Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/176

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172

THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

and as early as 1869 he had published the great work entitled "Hereditary Genius," and in "Inquiries into Human Faculty" of 1883, he had suggested the term eugenics for the science of race improvement, and had advanced strong arguments in favor of its practicability.

Had 1885 instead of 1911 staid his pen, we should have been deprived of "Natural Inheritance." We should have lacked his greatest contribution to scientific method—one of the most powerful tools of research—the correlation coefficient. Criminologists would have missed his contribution of the finger print method of identification. Biometry would have wanted his personal stimulus and support which has counted so much in the development of the new science. Humanitarians would have had to wait from another not only the initiation of comprehensive quantitative investigations of the relative significance of heredity and environment—of nature and nurture, as he happily expressed it—but also the courage to urge the possibility of the improvement of the human stock under present conditions of law and sentiment.

Ancestry and Training

One of Galton's great problems, that concerning the relative importance of nature and nurture in determining the characteristics of the individual, might be hard to solve from a study of his own family history.

When one is told that Francis Galton and Charles Darwin were both grandsons of Dr. Erasmus Darwin, and learns the mental traits and physical powers of other direct and collateral ascendants, he is ready to cast the ballot at once for inheritance, or nature. But when one opens the delightfully written "Memories of My Life" and reads of his home life and of his contact with profound and alert minds in hospitals and at Cambridge, one hesitates and wonders whether environment, or nurture, should not be credited with a substantial share of his greatness.

In human families, however, nurture is largely a product of nature. It was not by accident that Samuel John Galton, the manufacturer and contractor, grandfather of Francis Galton, was associated with such men as Priestley, Dr. Erasmus Darwin, Keir the chemist, Withering the botanist, Watt and Boulton. So in the other associations of the family, one can see ability seeking its like; while his attainments may be in part due to economic independence and propitious environment it must be also borne in mind that independence and environment are in their turn referable to the innate ability of the stock from which he came.

The greatness of the man is attested by the facts that there was a minimum of training and a maximum of accomplishment, and that as in the case of many other intellectual leaders it is impossible to dif-