Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/175

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171
FRANCIS GALTON

FRANCIS GALTON
By Dr. J. ARTHUR HARRIS
CARNEGIE INSTITUTION OF WASHINGTON

TO the man of affairs the progress of science must seem monotonously methodical. Should he walk through the scientific section of a great library he would find massive walls of books, journals and learned transactions, and would note that year by year the tomes of which these walls are built up become a little thicker and that new and more specialized series are interpolated among the old.

Blowing the dust from the tops and cutting pages here and there he would soon find himself completely confused. Nowhere would he be able to turn down the page corner and say, "This is fundamental: this represents a real step forward: this is one of the milestones in the advance of science."

Those who are not visitors in the stacks but work there, know that except in the accumulation of facts the growth of science has by no means been a movement of uniform acceleration. Most scientific investigators are imitative, contributing to detail but setting no new landmark on the horizon. Now and then, however, a man of keener imagination and clearer mental vision sees a new and attractive region for exploration and blazes a trail. Sometimes the new field is reached after great effort, sometimes only an easy ridge has to be crossed. Others at once follow his leadership, clearing, mapping, describing and illustrating. The work of both is essential, but the one we honor as an explorer and the other we respect as a surveyor. Most men of science are surveyors merely.

On January 17, 1911, one of the great explorers, both literally and figuratively, laid down his active work in the sciences and humanities. Had death come a quarter of a century ago, scientific men would have mourned the loss of an able colleague. To-day, sadness can not be limited by the boundaries of the divisions of the many ologies, for the world has lost another of the great Victorian minds, the peer of Huxley, Spencer and his own cousin, Charles Darwin; yet regret must be tempered with a profound thankfulness that a life so rich in achievements and in personal influence could be granted the full term of nearly ninety years. Twenty-five years ago, Mr. Galton had already contributed his "Tropical South Africa" and the "Art of Travel" to the literature of geographical research. His inventive genius and mechanical ingenuity had been telling factors in the nascent science of meteorology. Human faculty in various phases had interested him,