Master of the Rolls, but not the Judges of the Admiralty nor of the Court of Canterbury. By the latter limitation, I lose the advantage of counting Lord Stowell (brother of the Lord Chancellor Eldon), the remarkable family of the Lushingtons, that of Sir R. Phillimore, and some others. Through the limitation as regards time, I lose, by ending with the year 1863, the recently-created judges, such as Judge Selwyn, brother of the Bishop of Lichfield, and also of the Professor of Divinity at Cambridge. But I believe, from cursory

inquiries, that the relations of these latter judges, speaking generally, have not so large a share of eminence as we shall find among those of the judges in my list. This might have been expected, for it is notorious that the standard of ability in a modern judge is not so high as it used to be. The number of exceptionally gifted men being the same, it is impossible to supply the new demand for heads of great schools and for numerous other careers, now thrown open to able youths, without seriously limiting the field whence alone good judges may be selected. By beginning at the Restoration, which I took for my commencement, because there was frequent jobbery in earlier days, I lose a Lord Keeper (of the same rank as a Lord Chancellor), and his still greater son, also a Lord Chancellor, namely, the two Bacons. I state these facts to show that I have not picked out the period in question, because it seemed most favourable to my argument, but simply because it appeared the most suitable to bring out the truth as to hereditary genius, and was, at the same time, most convenient for me to discuss.

There are 286 judges within the limits of my inquiry; 109 of them have one or more eminent relations, and three others have relations whom I have noticed, but they are marked off with brackets, and are therefore not to be included in the following statistical deductions. As the readiest method of showing, at a glance, the way in which these relations are distributed, I give a table below in which they are all compactly registered. This table is a condensed summary of the Appendix to the present chapter, which should be consulted by the reader whenever he desires fuller information.


One relation (or two in family).











King, Lord









Best (Lord Wynford)






Bickersteth (Lord Langdale)



Mansfield, Lord















Brougham, Lord



Powis, Sir L. And brother



Campbell, Lord



Raymond, Lord, and father



Cooper (Earl Shaftesbury)



Reynolds, Sir J. And nephew



Copley (Lord Lyndhurst)



Romilly, Lord[5]



De Grey (Lord Walsingham)



Scott (Earl Eldon)









Eyre, Sir R. and father



Thesiger (Lord Chelmsford)






Thurlow, Lord









Harcourt, Lord



(Twisden, see Finch).









Henley (E. Of Northington)









Wood (Lord Hatherley) .


Two and three relations (or three and four in family).



F. Us.



P. u.


(Bathurst, Earl, see Buller).




pS. pP.



B. g.



S. B.



S. N.


Parker (E. Of Macclesfield) and

S. UP.


Buller and Bathurst, Earl

U. u. N.


Sir Thomas Pepys (E. of Cottenham)

G. g. B.



G. F.






UP. N.



2B. S.



B. u.


Rolfe (Lord Cranworth)

GN. gF.


Clive, Sir E. and uncle

U. UP.


Scarlett (Lord Abinger)



Cowper, Earl, & brother

B. NS.



F. GF.



F. B.


Sutton (Lord Manners)

B. N.



S. B. gB.


Talbot, Lord

F. N.


Erskine, Lord, and son

B. S.





Gould, Sir H. and grandson

P. p.


Wilde, Lord Truro, and nephew

B. N.


Hewitt (Lord Lifford)



Willes, Sir J. And son

B. S.


Jeffreys, Lord, and Trevor

G. US.



P. PS.



F. GN.


Windham, Sir W. And brother

B. P. GN.

Four or more relations (or five and more in family)


Atkyns, Sir R. and three others

G. F. B. p.



S. s. 3N. P. NS.






F. S. uS. uP.



Viz. Finch (Earl of Nottingham), Twisden, and Legge

F. 2S. US. GN. PS. (?gN.)


Herbert, Lord Keeper, and son

2S. 2US.


Hyde, Earl Clarendon, and cousin

2U. 3US. S.


Law (Lord Ellenborough)

F. 2S. 2B.


(Legge, see Finch.) Lyttleton[8]

B. F. u. g. PS.


Viz. 2 Montagu[9] and 1 North (Ld. Guilford) (North, see Montagu.)

G. B. 2S. 2N. 2P. NS. 5NS.


Pratt, Earl Camden, and Sir J.

F. S. n. NS.


Somers, Earl (but see Yorke)

2NS. 2NP.


Trevor, Lord(Trevor, Master of the Rolls, see Jeffreys.)

g. F. S. U. GB.



3B. 2N.p.


Yorke, Earl Hardwicke and son; also, in part, Earl Somers

2S. 2P. PS.

Several remarkable features in the contents of this table will catch the eye at once. I will begin by shortly alluding to them, and will enter more into details a little further on. First, it will be observed, that the Judges are so largely interrelated, that 109 of them are grouped into only 85 families. There are seventeen doublets, among the Judges, two triplets, and one quadruplet. In addition to these, might be counted six other sets, consisting of those whose ancestors sat on the Bench previously to the accession of Charles II., namely, Bedingfield, Forster, Hyde, Finch, Windham, and Lyttleton. Another fact to be observed, is the nearness of the relationships in my list. The single letters are far the most common. Also, though a man has twice as many grandfathers as fathers, and probably more than twice as many grandsons as sons, yet the Judges are found more frequently to have eminent fathers than grandfathers, and eminent sons than grandsons. In the third degree of relationship, the eminent kinsmen are yet more rare, although the number of individuals in those degrees is increased in a duplicate proportion. When a judge has no more than one eminent relation, that relation

is nearly always to be found in the first or second degree. Thus in the first section of the table, which is devoted to single relationships, though it includes as many as thirty-nine entries, there are only two among them (viz. Browne and Lord Brougham) whose kinships extend beyond the second degree. It is in the last section of the table, which treats of whole families, largely gifted with ability, that the distant kinships are chiefly to be found. I annex a table (Table II.) extracted from the preceding one, which exhibits these facts with great clearness. Column A contains the facts just as they were observed, and column D shows the percentage of individuals, in each degree of kinship to every 100 judges, who have become eminent.

Table II

Degrees Of Kinship






Name of the degree

Corresponding letter







22 F.










30 B.










31 S.










7 G.

6 g.









9 U.

6 u.









14 N.

3 n.









11 P.

5 p.









1 GF.

1 gF.

0 GF.

0 gF.







1 GB.

2 gB.

0 GB.

0 gB.







5 US.

2 uS.

1 US.

1 uS.







7 NS.

1 nS.

7 NS.

0 nS.







2 PS.


1 PS.

0 pS.






All more remote










A.   Number of eminent men in each degree of kinship to the most eminent man of the family (85 families).

B.   The preceding column raised in proportion to 100 families.

C.   Number of individuals in each degree of kinship to loo men.

D.   Percentage of eminent men in each degree of kinship, to the most eminent member of distinguished families; it was obtained by dividing B by C and multiplying by 100.

E.    Percentages of the previous column reduced in the proportion of (286 — 24[10], or) 242 to 85, in order to apply to families generally.

Table II. also gives materials for judging of the comparative influence of the male and female lines, in conveying ability. Thanks to my method of notation, it is perfectly easy to separate the two lines in the way I am about to explain. I do not attempt to compare relations in the first degree of kinship—namely, fathers with mothers, sons with daughters, or brothers with sisters, because there exists no criterion for a just comparison of the natural ability of the different sexes. Nay, even if there were means for testing it, the result would be fallacious. A mother transmits masculine peculiarities to her male child, which she does not and cannot possess; and, similarly, a woman who is endowed with fewer gifts of a masculine type than her husband, may yet contribute in a larger degree to the masculine intellectual superiority of her son. I therefore shift my inquiry from the first, to the second and third degrees of kinship. As regards the second degree, I compare the paternal grandfather with the maternal, the uncle by the father's side with the uncle by the mother's, the nephew by the brother's side with the nephew by the sister's, and the grandson by the son with the grandson by the daughter. On the same principle I compare the kinships in the third degree: that is to say, the father of the father's father with the father of the mother's mother, and so on. The whole of the work is distinctly exposed to view in the following compact table:—

In the second degree:

7G. + 9U. + 14N. + 11P. = 41 kinships through males.

6g. + 6u. + 2n. + 5p. = 19 kinships through females.

In the third degree:

1GF. + 1GB. + 5US. + 7NS. + 2PS. = 19 kinships through males.

0gF. + 0gB.+ 1uS. + 0nS. + 0pS. = 1kinships through females.

Total, 60 through males, 20 through females,

The numbers are too small to warrant any very decided conclusion; but they go far to prove that the female influence is inferior to that of the male in conveying ability. It must, however, be observed, that the difference between the totals in the second degree is chiefly due to the nephews—a relationship difficult to trace on the female side, because, as a matter of fact, biographers do not speak so fully of the descendants of the sisters of their hero as of those of his brothers. As regards the third degree, the relationships on the female side are much more difficult to ferret out than those on the male, and I have no doubt I have omitted many of them. In my earlier attempts, the balance stood still more heavily against the female side, and it has been reduced exactly in proportion to the number of times I have revised my data. Consequently, though I first suspected a large residuum against the female line, I think there is reason to believe the influence of females but little inferior to that of males, in transmitting judicial ability.

It is, of course, a grief to me, in writing this book, that circumstances make it impossible to estimate the influence of the individual peculiarities of the mother—for good or for bad—upon her offspring. They appear to me, for the reasons stated, to be as important elements in the inquiry as those of the father, and yet I am obliged to completely ignore them in a large majority of instances, on account of the lack of reliable information. Nevertheless, I have numerous arguments left to prove that genius is hereditary.

Before going further, I must entreat my readers to abandon an objection which very likely may present itself to their minds, and which I can easily show to be untenable. People who do not realize the nature of my arguments have constantly spoken to me to this effect: “It is of no use your quoting successes unless you take failures into equal account. Eminent men may have eminent relations, but

they also have very many who are ordinary, or even stupid, and there are not a few who are either eccentric or downright mad.” I perfectly allow all this, but it does not in the least affect the cogency of my arguments. If a man breeds from strong, well-shaped dogs, but of mixed pedigree, the puppies will be sometimes, but rarely, the equals of their parents. They will commonly be of a mongrel, nondescript type, because ancestral peculiarities are apt to crop out in the offspring. Yet notwithstanding all this, it is easy to develop the desirable characteristics of individual dogs into the assured heirloom of a new breed. The breeder selects the puppies that most nearly approach the wished-for type, generation after generation, until they have no ancestor, within many degrees, that has objectionable peculiarities. So it is with men and women. Because one or both of a child's parents are able, it does not in the least follow as a matter of necessity, but only as one of moderately unfavourable odds, that the child will be able also. He inherits an extraordinary mixture of qualities displayed in his grandparents, great-grandparents, and more remote ancestors, as well as from those of his father and mother. The most illustrious and so-called “well-bred” families of the human race, are utter mongrels as regards their natural gifts of intellect and disposition.

What I profess to prove is this: that if two children are taken, of whom one has a parent exceptionally gifted in a high degree—say as one in 4,000, or as one in a million— and the other has not, the former child has an enormously greater chance of turning out to be gifted in a high degree, than the other. Also, I argue that, as a new race can be obtained in animals and plants, and can be raised to so great a degree of purity that it will maintain itself, with moderate care in preventing the more faulty members of the flock from breeding, so a race of gifted men might be obtained, under exactly similar conditions.

I must apologize for anticipating, in this off-hand and very imperfect manner, the subject of a future chapter by these few remarks; but I am really obliged to do so, knowing from experience how pertinaciously strangers to the reasoning by which the laws of heredity are established, are inclined to prejudge my conclusions, by blindly insisting that the objection to which I have referred has overbearing weight.

I will now proceed with an examination of what may be learnt from the relationships of the Judges, First, I would ask, are the abler judges more rich in eminent relations than those who are less able? There are two ways of answering this question: the one is to examine into the relationships of the law lords as compared with that of the puisne judges, or of the chancellors compared with that of the judges generally; and the other is to determine whether or no the persons whose names are entered in the third column of Table I. are above the average of judges in respect to ability. Here are a few of the Lord Chancellors. There are only 30 of those high legal officers within the limits of my inquiry, yet 24 of these have eminent relations; whereas out of the (286 — 30 or) 256 other judges, only (114 — 24 or) 90 have eminent relations. There are therefore 80 per cent. of the chancellors, as compared to 36 per cent. of the rest of the judges, that have eminent relations. The proportion would have been greater if I had compared the chancellors, or the chancellors and the other law lords, with the puisne judges.

The other test I proposed, is equally satisfactory. There can be no doubt of the exceptionally eminent ability of the men whose names appear in the third column. To those who object to my conclusion because Lord Chancellors have more opportunities of thrusting relatives, by jobbery, into eminence than are possessed by the other judges, I can do no more than refer them to what I have

already said about reputation being a test of ability, and by giving a short list of the more remarkable cases of relations to the Lord Chancellors, which I think will adequately meet their objection. They are—

l. Earl Bathurst and his daughter's son, the famous judge, Sir F. Buller. 2. Earl Camden and his father, Chief Justice Pratt. 3. Earl Clarendon and the remarkable family of Hyde, in which were two uncles and one cousin, all English judges, besides one Welsh judge, and many other men of distinction. 4. Earl Cowper, his brother the judge, and his great-nephew the poet. 5. Earl Eldon and his brother Lord Stowell. 6. Lord Erskine, his eminent legal brother the Lord Advocate of Scotland, and his son the judge. 7. Earl Nottingham and the most remarkable family of Finch. 8, 9, 10. Earl Hardwicke and his son, also a Lord Chancellor, who died suddenly, and that son's great-uncle, Lord Somers, also a Lord Chancellor. 11. Lord Herbert, his son a judge, his cousins Lord Herbert of Cherbury and George the poet and divine. 12. Lord King and his uncle, John Locke the philosopher. 13. The infamous but most able Lord Jeffreys had a cousin just like him, namely, Sir J. Trevor, Master of the Rolls. 14. Lord Guilford is member of a family to which I simply despair of doing justice, for it is linked with connexions of such marvellous ability, judicial and statesmanlike, as to deserve a small volume to describe it. It contains thirty first-class men in near kinship, including Montagus, Sydneys, Herberts, Dudleys, and others. 15. Lord Truro had two able legal brothers, one of whom was Chief Justice at the Cape of Good Hope; and his nephew is an English judge, recently created Lord Penzance. I will here mention Lord Lyttleton, Lord Keeper of Charles I., although many members of his most remarkable family do not fall within my limits. His father, the Chief Justice of North Wales, married a lady, the daughter of Sir J. Walter, the Chief

Justice of South Wales, and also sister of an English judge. She bore him Lord Keeper Lyttleton, also Sir Timothy, a judge. Lord Lyttleton's daughter's son (she married a cousin) was Sir T. Lyttleton, the Speaker of the House of Commons.

There is, therefore, abundant reason to conclude that the kinsmen of Lord Chancellors are far richer in natural gifts than those of the other judges.

I will now take another test of the existence of hereditary ability. It is a comparison of the number of entries in the columns of Table I. Supposing that natural gifts were due to mere accident, unconnected with parentage, then the entries would be distributed in accordance with the law that governs the distribution of accidents. If it be a hundred to one against some member of any family, within given limits of kinship, drawing a lottery prize, it would be a million to one against three members of the same family doing so (nearly, but not exactly, because the size of the family is limited), and a million millions to one against six members doing so. Therefore, if natural gifts were due to mere accident, the first column of Table I. would have been enormously longer than the second column, and the second column enormously longer than the third; but they are not so. There are nearly as many cases of two or three eminent relations as of one eminent relation; and as a set off against the thirty-nine cases that appear in the first column, there are no less than fifteen cases in the third.

It is therefore clear that ability is not distributed at haphazard, but that it clings to certain families. We will proceed to a third test.

If genius be hereditary, as I assert it to be, the characteristics that mark a judge ought to be frequently transmitted to his descendants. The majority of judges belong to a strongly-marked type. They are not men who are

carried away by sentiment, who love seclusion and dreams, but they are prominent members of a very different class, one that Englishmen are especially prone to honour for at least the six lawful days of the week. I mean that they are vigorous, shrewd, practical, helpful men; glorying in the rough-and-tumble of public life, tough in constitution and strong in digestion, valuing what money brings, aiming at position and influence, and desiring to found families. The vigour of a judge is testified by the fact that the average age of their appointment in the last three reigns has been fifty-seven. The labour and responsibility of the office seem enormous to lookers-on, yet these elderly men continue working with ease for many more years; their average age of death is seventy-five, and they commonly die in harness. Now are these remarkable gifts and peculiarities inherited by their sons? Do the judges often have sons who succeed in the same career, where success would have been impossible if they had not been gifted with the special qualities of their fathers? The best answer is a list of names. They will be of much interest to legal readers; others can glance them over, and go on to the results.


I mark those cases with an asterisk (*) where both relations are English Judges.





Atkyns, Sir Edward, B.E. (Chas. II.)

Sir Robert, Chief Just C.P. Sir Edward, B.E. (Jas. II.)


Atkyns, Sir Richard, Chief Just. N. Wales.

Sir Edward, B.E. (Chas. II.)


Brainston, Sir Francis, Chief K.B. (Chas. I.)[11]

Sir Francis, B.E. (Chas. II.)


Coleridge, Sir John, Just. Q B. (Vict.)

Sir John Duke, Solic. Gen.


Dolben, Sir Wm., Just. K.B. (Will. III.)

Sir Gilbert, Just. C.P. Ireland; cr. Bart.


Erskine, T.; cr. Lord Erskine; Lord Chan.

Hon. Sir Thomas, Just. C.P. (Vict.)



Eyre, Sir Samuel, Just. K.B. (Will. III.)

Sir Robert, Chief Just C.P. (Geo. II.)


Finch, Heneage, L.Ch.; cr. E. of Nottingham.

Heneage, Solic. Gen.; cr. Earl Aylesford.


Finch, Sir Heneage, Recorder of London.

Heneage, Ld. Chan.; cr. E. of Nottingham.


Forster, Sir James, Just. C.P. (Chas. I.)

Sir Robert, Chief Just K.B. (Chas. II.)


Gurney, Sir John, B.E. (Vict.)

Rt. Hon. Russell Gurney, Recorder of London.


Herbert, Sir Edw., Lord Keeper. (Chas. II.)

Sir Edward, Chief Just K.B. (Jas. II.)


Hewitt, James; cr. Ld. Lifford.; Just K.B.

Joseph, Just K.B. Ireland.


Jervis, ——, Chief Just of Chester.

Sir John, Chief Just. C.P. (Vict.)


Law, Edw.; cr. Ld. Ellenborough; Ch. K.B.

Chas. Ewan, M. P., Recorder of London.


Pratt, Sir John, Chief Just. K.B. (Geo II.)

Earl Camden, Lord Chanc. (Geo. III.)


Raymond, Sir Thomas, Just C.B.

Robert; cr. Ld. Raymond; Ch. K.B. (Geo.II.)


Romilly, Sir Samuel, Solic. Gen.

Cr. Lord Romilly, Master of Rolls. (Vict.)


Willes, Sir John, Chief Just C.P. (Geo. III.)

Sir Edward, Just K.B. (Geo. III.)


Yorke, Philip, Ld. Chanc.; cr. E. Hardwicke.

Hon. Charles, Lord Chanc. (Geo. III.)



Atkyns, Sir Robert, Chief C.P. (Will. III.)

Sir Edward, B.E. (Jas. II.)


Cowper, Wm.; cr. Earl Cowper; Ld. Chanc.

Sir Spencer, Just C. P. (Geo. II.)


Erskine, T.; cr. Lord Erskine; Lord Chanc.

Henry, twice Lord Advocate, Scotland.


Hyde, Sir Robert, Chief K.B. (Chas. II.)

Sir Frederick, a Judge in S. Wales. Judge of Admiralty.


Lee, Sir William, Chief K.B. (Geo. II.)

George, Dean of Arches, &c.


Lyttleton, Lord, Lord Keeper. (Chas. I.)

Sir Timothy, B.E. (Chas. II.)


North, F.; cr. Earl of Guilford; Lord Chanc.

Roger, Attorney Gen. to Queen.


Pollock, Sir F. Chief B.E. (Vict.)

Sir David, Chief Just Bombay.


Powis, Sir Lyttleton, Just. K.B. (Geo. L)

Sir Thomas, Just K.B. (Geo. I.)


Scarlett, Sir J.; cr. Ld. Abinger; Ch. B.E.

Sir Wm. Ch. Just Jamaica.


Scott, John; cr. Earl of Eldon; Lord Chanc.

William; cr. Lord Stowell; Judge Adm.


Wilde, T.; cr. Lord Truro; Lord Chanc.

Sir ——, Ch. Just. Cape of Good Hope.


Wynham, Sir Hugh, B.E. (Chas. II.)

Sir Wadham, B.E. (Chas. II.)






Atkyns, Sir Robt Chief C.P. (Will. III.)

Sir J. Tracy (assumed name of Atkyns),



Cursitor B.E. (Geo. III.)


Burnet, ——, Scotch Judge; Lord Cramond.

Sir Thomas Burnet, Just CP.


Gould, Sir Henry, Just Q.B. (Anne.)

Sir Henry Gould, Just C.P. (Geo. III.)


Jeffreys, ——, Judge in N. Wales.

Jeffreys, Lord, Lord Chanc. (Jas. II.)


Finch, H. Solic.-Gen.: cr. E. Aylesford.

Hon. H. Legge, B.E. (Geo. II.)


Walter, Sir E. Chief Just S. Wales.

Lyttleton, Sir T.B.E. (Chas. II.)


Heath, Sir R. Chief K.B. (Chas. I.)

Verney, Hon. Sir J. Master of Rolls.

Out of the 286 Judges, more than one in every nine of them have been either father, son, or brother to another judge, and the other high legal relationships have been even more numerous. There cannot, then, remain a doubt but that the peculiar type of ability that is necessary to a judge is often transmitted by descent.

The reader must guard himself against the supposition, that because the Judges have so many legal relations, therefore they have few other relations of eminence in other walks of life. A long list might be made out of

those who had bishops and archbishops for kinsmen. No less than ten judges—of whom one, Sir Robert Hyde, appeared in the previous list—have a bishop or an archbishop for a brother. Of these, Sir William Dolben was brother to one Archbishop of York and son of the sister of another, namely of John Williams, who was also the Lord Keeper to James I. There are cases of Poet-relations, as Cowper, Coleridge, Milton, Sir Thomas Overbury, and Waller. There are numerous relatives who are novelists, physicians, admirals, and generals. My lists of kinsmen at the end of this chapter are very briefly treated, but they include the names of many great men, whose deeds have filled large volumes. It is one of my most serious drawbacks in writing this book, to feel that names, which never now present themselves to my eye without associations of respect and reverence, for the great qualities of those who bore them, are likely to be insignificant and meaningless to the eyes of most of my readers—indeed to all of those who have never had occasion to busy themselves with their history. I know how great was my own ignorance of the character of the great men of previous generations, before I occupied myself with biographies, and I therefore reasonably suspect that many of my readers will be no better informed about them than I was myself. A collection of men that I have learned to look upon as an august Valhalla, is likely to be regarded, by those who are strangers to the facts of biographical history, as an assemblage of mere respectabilities.

The names of North and Montagu, among the Judges, introduce us to a remarkable breed of eminent men, set forth at length in the genealogical tree of the Montagus, and again in that of the Sydneys (see the chapter on “literary men”), to whose natural history—if the expression be permitted—a few pages may be profitably assigned. There is hardly a name in those pedigrees

which is not more than ordinarily eminent: many are illustrious. They are closely tied together in their kinship, and they extend through ten generations. The main roots of this diffused ability lie in the families of Sydney and Montagu, and, in a lesser degree, in that of North.

The Sydney blood—I mean that of the descendants of Sir William Sydney and his wife—had extraordinary influence in two different combinations. First with the Dudleys, producing in the first generation, Sir Philip Sydney and his eminent brother and sister; in the second generation, at least one eminent man; and in the third generation, Algernon Sydney, with his able brother and much be-praised sister. The second combination of the Sydney blood was with the Harringtons, producing in the first generation a literary peer, and Elizabeth the mother of the large and most remarkable family that forms the chief feature in my genealogical table.

The Montagu blood, as represented by Sir Edward, who died in the Tower, 1644, is derived from three distinct sources. His great-grandfather (gF.) was Sir John Finnieux, Chief Justice of the King's Bench; his grandfather (g.) was John Roper, Attorney-General to Henry VIII.; and his father—by far the most eminent of the three— was Sir Edward Montagu, Chief Justice of the King's Bench. Sir Edward Montagu, son of the Chief Justice, married Elizabeth Harrington, of whom I have just spoken, and had a large family, who in themselves and in their descendants became most remarkable. To mention only the titles they won: in the first generation they obtained two peerages, the earldom of Manchester and the barony of Montagu; in the second they obtained two more, the earldom of Sandwich and the barony of Capel; in the third five more, the dukedom of Montagu, earldoms of Halifax and of Essex, the barony of Guilford,

and a new barony of Capel (second creation); in the fourth one more, the dukedom of Manchester (the Premier in 1701); in the fifth one more, the earldom of Guilford. The second Earl of Guilford, the Premier of George III. (best known as Lord North), was in the sixth generation.

It is wholly impossible for me to describe the characteristics of all the individuals who are jotted down in my genealogical tree. I could not do it without giving a vast deal more room than I can spare. But this much I can do, and ought to do; namely, to take those who are most closely linked with the Judges, and to show that they possessed sterling ability, and did not hold their high positions by mere jobbery, nor obtain their reputations through the accident of birth or circumstances. I will gladly undertake to show this, although it happens in the present instance to put my cause in a peculiarly disadvantageous light, because Francis North, the Lord Keeper, the first Baron Guilford, is the man of all others, in that high position (identical, or nearly so, with that of a Lord Chancellor), whom modern authorities vie in disparaging and condemning. Those who oppose my theories might say, the case of North being Lord Keeper shows it is impossible to trust official rank as a criterion of ability; he was promoted by jobbery, and jobbed when he was promoted; he inherited family influence, not natural intellectual gifts: and the same may be said of all the members of this or of any other pedigree. As I implied before, there is enough truth in this objection to make it impossible to meet it by a flat contradiction, based on a plain and simple statement. It is necessary to analyse characters, and to go a little into detail I will do this, and when it is concluded I believe many of my readers will better appreciate than they did before, how largely natural intellectual gifts are the birthright of some families.

Francis North, the Lord Keeper, was one of a family of five brothers and one sister. The lives of three of the brothers are familiarly known to us through the charming biographies written by another brother, Roger North. Their position in the Montagu family is easily discovered by means of the genealogical tree. They fall in the third of those generations I have just described—the one in which the family gained one dukedom, two earldoms, and two baronies. Their father was of a literary stock, continued backwards in one line during no less than five generations. The first Lord North was an eminent lawyer in the time of Queen Elizabeth, and his son—an able man and an ambassador—married the daughter of Lord Chancellor Rich. His son again—who did not live to enjoy the peerage—married the daughter of a Master of the Court of Requests, and his great-great-grandsons—the intermediate links being more or less distinguished, but of whose marriages I know little—were the brothers North, of whom I am about to speak.

The father of these brothers was the fourth Baron North. He was a literary man, and, among other matters, wrote the life of the founder of his family. He was an “economical” man, and “exquisitely virtuous and sober in his person.” The style of his writings was not so bright as that of his father, the second baron, who was described as full of spirit and flame, and who was an author both in prose and verse; his poems were praised by Walpole. The mother of the brothers, namely, Anne Montagu, is described by her son as a compendium of charity and wisdom. I suspect it was from the fourth Baron North that the disagreeable qualities in three of the brothers North were derived—such as the priggishness of the Lord Keeper, and that curious saving, mercantile spirit that appeared under different forms in the Lord Keeper, the Financier, and the Master of Trinity College. I cannot avoid

 alluding to these qualities, for they are prominent features in their characters, and find a large place in their biographies.

In speaking of the Lord Keeper, I think I had better begin with the evil part of his character. When that has been admitted and done with, the rest of my task will be pleasant and interesting. In short, the Lord Keeper is mercilessly handled in respect to his public character. Lord Campbell calls him the most odious man that ever held the Great Seal, and says that throughout his whole life he sought and obtained advancement by the meanest arts. Bishop Burnet calls him crafty and designing. Lord Macaulay accuses him of selfishness, cowardice, and meanness. I have heard of no writer who commends his public character except his brother, who was tenderly attached to him. I should say, that even Lord Campbell acknowledges the Lord Keeper to have been extremely amiable in all his domestic relations, and that nothing can be more touching than the account we have of the warm and steady affection between him and his brother, who survived to be his biographer. I am, however, no further concerned with the Lord Keeper's public character than to show that, notwithstanding his most unworthy acts to obtain advancement, and notwithstanding he had relatives in high offices to help him, his own ability and that of his brothers were truly remarkable.

Bishop Burnet says of him that he had not the virtues of his predecessor (Lord Nottingham), but he had parts far beyond him. However, Lord Campbell dissents from this, and remarks that “a Nottingham does not arise above once in a century.” (I will here beg the reader not to be unmindful of the marvellous hereditary gifts of the Nottingham or Finch family.) Macaulay says his intellect was clear, his industry great, his proficiency in letters and science respectable, and his legal learning more

than respectable. His brother Roger writes thus of the Lord Keeper's youth:—

“It was singular and remarkable in him that, together with the study of the law, which is thought ordinarily to devour the whole studious time of a young gentleman, he continued to pursue his inquiries into all ingenious arts, history, humanity, and languages; whereby he became not only a good lawyer, but a good historian, politician, mathematician, natural philosopher, and, I must add, musician in perfection.”

The Hon. Sir Dudley North, his younger brother, was a man of exceedingly high abilities and vigour. He went as a youth to Smyrna, where his good works are not yet forgotten, and where he made a large fortune; then, returning to England, he became at once a man of the highest note in Parliament as a financier. There was an unpleasant side to his character when young, but he overmastered and outgrew it. Namely, he first showed a strange bent to traffic when at school; afterwards he cheated sadly, and got into debts; then he cheated his parents to pay the debts. At last he made a vigorous effort, and wholly reformed himself, so that his brother concludes his biography in this way:—

“If I may be so free as to give my thoughts of his morals, I must allow that, as to all the mercantile arts and stratagems of trade which could be used to get money from those he dealt with, I believe he was no niggard; but as for falsities ... he was as clear as any man living.”

It seems, from the same authority, that he was a very forward, lively, and beautiful child. At school he did not get on so well with his books, as he had an excessive desire for action; still, his ability was such that a little application went a long way with him, and in the end he came out a moderate scholar. He was a great swimmer, and could live in the water for a whole afternoon, (I mention this,

because I shall hereafter have occasion to speak of physical gifts not unfrequently accompanying intellectual ones.) He sometimes left his clothes in charge of a porter below London Bridge, then ran naked upon the mud-shore of the Thames up almost as high as Chelsea, for the pleasure of swimming down to his clothes with the tide, and he loved to end by shooting the cascade beneath old London Bridge. I often marvel at his feat, when I happen to be on the river in a steamer.

I will now quote Macaulay's description of his first appearance, in his after life, on the stage of English politics. Speaking, in his “History of England,” of the period immediately following the accession of James II., Macaulay says—

“The person on whom devolved the task of devising ways and means was Sir Dudley North, younger brother of the Lord Keeper. Dudley North was one of the ablest men of his time. He had early in life been sent to the Levant, where he had long been engaged in mercantile pursuits. Most men would, in such a situation, have allowed their faculties to rust; for at Smyrna and Constantinople there were few books and few intelligent companions. But the young factor had one of those vigorous understandings which are independent of external aids. In his solitude he meditated deeply on the philosophy of trade, and thought out, by degrees, a complete and admirable theory—substantially the same with that which a hundred years later was expounded by Adam Smith.” North was brought into Parliament for Banbury; and, though a new member, was the person on whom the Lord Treasurer chiefly relied for the conduct of financial business in the Lower House. “North's ready wit and perfect knowledge of trade prevailed, both in the Treasury and the Parliament, against all opposition. The old members were amazed at seeing a man who had not been a fortnight

in the House, and whose life had been chiefly passed in foreign countries, assume with confidence, and discharge with ability, all the functions of a Chancellor of the Exchequer.” He was forty-four years old at the time.

Roger North describes the financial theories of his brother, thus: “One is, that trade is not distributed, as government, by nations and kingdoms, but is one throughout the whole world; as the main sea, which cannot be emptied or replenished in one part, but the whole more or less will be affected.” Another was “concerning money; that no nation could want money (specie), and they would not abound in it.... For if a people want money, they will give a price for it; and then merchants, for gain, bring it and lay it down before them.”

Roger North, speaking of Sir Dudley and of the Lord Keeper, says: “These brothers lived with extreme satisfaction in each other's society; for both had the skill and knowledge of the world, as to all affairs relating to their several professions, in perfection, and each was an Indies to the other, producing always the richest novelties, of which the best understandings are greedy.”

The Hon. Dr. John North, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, differed in some respects from his brothers, and resembled them in others:—

“When he was very young, and also as he grew up, he was of a nice and tender constitution—not so vigorous and athletic as most of his brothers were.” “His temper was always reserved and studious. ... If anything so early seemed amiss in him, it was a non-natural gravity, which in youths is seldom a good sign, for it argues imbecility of body and mind, or both; but his lay wholly in the former, for his mental capacity was vigorous, as none more.”

Thus he became devoted to study, and the whole of his expenditure went to books; in other respects he was penu-

rious and hoarding. Consequently, as his brother says, “he was over-much addicted to thinking, or else he performed it with more labour and intenseness than other men ordinarily do. ... He was, in a word, the most intense and passionate thinker that ever lived, and was in his right mind.” This ruined his health. “His flesh was strangely flaccid and soft; his going weak and shuffling, often crossing his legs as if he were tipsy; his sleep seldom or never easy, but interrupted with unquiet and painful dreams—the reposes he had were short and by snatches; his active spirit had rarely any settlement or rest.”

It is evident that he played foolish tricks with his brain, and the result was that he had a stroke, and utterly broke up, decaying more and more in mind and body until death relieved him, aet. 38.

There is no doubt that Dr. John North deserved more reputation than he has obtained, partly owing to his early death, and partly to his exceeding sensitiveness in respect to posthumous criticism. He left peremptory orders that all his MSS. should be burnt. He appears to have been especially skilled in Greek and Hebrew scholarship.

The Lord Keeper and the Master of Trinity resembled each other in their painfully shy dispositions and studious tastes. The curious money-saving propensities were common to all three brothers. The indolent habits of the Master of Trinity were shared by Sir Dudley after his return from England, who would take no exercise whatever, but sat all day either at home, or else steering a little sailing-vessel on the Thames. The Lord Keeper was always fanciful about his health.

The Hon. Mary North, afterwards Lady Spring, was the sister of these brothers, and no less gifted than they. Roger North says—

“Besides the advantage of her person, she had a superior wit, prodigious memory, and was most agreeable in conver-

sation.” She used to rehearse “by heart prolix romances, with the substance of speeches and letters, as well as passages; and this with little or no hesitation, but in a continual series of discourse—the very memory of which is to me at this day very wonderful.”

She died not long after the birth of her first child, and the child died not long after her.

Roger North, the biographer of his brothers, from whom I have quoted so much, was the author of other works, and among them is a memoir on Music, showing that he shared the musical faculty that was strongly developed in the Lord Keeper. Little is known of his private life. He was Attorney-General to the consort of James II. There can be no doubt as to his abilities. The “Lives of the Norths” is a work of no ordinary writer. It is full of touches of genius and shrewd perception of character. Roger North seems to have been a most loving and loveable man.

Charles, the fifth Lord North, was the eldest of the family, and succeeded to the title; but he did not, so far as I am aware, show signs of genius. However, he had a daughter whose literary tastes were curiously similar to those of her uncle, Dr. John. She was Dudleya North, who, in the words of Roger, “emaciated herself with study, whereby she had made familiar to her not only the Greek and Latin, but the Oriental languages.” She died early, having collected a choice library of Oriental works.

I will conclude this description of the family with a characteristically quaint piece of their biographer's preface:

“Really, the case is memorable for the happy circumstance of a flock so numerous and diffused as this of the last Dudley Lord North's was, and no one scabby sheep in it.”

The nearest collateral relation of the North family by the Montagu side is Charles Hatton, their first cousin. He is alluded to three times in Roger North's “Lives,” and each time with the same epithet—” the incomparable

Charles Hatton.” Why he was so distinguished there is no information, but it is reasonable to accept Roger North's estimate of his merits, so far as to classify him among the gifted members of the Montagu family.

I will mention only four more of the kinsmen of the Norths. The first is their great-uncle, Sir Henry Montagu, Chief Justice of the King's Bench, and created Earl of Manchester, who was grandfather to James Montagu, Ch. B. E. (Geo. III.), and uncle of William, Ch.B. E. (Jas. II.), both of whom are included in my list. Lord Clarendon says of Sir Henry, that he was “a man of great industry and sagacity in business, which he delighted in exceedingly; and preserved so great a vigour of mind, even to his death, that some who had known him in his younger years did believe him to have much quicker parts in his age than before.”

The second Earl of Manchester, gN. to the Norths, was the Baron Kimbolton, of Marston Moor, and, as Lord Campbell says, “one of the most distinguished men who appeared in the most interesting period of our history; having, as Lord Kimbolton, vindicated the liberties of his country in the Senate, as Earl of Manchester in the field, and having afterwards mainly contributed to the suppression of anarchy by the restoration of the royal line.”

The first Earl of Sandwich, also gN. to the Norths, was the gallant High Admiral of England in the time of Charles II. He began life as a soldier, when only eighteen years of age, with a Parliamentary regiment that he himself had raised; and he ended it in a naval battle against the Dutch in Southwold Bay. He also translated a Spanish work on Metallurgy. I do not know that the book is of any value, but the fact is worthy of notice as showing that he was more than a mere soldier or sailor.

The last of the eminent relations of the Norths of whom I shall speak at length, was the great-grandson of the

eldest brother, who became the famous Premier—the Lord North—of the time of the American war. Lord Brougham says that all contemporaries agree in representing his talents as having shone with a great and steady lustre during that singularly trying period. He speaks of a wit that never failed him, and a suavity of temper that could never be ruffled, as peculiar qualities in which he, and indeed all his family (his immediate family), excelled most other men. The admirable description of Lord North by his daughter, Lady Charlotte Lindsay, that is appended to his biography by Lord Brougham, is sufficient proof of that lady's high ability.

There is yet another great legal family, related to the Norths, whose place in the pedigree I do not know: it is that of the Hydes, and includes the illustrious first Earl of Clarendon. It appears that the Lord Chief Justice Hyde used to take kindly notice of the Lord Keeper, Francis North, when a young rising barrister, and allude to his kinship, and call him “cousin.”

It is want of space, not want of material, that compels me to conclude the description of the able relatives of the Norths and Montagus. But I am sure I have said enough to prove the assertion with which I prefaced it, that natural gifts of an exceedingly high order were inherited by a very large number of the members of the family, and that these owed their reputations to their abilities, and not to family support.

Another test of the truth of the hereditary character of ability is to see whether the near relations of very eminent men are more frequently eminent than those who are more remote. Table II. (p. 61) answers this question with great distinctness in the way I have already explained. It shows that the near relations of the Judges are far richer in ability than the more remote—so much so, that the fact of being born in the fourth degree of relationship

is of no sensible benefit at all. The data from which I obtained column C of that table are as follow:—I find that 23 of the Judges are reported to have had “large families,” say consisting of four adult sons in each; 11 are simply described as having “issue,” say at the rate of 1.5 sons each; and that the number of the sons of others are specified as amounting between them to 186; forming thus far a total of 294. In addition to these, there are 9 reported marriages of judges in which no allusion is made to children, and there are 31 judges in respect to whom nothing is said about marriage at all. I think we are fairly justified, from these data, in concluding that each judge is father, on an average, to not less than one son who lives to an age at which he might have distinguished himself, if he had the ability to do so. I also find the (adult) families to consist on an average of not less than 2.5 sons and 2.5 daughters each, consequently each judge has an average of 1.5 brothers and 2.5 sisters.

From these data it is perfectly easy to reckon the number of kinsmen in each order. Thus the nephews consist of the brothers' sons and the sisters' sons: now 100 judges are supposed to have 150 brothers and 250 sisters, and each brother and each sister to have, on the average, only one son; consequently the 100 judges will have (150+ 250, or) 400 nephews.

I need not trouble the reader with more figures; suffice it to say, I have divided the total numbers of eminent kinsmen to loo judges by the number of kinsmen in each degree, and from that division I obtained the column D in Table II., which I now project into a genealogical tree in Table III.


Percentage Of Eminent Men In Each Degree Of Kinship To The Most Gifted Member Of Distinguished Families.                       

1/2 Great-grandfathers.
           |               |
7 1/2 Grandfathers.           1/2 Great-uncles
           |                                             |           
    26 Fathers.                                   4 1/2 Uncles.
           |_________________________                    |
           |                         |                   |
The 100 most eminent members of  23 BROTHERS.   1 1/2 First cousins.
    100 distinguished families.      |       
           |                         |
         36 SONS.               4 3/4 Nephews.
           |                         |
     9 1/2 Grandsons            2 Great-nephews.
    1 1/2 Great-grandsons.                  

It will be observed that Table III. refers only to distinguished families. If we modified it to correspond with column E of Table II., in which all the Judges, whether they have distinguished relations or no, are considered, the proportion between the eminent kinsmen in each different degree would be unchanged, though their absolute numbers would be reduced to about one-third of their value.

Table III. shows in the most unmistakeable manner the enormous odds that a near kinsman has over one that is remote, in the chance of inheriting ability. Speaking roughly, the percentages are quartered at each successive remove, whether by descent or collaterally. Thus in the first degree of kinship the percentage is about 28; in the second, about 7; and in the third, 1.5.

The table also testifies to another fact, in which people do not commonly believe. It shows that when we regard the averages of many instances, the frequent sports of nature in producing prodigies must be regarded as apparent, and not as real. Ability, in the long run, does not

suddenly start into existence and disappear with equal abruptness, but rather, it rises in a gradual and regular curve out of the ordinary level of family life. The statistics show that there is a regular average increase of ability in the generations that precede its culmination, and as regular a decrease in those that succeed it. In the first case the marriages have been consentient to its production, in the latter they have been incapable of preserving it.

After three successive dilutions of the blood, the descendants of the Judges appear incapable of rising to eminence. These results are not surprising even when compared with the far greater length of kinship through which features or diseases may be transmitted. Ability must be based on a triple footing, every leg of which has to be firmly planted. In order that a man should inherit ability in the concrete, he must inherit three qualities that are separate and independent of one another: he must inherit capacity, zeal, and vigour; for unless these three, or, at the very least, two of them, are combined, he cannot hope to make a figure in the world. The probability against inheriting a combination of three qualities not correlated together, is necessarily in a triplicate proportion greater than it is against inheriting any one of them.

There is a marked difference between the percentage of ability in the grandsons of the judge when his sons (the fathers of those grandsons) have been eminent than when they have not; Let us suppose that the son of a judge wishes to marry: what expectation has he that his own sons will become eminent men, supporters of his family, and not a burden to it, in their after life?

In the case where the son of the judge is himself eminent, I find, out of the 226 judges previous to the present reign, 22 whose sons have been distinguished men. I do not count instances in the present reign, because the

grandsons of these judges are for the most part too young to have achieved distinction. 22 out of 226 gives 10 in 100 as the percentage of the judges that have had distinguished sons. (The reader will remark how near this result is to the 9.5 as entered in my table, showing the general truth of both estimates.) Of these 22 I count the following triplets. The Atkyns family as two. It is true that the grandfather was only Chief Justice of North Wales, and not an English judge, but the vigour of the blood is proved by the line of not only his son and two grandsons being English judges, but also by the grandson of one of them, through the female line, being an English judge also. Another line is that of the Pratts, viz. the Chief Justice and his son, the Lord Chancellor, Earl Camden, and his grandson, the son of the Earl, created the Marquis Camden; the latter was Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, and a man of note in many ways. Another case is in the Yorke line, for the son of the Lord Chancellor, the Earl of Hardwicke, was Charles Yorke, himself a Lord Chancellor. His sons were able men: one became First Lord of the Admiralty, another was Bishop of Ely, a third was a military officer of distinction and created Baron Dover, a fourth was an admiral of distinction. I will not count all these, but will reckon them as three favourable instances. The total, thus far, is six; to which might be added in fairness something from that most remarkable Montagu family and its connexions, of which several judges, both before and after the accession of Charles I., were members. However, I wish to be well within bounds, and therefore will claim only six successes out of the 22 cases (I allow one son to each judge, as before), or 1 in 4. Even under these limitations it is only 4 to 1, on the average, against each child of an eminent son of a judge becoming a distinguished man.

Now for the second category, where the son is not eminent, but the grandson is. There are only seven of these cases to the (226 — 22 or) 204 judges that remain, and one or two of them are not a very high order. They are the third Earl Shaftesbury, author of the “Characteristics;” Cowper, the poet; Lord Lechmere, the Attorney-General; Sir Wm, Mansfield, Commander-in-Chief in India; Sir Eardley Willmot, who filled various offices with credit and was created a baronet; and Lord Wyndham, Lord Chancellor of Ireland. Fielding, the novelist, was grandson of Judge Gould, by the female line. Hence it is 204 to 7, or 30 to 1, against the non-eminent son of a judge having an eminent child.

The figures in these two categories are clearly too few to justify us in relying on them, except so far as to show that the probability of a judge having an eminent grandson is largely increased if his sons are also eminent. It follows that the sons or daughters of distinguished men who are themselves gifted with decidedly high ability, as tested at the University or elsewhere, cannot do better than marry early in life. If they have a large family, the odds are in their favour that one at least of their children will be eminently successful in life, and will be a subject of pride to them and a help to the rest.

Let us for a moment consider the bearing of the facts just obtained, on the theory of an aristocracy where able men earn titles, and transmit them by descent through the line of their eldest male representatives. The practice may be justified on two distinct grounds. On the one hand, the future peer is reared in a home full of family traditions, that form his disposition. On the other hand, he is presumed to inherit the ability of the founder of the family. The former is a real justification for the law of primogeniture, as applied to titles and possessions; the latter, as we see from the table, is not. A man who has

no able ancestor nearer in blood to him than a great-grandparent, is inappreciably better off in the chance of being himself gifted with ability, than if he had been taken out of the general mass of men. An old peerage is a valueless title to natural gifts, except so far as it may have been furbished up by a succession of wise intermarriages. When, however, as is often the case, the direct line has become extinct and the title has passed to a distant relative, who had not been reared in the family traditions, the sentiment that is attached to its possession is utterly unreasonable. I cannot think of any claim to respect, put forward in modern days, that is so entirely an imposture, as that made by a peer on the ground of descent, who has neither been nobly educated, nor has any eminent kinsman, within three degrees.

I will conclude this chapter with a few facts I have derived from my various jottings, concerning the “natural history” of Judges. It appears that the parentage of the Judges in the last six reigns, viz. since the accession of George I., is as follows, reckoning in percentages: noble, honourable, or baronet (but not judges), 9; landed gentlemen, 35; judge, barrister, or attorney, 15; bishop or clergyman, 8; medical, 7; merchants and various, unclassed, 10; tradesmen, 7; unknown, 9. There is, therefore, no very marked class peculiarity in the origin of the Judges. They seem to be derived from much the same sources as the scholars of our Universities, with a decided but not excessive preponderance in favour of legal parents.

I also thought it worth while to note the order in which the Judges stood in their several families, to see whether ability affected the eldest more than the youngest, or if any important fact of the kind might appear. I find in my notes that I have recorded the order of the birth of 72 judges. The result of the percentages is, that the judge was an only son in 11 cases; eldest in 17; second in 38;

third in 22; fourth in 9; fifth in 1; and of a yet later birth in 2 instances. It is clear that the eldest sons do not succeed as judges half as well as the cadets. I suppose that social influences are, on the whole, against their entering, or against their succeeding at the law.


THERE have been 286 Judges, according to the “Lives of the Judges,” by Foss, between the accession of Charles II. and the year 1864. No less than 112 of them find a place in the following list. Among the Judges are included the Lord Chancellors, 30 in number, and of these eminent officers no less than 24, or 80 per cent of the whole, will be found to have eminent relations.

Contractions employed in the List.

The name of a Sovereign in parentheses, as (Charles II.), shows the latest reign in which each judge held office.


Ch. K. B. (or Q. B.)


Chief Justice of the King's (or Queen's) Bench.

Just. K. B. (or Q. B.)


Justice of the King's (or Queen's) Bench.

Ch. B. E.


Chief Baron of the Exchequer.



Baron of the Exchequer.

Curs. B. E.


Cursitor Baron of the Exchequer.

Ch. C. P.


Chief Justice of the Common Pleas.

Just. C. P.


Justice of the Common Pleas.



Master of the Rolls.


Abinger, Lord. See scarlett.

Abney, Sir Thomas, Just. C. P. (Geo. II.)

U. Sir Thomas Abney, a famous Lord Mayor of London; one of the promoters of the Bank of England, protector of Dr. Isaac Watts. See Watts' Elegy on him.

[F.] Sir Edward Abney, LL.D. and M.P., a man of importance in his day.

Alderson, Sir Edward Hall; B. E. (Vict.)

F. Recorder of Norwich, Ipswich, and Yarmouth.

Us. Mrs. Opie, the novelist.

Alibone, Sir Richard; Just. K. B. (James II.) G. Eminent Protestant divine. (F. turned Papist.)

Atkyns, Sir Edward; B. E. (Charles II.) [G.] Thomas, twice Reader in Lincoln's Inn.

F. Sir Richard, Ch. Just. N. Wales.

S. Sir Robert, Ch. Just. C. P. (Will. III.)

S. Sir Edward, B. E. (James II.)

PS. Sir John Tracy, who assumed his mother's name of Atkyns, Curs. B. E. (Geo. III.)


                            Thomas, Reader in Lincoln's Inn
               Sir Richard, Ch. Just. N. Wales
               Sir Edward, B. E. (Chas. II.)
             |                                 |
   Robert, Ch. Just. C. P.  Sir Edward, B. E. (James II.)
 Sir J. Tracy (Atkyns), Curs. B. E.


Atkyns, Sir Robert; Ch. C. P. (Will. III.)

G. Sir Richard, Ch. Just. N. Wales.

F. Sir Edward, B. E. (Charles II.)

B. Sir Edward, B. E. (James II.)

p. Sir John Tracy, who assumed the name of Atkyns, Curs. B. E.

Atkyns, Sir Edward; B. E. (James II.)

G. Sir Richard, Ch. Just N. Wales.

F. Sir Edward, B. E. (Charles II.)

B. Sir Robert, Ch. C. P.

Bp. Sir J. Tracy, assumed name of Atkyns, Curs. B. E.

Atkyns, Sir John Tracy (his mother was named Atkyns, and he adopted her name); Curs. B. E. (Geo. III.)

g. Sir Robert Atkyns, Ch. C. P.

gB. Sir Edward Atkyns, B. E. (James II.)

gF. Sir Edward Atkyns, B. E. (Charles II.)

Bathurst, Henry; 2d Earl of Bathurst; Ld. Chanc. (Geo. III.)

F. The first Earl, an accomplished wit.

n. Sir Francis Buller, Just. K. B., the famous judge. (Geo. III.)

Bedingfield, Sir Henry; Ch. C. P. (James II.)

U. Sir Thomas Bedingfield, Just. C. P. (Charles I.)

Best, Wm. Draper; created Ld. Wynford; Ch. C. P. (Geo. IV.)

g. General Sir William Draper, the well-known antagonist of “Junius.”

Bickersteth, Henry; created Lord Langdale; M. R. (Vict.)

u. Dr. Batty, the famous physician.

Birch, Sir John; Curs. B. E. (Geo. II.)

[U.] Colonel Thomas Birch, well known under the Commonwealth.

Blackburn, Sir Colin ; Just. Q. B. (Vict.)

B. Professor of Mathematics at Glasgow.

g. Rev. John Gillies, I.LL.D., historian, and successor to Dr.

Robertson (the gr. uncle of Lord Brougham) as historiographer of Scotland.

Blackstone, Sir William; Just. C. P. (Geo. III.)

S. His second son held all his University preferments.

N. Henry, wrote “Reports” that were even more popular than his own.

Bramston, Sir Francis; B. E. (Charles II.)

F. Sir John Bramston, Ch. K. B. under Charles I.

Browne, Samuel; Just. C. P. (Charles II.)

uS. Oliver St. John, Ch. Just. C. P. under the Protectorate.

Brougham, Sir Henry; cr. Ld. Brougham; Ld. Chan. (Will. IV.)

gB. Robertson, the historian.

Buller, Sir Francis; Just. C. P. (Geo. III.)

U. William Buller, Bishop of Exeter.

u. Earl of Bathurst, Lord Chancellor. (Geo. III.)

N. Rt. Hon. Charles Buller, statesman.

Burnet, Sir Thomas ; Just. C. P. (Geo. II.)

G. Eminent Scotch lawyer, titled Lord Cramond.

F. The celebrated Whig bishop, Bishop Burnet.

Camden, Earl. See pratt.

Campbell, Lord; Lord Chancellor. (Vict.)

[G.] Eminently successful scholar at St. Andrew's.

[F.] Had distinguished literary attainments; was pious and eloquent.

N. George Campbell, member of Supreme Court of Calcutta; writer on Indian politics.

Chelmsford, Lord. See thesiger.

Churchill, Sir John; M. R. (James II.)

GN. John Churchill, the great Duke of Marlborough.

G.NS. Duke of Berwick, great general.

Clarendon, Earl. See hyde.

Clarke, Sir Charles ; Ch. B. E. (Geo. II.)

B. Dean of Chester.

u. Charles Trimnell, Bishop of Winchester.

Clive, Sir Edward; Just. C. P. (Geo. III.)

U. Sir George Clive, Curs. B. E. (Geo. II.)

UP. The great Lord Clive, Governor-General of India.

Clive, Sir George; Curs. B. E. (Geo. II.)

N. Sir Edward Clive, Just. C. P. (Geo. III.)

NS. The son of another nephew was the great Lord Clive.

Cockburn, Sir Alexander James; Ch. Q. B. (Vict.)

[F.] Envoy and Minister Plenipotentiary to Columbia.

Coleridge, Sir John Taylor; Just. Q. B. (Vict.)

U. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, poet and metaphysician. See under poets. (He was father of Hartley, Derwent, and Sara.

US. Hartley Coleridge, poet.

US. Edward, Master at Eton.

US. Derwent Coleridge, Principal of St. Mark's College, Chelsea. US. Sara Coleridge, authoress. (Married her cousin, Henry Nelson Coleridge.)

US. Henry Nelson Coleridge (son of Col. Coleridge, brother of Samuel Taylor C.), author.

S. Sir John Duke Coleridge, Solicitor-General.

Cooper, Sir Anthony Ashley; created Earl of Shaftesbury; Lord Chancellor. (Charles II.)

P. The 3d Earl, author of the “Characteristics.”

Copley, Sir John Singleton; cr. Ld. Lyndhurst; Ld. Chanc. (Vict.)

F. A painter, and an eminent one, judging from the prices that his pictures now fetch.

Cottenham, Lord. See pepys.

Cowper, Sir Wm.; created Earl Cowper ; Ld. Chanc. (Geo. I.)

B. Sir Spencer Cowper, Just. C. P. (Geo. II.)

NS. The grandson of Sir Spencer was Cowper the poet. See poets.

Cowper, Sir Spencer; Just. C. P. (Geo. II.)

B. 1st Earl Cowper, Lord Chancellor. (Geo. I.)

P. William Cowper, the poet.

Cranworth, Lord. See rolfe.

Dampier, Sir Henry; Just. K. B. (Geo. III.)

F. Dean of Durham.

B. Bishop of Ely.

De Grey, Sir Wm.; cr. Lord Walsingham ; Ch. C. P. (Geo. III.)

S. Thomas, 2d Baron; for twenty years Chairman of Committees in House of Lords.

Denison, Sir Thomas; Just. K. B. (Geo. III.)

4 NS. and [2 NS.] His brother was grandfather to a remarkable family of six brothers, namely, the present Speaker of the House of Commons, the Bishop of Salisbury, the Archdeacon of Taunton, the ex-Governor of South Australia, and two others, both of whom are scholars.

Denman, Sir Thomas; created Lord Denman; Ch. Q. B. (Vict.)

F. Physician, a celebrated accoucheur.

S. Hon. George Denman, Q.C., M.P., and the first classic of his year, 1842, at Cambridge.

uS. Sir Benjamin Brodie, 1st Bart., the late eminent surgeon.

uP. The present Sir Benjamin Brodie, 2d Bart., Professor of Chemistry at Oxford.

Dolben, Sir William; Just. K. B. (Will. III.) S. Sir Gilbert Dolben, Just C. P. in Ireland, created a Bart.

B. John Dolben, Archbishop of York.

gB. Archbishop John Williams, the Lord Keeper to James I.

Eldon, Lord. See scott.

Ellenborough, Lord. See law.

Erie, Sir William; Ch. C. P. (Vict.)

B. Peter Erie, Commissioner of Charities.

Erskine, Sir Thomas; cr. Ld. Erskine ; Ld. Chanc. (Geo. III.)

B. Henry Erskine, twice Lord Advocate of Scotland.

S. Hon. Sir Thomas Erskine, Just C. P. (Vict.)

Erskine, Hon. Sir Thomas; Just. C. P. (Vict.)

F. Lord Erskine, Lord Chancellor. (Geo. III.)

U. Henry Erskine, twice Lord Advocate of Scotland.

Eyre, Sir Robert; Ch. C. P. (Geo. II.)

F. Sir Samuel Eyre, Just. K. B. (Will. III.)

Eyre, Sir Samuel; Just. K. B. (Will. III.)

S. Sir Robert Eyre, Ch. C. B. (Geo. II.)

[Sir Giles Eyre, Just. K. B. (Will. III.), was only his 2d cousin.]

Finch, Sir Heneage; cr. E. of Nottingham; Ld. Chanc. (Chas. II.)

F. Sir Heneage Finch, Recorder of London, Speaker of the House of Commons.

S. Daniel, 2d. Earl, and Principal Sec. of State to Will. III.

S. Heneage Finch, Solicitor-General, and M.P. for University of Cambridge; created Earl Aylesford.

US. Thomas Twisden, Just. K. B. (Charles II.)

GN. Lord Finch, Ch. C. P. and Lord Keeper. (Charles I.)

Finch, Sir Heneage, continued -

gN.(?) Dr. William Harvey (see in “science “), discoverer of the circulation of the blood.

PS. Hon. Heneage Legge, B. E. See.

              Harvey.                  Family of Finch.
   ___________________         __________________
  |                   |       |                  |
  X                   X       X                  X
  |                   |     __|__________        |
  |                   |    |             |       |
Dr. William Harvey.   O =  Sir Heneage   O    Lord Finch,
Circulation of blood)   |  Speaker, H.C. |    Lord Keeper
                        |                |
                     Heneage,        T. Twisden,
      1st  E. Nottingham, Ld. Chan.   Just. K. B.
               |                    |
            Daniel               Heneage
  2d Earl; Prin. Sec. State.   Sol. Gen.; 1st E. Aylesford
                                    O =  William Legge,
                                    |  1st Earl Dartmouth
                                Heneage Legge,
                              B. E. (Geo. II.)                                                     

Forster, Sir Robert; Ch. K. B. (Charles II.)

F. Sir James Forster, Just. C. P. (Charles I.)

Gould, Sir Henry; Just. Q. B. (Anne.)

P. Sir Henry Gould, Just. C. P. (Geo. III.)

p. Henry Fielding, the novelist. (“Tom Jones”)

Gould, Sir Henry; Just. C. P. (Geo. III.)

G. Sir Henry Gould, Just. Q. B. (Anne.)

US. Henry Fielding, the novelist.

Guilford, Lord. See north.

Gurney, Sir John ; B. E. (Vict.)

S. Rt. Hon. Russell Gurney, M.P., Recorder of London.

Harcourt, Sir Simon; cr. Lord Harcourt; Ld. Chanc. (Geo. I.)

G. Waller, the first Parliamentary general (and himself a relative of Waller the poet).

Hardwicke, Earl of. See yorke.

Heath, Sir John; Just C. P. (Geo. III.)

S. Dr. Benjamin Heath, Head Master of Eton.

Henley, Sir Robert; cr. E. of Northington; Ld. Chanc. (Geo. III.)

F. One of the most accomplished men of his day. M.P. for Weymouth.

Herbert, Sir Edward; Lord Keeper. (Charles II.)

S. Arthur, an admiral, created Lord Torrington.

S. Sir Edward Herbert, Ch. K. B. and C. P. (James II.)

US. Lord Herbert of Cherbury, statesman and philosopher.

US. George Herbert, poet and divine.

Herbert, Sir Edward ; Ch. K. B. and Ch. C. P. (James II.)

F. Sir Edward, Lord Keeper. (Charles II.)

B. Arthur, an admiral, created Lord Torrington.

Hewitt, Sir James; created Lord Lifford; Just. K.B. (Geo. III.)

S. Joseph Hewitt, Just. K. B. in Ireland.

S. Dean of Cloyne.

Hotham, Sir Beaumont; B. E. (Geo. III.)

B. An admiral, created Lord Hotham for naval achievements.

Hyde, Sir Edward ; cr. Earl Clarendon ; Ld. Chanc. (Chas. II.)

The Hydes were a very able family both in law and state for many generations; but emerging, as they did, out of the regions of competition into that of favouritism, I cannot rightly appraise their merits. Moreover, the male line became extinct. The following are the near relations of the Lord Chancellor ;—

U. Sir Nicholas Hyde, Ch. K. B. (Charles I.)

U. Sir Lawrence Hyde, a great lawyer and Attorney-General to Consort of James I., who had eleven sons, most of whom distinguished themselves in their several vocations.

Of. these are :

US. Sir Robert Hyde, Ch. K. B. (Charles II.)

US. Sir Frederick Hyde, a judge in S. Wales.

US. Alexander, Bishop of Salisbury.

[US.] Fellow of New College, and Judge of the Admiralty.

[US.] Dean of Windsor.

[US.] James, Principal of Magdalen Hall.

S. Henry, 2d Earl, Lord Privy Seal.

S. Lawrence, cr. Earl of Rochester, Lord Lieut. of Ireland, a person of great natural parts and honesty.

[S.] Anne, married to the Duke of York, afterwards James II. A woman of strong character, who insisted, in spite of menace, that publicity should be given to the marriage, let the consequences be what they might.

                   Family of Hyde
        |                  |                  |
     Sir Lawrence,     Sir Nicholas,          X
   Attorney-Gen. to       Ch. K. B.           |
  consort of James I.                         |
    _____|___________________________         |
   |       |            |       | |  |        |
Robert. Frederick.   Alexander. 3 others   1st Earl of
Ch.K.B. Judge, Wales Bishop     all dist.  Clarendon.
                                        Ld.Chanc. & historian
                  |             |                |
               Henry,        Lawrence,         Anne,
              2d Earl.    Cr. E. Rochester   mar. Jas II.
            Duchess of Queensbury, patroness of Gray, the poet

Hyde, Sir Robert; Ch. K. B. (Charles II.)

F., 2 B., [3 B.], U., and US. See above.

Jeffreys, Geo.; cr. Ld. Jeffreys of Wem; Ch. K. B.,Ld.Chan. (Jas. II.)

G. A judge in N. Wales.

US. Sir John Trevor, M. R. (Geo. I.)

Jervis, Sir John; Ch. C. P. (Vict.)

F. Ch. Justice of Chester.

GN. J. Jervis, Admiral, 1st Earl St. Vincent. See parker.

                          |           |
                          X           X
                          |           |
                          X     Earl Macclesfield,
        Jervis.           |     Ld. Chanc. (Geo. I)
       ___________     ___|________
      |           |   |            |
      X           X = Sister.  Sir Thos. Parker, Ch. B.E. (Geo. III.)
      |             |          
      X         Admiral, 1st Earl Vincent.
Sir John Jervis, Ch. C.P.(Vict.)

Keating, Sir Henry Singer; Just. C. F. (Vict.)

F. Sir Henry Keating, K.C.B., distinguished in India, &c.

King, Sir Peter; created Lord King; Ld. Chancellor. (Geo. II.)

u. John Locke, the philosopher.

Langdale, Lord. See bickersteth.

Law, Sir Edward; cr. Ld. Ellenborough ; Ch. K.B. (Geo. III.)

F. E. Law, Bishop of Carlisle, author.

S. Edward, Governor-General of India, cr. Earl Ellenborough.

S. C. Ewan, Recorder of London and M.P. for Camb. University.

B. G. H., Bishop of Bath and Wells.

B. John, Bishop of Elphin, in Ireland.


There are many other men of ability in this family.

Lawrence, Sir Soulden; Just C. P. (Geo. III.)

F. President of the College of Physicians.

Lechmere, Sir Nicholas, B. E. (Will. III.)

P. Nicholas Lechmere, Attorney-Gen., created Baron Lechmere.

u. Sir Thomas Overbury, poet (poisoned).

Lee, Sir William, Ch. K. B. (Geo. II.)

B. George, Dean of the Arches and Judge of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. Thus the two brothers were simultaneously, the one at the head of the highest court of Common Law, and the other of the highest court of Civil Law; a similar case to that of Lords Eldon and Stowell.

Legge, Hon. Heneage; B. E. (Geo. II.)

F. William, 1st Earl of Dartmouth, Secretary of State, &c.

G. George, 1st Baron Dartmouth, Master of the Ordnance and Admiral of the Fleet.

g. 1st Lord Aylesford, Attorney-General and eminent lawyer.

gF. (Father of Lord Aylesford) was the 1st Earl of Nottingham, Lord Chancellor (see finch).

Lifford, Lord. See hewitt.

Lovell, Sir Salathiel; B. E. (Anne.)

pS. Was Richard Lovell Edgeworth, author. pP. Maria Edgeworth, novelist.

Lyndhurst, Lord. See copley.

Lyttleton, Sir Timothy (see next page)

 Sir Thos. Lyttleton, the eminent judge.
|          |            |
X        Richard,       X
     eminent lawyer     |
                        X              Sir Edmund Walter,
                        |              Ch. Just. S. Wales
              __________|____        _________|________
             |               |      |                  |
             X        Sir Edward, = O             Sir J. Walter,
             |    Judge, N. Wales |                 Ch. B. E.
             |    ________________|______________
             |   |                |              |
             X  Edward,        Timothy,         ---
             |  Lord Keeper     B. E.      Sergeant-at-law
             |   |          
             X   O
             |   /
             |  /
   Sir Thos. Lyttleton, Speaker H. Commons.

Lyttleton, Sir Timothy, B. E. (Charles II.)

GG. Sir Thomas Lyttleton, the eminent judge under Edward IV.

g. Sir E. Walter, Ch. Justice of S. Wales.

u. Sir John Walter, Ch. B. E. (Charles I.)

F. Sir Edward Lyttleton, Ch. Justice of N. Wales.

B. Edward, Lord Lyttleton, Lord Keeper. (Charles I.)

NS. Sir Thomas Lyttleton, Speaker of the House of Commons, 1698. (His mother was daughter of the Lord Keeper.)

Macclesfield, Lord. See parker.

Manners, Lord. See sutton.

Mansfield, Sir James; Ch. C. P. (Geo. III.)

P. General Sir William Mansfield, K.C.B., Commander-in-chief in India.

[There are other gifted brothers.]

Milton, Sir Christopher; Just. C. P. (James II.)

B. Milton the poet. See under poets.

[Milton's mother was a kinswoman (?what) of Lord President Bradshaw, the regicide.]

Montagu, Sir William; Ch. B. E. (James II.)

F. Created Baron Montagu.

FB. Sir Henry Montagu, 1st Earl of Manchester, Ch. K. B. (James I.)

N. Created Duke of Montagu; statesman.

g. Sir John Jeffreys, Ch. B. E.

GF. Sir Edward Montagu, Ch. K. B. (Henry VIII.)

See pedigree opposite

Montagu, Sir J.; Ch. B. E. (Geo. I.)

G. Henry Montagu, 1st Earl of Manchester, Ch. K. B.

U. Walter, Abbot of Pontoise; poet, courtier, councillor to Marie de Medicis.

U. Edward, 2d Earl of Manchester, the successful Parliamentary General, Baron Kimbolton of Marston Moor.

GB. 1st Baron Montagu.

UP. (Grandson of Baron Kimbolton.) The 4th Earl of Manchester, Principal Secretary of State, 1701, created 1st Duke of Manchester.

Nares, Sir George; Just. C. P. (Geo. III.) S. Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford.

B. Dr. James Nares, musician.


North, Francis; created Ld. Guilford ; Ld. Chanc. (James II.)

B. Dudley North, Levantine merchant, eminent English financier.

B. Rev. John North, D.D., scholar, Master of Trin. Coll. Camb.

B. Roger North, the biographer; Attorney-General to the Queen.

b. Mary, had a prodigious memory.

uS. Charles Hatton, “the incomparable.” (See “Lives of the Norths.”)

gB. Sir Henry Montagu, 1st Earl of Manchester. See montagu, Sir J. gN. Edward, 2d Earl of Manchester, the Baron Kimbolton of Marston Moor.

gN. George Montagu, Abbot of Pontoise, courtier and minister of Catherine de Medicis.

gN. Sir Edward Montagu, 1st Earl of Sandwich. (His uncle [u.] was Pepys, “his Diary.”)

[N.] Dudleys North, Oriental scholar.

PS. Frederick, 2d Earl Guilford, Premier. (The “Lord North” of George III.'s reign.)

Northington, Lord. See henley.

Nottingham, Earl of. See finch.

Parker, Sir Thomas; cr. E. of Macclesfield; Ld. Chanc. (Geo. I.)

S. 2d Earl, President of the Royal Society, mathematician and astronomer.

UP. Sir Thomas Parker, Ch. B. E.

Parker, Sir Thomas ; Ch. B. E. (Geo. III.)

n. John Jervis, admiral, 1st Earl St. Vincent. See jervis.

GN. Sir T. Parker, 1st Earl of Macclesfield, Lord Chancellor.

Patteson, Sir John ; Just. K. B. (Vict.)

S. Missionary Bishop to Pacific Islands.

Pengelly, Sir Thomas; Ch. B. E. (Geo. II.)

[G.] (Reputed, but questionable.) Oliver Cromwell. (Foss's “Judges,”)

Pepys, Sir Chas. Christopher; cr. E. of Cottenham; Ld. Chan. (Vict.)

[F.] A Master in Chancery.

G. Sir L. Pepys, physician to George III.

g. Rt. Hon. W. Dowdeswell, Chancellor of the Exchequer.

B. Bishop of Worcester.

Pollock, Sir Frederick; Ch. B. E. (Vict.)

B. Sir David, Ch. Justice of Bombay.

B. Sir George, general in Affghanistan.

Pollock, Sir Frederick, continued -

S. Frederick, Master in Chancery; translator of Dante.

[P.] Frederick (also [p.] to the Right Hon. C. Herries, Chancellor of the Exchequer); second classic of his year, 1867, at Cambridge.

Powis, Sir Lyttleton; Just. K. B. (Geo. I.)

B. Sir Thomas Powis, Just. K. B. (Geo. I.)

Powis, Sir Thomas; Just K. B. (Geo. I.)

B. Sir Lyttleton Powis, Just K. B. (Geo. I.)

Pratt, Sir John; Ch. K. B. (Geo. I.)

S. Sir Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden, Ld Chanc. (Geo. III.)

P. J. J. Pratt, 2d Earl and created 1st Marquis Camden, Lord Lieut. of Ireland, Chancellor of University of Cambridge.

p. George Hardinge. (See next paragraph.)

ps. Field Marshal 1st Visct. Hardinge, Governor-Gen. of India.

[ps.] (See next paragraph.)

Pratt, Sir Charles; cr. Earl Camden; Ld. Chanc. (Geo. III.) F. Sir John Pratt, Ch. K. B. (Geo. I.)

S. J. J. Pratt, 2d Earl and created Marquis of Camden, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.

n. George Hardinge, Attorney-General to the Queen, Chief Justice of the Brecon Circuit

nS. Field Marshal 1st Viscount Hardinge, Governor-General of India. (His father was a literary man.)

[nS.] A naval Captain, to whom a monument in St Paul's was voted by the nation.

Raymond, Sir Edward; cr. Ld. Raymond; Ch. K. B. (Geo. II.)

F. Sir Thomas Raymond, a Judge in each of the three Courts. (Charles II.)

Raymond, Sir Thomas; Just. K. B. &c. (Charles II.)

S. Robert, Lord Raymond, Ch. K. B. (Geo. II.)

Reynolds, Sir James (1); Ch. B. E. (Geo. II.)

N. Sir James Reynolds (2), B. E. (Geo. II.)

Reynolds, Sir James (a.) ; B. E. (Geo. II.)

U. Sir James Reynolds (1), Ch. B. E. (Geo. II.)

Rolfe, Sir Robt. Monsey; cr. Ld. Cranworth; Ld. Chan. (Vict)

GN. Admiral Lord Nelson.

gF. Dr. Monsey, the celebrated and eccentric physician to Chelsea Hospital.

Romilly, Sir John; created Lord Romilly; M. R. (Vict.)

F. Sir Samuel Romilly, Solicitor-General and eminent jurist.

Scarlett, Sir James ; created Lord Abinger; Ch. B. E. (Vict.)

[B.] Sir William Scarlett, Ch. Justice of Jamaica.

S. Gen. Sir James Scarlett, chief in command of the cavalry in the Crimea; then Adjutant-General.

S. Sir Peter Campbell Scarlett, diplomatist.

Scott, Sir John; created Earl of Eldon; Ld. Chanc. (Geo. IV.)

B. Sir William Scott, created Lord Stowell, Judge of the High Court of Admiralty. (See remarks under Ch. Just. Sir W. lee.)

Sewell, Sir Thomas; M. R. (Geo. III.)

p. Matthew G. Lewis, novelist, commonly called “Monk” Lewis.

Shaftesbury, Earl of. See cooper.

Somers, Sir J.; created Earl Somers; Lord Chanc. (Will. III.)

NS. Charles Yorke, Ld. Chan. (Geo. III.)

NS. and 2 np. See yorke.

gNP. Richard Gibbon, the historian.

Spelman, Sir Clement; Curs. B. E. (Charles II.)

GF. Just. K. B. (Henry VIII.)

F. Sir Henry, antiquarian author of celebrity.

[B.] Sir John Spelman, also an antiquary. “Alfred the Great.”

Sutton, Sir Thomas Manners; B. E.; subsequently Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and created Lord Manners. (Geo. III.)

B. Charles Sutton, Archbishop of Canterbury.

N. (Son of the Archbishop.) Charles Manners-Sutton, Speaker of the House of Commons, created Viscount Canterbury.

Talbot, Hon. Chas.; cr. Lord Talbot; Ld. Chanc. (Geo. II.)

F. Bishop successively of three sees.

N. Rev. William Talbot, an early and eminent advocate of Evangelism. (See Venn's Life, Preface, p. xii.)

Thesiger, Sir Frederick, cr. Ld. Chelmsford; Ld. Chan. (Vict.) S. Adjutant-General of India.

[G., F., U.] All noteworthy, but hardly of sufficient eminence to be particularly described in this meagre outline of relationships.

Thurlow, Edward; cr. Lord Thurlow; Ld. Chanc. (Geo. III.)

B. Bishop of Durham.

[S.] (Illegitimate.) Died at Cambridge, where, as is said, he was expected to attain the highest honours.

Treby, Sir George ; Ch. C. P. (Will. III.)

S. Rt. Hon. Robert Treby, Secretary at War.

Trevor, Sir Thomas; created Lord Trevor; Ch. C. P. (Geo. I.)

g. J. Hampden, the patriot.

F. Sir John Trevor, Secretary of State.

S. Bishop of Durham.

U. Sir John Trevor, Ch. B. E. (Charles I.)

GB. Sir Thomas Trevor, B. E. (Charles I.)

Trevor, Sir John; M. R. (Geo. I.)

uS. Lord Jeffreys, Lord Chancellor. (James II.)

Truro, Lord. See wilde.

Turner, Sir George James; Lord Justice. (Vict.)

U. Dawson Turner, botanist and antiquary.

U. Dean of Norwich and Mast. of Pembroke Coll., Cambridge.

[S.] Bishop of Grafton and Armidale, in Australia.

(There are numerous other distinguished members of this family, including Dr. Hooker, the botanist, Gifford Palgrave, the Arabian traveller, and Francis Palgrave, author.)

Twisden, Sir Thomas; Just. K. B. (Charles II.)

uS. Earl of Nottingham (Finch), Lord Chancellor. (Chas. II.)

[B.] Roger, antiquary and historian.

Vaughan, Sir John; Just C. P. (Vict.)

B. Henry Vaughan, assumed name of Halford and became the celebrated physician, Sir Henry Halford, 1st Bart.

B. Rev. Edward (of Leicester), Calvinist theologian.

B. Sir Charles R., Envoy Extraordinary to the United States.

[B.] Peter, Dean of Chester.

N. Rev. Charles Vaughan, D.D., joint first classic of his year, 1838, at Cambridge; Head Master of Harrow; refused two bishoprics.

N. Professor Halford Vaughan, of Oxford.

p. Vaughan Hawkins, first classic of his year, 1854, at Cambridge.

Verney, Hon. Sir John; M. R. (Geo. II.)

g. Sir R. Heath, Ch. K. B. (Charles I.)

Walsingham, Lord. See de grey.

Wigram, Sir James; V. C. (Vict.)

B. Bishop of Rochester.

Wilde, Sir Thomas; created Lord Truro; Ld. Chanc. (Vict.)

B. Ch. Justice, Cape of Good Hope.

N. Sir James Wilde, B. E. (Vict.); now Lord Penzance.

Wilde, Sir James Plasted; B. E. (Vict.); since cr. Ld. Penzance.

U. Lord Truro, Lord Chancellor. (Vict.)

U. Ch. Justice, Cape of Good Hope.

Willes. Sir John ; Ch. C. P. (Geo. III.)

B. Bishop of Bath and Wells.

S. Sir Edward Willes, Just. K. B. (Geo. III.)

Willes, Sir Edward; Just K. B. (Geo. III.)

F. Sir John Willes, Ch. C. P. (Geo. III.)

U. Bishop of Bath and Wells.

Wilmot. Sir John Eardley; Ch. C. P. (Geo. III.)

P. F.R.S. and F.A.S., Governor of Van Diemen's Land, and 1st Baronet.

PS. Recorder of Warwickshire and Judge of the County Court of Bristol.

Wood, Sir William Page; V. C. (Vict.) (Since created Lord Hatherly, Lord Chancellor, 1868.)

F. Sir Matthew, M.P. for London for twenty-eight years and twice Lord Mayor.

[U.] Benjamin Wood, M.P. for Southwark.

[B.] Western Wood, M.P. for London.

Wyndham, Sir Hugh; B. E., C. P. (Charles II.)

B. Sir William Wyndham, Just. K. B. (Charles II.)

GN. Sir Francis Wyndham, Just. C. P. (Eliz.)

NS. Thomas Wyndham, Lord Chancellor of Ireland (Geo. I.), created Baron Wyndham.

Wyndham, Sir Wadham; Just. K. B. (Charles II.)

B. Sir Hugh Wyndham, B. E., Just C. P. (Charles II.)

P. Thomas Wyndham, Lord Chancellor of Ireland (Geo. I.), created Baron Wyndham.

GN. Sir Francis Wyndham, Just C. P. (Eliz.)

                         Wyndham Family
                     |                    |
                     X                    X
                     |                    |
                     X         Francis, Just. C. P.
  |      |           |               |
  X      X    Hugh, Just. C. P.   Wadham, Just. K. B.
  .      |                           |
  .   -, Sergeant-                   X
  .    at law.                       |
  |                          Thomas, Ld. Chan. Ireland,
  V                             created Baron Wyndham.
 Rt. Hon. Wm. Wyndham

Wynford, Lord. See best.

Yorke, Philip; cr. Earl of Hardwicke; Ld. Chanc. (Geo. II.)

S. Hon. Charles (by niece of Lord Chancellor Somers), Lord Chancellor. (Geo. III.)

S. Hon. James, Bishop of Ely.

P. Philip, 3d Earl, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

P. Rt. Hon. Charles Philip, F. R. S., First Lord of the Admiralty.

PS. Lord Goderich and Earl of Ripon, Premier.

    |                 |
    X                 X
    |                 |
    X                 O = X
    |           ________|________________
    |          |                         |
    X     John Somers,                   X
    |    1st Earl Somers, Ld. Chanc.     |
    |                                    |
 R. Gibbon,                              O = Philip Yorke, 1st E.
the historian.                             | Hardwicke, Ld. Chan.
                    |              |                       |
                    X           Charles,                  James,
                    |           Ld. Chan.               Bishop of Ely.
                    |     _________|___________________
                    |    |                             |
                    O   Philip, 3d Earl,          Chas. Philip,
                    |   Lord Lieut. Ireland.      1st Lord Adm.
             F. J. Robinson,
         1st Earl Ripon, Premier.

Yorke, Hon. Charles; Lord Chancellor. (Geo. III.)

F. 1st Earl of Hardwicke, Lord Chancellor. (Geo. II.)

S. Philip, 3d Earl, Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland.

S. Rt. Hon. Charles Philip, F.R.S., First Lord of the Admiralty.

B. Hon. James, Bishop of Ely.

gb. 1st Earl Somers, Lord Chancellor. (Will. III.)

NS. Lord Goderich and Earl of Ripon, Premier.


I PROPOSE in this chapter to discuss the relationships of modern English Statesmen. It is my earnest desire, throughout this book, to steer safely between two dangers: on the one hand, of accepting mere official position or notoriety, as identical with a more discriminative reputation, and on the other, of an unconscious bias towards facts most favourable to my argument. In order to guard against the latter danger, I employ groups of names selected by others; and, to guard against the former, I adopt selections that command general confidence. It is especially important in dealing with statesmen, whose eminence, as such, is largely affected by the accident of social position, to be cautious in both these respects. It would not be a judicious plan to take for our select list the names of privy councillors, or even of Cabinet ministers; for though some of them are illustriously gifted, and many are eminently so, yet others belong to a decidedly lower natural grade. For instance, it seemed in late years to have become a mere incident to the position of a great territorial duke to have a seat in the Cabinet, as a minister of the Crown. No doubt some few of the dukes are highly gifted, but it may be affirmed, with equal assurance, that the abilities of the large majority are very far indeed from justifying such an appointment.

Again, the exceptional position of a Cabinet minister cannot possibly be a just criterion of a correspondingly exceptional share of natural gifts, because statesmanship is not an open profession. It was much more so in the days of pocket boroughs, when young men of really high promise were eagerly looked for by territorial magnates, and brought into Parliament, and kept there to do gladiatorial battle for one or other of the great contending parties of the State. With those exceptions, parliamentary life was not, even then, an open career, for only favoured youths were admitted to compete. But, as is the case in every other profession, none, except those who are extraordinarily and peculiarly gifted, are likely to succeed in parliamentary life, unless engaged in it from their early manhood onwards. Dudley North, of whom I spoke in the chapter on Judges, was certainly a great success; so, in recent times, was Lord George Bentinck; so, in one way or another, was the Duke of Wellington; and other cases could easily be quoted of men beginning their active parliamentary life in advanced manhood and nevertheless achieving success; but, as a rule, to which there are very few exceptions, statesmen consist of men who had obtained—it little matters how—the privilege of entering Parliament in early life, and of being kept there. Every Cabinet is necessarily selected from a limited field. No doubt it always contains some few persons of very high natural gifts, who would have found their way to the front under any reasonably fair political regime, but it also invariably contains others who would have fallen far behind in the struggle for place and influence, if all England had been admitted on equal terms to the struggle.

Two selections of men occurred to me as being, on the whole, well worthy of confidence. One, that of the Premiers, begun, for convenience' sake, with the reign of George III.; their number is 25, and the proportion of them who cannot

claim to be much more than eminently” gifted, such as Addington,“Pitt is to Addington as London to Paddington,”— is very small. The other selection is Lord Brougham's “Statesmen of the Reign of George III.” It consists of no more than 53 men, selected as the foremost statesmen in that long reign. Now of these, 11 are judges and, I may add, 7 of those judges were described in the appendix to the last chapter, viz. Lords Camden, Eldon, Erskine, Ellenborough, King, Mansfield, and Thurlow. The remaining 4 are Chief Justices Burke and Gibbs, Sir William Grant, and Lord Loughborough. Lord Brougham's list also contains the name of Lord Nelson, which will be more properly included among the Commanders; and that of Earl St. Vincent, which may remain in this chapter, for he was a very able administrator, in peace as well as a naval commander. In addition to these, are the names of 9 Premiers, of whom one is the Duke of Wellington, whom I count here, and again among the Commanders, leaving a net balance, in the selection made by Lord Brougham, of 31 new names to discuss. The total of the two selections, omitting the judges, is 57.

The average natural ability of these men may very justly be stated as superior to class F. Canning, Fox, the two Pitts, Romilly, Sir Robert Walpole (whom Lord Brougham imports into his list), the Marquess of Wellesley, and the Duke of Wellington, probably exceed G. It will be seen how extraordinary are the relationships of these families. The kinship of the two Pitts, father and son, is often spoken of as a rare, if not a sole, instance of high genius being hereditary; but the remarkable kinships of William Pitt were yet more widely diffused. He was not only son of a premier, but nephew of another, George Grenville, and cousin of a third, Lord

Grenville. Besides this, he had the Temple blood. His pedigree, which is given in the appendix to this chapter, does scant justice to his breed. The Fox pedigree is also very remarkable in its connection with the Lords Holland and the Napier family. But one of the most conspicuous is that of the Marquess of Wellesley, a most illustrious statesman, both in India and at home, and his younger brother, the great Duke of Wellington. It is also curious, from the fact of the Marquess possessing very remarkable gifts as a scholar and critic. They distinguished him in early life and descended to his son, the late Principal of New Inn Hall, at Oxford, but they were not shared by his brother. Yet, although the great Duke had nothing of the scholar or art-critic in him, he had qualities akin to both. His writings are terse and nervous, and eminently effective. His furniture, equipages, and the like were characterised by unostentatious completeness and efficiency under a pleasing form.

I do not intend to go seriatim through the many names mentioned in my appendix. The reader must do that for himself, and he will find it well worth his while to do so; but I shall content myself here with throwing results into the same convenient statistical form that I have already employed for the Judges, and arguing on the same bases that the relationships of the Statesmen abundantly prove the hereditary character of their genius.

In addition to the English statesmen of whom I have been speaking, I thought it well to swell their scanty numbers by adding a small supplementary list, taken from various periods and other countries. I cannot precisely say how large was the area of selection from which this list was taken. I can only assure the reader that it contains a considerable proportion of the names, that seemed to me the most conspicuous among those that I found described at length, in ordinary small biographical dictionaries.



One relation (or two in the family).

Bolingbroke (Visct. St. John)






Romilly, Sir S.


Francis, Sir P.


Scott (Lord Stowell)










Two or three relations (or three or four in the family).

a. Bedford, Duke of, and gr.-gr.-grandson. Earl Russell

GF. Gf. PP.

Bentinck (Duke of Portland)

S. P.


US. S.

Jenkinson (Earl of Liverpool)

F. U. US.

Jervis (Earl St. Vincent)

u. UP. UPS.

Lamb (Viscount Melbourne)

2 B. b. p.

Petty (Marquess of Lansdowne)

GF. S.

Russell (see Bedford).


Stanley (Earl of Derby)

F. uS. S.

Stewart (Marquess of Londonderry)

F. uS. B.

four or more relations (or four or more in the family).

Dundas (Viscount Melville) .....

G. F. B. N. S. P.

2. Fox and Lord Holland ......

G. u. F. B. N. NS.. 2uS.

3. Grenville, Lord; his father, George Grenville; also his cousin, William Pitt.

B. F. g. uS. V.

Grey, Earl

F. B. 2S.

Holland, Lord (see Fox)



F. g. 2B. 3S.

2. Pitt, viz. Earl Chatham and his son, Wm. Pitt (also, see Grenville)

F. N. u. uS. n.

Robinson (Earl Ripon)

G. F. gB. gF. S.


F. f. g. G. S. P. PS.

Temple (Viscount Palmerston)


Stuart (Marquess of Bute)

GF. G. GU. GB. u. B. 2S.

Walpole (Earl of Oxford)

G. B. 2S. nG.

3. Wellesley, viz. the Marquess and his brother, the Duke of Wellington

B. N. S. gGF.




Arteveldt, James, and son John






More, Sir Thomas



De Witt, John, and brother Cornelius




S. P.


Cecil, Robt.; father, Lord Burleigh; and cousin,



Lord Bacon

F. uS.



U. B. 2S. 2N.


Guise, Due de

B. 2S. P. PS.



F, R BP. BPS. nS.


Degrees Of Kinship





Name of the degree.

Corresponding letters.






13 F.









15 b.









19 S.









6 G.

5 g.








3 U.

4 u.








6 N.

1 n.








4 P.

0 p.








1 GF.

1 gF.

1 GF.

0 gF.






1 GB.

1 gB.

0 GB.

0 gB.





First cousin

2 US.

3 uS.

0 US.

3 uS.






0 NS.

1 nS.

1 NS.

0 nS.






0 PS.

0 pS.

0 PS.

0 pS.





All more remote









First, have the ablest statesmen the largest number of able relatives? Table I. answers this in the affirmative. There can be no doubt, that its third section contains more illustrious names than the first; and the more the reader will take the pains of analysing and “weighing” the relationships, the more, I am sure, will he find this truth to become apparent. Again, the Statesmen, as a whole,

are far more eminently gifted than the Judges; accordingly it will be seen in Table II., by a comparison of its column B with the corresponding column in p. 61, that their relations are more rich in ability.

To proceed to the next test; we see, that the third section is actually longer than either the first or the second, showing that ability is not distributed at haphazard, but that it affects certain families.

Thirdly, the statesman's type of ability is largely transmitted or inherited. It would be tedious to count the instances in favour. Those to the contrary are Disraeli, Sir P. Francis (who was hardly a statesman, but rather a bitter controversialist), and Horner. In all the other 35 or 36 cases in my appendix, one or more statesmen will be found among their eminent relations. In other words, the combination of high intellectual gifts, tact in dealing with men, power of expression in debate, and ability to endure exceedingly hard work, is hereditary.

Table II. proves, just as distinctly as it did in the case of the Judges, that the nearer kinsmen of the eminent Statesmen are far more rich in ability than the more remote. It will be seen, that the law of distribution, as gathered from these instances, is very similar to what we had previously found it to be. I shall not stop here to compare that law, in respect to the Statesmen and the Judges, for I propose to treat all the groups of eminent men, who form the subjects of my several chapters, in a precisely similar manner, and to collate the results, once for all, at the end of the book.


Statesmen of the reign of George III.

As selected by lord brougham in his well-known work bearing that title.

THE list consists of the following 53 persons, of whom 33, whose names are printed in italics, find a place in my dictionary of kinships. It often happens in this list that the same person if noticed under his title, as well as surname; as, “Dundas (Viscount Melville);”—” Melville, Lord (Dundas).”

Allen. *Bedford, 4th Duke. Bolingbroke. Bushe, Ld. Ch. Just. Camden, Earl (Pratt). *Canning. Carroll. Castlereagh, Lord (Londonderry); see Stewart. *Chatham, Lord (Pitt). Curran. Dundas (Visct. Melville). Eldon, Lord (Scott). Erskine, Lord. Ellenborough, Lord (Law). Fox. Francis, Sir Philip. Gibbs, Ld. Ch. Just. Grant, Sir Wm. Grattan. *Grenville, George. *Grenville, Lord. Holland, Lord. Homer. Jefferson. *'Jenkinson (Earl Liverpool). Jervis (Earl St. Vincent). King, Lord. Law (Lord Ellenborough). Lawrence, Dr. *Liverpool, Earl (Jenkinson). Loughborough, Lord (Wedderburn). Londonderry, Lord (Castlereagh: see Stewart). Mansfield, Lord (Murray). Melville, Lord (Dundas). Murray (Lord Mansfield). Nelson, Lord. *North, Lord. *Perceval. *Pitt (Earl of Chatham), *Pitt, William. Pratt (Earl Camden). Ricardo. Romilly. St. Vincent, Earl (Jervis). Scott (Lord Eldon). Scott (Lord Stowell). Stowell, Lord (Scott). Stewart (Lord Castlereagh, Marquess of Londonderry). Thurlow, Lord. Tierney. Tooke, Horne. Walpole. Wedderbum (Lord Loughborough). Wellesley, Marquess. Wilberforce. Wilkes, John. Windham.


There have been 25 Premiers during this period, as shown in the following list, of whom 17, whose names are printed in italics, find a place in my dictionary of kinships.

Nine of these have already appeared under the title of “Statesmen of George III.” They are distinguished by a +.

It occasionally happens that the same individual is noticed under his surname as well as his title; as “Chatha