Recognized HTML document
Previous Index Next

Eugenics as a Creed and the Last Decade of Galton's Life 261

reform mankind must not begin by alarming it. We may remind the Editor of " Fabian Essays " that the doctrines of Eugenics will be best served, like those of socialism, by a slow process of impenetration.

The drift of the discussion as above indicated was to reveal clearly the past history, the narrow field of experience, the particular method of experiment or observation of the individual contributors. Impressions rapidly formed on a subject, which they had not thought over for years, like Galton, were produced without any foundation of facts or figures; my anticipations of what would flow from the various heterogeneous elements classed together as sociologists were realised. But Galton got an excellent advertisement for Eugenics, which he proceeded to follow up. The paper and the discussion on it were widely mentioned in the daily press. Sociology for the present biographer must be a study of man in the mass, the facts on which the science must be based depend upon averages, variations, associations and correlations-in short, sociology to become a science must be based upon the collection of data and the statistical treatment of those data. Such treatment I had found almost wholly missing in sociological memoirs. Sociology appeared to me to be like psychology before the introduction of the experimental method, like what physics would be without a mathematical handling, or insurance before there was an actuarial science ; in the words of Galton, " Until the phenomena of any branch of knowledge have been submitted to measurement and number it cannot assume the status and dignity of a science." Until some sociologist should arise and grasp this fact and -apply it to his studies, sociology in my opinion had not yet its founder*. Holding such a view I was somewhat astonished to receive a letter from Francis Galton dated April 12, 1904, running as follows

MY DEAR KARL PEARSON, I hear they have been bothering you to take the chair at a Sociological meeting on Monday, May 16th, when I read a paper on Eugenics at 5 p.m.However agreeable it might be to myself that you should do so, I beg that you will consult your

own inclinations entirely in the matter, without the slightest regard to mine. I have just had a talk with Mr Branford who favourably impressed me with the idea that he had clear views of what the Society might do scientifically, and that he saw his way to give effect to them. The result is to ease my own mind in respect to offering the paper, or rather acceding to the request to send it.

What a slashing you administer to Professor Castle. He deserves it.

A book by Havelock Ellis "A study of British Genius " interests me. He has taken the "National Biography" as his store house, and shows forcibly the great contribution by English clergy to the ability of the next generation. That is a Eugenic fact for me, not unforeseen, however.

I trust you are all having a happy Easter at Rotherfield Greys. I fear addressing this so, therefore I send it to Hampstead. Kindest remembrances. Very sincerely, FRANCIS GALTON.

The actual meeting took place in the large hall of the London School of Economics, and the audience which the veteran of eighty-two years addressed was numerous and distinguished. The Chairman, in opening the proceedings, said :

0 My position here this afternoon requires possibly some explanation. I am not a member of the Sociological Society, and I must confess myself sceptical as to its power to do effective

The reader will appreciate my amusement when the Secretary of the Sociological Society, Mr V. V. Branford, spent much paper and energy in endeavouring to prove that Vico, Comte and Herbert Spencer were architects of a science of sociology 1

Previous Index Next