Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/191

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187
FRANCIS GALTON

aflame passed through the street and swept the mob along with him. Now social advance is coming to depend more and more upon the results of cold scientific research.

Herein lies the success of Galton's movement. No accomplishment of recent times is of greater interest to scientific men, for the success which has been attained is due to a social and religious appeal made from a solid foundation of scientific facts. Opinions as to the direction of eugenic reform, or indeed as to the advisability of any immediate attempt at practical work, differ greatly but the widespread interest in its problems is an equally widespread admission that biology is to stand in the most vital relation to sociology, that science is to be the handmaiden of statecraft.

Hero worship must not blind the scientific biographer to the fact that in the doing of this Francis Galton was by no means single-handed. Those who preceded him in the fruitless suggestions of race improvement may be left out of account; those who labored with him can not. Indeed. I personally feel that in this work there is one name generally closely associated with his own which should take equal rank with his.

But Francis Galton must always rank as the pioneer—as the one who while the fighting was still hot around the "Origin of Species" and before the "Descent of Man" had yet been written had the insight to see and the courage to say not merely that man was to be included in the evolutionary chain but also that evolution has more than academic interest in its relation to man. He had the courage to argue that just as animals and plants are plastic in the hands of the breeder, so the physical strength and mental vigor of future generations may be moulded by a scientifically enlightened and morally quickened community.

The Man and His Methods

"The greatness of a man is shown in what he is, in what he does, and in what he sets a-doing."

It would be presumptuous for any one who had not the privilege of years of intimacy to write of Mr. Galton's character and personality. In paragraphs ranging from exploration through physical and biological sciences to eugenics an outline of what he did and what he set adoing has been given. The two objects of this section are to state for the benefit of those who can not study his work in detail some of the characteristics of the investigator, and the cardinal features of his contributions to science. In essence, we have to determine what shall be understood by Galtonian.

A first characteristic was the ability to see essentially new problems or new methods of accomplishing things that needed doing. Some of his results—daily weather charts, anthropometric laboratories, human heredity—like those of Benjamin Franklin, had an obviousness which was cryptic to other eyes. Not only did he see problems but he