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Title: Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development
Author: Galton, Francis, 1822-1911
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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First issue of this Edition 1907


After some years had passed subsequent to the publication of this
book in 1883, its publishers, Messrs. Macmillan, informed me that
the demand for it just, but only just warranted a revised issue. I
shrank from the great trouble of bringing it up to date because it,
or rather many of my memoirs out of which it was built up, had
become starting-points for elaborate investigations both in England
and in America, to which it would be difficult and very laborious to
do justice in a brief compass. So the question of a Second Edition
was then entirely dropped. Since that time the book has by no means
ceased to live, for it continues to be quoted from and sought for,
but is obtainable only with difficulty, and at much more than its
original cost, at sales of second-hand books. Moreover, it became
the starting point of that recent movement in favour of National
Eugenics (see note p. 24 in first edition) which is recognised by
the University of London, and has its home in University College.

Having received a proposal to republish the book in its present
convenient and inexpensive form, I gladly accepted it, having first
sought and received an obliging assurance from Messrs. Macmillan
that they would waive all their claims to the contrary in my favour.

The following small changes are made in this edition. The
illustrations are for the most part reduced in size to suit the
smaller form of the volume, the lettering of the composites is
rearranged, and the coloured illustration is reproduced as closely
as circumstances permit. Two chapters are omitted, on "Theocratic
Intervention" and on the "Objective Efficacy of Prayer." The earlier
part of the latter was too much abbreviated from the original memoir
in the _Fortnightly Review_, 1872, and gives, as I now perceive, a
somewhat inexact impression of its object, which was to investigate
certain views then thought orthodox, but which are growing obsolete.
I could not reinsert these omissions now with advantage, unless
considerable additions were made to the references, thus giving more
appearance of personal controversy to the memoirs than is desirable.
After all, the omission of these two chapters, in which I find
nothing to recant, improves, as I am told, the general balance of the
book.                                   FRANCIS GALTON.


The Teletype: a printing Electric Telegraph, 1850;
The Narrative of an Explorer in Tropical South Africa, 1853,
   in "Minerva Library of Famous Books," 1889;
Notes on Modern Geography (Cambridge Essays, 1855, etc.);
Arts of Campaigning: an Inaugural Lecture delivered at Aldershot, 1855;
The Art of Travel, or Shifts and Contrivances available in Wild Countries,
   1855, 1856, 1860 (1859);
   fourth edition, recast and enlarged, 1867, 1872;
Vacation Tourists and Notes on Travel, 1861, 1862, 1864;
Meteorographica, or Methods of Mapping the Weather, 1863;
Hereditary Genius: an Enquiry into its Laws and Consequences, 1869;
English Men of Science: their Nature and Nurture, 1874;
Address to the Anthropological Departments of the British Association
   (Plymouth, 1877);
Generic Images: with Autotype Illustrations
   (from the Proceedings of the Royal Institution), 1879;
Inquiries into Human Faculty and its Development, 1883;
Record of Family Faculties, 1884; Natural Inheritance, 1889;
Finger-Prints, 1892;
Decipherments of Blurred Finger-Prints
   (supplementary chapters to former work), 1893;
Finger-Print Directories, 1895;
Introduction to Life of W. Cotton Oswell, 1900;
Index to Achievements of Near Kinsfolk
   of some of the Fellows of the Royal Society, 1904;
Eugenics: its Definition, Scope, and Aims
   (Sociological Society Papers, vols. I. and II.), 1905;
Noteworthy Families (Modern Science);
And many papers in the Proceedings of the Royal Society,
   Journals of the Geographical Society and the Anthropological Institute,
   the Reports of the British Association, the Philosophical Magazine,
   and Nature.

Galton also edited:
Hints to Travellers, 1878;
Life-History Album (British Medical Association), 1884,
    second edition, 1902;
Biometrika (edited in consultation with F.G. and W.F.R. Weldon), 1901,
   and under his direction was designed a
   Descriptive List of Anthropometric Apparatus, etc., 1887.


The following Memoirs by the author have been freely made use of in
the following pages:--

1863: The First Steps towards the Domestication of Animals
   (_Journal of Ethnological Society_);
1871: Gregariousness in Cattle and in Men
   (_Macmillan's Magazine_);
1872: Statistical Inquiries into the Efficacy of Prayer
    (_Fortnightly Review_);
1873: Relative Supplies from Town and Country Families
   to the Population of Future Generations
   (_Journal of Statistical Society_);
Hereditary Improvement (_Fraser's Magazine_);
Africa for the Chinese (_Times_, June 6);
1875: Statistics by Intercomparison (_Philosophical Magazine_);
Twins, as a Criterion of the Relative Power of Nature and Nurture
   (_Fraser's Magazine_, and
   _Journal of Anthropological Institute_);
1876: Whistles for Determining the Upper Limits of Audible Sound
   (_S. Kensington Conferences_, in connection with the
   Loan Exhibition of Scientific Instruments, p. 61);
1877: Presidential Address to the Anthropological Department
   of the British Association at Plymouth
   (_Report of British Association_);
1878: Composite Portraits (_Nature_, May 23, and
   _Journal of Anthropological Institute_);
1879: Psychometric Experiments (_Nineteenth Century_,
   and _Brain_, part vi.);
Generic Images (_Nineteenth Century; Proceedings of
   Royal Institution_, with plates);
Geometric Mean in Vital and Social Statistics (_Proceedings
   of Royal Society_);
1880: Visualised Numerals (_Nature_, Jan. 15 and March 25, and
   _Journal of Anthropological Institute_);
Mental Imagery (_Fortnightly Review; Mind_);
1881: Visions of Sane Persons (_Fortnightly Review_, and
   _Proceedings of Royal Institution_);
Composite Portraiture (_Journal of Photographical Society
   of Great Britain_, June 24);
1882: Physiognomy of Phthisis (_Guy's Hospital Reports_, vol. xxv.);
Photographic Chronicles from Childhood to Age (_Fortnightly Review_);
The Anthropometric Laboratory (_Fortnightly Review_);
1883: Some Apparatus for Testing the Delicacy of the Muscular
   and other Senses (_Journal of Anthropological Institute_,
   1883, etc.).

_Memoirs in Eugenics_.

1901: Huxley Lecture, Anthropological Institute (_Nature,_ Nov. 1901);
Smithsonian Report for 1901 (_Washington_, p. 523);
1904: Eugenics, its Definition, Scope and Aims
   (Sociological Paper, vol. i., _Sociological Institute_);
1905: Restrictions in Marriage, Studies in National Eugenics,
   Eugenics as a Factor in Religion (Sociological Papers, vol. ii.);
1907: Herbert Spencer Lecture, University of Oxford,
   on Probability the Foundation of Eugenics.

The following books by the author have been referred or alluded to
in the following pages:--

1853: Narrative of an Explorer in Tropical South-Western Africa
1854: Art of Travel (several subsequent editions,
   the last in 1872, _Murray_);
1869: Hereditary Genius, its Laws and Consequences
1874: English Men of Science, their Nature and their Nurture




  Origin and object of book.


  Many varieties may each be good of its kind; advantage
  of variety; some peculiarities are, however, harmful.


  Large number of elements in the human expression; of
  touches in a portrait; difficulty of measuring the separate
  features; or of selecting typical individuals; the typical
  English face; its change at different historical periods;
  colour of hair of modern English; caricatures.


  (See Appendix for three Memoirs describing successive
  stages of the method).--Object and principle of the process;
  description of the plate--composites of medals; of family
  portraits; of the two sexes and of various ages; of Royal
  Engineers; the latter gives a clue to one direction in which
  the English race might be improved; of criminals; of the
  consumptive; ethnological application of the process.


  Anthropometric Committee; statistical anomalies in stature
  as dependent on age; town and rural population; athletic
  feats now and formerly; increase of stature of middle classes;
  large number of weakly persons; some appearances of weakness
  may be fallacious; a barrel and a wheel; definition
  of word "eugenic."


  It is the attribute of high races; useful stimuli to activity;
  fleas, etc.; the preservation of the weakly as exercises for
  pity; that of foxes for sport.


  Sensation and pain; range and grades of sensation;
  idiots; men and women; the blind; reading by touch;
  sailors; paucity of words to express gradation.


  (See also Appendix, p. 248).--Geometric series of
  weights; method of using them; the same principle is
  applicable to other senses; the tests only measure the state
  of faculties at time of trial; cautions in constructing the
  test weights; multiplicity of the usual perceptions.


  (See also Appendix, p. 252).--Construction of them; loss
  of power of hearing high notes as age advances; trials upon
  animals; sensitivity of cats to high notes; of small dogs and


  Want of anthropometric laboratories; of family records;
  opportunities in schools; Admiralty records of life of each
  seaman; family registers (see also 220); autotypes; medical
  value of ancestral life-histories (see also 220); of their
  importance to human eugenics.


  Colour blindness usually unsuspected; unconsciousness of
  high intellectual gifts; of peculiarities of mental imagery;
  heredity of colour blindness in Quakers; Young and Dalton.


  Objects of statistical science; constancy and continuity
  of statistical results; groups and sub-groups; augival or
  ogival curves; wide application of the ogival; method;
  example; first method of comparing two ogival groups;
  centesimal grades; example; second method of comparing
  ogival groups; statistical records easily made with a


  Caprice and coyness of females; its cause; observations
  of character at schools; varieties of likings and antipathies;
  horror of snakes is by no means universal; the horror of
  blood among cattle is variable.


  Peculiarities of criminal character; some of them are
  normal and not morbid; their inheritance as in the Jukes
  family; epileptics and their nervous instability; insanity;
  religious rapture; strange views of the insane on individuality;
  their moody segregation; the religious discipline of
  celibacy, fasting and solitude (see also 125); large field of
  study among the insane and idiotic.


  Most men shrink from responsibility; study of gregarious
  animals: especially of the cattle of the Damaras; fore-oxen
  to waggon teams; conditions of safety of herds; cow and
  young calf when approached by lions; the most effective
  size of herd; corresponding production of leaders; similarly
  as regards barbarian tribes and their leaders; power of
  tyranny vested in chiefs; political and religious persecutions;
  hence human servility; but society may flourish without
  servility; its corporate actions would then have statistical
  constancy; nations who are guided by successive orators,
  etc., must be inconstant; the romantic side of servility; free
  political life.


  Reference to _Hereditary Genius_.


  Purport of inquiry; circular of questions (see Appendix
  for this); the first answers were from scientific men,
  and were negative; those from persons in general society
  were quite the reverse; sources of my materials; they are
  mutually corroborative. Analysis of returns from 100
  persons mostly of some eminence; extracts from replies of
  those in whom the visualising faculty is highest; those in
  whom it is mediocre; lowest; conformity between these
  and other sets of haphazard returns; octile, median, etc.,
  values; visualisation of colour; some liability to exaggeration;
  blindfold chess-players; remarkable instances of visualisation;
  the faculty is not necessarily connected with keen sight or
  tendency to dream; comprehensive imagery; the faculty in different
  sexes and ages; is strongly hereditary; seems notable among
  the French; Bushmen; Eskimo; prehistoric men; admits of being
  educated; imagery usually fails in flexibility; special and generic
  images (see also Appendix); use of the faculty.


  General account of the peculiarity; mutually corroborative
  statements; personal evidence given at the Anthropological
  Institute; specimens of a few descriptions and
  illustrative woodcuts; great variety in the Forms; their
  early origin; directions in which they run; bold conceptions
  of children concerning height and depth; historical
  dates, months, etc.; alphabet; derivation of the Forms
  from the spoken names of numerals; fixity of the Form
  compared to that of the handwriting; of animals working
  in constant patterns; of track of eye when searching for
  lost objects; occasional origin from figures on clock; from
  various other sources; the non-decimal nomenclature of
  numerals; perplexity caused by it. Description of figures
  in Plate I.; Plate II.; Plate III.; Plate IV. Colours
  assigned to numerals (see 105); personal characters; sex;
  frequency with which the various numerals are used in the


  (Description of Plate IV. continued) Associations with
  numerals; with words and letters; illustrations by Dr. J.
  Key; the scheme of one seer unintelligible to other seers;
  mental music, etc.


  Sane persons often see visions; the simpler kinds of
  visions; unconsciousness of seers, at first, of their
  peculiarity; subsequent dislike to speak about it; imagery
  connected with words; that of Mrs. Haweis; automatic changes
  in dark field of eye; my own experiences; those of Rev. G. Henslow;
  visions frequently unlike vivid visualisations; phantasmagoria;
  hallucinations; simile of a seal in a pond; dreams and partial
  sensitiveness of brain; hallucinations and illusions, their causes;
  "faces in the fire," etc.; sub-conscious picture-drawing; visions
  based on patched recollections; on blended recollections; hereditary
  seership; visions caused by fasting, etc.; by spiritual discipline
  (see also 47); star of Napoleon I.; hallucinations of
  great men; seers commoner at some periods than at others;
  reasons why.


  Their effects are difficult to separate; the same character
  has many phases; Renaissance; changes owing merely to
  love of change; feminine fashions; periodical sequences of
  changed character in birds; the interaction of nurture and


  Derived from experience; especially from childish recollections
  (see 141); abstract ideas; cumulative ideas, like composite
  portraits (see also Appendix, "Generic Images,"  p. 229);
  their resemblance even in details.


  Difficulty of watching the mind in operation; how it may
  be overcome; irksomeness of the process; tentative experiments;
  method used subsequently; the number of recurrent
  associations; memory; ages at which associations are
  formed; similarity of the associations in persons of the same
  country and class of society; different descriptions of
  classified; their relative frequency; abstract ideas are
  slowly formed; multifariousness of sub-conscious operations.


  Act of thinking analysed; automatic mental work; fluency
  of words and of imagery; processes of literary composition;
  fluency of spiritual ideas; visionary races of men; morbid
  ideas of inspiration (see Enthusiasm).


  Accidents of education, religion, country, etc.; deaf-mutes
  and religious ritual; religion in its essentials; all religious
  teachers preach faith and instil prejudices; origin of the
  faculty of conscience; evolution is always behindhand;
  good men of various faiths; the fear of death; terror is
  easily taught; gregarious animals (see also 47); suspiciousness
  in the children of criminals; Dante and contemporary
  artists on the terrors of hell; aversion is easily taught,
  Eastern ideas of clean and unclean acts; the foregoing
  influences affect entire classes.


  It supplies means of comparing the effects of nurture and
  nature; physiological signification of twinship; replies to
  a circular of inquiries; eighty cases of close resemblance
  between twins; the points in which their resemblance was
  closest; extracts from the replies; interchangeableness of
  likeness; cases of similar forms of insanity in both twins;
  their tastes and dispositions; causes of growing dissimilarity
  mainly referred to illness; partly to gradual development of
  latent elements of dissimilarity; effect of childish illnesses
  in permanently checking growth of head; parallel lives and
  deaths among twins; necessitarianism; twenty cases of great
  dissimilarity; extracts from the replies; evidence of slight
  exaggeration; education is almost powerless to diminish
  natural difference of character; simile of sticks floating
  down a brook; depth of impressions made in childhood;
  they are partly due to the ease with which parents and
  children understand one another; cuckoos forget the teachings
  of their foster-mothers.


  Alternative hypotheses of the prehistoric process of
  domestication; savages rear captive animals; instances in
  North America; South America; North Africa; Equatorial
  Africa; South Africa; Australia; New Guinea Group;
  Polynesia; ancient Syria. Sacred animals; menageries
  and shows in amphitheatres; instances in ancient Egypt;
  Assyria; Rome; Mexico; Peru; Syria and Greece.
  Domestication is only possible when the species has certain
  natural faculties, viz.--great hardiness; fondness for man;
  desire of comfort; usefulness to man; fertility; being easy
  to tend. Habitual selection of the tamest to breed from.
  Exceptions; summary.


  Steady improvement in the birthright of successive generations;
  our ignorance of the origin and purport of all existence;
  of the outcome of life on this earth; of the conditions
  of consciousness; slow progress of evolution and its
  system of ruthless routine; man is the heir of long bygone
  ages; has great power in expediting the course of evolution;
  he might render its progress less slow and painful;
  does not yet understand that it may be his part to do so.


  Difference between the best specimens of a poor race and
  the mediocre ones of a high race; typical centres to which
  races tend to revert; delicacy of highly-bred animals; their
  diminished fertility; the misery of rigorous selection; it is
  preferable to replace poor races by better ones; strains of
  emigrant blood; of exiles.


  Conquest, migrations, etc.; sentiment against extinguishing
  races; is partly unreasonable; the so-called "aborigines";
  on the variety and number of different races
  inhabiting the same country; as in Spain; history of the
  Moors; Gypsies; the races in Damara Land; their recent
  changes; races in Siberia; Africa; America; West Indies;
  Australia and New Zealand; wide diffusion of Arabs and
  Chinese; power of man to shape future humanity.


  Over-population; Malthus--the danger of applying his
  prudential check; his originality; his phrase of misery check
  is in many cases too severe; decaying races and the cause
  of decay.


  Estimate of their relative effects on a population in a few
  generations; example.


  On the demand for definite proposals how to improve
  race; the demand is not quite fair, and the reasons why;
  nevertheless attempt is made to suggest the outline of one;
  on the signs of superior race; importance of giving weight
  to them when making selections from candidates who are
  personally equal; on families that have thriven; that are
  healthy and long-lived; present rarity of our knowledge
  concerning family antecedents; Mr. F.M. Hollond on the
  superior morality of members of large families; Sir William
  Gull on their superior vigour; claim for importance of
  further inquiries into the family antecedents of those who
  succeed in after life; probable large effect of any system
  by which marks might be conferred on the ground of family


  These have frequently been made in order to furnish
  marriage portions; they, as well as the adoption of gifted
  children of gifted families, may hereafter become common;
  college statutes enjoining celibacy on Fellows; reverse effect
  to that for which prizes at races were established; the recent
  reform of those statutes and numerous marriages in consequence;
  the English race has yet to be explored for its
  natural wealth; those who are naturally gifted would be
  disinclined to squander their patrimony; social consideration;
  honest pride in goodness of race.


  Epitome of data; the apparent place of man in nature;
  he should look upon himself as a freeman; he should assist
  in furthering evolution; his present ability to do so; the
  certainty that his ability of doing so will increase; importance
  of life-histories; brief summary.



  I. Extract of Memoir read in 1878 before the Anthropological
  II. Generic Images, extract from Lecture in 1879 to Royal
  III. Memoir read in 1881 before the Photographic Society.


  Memoir read in 1873 before the Statistical Society.


  Memoir read in 1882 before the Anthropological Institute.


  Read in 1876 at the South Kensington Conferences in
  connection with the Loan Exhibition of Scientific Instruments.


  Circulated in 1880.









Since the publication of my work on _Hereditary Genius_ in 1869, I
have written numerous memoirs, of which a list is given in an
earlier page, and which are scattered in various publications. They
may have appeared desultory when read in the order in which they
appeared, but as they had an underlying connection it seems worth
while to bring their substance together in logical sequence into a
single volume. I have revised, condensed, largely re-written,
transposed old matter, and interpolated much that is new; but traces
of the fragmentary origin of the work still remain, and I do not
regret them. They serve to show that the book is intended to be
suggestive, and renounces all claim to be encyclopedic. I have indeed,
with that object, avoided going into details in not a few cases
where I should otherwise have written with fulness, especially in
the Anthropometric part. My general object has been to take note of
the varied hereditary faculties of different men, and of the great
differences in different families and races, to learn how far
history may have shown the practicability of supplanting inefficient
human stock by better strains, and to consider whether it might not
be our duty to do so by such efforts as may be reasonable, thus
exerting ourselves to further the ends of evolution more rapidly and
with less distress than if events were left to their own course. The
subject is, however, so entangled with collateral considerations
that a straightforward step-by-step inquiry did not seem to be the
most suitable course. I thought it safer to proceed like the
surveyor of a new country, and endeavour to fix in the first
instance as truly as I could the position of several cardinal points.
The general outline of the results to which I finally arrived became
more coherent and clear as this process went on; they are brieflv
summarised in the concluding chapter.


We must free our minds of a great deal of prejudice before we can
rightly judge of the direction in which different races need to be
improved. We must be on our guard against taking our own instincts
of what is best and most seemly, as a criterion for the rest of
mankind. The instincts and faculties of different men and races
differ in a variety of ways almost as profoundly as those of animals
in different cages of the Zoological Gardens; and however diverse and
antagonistic they are, each may be good of its kind. It is obviously
so in brutes; the monkey may have a horror at the sight of a snake,
and a repugnance to its ways, but a snake is just as perfect an
animal as a monkey. The living world does not consist of a
repetition of similar elements, but of an endless variety of them,
that have grown, body and soul, through selective influences into
close adaptation to their contemporaries, and to the physical
circumstances of the localities they inhabit. The moral and
intellectual wealth of a nation largely consists in the multifarious
variety of the gifts of the men who compose it, and it would be the
very reverse of improvement to make all its members assimilate to a
common type. However, in every race of domesticated animals, and
especially in the rapidly-changing race of man, there are elements,
some ancestral and others the result of degeneration, that are of
little or no value, or are positively harmful. We may, of course, be
mistaken about some few of these, and shall find in our fuller
knowledge that they subserve the public good in some indirect manner;
but, notwithstanding this possibility, we are justified in roundly
asserting that the natural characteristics of every human race admit
of large improvement in many directions easy to specify.

I do not, however, offer a list of these, but shall confine myself
to directing attention to a very few hereditary characteristics of a
marked kind, some of which are most desirable and others greatly the
reverse; I shall also describe new methods of appraising and
defining them. Later on in the book I shall endeavour to define the
place and duty of man in the furtherance of the great scheme of
evolution, and I shall show that he has already not only adapted
circumstance to race, but also, in some degree and often
unconsciously, race to circumstance; and that his unused powers in
the latter direction are more considerable than might have been

It is with the innate moral and intellectual faculties that the book
is chiefly concerned, but they are so closely bound up with the
physical ones that these must be considered as well. It is, moreover,
convenient to take them the first, so I will begin with the features.


The differences in human features must be reckoned great, inasmuch
as they enable us to distinguish a single known face among those of
thousands of strangers, though they are mostly too minute for
measurement. At the same time, they are exceedingly numerous. The
general expression of a face is the sum of a multitude of small
details, which are viewed in such rapid succession that we seem to
perceive them all at a single glance. If any one of them disagrees
with the recollected traits of a known face, the eye is quick at
observing it, and it dwells upon the difference. One small
discordance overweighs a multitude of similarities and suggests a
general unlikeness; just as a single syllable in a sentence
pronounced with a foreign accent makes one cease to look upon the
speaker as a countryman. If the first rough sketch of a portrait be
correct so far as it goes, it may be pronounced an excellent likeness;
but a rough sketch does not go far; it contains but few traits for
comparison with the original. It is a suggestion, not a likeness; it
must be coloured and shaded with many touches before it can really
resemble the face, and whilst this is being done the maintenance of
the likeness is imperilled at every step. I lately watched an able
artist painting a portrait, and endeavoured to estimate the number
of strokes with his brush, every one of which was thoughtfully and
firmly given. During fifteen sittings of three working hours
each--that is to say, during forty-five hours, or two thousand four
hundred minutes--he worked at the average rate of ten strokes of the
brush per minute. There were, therefore, twenty-four thousand
separate traits in the completed portrait, and in his opinion some,
I do not say equal, but comparably large number of units of
resemblance with the original.

The physiognomical difference between different men being so
numerous and small, it is impossible to measure and compare them
each to each, and to discover by ordinary statistical methods the
true physiognomy of a race. The usual way is to select individuals
who are judged to be representatives of the prevalent type, and to
photograph them; but this method is not trustworthy, because the
judgment itself is fallacious. It is swayed by exceptional and
grotesque features more than by ordinary ones, and the portraits
supposed to be typical are likely to be caricatures. One fine Sunday
afternoon I sat with a friend by the walk in Kensington Gardens that
leads to the bridge, and which on such occasions is thronged by
promenaders. It was agreed between us that whichever first caught
sight of a typical John Bull should call the attention of the other.
We sat and watched keenly for many minutes, but neither of us found
occasion to utter a word.

The prevalent type of English face has greatly changed at different
periods, for after making large allowance for the fashion in
portrait painting of the day, there remains a great difference
between the proportion in which certain casts of features are to be
met with at different dates. I have spent some time in studying the
photographs of the various portraits of English worthies that have
been exhibited at successive loan collections, or which are now in
the National Portrait Gallery, and have traced what appear to be
indisputable signs of one predominant type of face supplanting
another. For instance, the features of the men painted by and about
the time of Holbein have usually high cheekbones, long upper lips,
thin eyebrows, and lank dark hair. It would be impossible, I think,
for the majority of modern Englishmen so to dress themselves and
clip and arrange their hair, as to look like the majority of these

Englishmen are now a fair and reddish race, as may be seen from the
Diagram, taken from the Report of the Anthropometric Committee to
the British Association in 1880 and which gives the proportion in
which the various colours of hair are found among our professional

[Illustration: ]

I take the professional classes because they correspond with the
class of English worthies better than any of the others from which
returns have been collected. The Diagram, however, gives a fair
representation of other classes of the community. For instance, I
have analysed the official records of the very carefully-selected
crews of H.M. S. _Alert_ and _Discovery_ in the Arctic Expedition of
1875-6, and find the proportion of various shades of hair to be the
same among them as is shown in the Diagram. Seven-tenths of the
crews had complexions described as light, fair, fresh, ruddy or
freckled, and the same proportion had blue or gray eyes. They would
have contrasted strongly with Cromwell's regiment of Ironsides, who
were recruited from the dark-haired men of the fen districts, and
who are said to have left the impression on contemporary observers
as being men of a peculiar breed. They would also probably have
contrasted with any body of thoroughgoing Puritan soldiers taken at
haphazard; for there is a prevalence of dark hair among men of
atrabilious and sour temperament.

If we may believe caricaturists, the fleshiness and obesity of many
English men and women in the earlier years of this century must have
been prodigious. It testifies to the grosser conditions of life in
those days, and makes it improbable that the types best adapted to
prevail then would be the best adapted to prevail now.


As a means of getting over the difficulty of procuring really
representative faces, I contrived the method of composite portraiture,
which has been explained of late on many occasions, and of which a
full account will be found in Appendix A. The principle on which the
composites are made will best be understood by a description of my
earlier and now discarded method; it was this--(1) I collected
photographic portraits of different persons, all of whom had been
photographed in the same aspect (say full face), and under the same
conditions of light and shade (say with the light coming from the
right side). (2) I reduced their portraits photographically to the
same size, being guided as to scale by the distance between any two
convenient points of reference in the features; for example, by the
vertical distance between two parallel lines, one of which passed
through the middle of the pupils of the eyes and the other between
the lips. (3) I superimposed the portraits like the successive
leaves of a book, so that the features of each portrait lay as
exactly as the case admitted, in front of those of the one behind it,
eye in front of eye and mouth in front of mouth. This I did by
holding them successively to the light and adjusting them, then by
fastening each to the preceding one with a strip of gummed paper
along one of the edges. Thus I obtained a book, each page of which
contained a separate portrait, and all the portraits lay exactly in
front of one another. (4) I fastened the book against the wall in
such a way that I could turn over the pages in succession, leaving
in turn each portrait flat and fully exposed. (5) I focused my
camera on the book fixed it firmly, and put a sensitive plate inside
it. (6) I began photographing, taking one page after the other in
succession without moving the camera, but putting on the cap whilst I
was turning over the pages, so that an image of each of the
portraits in succession was thrown on the same part of the
sensitised plate.

Only a fraction of the exposure required to make a good picture was
allowed to each portrait. Suppose that period was twenty seconds,
and that there were ten portraits, then an exposure of two seconds
would be allowed for each portrait, making twenty seconds in all.
This is the principle of the process, the details of that which I
now use are different and complex. They are fully explained in the
Appendix for the use of those who may care to know about them.

The effect of composite portraiture is to bring into evidence all
the traits in which there is agreement, and to leave but a ghost of
a trace of individual peculiarities. There are so many traits in
common in all faces that the composite picture when made from many
components is far from being a blur; it has altogether the look of
an ideal composition.

It may be worth mentioning that when I take any small bundle of
portraits, selected at hazard, I have generally found it easy to
sort them into about five groups, four of which have enough
resemblance among themselves to make as many fairly clear composites,
while the fifth consists of faces that are too incongruous to be
grouped in a single class. In dealing with portraits of brothers and
sisters, I can generally throw most of them into a single group, with

In the small collection of composites given in the Plate facing p. 8,
I have purposely selected many of those that I have previously
published, and whose originals, on a larger scale, I have at various
times exhibited, together with their components, in order to put the
genuineness of the results beyond doubt. Those who see them for the
first time can hardly believe but that one dominant face has
overpowered the rest, and that they are composites only in name. When,
however, the details are examined, this objection disappears. It is
true that with careless photography one face may be allowed to
dominate, but with the care that ought to be taken, and with the
precautions described in the Appendix, that does not occur. I have
often been amused when showing composites and their components to
friends, to hear a strong expression of opinion that the
predominance of one face was evident, and then on asking which face
it was, to discover that they disagreed. I have even known a
composite in which one portrait seemed unduly to prevail, to be
remade without the component in question, and the result to be much
the same as before, showing that the reason of the resemblance was
that the rejected portrait had a close approximation to the ideal
average picture of the rest.

These small composites give a better notion of the utmost capacity
of the process than the larger ones, from which they are reduced.
In the latter, the ghosts of individual peculiarities are more
visible, and usually the equal traces left by every member of a
moderately-sized group can be made out by careful inspection; but it
is hardly possible to do this in the pictures in the Plate, except
in a good light and in a very few of the cases. On the other hand,
the larger pictures do not contain more detail of value than the
smaller ones.


The medallion of Alexander the Great was made by combining the
images of six different medals, with a view of obtaining the type of
features that the makers of those medals concurred in desiring to
ascribe to him. The originals were kindly selected for me by Mr. R.
Stuart Poole from the collection in the British Museum. This
composite was one of the first I ever made, and is printed together
with its six components in the _Journal of the Royal Institution_,
in illustration of a lecture I gave there in April 1879. It seems to
me that it is possible on this principle to obtain a truer likeness
of a man than in any other way. Every artist makes mistakes; but by
combining the conscientious works of many artists, their separate
mistakes disappear, and what is common to all of their works remains.
So as regards different photographs of the same person, those
accidental momentary expressions are got rid of, which an ordinary
photograph made by a brief exposure cannot help recording. On the
other hand, any happy sudden trait of expression is lost. The
composite gives the features in repose.

The next pair of composites (full face and profile) on the Plate has
not been published before. The interest of the pair lies chiefly in
their having been made from only two components, and they show how
curiously even two faces that have a moderate family likeness will
blend into a single one. That neither of these predominated in the
present case will be learned from the following letter by the father
of the ladies, who is himself a photographer:--

"I am exceedingly obliged for the very curious and interesting
composite portraits of my two children. Knowing the faces so well,
it caused me quite a surprise when I opened your letter. I put one
of the full faces on the table for the mother to pick up casually.
She said, 'When did you do this portrait of A? how _like_ she is to B!
Or _is_ it B? I never thought they were so like before.'  It has
puzzled several people to say whether the profile was intended for A
or B. Then I tried one of them on a friend who has not seen the
girls for years. He said, 'Well, it is one of the family for certain,
but I don't know which.'"

[Illustration: ]

I have made several other family portraits, which to my eye seem
great successes, but must candidly own that the persons whose
portraits are blended together seldom seem to care much for the
result, except as a curiosity. We are all inclined to assert our
individuality, and to stand on our own basis, and to object to being
mixed up indiscriminately with others. The same feeling finds
expression when the resident in a suburban street insists on calling
his house a villa with some fantastic name, and refuses, so long as
he can, to call it simply Number so and so in the street.

The last picture in the upper row shows the easy way in which young
and old, male and female, combine to form an effective picture. The
components consist in this case of the father and mother, two sons,
and two daughters. I exhibited the original of this, together with
the portraits from which it was taken, at the Loan Photographic
Exhibition at the Society of Arts in February 1882. I also sent
copies of the original of this same composite to several amateur
photographers, with a circular letter asking them to get from me
family groups for the purpose of experiments, to see how far the
process was suitable for family portraiture.

The middle row of portraits illustrates health, disease, and
criminality. For health, I have combined the portraits of twelve
officers of the Royal Engineers with about an equal number of
privates, which were taken for me by Lieutenant Darwin, R.E. The
individuals from whom this composite was made, which has not come
out as clearly as I should have liked, differed considerably in
feature, and they came from various parts of England. The points they
had in common were the bodily and mental qualifications required for
admission into their select corps, and their generally British
descent. The result is a composite having an expression of
considerable vigour, resolution, intelligence, and frankness. I have
exhibited both this and others that were made respectively from the
officers, from the whole collection of privates--thirty-six in
number--and from that selected portion of them that is utilised in
the present instance.

This face and the qualities it connotes probably gives a clue to the
direction in which the stock of the English race might most easily
be improved. It is the essential notion of a race that there should
be some ideal typical form from which the individuals may deviate in
all directions, but about which they chiefly cluster, and towards
which their descendants will continue to cluster. The easiest
direction in which a race can be improved is towards that central
type, because nothing new has to be sought out. It is only necessary
to encourage as far as practicable the breed of those who conform
most nearly to the central type, and to restrain as far as may be
the breed of those who deviate widely from it. Now there can hardly
be a more appropriate method of discovering the central
physiognomical type of any race or group than that of composite

As a contrast to the composite of the Royal Engineers, I give those
of two of the coarse and low types of face found among the criminal
classes. The photographs from which they were made are taken from
two large groups. One are those of men undergoing severe sentences
for murder and other crimes connected with violence; the other of
thieves. They were reprints from those taken by order of the prison
authorities for purposes of identification. I was allowed to obtain
copies for use in my inquiries by the kind permission of Sir Edmund
Du Cane, H.M. Director of Prisons. The originals of these and their
components have frequently been exhibited. It is unhappily a fact
that fairly distinct types of criminals breeding true to their kind
have become established, and are one of the saddest disfigurements
of modern civilisation. To this subject I shall recur.

I have made numerous composites of various groups of convicts, which
are interesting negatively rather than positively. They produce
faces of a mean description, with no villainy written on them. The
individual faces are villainous enough, but they are villainous in
different ways, and when they are combined, the individual
peculiarities disappear, and the common humanity of a low type is all
that is left.

The remaining portraits are illustrations of the application of the
process to the study of the physiognomy of disease. They were
published a year ago with many others, together with several of
the portraits from which they were derived, in a joint memoir by
Dr. Mahomed and myself, in vol. xxv. of the _Guy's Hospital Reports_.
The originals and all the components have been exhibited on several

In the lower division of the Plate will be found three composites,
each made from a large number of faces, unselected, except on the
ground of the disease under which they were suffering. When only few
portraits are used, there must be some moderate resemblance between
them, or the result would be blurred; but here, dealing with as many
as 56, 100, and 50 cases respectively, the combination of any medley
group results in an ideal expression.

It will be observed that the composite of 56 female faces is made by
the blending of two other composites, both of which are given. The
history was this--I took the 56 portraits and sorted them into two
groups; in the first of these were 20 portraits that showed a
tendency to thin features, in the other group there were 36 that
showed a tendency to thickened features. I made composites of each
of them as shown in the Plate. Now it will be remarked that,
notwithstanding the attempt to make two contrasted groups, the
number of mediocre cases was so great that the composities of the
two groups are much alike. If I had divided the 56 into two
haphazard groups, the results would have been closely alike, as I
know from abundant experience of the kind. The co-composite of the
two will be observed to have an intermediate expression. The test
and measure of statistical truth lies in the degree of accordance
between results obtained from different batches of instances of the
same generic class. It will be gathered from these instances that
composite portraiture may attain statistical constancy, within
limits not easily distinguished by the eye, after some 30 haphazard
portraits of the same class have been combined. This at least has
been my experience thus far.

The two faces illustrative of the same type of tubercular disease
are very striking; the uppermost is photographically interesting as
a case of predominance of one peculiarity, happily of no harm to the
effect of the ideal wan face. It is that one of the patients had a
sharply-checked black and white scarf, whose pattern has asserted
itself unduly in the composite. In such cases I ought to throw the
too clearly defined picture a little out of focus. The way in which
the varying brightness of different pictures is reduced to a uniform
standard of illumination is described in the Appendix.

It must be clearly understood that these portraits do not profess to
give the whole story of the physiognomy of phthisis. I have not room
to give illustrations of other types--namely, that with coarse and
blunted features, or the strumous one, nor any of the intermediates.
These have been discussed chiefly by Dr. Mahomed in the memoir
alluded to above.

In the large experience I have had of sorting photographs, literally
by the thousand, while making experiments with composites, I have
been struck by certain general impressions. The consumptive patients
consisted of many hundred cases, including a considerable proportion
of very ignoble specimens of humanity. Some were scrofulous and
misshapen, or suffered from various loathsome forms of inherited
disease; most were ill nourished. Nevertheless, in studying their
portraits the pathetic interest prevailed, and I returned day after
day to my tedious work of classification, with a liking for my
materials. It was quite otherwise with the criminals. I did not
adequately appreciate the degradation of their expressions for some
time; at last the sense of it took firm hold of me, and I cannot now
handle the portraits without overcoming by an effort the aversion
they suggest.

I am sure that the method of composite portraiture opens a fertile
field of research to ethnologists, but I find it very difficult to
do much single-handed, on account of the difficulty of obtaining the
necessary materials. As a rule, the individuals must be specially
photographed. The portraits made by artists are taken in every
conceivable aspect and variety of light and shade, but for the
purpose in question the aspect and the shade must be the same
throughout. Group portraits would do to work from, were it not for
the strong out-of-door light under which they are necessarily taken,
which gives an unwonted effect to the expression of the faces. Their
scale also is too small to give a sufficiently clear picture when
enlarged. I may say that the scale of the portraits need not be
uniform, as my apparatus enlarges or reduces as required, at the
same time that it superposes the images; but the portraits of the
heads should never be less than twice the size of that of the Queen
on a halfpenny piece.

I heartily wish that amateur photographers would seriously take up
the subject of composite portraiture as applied to different
sub-types of the varying races of men. I have already given more
time to perfecting the process and experimenting with it than I can
well spare.


The differences in the bodily qualities that are the usual subjects
of anthropometry are easily dealt with, and are becoming widely
registered in many countries. We are unfortunately destitute of
trustworthy measurements of Englishmen of past generations to enable
us to compare class with class, and to learn how far the several
sections of the English nation may be improving or deteriorating. We
shall, however, hand useful information concerning our own times to
our successors, thanks principally to the exertions of an
Anthropometric Committee established five years ago by the British
Association, who have collected and partly classified and published
a large amount of facts, besides having induced several institutions,
such as Marlborough College, to undertake a regular system of
anthropometric record. I am not, however, concerned here with the
labours of this committee, nor with the separate valuable
publications of some of its members, otherwise than in one small
particular which appears to show that the English population as a
whole, or perhaps I should say the urban portion of it, is in some
sense deteriorating. It is that the average stature of the older
persons measured by or for the committee has not been found to
decrease steadily with their age, but sometimes the reverse.[1] This
contradicts observations made on the heights of the same men at
different periods, whose stature after middle age is invariably
reduced by the shrinking of the cartilages. The explanation offered
was that the statistical increase of stature with age should be
ascribed to the survival of the more stalwart. On reconsideration, I
am inclined to doubt the adequacy of the explanation, and partly to
account for the fact by a steady, slight deterioration of stature in
successive years; in the urban population owing to the conditions of
their lives, and in the rural population owing to the continual
draining away of the more stalwart of them to the towns.

It cannot be doubted that town life is harmful to the town population.
I have myself investigated its effect on fertility (see Appendix B),
and found that taking on the one hand a number of rural parishes,
and on the other hand the inhabitants of a medium town, the former
reared, nearly twice as many adult grandchildren as the latter. The
vital functions are so closely related that an inferiority in the
production of healthy children very probably implies a loss of
vigour generally, one sign of which is a diminution of stature.

Though the bulk of the population may deteriorate, there are many
signs that the better housed and fed portion of it improves. In the
earlier years of this century the so-called manly sports of boxing
and other feats of strength ranked high among the national amusements.
A man who was [1] successful in these became the hero of a large and
demonstrative circle of admirers, and it is to be presumed that the
best boxer, the best pedestrian, and so forth, was the best adapted
to succeed, through his natural physical gifts. If he was not the
most gifted man in those respects in the whole kingdom, he was
certainly one of the most gifted of them. It therefore does no
injustice to the men of that generation to compare the feats of
their foremost athletes with those of ours who occupy themselves in
the same way. The comparison would probably err in their favour,
because the interest in the particular feats in which our
grandfathers and great-grandfathers delighted are not those that
chiefly interest the present generation, and notwithstanding our
increased population, there are fewer men now who attempt them. In
the beginning of this century there were many famous walking matches,
and incomparably the best walker was Captain Barclay of Ury. His
paramount feat, which was once very familiar to the elderly men of
the present time, was that of walking a thousand miles in a thousand
hours, but of late years that feat has been frequently equalled and
overpassed. I am willing to allow much influence to the modern
conditions of walking under shelter and subject to improved methods
of training (Captain Barclay himself originated the first method,
which has been greatly improved since his time); still the fact
remains that in executing this particular feat, the athletes of the
present day are more successful than those who lived some eighty
years ago. I may be permitted to give an example bearing on the
increased stature of the better housed and fed portion of the nation,
in a recollection of my own as to the difference in height between
myself and my fellow-collegians at Trinity College, Cambridge, in
1840-4. My height is 5 feet 9-3/4 inches, and I recollect perfectly
that among the crowd of undergraduates I stood somewhat taller than
the majority. I generally looked a little downward when I met their
eyes. In later years, whenever I have visited Cambridge, I have
lingered in the ante-chapel and repeated the comparison, and now I
find myself decidedly shorter than the average of the students. I
have precisely the same kind of recollection and the same present
experience of the height of crowds of well-dressed persons. I used
always to get a fair view of what was going on over or between their
heads; I rarely can do so now.

[Footnote 1: _Trans. Brit. Assoc_., 1881, Table V., p. 242; and
remarks by Mr. Roberts, p. 235.]

The athletic achievements at school and college are much superior to
what they used to be. Part is no doubt due to more skilful methods
of execution, but not all. I cannot doubt that the more wholesome
and abundant food, the moderation in drink, the better cooking, the
warmer wearing apparel, the airier sleeping rooms, the greater
cleanliness, the more complete change in holidays, and the healthier
lives led by the women in their girlhood, who become mothers
afterwards, have a great influence for good on the favoured portion
of our race.

The proportion of weakly and misshapen individuals is not to be
estimated by those whom we meet in the streets; the worst cases are
out of sight. We should parade before our mind's eye the inmates of
the lunatic, idiot, and pauper asylums, the prisoners, the patients
in hospitals, the sufferers at home, the crippled, and the
congenitally blind, and that large class of more or less wealthy
persons who flee to the sunnier coasts of England, or expatriate
themselves for the chance of life. There can hardly be a sadder
sight than the crowd of delicate English men and women with narrow
chests and weak chins, scrofulous, and otherwise gravely affected,
who are to be found in some of these places. Even this does not tell
the whole of the story; if there were a conscription in England, we
should find, as in other countries, that a large fraction of the men
who earn their living by sedentary occupations are unfit for
military service. Our human civilised stock is far more weakly
through congenital imperfection than that of any other species of
animals, whether wild or domestic.

It is, however, by no means the most shapely or the biggest
personages who endure hardship the best. Some very shabby-looking
men have extraordinary stamina. Sickly-looking and puny residents in
towns may have a more suitable constitution for the special
conditions of their lives, and may in some sense be better knit and
do more work and live longer than much haler men imported to the
same locality from elsewhere. A wheel and a barrel seem to have the
flimsiest possible constitutions; they consist of numerous separate
pieces all oddly shaped, which, when lying in a heap, look
hopelessly unfitted for union; but put them properly together,
compress them with a tire in the one case and with hoops in the other,
and a remarkably enduring organisation will result. A wheel with a
ton weight on the top of it in the waggons of South Africa will jolt
for thousands of miles over stony, roadless country without
suffering harm; a keg of water may be strapped on the back of a
pack-ox or a mule, and be kicked off and trampled on, and be
otherwise misused for years, without giving way.

I do not propose to enter further into the anthropometric
differences of race, for the subject is a very large one, and this
book does not profess to go into detail. Its intention is to touch
on various topics more or less connected with that of the
cultivation of race, or, as we might call it, with "eugenic" [1]
questions, and to present the results of several of my own separate


Energy is the capacity for labour. It is consistent with all the
robust virtues, and makes a large practice of them possible. It is
the measure of fulness of life; the more energy the more abundance
of it; no energy at all is death; idiots are feeble and listless. In
the inquiries I made on the antecedents of men of science no points
came out more strongly than that the leaders of scientific thought
were generally gifted with remarkable energy, and that they had
[2] inherited the gift of it from their parents and grandparents. I
have since found the same to be the case in other careers.

[Footnote 2: That is, with questions bearing on what is termed in
Greek, _eugenes_, namely, good in stock, hereditarily endowed with
noble qualities. This, and the allied words, _eugeneia_, etc., are
equally applicable to men, brutes, and plants. We greatly want a
brief word to express the science of improving stock, which is by no
means confined to questions of judicious mating, but which,
especially in the case of man, takes cognisance of all influences
that tend in however remote a degree to give to the more suitable
races or strains of blood a better chance of prevailing speedily
over the less suitable than they otherwise would have had. The word
_eugenics_ would sufficiently express the idea; it is at least a
neater word and a more generalised one than _viriculture_, which I
once ventured to use.]

Energy is an attribute of the higher races, being favoured beyond
all other qualities by natural selection. We are goaded into
activity by the conditions and struggles of life. They afford
stimuli that oppress and worry the weakly, who complain and bewail,
and it may be succumb to them, but which the energetic man welcomes
with a good-humoured shrug, and is the better for in the end.

The stimuli may be of any description: the only important matter is
that all the faculties should be kept working to prevent their
perishing by disuse. If the faculties are few, very simple stimuli
will suffice. Even that of fleas will go a long way. A dog is
continually scratching himself, and a bird pluming itself, whenever
they are not occupied with food, hunting, fighting, or love. In
those blank times there is very little for them to attend to besides
their varied cutaneous irritations. It is a matter of observation
that well washed and combed domestic pets grow dull; they miss the
stimulus of fleas. If animals did not prosper through the agency of
their insect plagues, it seems probable that their races would long
since have been so modified that their bodies should have ceased to
afford a pasture-ground for parasites.

It does not seem to follow that because men are capable of doing
hard work they like it. Some, indeed, fidget and fret if they cannot
otherwise work off their superfluous steam; but on the other hand
there are many big lazy fellows who will not get up their steam to
full pressure except under compulsion. Again, the character of the
stimulus that induces hard work differs greatly in different persons;
it may be wealth, ambition, or other object of passion. The solitary
hard workers, under no encouragement or compulsion except their
sense of duty to their generation, are unfortunately still rare
among us.

It may be objected that if the race were too healthy and energetic
there would be insufficient call for the exercise of the pitying and
self-denying virtues, and the character of men would grow harder in
consequence. But it does not seem reasonable to preserve sickly
breeds for the sole purpose of tending them, as the breed of foxes
is preserved solely for sport and its attendant advantages. There is
little fear that misery will ever cease from the land, or that the
compassionate will fail to find objects for their compassion; but at
present the supply vastly exceeds the demand: the land is
overstocked and overburdened with the listless and the incapable.

In any scheme of eugenics, energy is the most important quality to
favour; it is, as we have seen, the basis of living action, and it
is eminently transmissible by descent.


The only information that reaches us concerning outward events
appears to pass through the avenue of our senses; and the more
perceptive the senses are of difference, the larger is the field
upon which our judgment and intelligence can act. Sensation mounts
through a series of grades of "just perceptible differences." It
starts from the zero of consciousness, and it becomes more intense
as the stimulus increases (though at a slower rate) up to the point
when the stimulus is so strong as to begin to damage the nerve
apparatus. It then yields place to pain, which is another form of
sensation, and which continues until the nerve apparatus is destroyed.
Two persons may be equally able just to hear the same faint sound,
and they may equally begin to be pained by the same loud sound, and
yet they may differ as to the number of intermediate grades of
sensation. The grades will be less numerous as the organisation is
of a lower order, and the keenest sensation possible to it will in
consequence be less intense. An artist who is capable of
discriminating more differences of tint than another man is not
necessarily more capable of seeing clearly in twilight, or more or
less intolerant of sunshine. A musician is not necessarily able to
hear very faint sounds, nor to be more startled by loud sounds than
others are. A mechanic who works hard with heavy tools and has rough
and grimy thumbs, insensible to very slight pressures, may yet have
a singularly discriminating power of touch in respect to the
pressures that he can feel.

The discriminative faculty of idiots is curiously low; they hardly
distinguish between heat and cold, and their sense of pain is so
obtuse that some of the more idiotic seem hardly to know what it is.
In their dull lives, such pain as can be excited in them may
literally be accepted with a welcome surprise. During a visit to
Earlswood Asylum I saw two boys whose toe-nails had grown into the
flesh and had been excised by the surgeon. This is a horrible
torture to ordinary persons, but the idiot lads were said to have
shown no distress during the operation; it was not necessary to hold
them, and they looked rather interested at what was being done.
[1] I also saw a boy with the scar of a severe wound on his wrist;
the story being that he had first burned himself slightly by accident,
and, liking the keenness of the new sensation, he took the next
opportunity of repeating the experience, but, idiot-like, he overdid

The trials I have as yet made on the sensitivity of different
persons confirms the reasonable expectation that it would on the
whole be highest among the intellectually ablest. At first, owing to
my confusing the quality of which I am speaking with that of nervous
irritability, I fancied that women of delicate nerves who are
distressed by noise, sunshine, etc., would have acute powers of
discrimination. But this I found not to be the case. In morbidly
sensitive persons both pain and sensation are induced by lower
stimuli than in the healthy, but the number of just perceptible
grades of sensation between them is not necessarily different.

I found as a rule that men have more delicate powers of
discrimination than women, and the business experience of life seems
to confirm this view. The tuners of pianofortes are men, and so I
understand are the tasters of tea and wine, the sorters of wool, and
the like. These latter occupations are well salaried, because it is
of the first moment to the merchant that he should be rightly advised
on the real value of what he is about to purchase or to sell. If the
sensitivity of women were superior to that of men, the self-interest
of merchants would lead to their being [3] always employed; but as
the reverse is the case, the opposite supposition is likely to be
the true one.

[Footnote 3: See "Remarks on Idiocy," by E.W. Graham, M. D.,
_Medical Journal_, January 16, 1875.]

Ladies rarely distinguish the merits of wine at the dinner-table,
and though custom allows them to preside at the breakfast-table, men
think them on the whole to be far from successful makers of tea and

Blind persons are reputed to have acquired in compensation for the
loss of their eyesight an increased acuteness in their other senses;
I was therefore curious to make some trials with my test apparatus,
which I will describe in the next chapter. I was permitted to do so
on a number of boys at a large educational blind asylum, but found
that, although they were anxious to do their best, their performances
were by no means superior to those of other boys. It so happened
that the blind lads who showed the most delicacy of touch and won
the little prizes I offered to excite emulation, barely reached the
mediocrity of the various sighted lads of the same age whom I had
previously tested. I have made not a few observations and inquiries,
and find that the guidance of the blind depends mainly on the
multitude of collateral indications to which they give much heed,
and not in their superior sensitivity to any one of them. Those who
see do not care for so many of these collateral indications, and
habitually overlook and neglect several of them. I am convinced also
that not a little of the popular belief concerning the sensitivity
of the blind is due to exaggerated claims on their part that have
not been verified. Two instances of this have fallen within my own
experience, in both of which the blind persons claimed to have the
power of judging by the echo of their voice and by certain other
feelings, the one when they were approaching objects, even though
the object was so small as a handrail, and the other to tell how far
the door of the room in which he was standing was open. I used all
the persuasion I could to induce each of these persons to allow me
to put their assertions to the test; but it was of no use. The one
made excuses, the other positively refused. They had probably the
same tendency that others would have who happened to be defective in
any faculty that their comrades possessed, to fight bravely against
their disadvantage, and at the same time to be betrayed into some
overvaunting of their capacities in other directions. They would be
a little conscious of this, and would therefore shrink from being

The power of reading by touch is not so very wonderful. A former
Lord Chancellor of England, the late Lord Hatherley, when he was
advanced in years, lost his eyesight for some time owing to a
cataract, which was not ripe to be operated on. He assured me that
he had then learned and practised reading by touch very rapidly.
This fact may perhaps also serve as additional evidence of the
sensitivity of able men.

Notwithstanding many travellers' tales, I have thus far been
unsuccessful in obtaining satisfactory evidence of any general large
superiority of the senses of savages over those of civilised men. My
own experience, so far as it goes, of Hottentots, Damaras, and some
other wild races, went to show that their sense discrimination was
not superior to those of white men, even as regards keenness of
eyesight. An offhand observer is apt to err by assigning to a single
cause what is partly due to others as well. Thus, as regards eyesight,
a savage who is accustomed to watch oxen grazing at a distance
becomes so familiar with their appearance and habits that he can
identify particular animals and draw conclusions as to what they are
doing with an accuracy that may seem to strangers to be wholly
dependent on exceptional acuteness of vision. A sailor has the
reputation of keen sight because he sees a distant coast when a
landsman cannot make it out; the fact being that the landsman
usually expects a different appearance to what he has really to look
for, such as a very minute and sharp outline instead of a large,
faint blur. In a short time a landsman becomes quite as quick as a
sailor, and in some test experiments[1] he was found on the average
to be distinctly the superior. It is not surprising that this should
be so, as sailors in vessels of moderate size have hardly ever the
practice of focussing their eyes sharply upon objects farther off
than the length of the vessel or the top of the mast, say at a
distance of fifty paces. The horizon itself as seen from the deck,
[4] and under the most favourable circumstances, is barely four
miles off, and there is no sharpness of outline in the intervening
waves. Besides this, the life of a sailor is very unhealthy, as
shown by his growing old prematurely, and his eyes must be much
tried by foul weather and salt spray.

[Footnote 4: Gould's _Military and Anthropological Statistics_, p.
530. New York, 1869.]

We inherit our language from barbarous ancestors, and it shows
traces of its origin in the imperfect ways by which grades of
difference admit of being expressed. Suppose a pedestrian is asked
whether the knapsack on his back feels heavy. He cannot find a reply
in two words that cover more varieties than (1) very heavy, (2)
rather heavy, (3) moderate, (4) rather light, (5) very light. I once
took considerable pains in the attempt to draw up verbal scales of
more than five orders of magnitude, using those expressions only
that every cultivated person would understand in the same sense; but
I did not succeed. A series that satisfied one person was not
interpreted in the same sense by another.

The general intention of this chapter has been to show that a
delicate power of sense discrimination is an attribute of a high race,
and that it has not the drawback of being necessarily associated
with nervous irritability.


I will now describe an apparatus I have constructed to test the
delicacy with which weights may be discriminated by handling them. I
do so because the principle on which it is based may be adopted in
apparatus for testing other senses, and its description and the
conditions of its use will illustrate the desiderata and
difficulties of all such investigations.

A series of test weights is a simple enough idea--the difficulty
lies in determining the particular sequence of weights that should
be employed. Mine form a geometric series, for the reason that when
stimuli of all kinds increase by geometric grades the sensations
they give rise to will increase by arithmetic grades, so long as the
stimulus is neither so weak as to be barely felt, nor so strong as
to excite fatigue. My apparatus, which is explained more fully in the
Appendix, consists of a number of common gun cartridge cases filled
with alternate layers of shot, wool, and wadding, and then closed in
the usual way. They are all identical in appearance, and may be said
to differ only in their specific gravities. They are marked in
numerical sequence with the register numbers, 1, 2, 3, etc., but
their weights are proportioned to the numbers of which 1, 2, 3, etc.,
are the logarithms, and consequently run in a geometric series.
Hence the numbers of the weights form a scale of equal degrees of
sensitivity. If a person can just distinguish between the weights
numbered 1 and 3, he can also just distinguish between 2 and 4, 3 and
5, and any other pair of weights of which the register number of
the one exceeds that of the other by 2. Again, his coarseness of
discrimination is exactly double of that of another person who can
just distinguish pairs of weights differing only by 1, such as 1 and
2, 2 and 3, 3 and 4, and so on. The testing is performed by handing
pairs of weights to the operatee until his power of discrimination
is approximately made out, and then to proceed more carefully. It is
best now, for reasons stated in the Appendix, to hand to the
operatee sequences of three weights at a time, after shuffling them.
These he has to arrange in their proper order, with his eyes shut,
and by the sense of their weight alone. The operator finally records
the scale interval that the operatee can just appreciate, as being
the true measure of the coarseness (or the inverse measure of the
delicacy) of the sensitivity of the operatee.

It is somewhat tedious to test many persons in succession, but any
one can test his own powers at odd and end times with ease and nicety,
if he happens to have ready access to suitable apparatus.

The use of tests, which, objectively speaking, run in a geometric
series, and subjectively in an arithmetic one, may be applied to
touch, by the use of wire-work of various degrees of fineness; to
taste, by stock bottles of solutions of salt, etc., of various
strengths; to smell, by bottles of attar of rose, etc., in various
degrees of dilution.

The tests show the sensitivity at the time they are made, and give
an approximate measure of the discrimination with which the operatee
habitually employs his senses. It does not measure his capacity for
discrimination, because the discriminative faculty admits of much
education, and the test results always show increased delicacy after
a little practice. However, the requirements of everyday life
educate all our faculties in some degree, and I have not found the
performances with test weights to improve much after a little
familiarity with their use. The weights have, as it were, to be
played with at first, then they must be tried carefully on three or
four separate occasions.

I did not at first find it at all an easy matter to make test
weights so alike as to differ in no other appreciable respect than
in their specific gravity, and if they differ and become known apart,
the knowledge so acquired will vitiate future judgments in various
indirect ways. Similarity in outward shape and touch was ensured by
the use of mechanically-made cartridge cases; dissimilarity through
any external stain was rendered of no hindrance to the experiment by
making the operatee handle them in a bag or with his eyes shut. Two
bodies may, however, be alike in weight and outward appearance and
yet behave differently when otherwise mechanically tested, and,
consequently, when they are handled. For example, take two eggs, one
raw and the other hard boiled, and spin them on the table; press the
finger for a moment upon either of them whilst it is still spinning:
if it be the hard-boiled egg it will stop as dead as a stone: if it
be the raw egg, after a little apparent hesitation, it will begin
again to rotate. The motion of its shell had alone been stopped; the
internal part was still rotating and this compelled the shell to
follow it. Owing to this cause, when we handle the two eggs, the one
feels "quick" and the other does not. Similarly with the cartridges,
when one is rather more loosely packed than the others the
difference is perceived on handling them. Or it may have one end
heavier than the other, or else its weight may not be equally
distributed round its axis, causing it to rest on the table with the
same part always lowermost; differences due to these causes are also
easily perceived when handling the cartridges. Again, one of two
similar cartridges may balance perfectly in all directions, but the
weight of one of them may be disposed too much towards the ends, as
in a dumb-bell, or gathered too much towards the centre. The period
of oscillation will differ widely in the two cases, as may be shown
by suspending the cartridges by strings round their middle so that
they shall hang horizontally, and then by a slight tap making them
spin to and fro round the string as an axis.

The touch is very keen in distinguishing all these peculiarities. I
have mentioned them, and might have added more, to show that
experiments on sensitivity have to be made in the midst of pitfalls
warily to be avoided. Our apparently simplest perceptions are very
complex. We hardly ever act on the information given by only one
element of one sense, and our sensitivity in any desired direction
cannot be rightly determined except by carefully-devised apparatus
judiciously used.


I contrived a small whistle for conveniently ascertaining the upper
limits of audible sound in different persons, which Dr. Wollaston
had shown to vary considerably. He used small pipes, and found much
difficulty in making them. I made a very small whistle from a brass
tube whose internal diameter was less than one-tenth of an inch in
diameter. A plug was fitted into the lower end of the tube, which
could be pulled out or pushed in as much as desired, thereby causing
the length of the bore of the whistle to be varied at will. When the
bore is long the note is low; when short, it is high. The plug was
graduated, so that the precise note produced by the whistle could be
determined by reading off the graduations and referring to a table.
(See Appendix.)

On testing different persons, I found there was a remarkable falling
off in the power of hearing high notes as age advanced. The persons
themselves were quite unconscious of their deficiency so long as
their sense of hearing low notes remained unimpaired. It is an only
too amusing experiment to test a party of persons of various ages,
including some rather elderly and self-satisfied personages. They
are indignant at being thought deficient in the power of hearing, yet
the experiment quickly shows that they are absolutely deaf to shrill
notes which the younger persons hear acutely, and they commonly
betray much dislike to the discovery. Every one has his limit, and
the limit at which sounds become too shrill to be audible to any
particular person can be rapidly determined by this little instrument.
Lord Rayleigh and others have found that sensitive flames are
powerfully affected by the vibrations of whistles that are too rapid
to be audible to ordinary ears.

I have tried experiments with all kinds of animals on their
powers of hearing shrill notes. I have gone through the whole
of the Zoological Gardens, using an apparatus arranged for the
purpose. It consists of one of my little whistles at the end of a
walking-stick--that is, in reality, a long tube; it has a bit of
india-rubber pipe under the handle, a sudden squeeze upon which
forces a little air into the whistle and causes it to sound. I hold
it as near as is safe to the ears of the animals, and when they are
quite accustomed to its presence and heedless of it, I make it sound;
then if they prick their ears it shows that they hear the whistle; if
they do not, it is probably inaudible to them. Still, it is very
possible that in some cases they hear but do not heed the sound. Of
all creatures, I have found none superior to cats in the power of
hearing shrill sounds; it is perfectly remarkable what a faculty
they have in this way. Cats, of course, have to deal in the dark
with mice, and to find them out by their squealing. Many people
cannot hear the shrill squeal of a mouse. Some time ago, singing
mice were exhibited in London, and of the people who went to hear
them, some could hear nothing, whilst others could hear a little, and
others again could hear much. Cats are differentiated by natural
selection until they have a power of hearing all the high notes made
by mice and other little creatures that they have to catch. A cat
that is at a very considerable distance, can be made to turn its ear
round by sounding a note that is too shrill to be audible by almost
any human ear. Small dogs also hear very shrill notes, but large
ones do not. I have walked through the streets of a town with an
instrument like that which I used in the Zoological Gardens, and
made nearly all the little dogs turn round, but not the large ones.
At Berne, where there appear to be more large dogs lying idly about
the streets than in any other town in Europe, I have tried the
whistle for hours together, on a great many large dogs, but could
not find one that heard it. Ponies are sometimes able to hear very
high notes. I once frightened a pony with one of these whistles in
the middle of a large field. My attempts on insect hearing have been


When shall we have anthropometric laboratories, where a man may,
when he pleases, get himself and his children weighed, measured, and
rightly photographed, and have their bodily faculties tested by the
best methods known to modern science? The records of growth of
numerous persons from childhood to age are required before it can be
possible to rightly appraise the effect of external conditions upon
development, and records of this kind are at present non-existent.
The various measurements should be accompanied by photographic
studies of the features in full face and in profile, and on the same
scale, for convenience of comparison.

We are all lazy in recording facts bearing on ourselves, but parents
are glad enough to do so in respect to their children, and they
would probably be inclined to avail themselves of a laboratory where
all that is required could be done easily and at small cost. These
domestic records would hereafter become of considerable biographical
interest. Every one of us in his mature age would be glad of a series
of pictures of himself from childhood onwards, accompanied by
physical records, and arranged consecutively with notes of current
events by their sides. Much more would he be glad of similar
collections referring to his father, mother, grandparents, and other
near relatives. It would be peculiarly grateful to the young to
possess likenesses of their parents and those whom they look upon as
heroes, taken when they were of the same age as themselves. Boys are
too apt to think of their parents as having always been elderly men,
because they have insufficient data to construct imaginary pictures
of them as they were in their youth.

The cost of taking photographs in batches is so small, and the time
occupied is so brief, when the necessary preparations have been made
and the sitters are ready at hand, that a practice of methodically
photographing schoolboys and members of other large institutions
might easily be established. I, for one, should dearly prize the
opportunity of visiting the places where I have been educated, and
of turning over pages showing myself and my companions as we were in
those days. But no such records exist; the institutions last and
flourish, the individuals who pass through them are dispersed and
leave few or no memorials behind. It seems a cruel waste of
opportunity not to make and keep these brief personal records in a
methodical manner. The fading of ordinary photographic prints is no
real objection to keeping a register, because they can now be
reproduced at small charge in permanent printers' ink, by the
autotype and other processes.

I have seen with admiration, and have had an opportunity of availing
myself of, the newly-established library of well-ordered folios at
the Admiralty, each containing a thousand pages, and each page
containing a brief summary of references to the life of a particular
seaman. There are already 80,000 pages, and owing to the excellent
organisation of the office it is a matter of perfect ease to follow
out any one of these references, and to learn every detail of the
service of any seaman. A brief register of measurements and events in
the histories of a large number of persons, previous to their
entering any institution and during their residence in it, need not
therefore be a difficult matter to those who may take it in hand
seriously and methodically.

The recommendation I would venture to make to my readers is to
obtain photographs and ordinary measurements periodically of
themselves and their children, making it a family custom to do so,
because, unless driven by some custom, the act will be postponed
until the opportunity is lost. Let those periodical photographs be
full and side views of the face on an adequate scale, adding any
others that may be wished, but not omitting these. As the portraits
accumulate have collections of them autotyped. Keep the prints
methodically in a family register, writing by their side careful
chronicles of illness and all such events as used to find a place on
the fly-leaf of the Bible of former generations, and inserting other
interesting personal facts and whatever anthropometric data can be

Those who care to initiate and carry on a family chronicle
illustrated by abundant photographic portraiture, will produce a
work that they and their children and their descendants in more
remote generations will assuredly be grateful for. The family tie
has a real as well as a traditional significance. The world is
beginning to awaken to the fact that the life of the individual is
in some real sense a prolongation of those of his ancestry. His
vigour, his character, and his diseases are principally derived from
theirs; sometimes his faculties are blends of ancestral qualities;
but more frequently they are mosaics, patches of resemblance to one
or other of them showing now here and now there. The life-histories
of our relatives are prophetic of our own futures; they are far more
instructive to us than those of strangers, far more fitted to
encourage and to forewarn us. If there be such a thing as a natural
birthright, I can conceive of none superior to the right of the
child to be informed, at first by proxy through his guardians, and
afterwards personally, of the life-history, medical and other, of
his ancestry. The child is thrust into existence without his having
any voice at all in the matter, and the smallest amend that those
who brought him here can make, is to furnish him with all the
guidance they can, including the complete life-histories of his near

The investigation of human eugenics--that is, of the conditions
under which men of a high type are produced--is at present extremely
hampered by the want of full family histories, both medical and
general, extending over three or four generations. There is no such
difficulty in investigating animal eugenics, because the generations
of horses, cattle, dogs, etc., are brief, and the breeder of any
such stock lives long enough to acquire a large amount of experience
from his own personal observation. A man, however, can rarely be
familiar with more than two or three generations of his
contemporaries before age has begun to check his powers; his working
experience must therefore be chiefly based upon records. Believing,
as I do, that human eugenics will become recognised before long as a
study of the highest practical importance, it seems to me that no
time ought to be lost in encouraging and directing a habit of
compiling personal and family histories. If the necessary materials
be brought into existence, it will require no more than zeal and
persuasiveness on the part of the future investigator to collect as
large a store of them as he may require.


The importance of submitting our faculties to measurement lies in
the curious unconsciousness in which we are apt to live of our
personal peculiarities, and which our intimate friends often fail to
remark. I have spoken of the ignorance of elderly persons of their
deafness to high notes, but even the existence of such a peculiarity
as colour blindness was not suspected until the memoir of Dalton in
1794. That one person out of twenty-nine or thereabouts should be
unable to distinguish a red from a green, without knowing that he
had any deficiency of colour sense, and without betraying his
deficiency to his friends, seems perfectly incredible to the other
twenty-eight; yet as a matter of fact he rarely does either the one
or the other. It is hard to convince the colour-blind of their own
infirmity. I have seen curious instances of this: one was that of a
person by no means unpractised in physical research, who had been
himself tested in matching colours. He gave me his own version of
the result, to the effect that though he might perhaps have fallen a
little short of perfection as judged by over-refined tests, his
colour sense was for all practical purposes quite good. On the other
hand, the operator assured me that when he had toned the intensities
of a pure red and a pure green in a certain proportion, the person
ceased to be able to distinguish between them! Colour blindness is
often very difficult to detect, because the test hues and tints may
be discriminated by other means than by the normal colour sense.
Ordinary pigments are never pure, and the test colours may be
distinguished by those of their adventitious hues to which the
partly colour-blind man may be sensitive. We do not suspect
ourselves to be yellow-blind by candle light, because we enjoy
pictures in the evening nearly or perhaps quite as much as in the day
time; yet we may observe that a yellow primrose laid on the white
table-cloth wholly loses its colour by candle light, and becomes as
white as a snowdrop.

In the inquiries I made on the hereditary transmission of capacity,
I was often amused by the naïve remark of men who had easily
distanced their competitors, that they ascribed their success to
their own exertions. They little recognised how much they owed to
their natural gifts of exceptional capacity and energy on the one
hand, and of exceptional love for their special work on the other.

In future chapters I shall give accounts of persons who have unusual
mental characteristics as regards imagery, visualised numerals,
colours connected with sounds and special associations of ideas,
being unconscious of their peculiarities; but I cannot anticipate
these subjects here, as they all require explanation. It will be
seen in the end how greatly metaphysicians and psychologists may err,
who assume their own mental operations, instincts, and axioms to be
identical with those of the rest of mankind, instead of being
special to themselves. The differences between men are profound, and
we can only be saved from living in blind unconsciousness of our own
mental peculiarities by the habit of informing ourselves as well as
we can of those of others. Examples of the success with which this
can be done will be found farther on in the book.

I may take this opportunity of remarking on the well-known
hereditary character of colour blindness in connection with the fact,
that it is nearly twice as prevalent among the Quakers as among the
rest of the community, the proportions being as 5.9 to 3.5 per cent.
[1] We might have expected an even larger ratio. Nearly every Quaker
is descended on both sides solely from members of a group of men and
women who segregated themselves from the rest of the world five or
six generations ago; one of their strongest opinions being that the
fine arts were worldly snares, and their most conspicuous practice
being to dress in drabs. A born artist could never have consented to
separate himself from his fellows on such grounds; he would have
felt the profession of those opinions [5] and their accompanying
practices to be a treason to his aesthetic nature. Consequently few
of the original stock of Quakers are likely to have had the
temperament that is associated with a love for colour, and it is in
consequence most reasonable to believe that a larger proportion of
colour-blind men would have been found among them than among the
rest of the population.

[Footnote 5: _Trans. Ophthalmological Soc_., 1881, p. 198.]

Again, Quakerism is a decreasing sect, weakened by yearly desertions
and losses, especially as the act of marriage with a person who is
not a member of the Society is necessarily followed by exclusion
from it. It is most probable that a large proportion of the
deserters would be those who, through reversion to some bygone
ancestor, had sufficient artistic taste to make a continuance of
Quaker practices too irksome to be endured. Hence the existing
members of the Society of Friends are a race who probably contained
in the first instance an unduly large proportion of colour-blind men,
and from whose descendants many of those who were not born colour
blind have year by year been drafted away. Both causes must have
combined with the already well-known tendency of colour blindness to
hereditary transmission, to cause it to become a characteristic of
their race. Dalton, who first discovered its existence, as a
personal peculiarity of his own, was a Quaker to his death; Young,
the discoverer of the undulatory theory of light, and who wrote
specially on colours, was a Quaker by birth, but he married outside
the body and so ceased to belong to it.


The object of statistical science is to discover methods of
condensing information concerning large groups of allied facts into
brief and compendious expressions suitable for discussion. The
possibility of doing this is based on the constancy and continuity
with which objects of the same species are found to vary. That is to
say, we always find, after sorting any large number of such objects
in the order (let us suppose) of their lengths, beginning with the
shortest and ending with the tallest, and setting them side by side
like a long row of park palings between the same limits, their upper
outline will be identical. Moreover, it will run smoothly and not in
irregular steps. The theoretical interpretation of the smoothness of
outline is that the individual differences in the objects are caused
by different combinations of a large number of minute influences; and
as the difference between any two adjacent objects in a long row
must depend on the absence in one of them of some single influence,
or of only a few such, that were present in the other, the amount of
difference will be insensible. Whenever we find on trial that the
outline of the row is not a flowing curve, the presumption is that
the objects are not all of the same species, but that part are
affected by some large influence from which the others are free;
consequently there is a confusion of curves. This presumption is
never found to be belied.

It is unfortunate for the peace of mind of the statistician that the
influences by which the magnitudes, etc., of the objects are
determined can seldom if ever be roundly classed into large and small,
without intermediates. He is tantalised by the hope of getting hold
of sub-groups of sufficient size that shall contain no individuals
except those belonging strictly to the same species, and he is almost
constantly baffled. In the end he is obliged to exercise his
judgment as to the limit at which he should cease to subdivide. If
he subdivides very frequently, the groups become too small to have
statistical value; if less frequently, the groups will be less truly

A species may be defined as a group of objects whose individual
differences are wholly due to different combinations of the same set
of minute causes, no one of which is so powerful as to be able by
itself to make any sensible difference in the result. A well-known
mathematical consequence flows from this, which is also universally
observed as a fact, namely, that in all species the number of
individuals who differ from the average value, up to any given amount,
is much greater than the number who differ more than that amount,
and up to the double of it. In short, if an assorted series be
represented by upright lines arranged side by side along a
horizontal base at equal distances apart, and of lengths
proportionate to the magnitude of the quality in the corresponding
objects, then their shape will always resemble that shown in Fig. 1.

The form of the bounding curve resembles that which is called in
architectural language an ogive, from "augive," an old French word
for a cup, the figure being not unlike the upper half of a cup lying
sideways with its axis horizontal. In consequence of the multitude
of mediocre values, we always find that on either side of the
middlemost ordinate _Cc_, which is the median value and may be
accepted as the average, there is a much less rapid change of height
than elsewhere. If the figure were pulled out sideways to make it
accord with such physical conceptions as that of a row of men
standing side by side, the middle part of the curve would be
apparently horizontal.

[Illustration: Fig. 1.]

[Illustration: Fig. 2.]

The mathematical conception of the curve is best expressed in Fig. 2,
where PQ represents any given deviation from the average value, and
the ratio of PO to AB represents the relative probability of its
occurrence. The equation to the curve and a discussion of its
properties will be found in the _Proceedings of the Royal Society_,
No. 198, 1879, by Dr. M'Alister. The title of the paper is the
"Law of the Geometric Mean," and it follows one by myself on
"The Geometric Mean in Vital and Social Statistics."

We can lay down the ogive of any quality, physical or mental,
whenever we are capable of judging which of any two members of the
group we are engaged upon has the larger amount of that quality. I
have called this the method of statistics by intercomparison. There
is no bodily or mental attribute in any race of individuals that can
be so dealt with, whether our judgment in comparing them be guided
by common-sense observation or by actual measurement, which cannot
be gripped and consolidated into an ogive with a smooth outline, and
thenceforward be treated in discussion as a single object.

It is easy to describe any given ogive which has been based upon
measurements, so that it may be drawn from the description with
approximate truth. Divide AB into a convenient number of fractional
parts, and record the height of the ordinates at those parts. In
reproducing the ogive from these data, draw a base line of any
convenient length, divide it in the same number of fractional parts,
erect ordinates of the stated lengths at those parts, connect their
tops with a flowing line, and the thing is done. The most convenient
fractional parts are the middle (giving the median), the outside
quarters (giving the upper and lower quartiles), and similarly the
upper and lower octiles or deciles. This is sufficient for most
purposes. It leaves only the outer eighths or tenths of the cases
undescribed and undetermined, except so far as may be guessed by,
the run of the intermediate portion of the curve, and it defines all
of the intermediate portion with as close an, approximation as is
needed for ordinary or statistical purposes.

Thus the heights of all but the outer tenths of the whole body of
adult males of the English professional classes may be derived from
the five following ordinates, measured in inches, of which the outer
pair are deciles:--

    67.2; 67.5; 68.8; 70.3; 71.4.

Many other instances will be found in the Report of the
Anthropometric Committee of the British Association in 1881,
pp. 245-257.

When we desire to compare any two large statistical groups, we may
compare median with median, quartiles with quartiles, and octiles
with octiles; or we may proceed on the method to be described in the
next paragraph but one.

We are often called upon to define the position of an individual in
his own series, in which case it is most conformable to usage to
give his centesimal grade--that is, his place on the base line
AB--supposing it to be graduated from 0° to 100°. In reckoning this,
a confusion ought to be avoided between "graduation" and "rank,"
though it leads to no sensible error in practice. The first of the
"park palings" does not stand at A, which is 0°, nor does the
hundredth stand at B, which is 100°, for that would make 101 of them:
but they stand at 0°.5 and 99°.5 respectively. Similarly, all
intermediate _ranks_ stand half a degree short of the _graduation_
bearing the same number. When the class is large, the value of half
a place becomes extremely small, and the rank and graduation may be
treated as identical.

Examples of method of calculating a centesimal position:--

1. A child A is classed after examination as No. 5 in a class of 27
children; what is his centesimal graduation?

_Answer_.--If AB be divided into 27 graduations, his rank of No. 5
will correspond to the graduation 4°.5; therefore if AB be graduated
afresh into 100 graduations, his centesimal grade, x, will be found
by the Rule of Three, thus--

x : 4°.5 :: 100:27; x = 450°/27 = 16°.6.

2. Another child B is classed No. 13 in a class of 25 _Answer_.--If
AB be divided into 25 graduations, the rank of No. 13 will
correspond to graduation 12°.5, whence as before--

x : 12°.5 :: 100 : 25; x = 1250°/25 = 50°; _i.e._ B is the median.

The second method of comparing two statistical groups, to which I
alluded in the last paragraph but one, consists in stating the
centesimal grade in the one group that corresponds with the median
or any other fractional grade in the other. This, it will be remarked,
is a very simple method of comparison, absolutely independent of any
theory, and applicable to any statistical groups whatever, whether of
physical or of mental qualities. Wherever we can sort in order,
there we can apply this method. Thus, in the above examples, suppose
A and B had been selected because they were equal when compared
together, then we can concisely express the relative merits of the
two classes to which they respectively belong, by saying that 16°.6
in the one is equal to 50° (the median) in the other.

I frequently make statistical records of form and feature, in the
streets or in company, without exciting attention, by means of a
fine pricker and a piece of paper. The pricker is a converted silver
pencil-case, with the usual sliding piece; it is a very small one,
and is attached to my watch chain. The pencil part has been taken
out and replaced by a fine short needle, the open mouth of the case
is covered with a hemispherical cap having a hole in the centre, and
the adjustments are such that when the slide is pushed forward as
far as it can go, the needle projects no more than one-tenth of an
inch. If I then press it upon a piece of paper, held against the
ball of my thumb, the paper is indelibly perforated with a fine hole,
and the thumb is not wounded. The perforations will not be found to
run into one another unless they are very numerous, and if they
happen to do so now and then, it is of little consequence in a
statistical inquiry. The holes are easily counted at leisure, by
holding the paper against the light, and any scrap of paper will
serve the purpose. It will be found that the majority of inquiries
take the form of "more," "equal to," or "less," so I arrange the
paper in a way to present three distinct compartments to the pricker,
and to permit of its being held in the correct position and used by
the sense of touch alone. I do so by tearing the paper into the form
of a cross--that is, maimed in one of its arms--and hold it by the
maimed part between the thumb and finger, the head of the cross
pointing upward. The head of the cross receives the pricks referring
to "more"; the solitary arm that is not maimed, those meaning
"the same"; the long foot of the cross those meaning "less." It is
well to write the subject of the measurement on the paper before
beginning to use it, then more than one set of records can be kept
in the pocket at the same time, and be severally added to as occasion
serves, without fear of mistaking one for the other.

[Illustration: ]


The fundamental and intrinsic differences of character that exist in
individuals are well illustrated by those that distinguish the two
sexes, and which begin to assert themselves even in the nursery,
where all the children are treated alike. One notable peculiarity in
the character of the woman is that she is capricious and coy, and
has less straightforwardness than the man. It is the same in the
female of every sex about the time of pairing, and there can be
little doubt as to the origin of the peculiarity. If any race of
animals existed in whom the sexual passions of the female were as
quickly and as directly stirred as those of the male, each would
mate with the first who approached her, and one essential condition
of sexual selection would be absent. There would be no more call for
competition among the males for the favour of each female; no more
fighting for love, in which the strongest male conquers; no more
rival display of personal charms, in which the best-looking or
best-mannered prevails. The drama of courtship, with its prolonged
strivings and doubtful success, would be cut quite short, and the
race would degenerate through the absence of that sexual selection
for which the protracted preliminaries of love-making give
opportunity. The willy-nilly disposition of the female in matters of
love is as apparent in the butterfly as in the man, and must have
been continuously favoured from the earliest stages of animal
evolution down to the present time. It is the factor in the great
theory of sexual selection that corresponds to the insistence and
directness of the male. Coyness and caprice have in consequence
become a heritage of the sex, together with a cohort of allied
weaknesses and petty deceits, that men have come to think venial and
even amiable in women, but which they would not tolerate among

Various forms of natural character and temperament would no doubt be
found to occur in constant proportions among any large group of
persons of the same race, but what those proportions may be has
never yet been investigated. It is extremely difficult to estimate
it by observations of adults, owing to their habit of restraining
natural ill tendencies, and to their long-practised concealment of
those they do not restrain but desire to hide. The necessary
observations ought, however, to be easily made on young children in
schools, whose manifestations of character are conspicuous, who are
simultaneously for months and years under the eye of the same master
or mistress, and who are daily classed according to their various
merits. I have occasionally asked the opinion of persons well
qualified to form them, and who have had experience of teaching, as
to the most obvious divisions of character to be found among school
children. The replies have differed, but those on which most stress
was laid were connected with energy, sociability, desire to attract
notice, truthfulness, thoroughness, and refinement.

The varieties of the emotional constitution and of likings and
antipathies are very numerous and wide. I may give two instances
which I have not seen elsewhere alluded to, merely as examples of
variation. One of them was often brought to my notice at the time
when the public were admitted to see the snakes fed at the
Zoological Gardens. Rabbits, birds, and other small animals were
dropped in the different cages, which the snakes, after more or less
serpentine action, finally struck with their poison fangs or crushed
in their folds. I found it a horrible but a fascinating scene. We
lead for the most part such an easy and carpeted existence, screened
from the stern realities of life and death, that many of us are
impelled to draw aside the curtain now and then, and gaze for a
while behind it. This exhibition of the snakes at their feeding-time,
which gave to me, as it doubtless did to several others, a sense of
curdling of the blood, had no such effect on many of the visitors. I
have often seen people--nurses, for instance, and children of all
ages--looking unconcernedly and amusedly at the scene. Their
indifference was perhaps the most painful element of the whole
transaction. Their sympathies were absolutely unawakened. I quote
this instance, partly because it leads to another very curious fact
that I have noticed as regards the way with which different persons
and races regard snakes. I myself have a horror of them, and can
only by great self-control, and under a sense of real agitation,
force myself to touch one. A considerable proportion of the English
race would feel much as I do; but the remainder do not. I have
questioned numbers of persons of both sexes, and have been
astonished at the frequency with which I have been assured that they
had no shrinking whatever from the sight of the wriggling mysterious
reptile. Some persons, as is well known, make pets of them; moreover,
I am told that there is no passage in Greek or Latin authors
expressive of that form of horror which I myself feel, and which may
be compared to what is said to be felt by hydrophobic sufferers at
the undulating movements of water. There are numerous allusions in
the classics to the venom fang or the crushing power of snakes, but
not to an aversion inspired by its form and movement. It was the
Greek symbol of Hippocrates and of healing. There is nothing of the
kind in Hebrew literature, where the snake is figured as an
attractive tempter. In Hindu fables the cobra is the ingenious and
intelligent animal, corresponding to the fox in ours. Serpent worship
was very widely spread. I therefore doubt whether the antipathy to
the snake is very common among mankind, notwithstanding the
instinctive terror that their sight inspires in monkeys.

The other instance I may adduce is that of the horror of blood which
is curiously different in animals of the same species and in the
same animals at different times. I have had a good deal of
experience of the behaviour of oxen at the sight of blood, and found
it to be by no means uniform. In my South African travels I relied
chiefly on half-wild slaughter oxen to feed my large party, and
occasionally had to shoot one on every second day. Usually the rest
of the drove paid no particular heed to the place of blood, but at
other rare times they seemed maddened and performed a curious sort
of war-dance at the spot, making buck-leaps, brandishing their horns,
and goring at the ground. It was a grotesque proceeding, utterly
unlike the usual behaviour of cattle. I only witnessed it once
elsewhere, and that was in the Pyrenees, where I came on a herd that
was being driven homewards. Each cow in turn, as it passed a
particular spot, performed the well-remembered antics. I asked, and
learned that a cow had been killed there by a bear a few days
previously. The natural horror at blood, and it may be the
consequent dislike of red, is common among mankind; but I have seen
a well-dressed child of about four years old poking its finger with
a pleased innocent look into the bleeding carcase of a sheep hung up
in a butcher's shop, while its nurse was inside.

The subject of character deserves more statistical investigation
than it has yet received, and none have a better chance of doing it
well than schoolmasters; their opportunities are indeed most enviable.
It would be necessary to approach the subject wholly without
prejudice, as a pure matter of observation, just as if the children
were the fauna and flora of hitherto undescribed species in an
entirely new land.


Criminality, though not very various in its development, is
extremely complex in its origin; nevertheless certain general
conclusions are arrived at by the best writers on the subject, among
whom Prosper Despine is one of the most instructive. The ideal
criminal has marked peculiarities of character: his conscience is
almost deficient, his instincts are vicious, his power of
self-control is very weak, and he usually detests continuous labour.
The absence of self-control is due to ungovernable temper, to passion,
or to mere imbecility, and the conditions that determine the
particular description of crime are the character of the instincts
and of the temptation.

The deficiency of conscience in criminals, as shown by the absence
of genuine remorse for their guilt, astonishes all who first become
familiar with the details of prison life. Scenes of heartrending
despair are hardly ever witnessed among prisoners; their sleep is
broken by no uneasy dreams--on the contrary, it is easy and sound;
they have also excellent appetites. But hypocrisy is a very common
vice; and all my information agrees as to the utter untruthfulness
of criminals, however plausible their statements may be.

We must guard ourselves against looking upon vicious instincts as
perversions, inasmuch as they may be strictly in accordance with the
healthy nature of the man, and, being transmissible by inheritance,
may become the normal characteristics of a healthy race, just as the
sheep-dog, the retriever, the pointer, and the bull-dog, have their
several instincts. There can be no greater popular error than the
supposition that natural instinct is a perfectly trustworthy guide,
for there are striking contradictions to such an opinion in
individuals of every description of animal. The most that we are
entitled to say in any case is, that the prevalent instincts of each
race are trustworthy, not those of every individual. But even this
is saying too much, because when the conditions under which the race
is living have recently been changed, some instincts which were
adapted to the old state of things are sure to be fallacious guides
to conduct in the new one. A man who is counted as an atrocious
criminal in England, and is punished as such by English law in social
self-defence, may nevertheless have acted in strict accordance with
instincts that are laudable in less civilised societies. The ideal
criminal is, unhappily for him, deficient in qualities that are
capable of restraining his unkindly or inconvenient instincts; he
has neither sympathy for others nor the sense of duty, both of which
lie at the base of conscience; nor has he sufficient self-control to
accommodate himself to the society in which he has to live, and so to
promote his own selfish interests in the long-run. He cannot be
preserved from criminal misadventure, either by altruistic
sentiments or by intelligently egoistic ones.

The perpetuation of the criminal class by heredity is a question
difficult to grapple with on many accounts. Their vagrant habits,
their illegitimate unions, and extreme untruthfulness, are among the
difficulties of the investigation. It is, however, easy to show that
the criminal nature tends to be inherited; while, on the other hand,
it is impossible that women who spend a large portion of the best
years of their life in prison can contribute many children to the
population. The true state of the case appears to be that the
criminal population receives steady accessions from those who,
without having strongly-marked criminal natures, do nevertheless
belong to a type of humanity that is exceedingly ill suited to play
a respectable part in our modern civilisation, though it is well
suited to flourish under half-savage conditions, being naturally
both healthy and prolific. These persons are apt to go to the bad;
their daughters consort with criminals and become the parents of
criminals. An extraordinary example of this is afforded by the
history of the infamous Jukes family in America, whose pedigree has
been made out, with extraordinary care, during no less than seven
generations, and is the subject of an elaborate memoir printed in
the Thirty-first Annual Report of the Prison Association of New York,
1876. It includes no less than 540 individuals of Jukes blood, of
whom a frightful number degraded into criminality, pauperism, or

It is difficult to summarise the results in a few plain figures, but
I will state those respecting the fifth generation, through the
eldest of the five prolific daughters of the man who is the common
ancestor of the race. The total number of these was 123, of whom
thirty-eight came through an illegitimate granddaughter, and
eighty-five through legitimate grandchildren. Out of the thirty-eight,
sixteen have been in jail, six of them for heinous offences, one of
these having been committed no less than nine times; eleven others
led openly disreputable lives or were paupers; four were notoriously
intemperate; the history of three had not been traced, and only four
are known to have done well. The great majority of the women
consorted with criminals. As to the eighty-five legitimate
descendants, they were less flagrantly bad, for only five of them
had been in jail, and only thirteen others had been paupers. Now the
ancestor of all this mischief, who was born about the year 1730, is
described as having been a jolly companionable man, a hunter, and a
fisher, averse to steady labour, but working hard and idling by turns,
and who had numerous illegitimate children, whose issue has not been
traced. He was, in fact, a somewhat good specimen of a half-savage,
without any seriously criminal instincts. The girls were apparently
attractive, marrying early and sometimes not badly; but the
gipsy-like character of the race was unsuited to success in a
civilised country. So the descendants went to the bad, and such
hereditary moral weaknesses as they may have had, rose to the
surface and worked their mischief without check. Cohabiting with
criminals, and being extremely prolific, the result was the
production of a stock exceeding 500 in number, of a prevalent
criminal type. Through disease and intemperance the breed is now
rapidly diminishing; the infant mortality has of late been horrible,
but fortunately the women of the present generation bear usually but
few children, and many of them are altogether childless.

The criminal classes contain a considerable portion of epileptics
and other persons of instable, emotional temperament, subject to
nervous explosions that burst out at intervals and relieve the system.
The mad outbreaks of women in convict prisons is a most curious
phenomenon. Some of them are apt from time to time to have a
gradually increasing desire that at last becomes irresistible, to
"break out," as it is technically called; that is, to smash and tear
everything they can within reach, and to shriek, curse, and howl. At
length the fit expends itself; the devil, as it were, leaves them,
and they begin to behave again in their ordinary way. The highest
form of emotional instability exists in confirmed epilepsy, where
its manifestations have often been studied; it is found in a high
but somewhat less extraordinary degree in the hysterical and allied
affections. In the confirmed epileptic constitution the signs of
general instability of nervous action are muscular convulsions,
irregularities of bodily temperature, mobile intellectual activity,
and extraordinary oscillations between opposed emotional states. I
am assured by excellent authority that instable manifestations of
extreme piety and of extreme vice are almost invariably shown by
epileptics, and should be regarded as a prominent feature of their
peculiar constitution. These unfortunate beings see no incongruity
between the pious phrases that they pour out at one moment and their
vile and obscene language in the next; neither do they show
repentance for past misconduct when they are convicted of crimes,
however abominable these may be. They are creatures of the moment,
possessing no inhibitory check upon their desires and emotions, which
drive them headlong hither and thither.

Madness is often associated with epilepsy; in all cases it is a
frightful and hereditary disfigurement of humanity, which appears,
from the upshot of various conflicting accounts, to be on the
increase. The neurotic constitution from which it springs is however
not without its merits, as has been well pointed out, since a large
proportion of the enthusiastic men and women to whose labour the
world is largely indebted, have had that constitution, judging from
the fact that insanity existed in their families.

The phases of extreme piety and extreme vice which so rapidly
succeed one another in the same individual among the epileptics, are
more widely separated among those who are simply insane. It has been
noticed that among the morbid organic conditions which accompany the
show of excessive piety and religious rapture in the insane, none are
so frequent as disorders of the sexual organisation. Conversely, the
frenzies of religious revivals have not unfrequently ended in gross
profligacy. The encouragement of celibacy by the fervent leaders of
most creeds, utilises in an unconscious way the morbid connection
between an over-restraint of the sexual desires and impulses towards
extreme devotion.

Another remarkable phase among the insane consists in strange views
about their individuality. They think that their body is made of
glass, or that their brains have literally disappeared, or that
there are different persons inside them, or that they are somebody
else, and so forth. It is said that this phase is most commonly
associated with morbid disturbance of the alimentary organs. So in
many religions fasting has been used as an agent for detaching the
thoughts from the body and for inducing ecstasy.

There is yet a third peculiarity of the insane which is almost
universal, that of gloomy segregation. Passengers nearing London by
the Great Western Railway must have frequently remarked the unusual
appearance of the crowd of lunatics when taking their exercise in
the large green enclosure in front of Hanwell Asylum. They almost
without exception walk apart in moody isolation, each in his own way,
buried in his own thoughts. It is a scene like that fabled in
Vathek's hall of Eblis. I am assured that whenever two are seen in
company, it is either because their attacks of madness are of an
intermittent and epileptic character and they are temporarily sane,
or otherwise that they are near recovery. Conversely, the curative
influence of social habits is fully recognised, and they are promoted
by festivities in the asylums. On the other hand, the great teachers
of all creeds have made seclusion a prominent religious exercise. In
short, by enforcing celibacy, fasting, and solitude, they have done
their best towards making men mad, and they have always largely
succeeded in inducing morbid mental conditions among their followers.

Floods of light are thrown upon various incidents of devotee life,
and also upon the disgusting and not otherwise intelligible
character of the sanctimonious scoundrel, by the everyday
experiences of the madhouse. No professor of metaphysics, psychology,
or religion can claim to know the elements of what he teaches,
unless he is acquainted with the ordinary phenomena of idiocy,
madness, and epilepsy. He must study the manifestations of disease
and congenital folly, as well as those of sanity and high intellect.


I propose in this chapter to discuss a curious and apparently
anomalous group of base moral instincts and intellectual deficiencies,
that are innate rather than acquired, by tracing their analogies in
the world of brutes and examining the conditions through which they
have been evolved. They are the slavish aptitudes from which the
leaders of men are exempt, but which are characteristic elements in
the disposition of ordinary persons. The vast majority of persons of
our race have a natural tendency to shrink from the responsibility
of standing and acting alone; they exalt the _vox populi_, even when
they know it to be the utterance of a mob of nobodies, into the
_vox Dei_, and they are willing slaves to tradition, authority,
and custom. The intellectual deficiencies corresponding to these
moral flaws are shown by the rareness of free and original thought as
compared with the frequency and readiness with which men accept the
opinions of those in authority as binding on their judgment. I shall
endeavour to prove that the slavish aptitudes in man are a direct
consequence of his gregarious nature, which itself is a result of
the conditions both of his primeval barbarism and of the forms of
his subsequent civilisation. My argument will be, that gregarious
brute animals possess a want of self-reliance in a marked degree;
that the conditions of the lives of these animals have made a want
of self-reliance a necessity to them, and that by the law of natural
selection the gregarious instincts and their accompanying slavish
aptitudes have gradually become evolved. Then I shall argue that our
remote ancestors have lived under parallel conditions, and that
other causes peculiar to human society have acted up to the present
day in the same direction, and that we have inherited the gregarious
instincts and slavish aptitudes which have been needed under past
circumstances, although in our advancing civilisation they are
becoming of more harm than good to our race.

It was my fortune, in earlier life, to gain an intimate knowledge of
certain classes of gregarious animals. The urgent need of the camel
for the close companionship of his fellows was a never-exhausted
topic of curious admiration to me during tedious days of travel
across many North African deserts. I also happened to hear and read
a great deal about the still more marked gregarious instincts of the
llama; but the social animal into whose psychology I am conscious of
having penetrated most thoroughly is the ox of the wild parts of
western South Africa. It is necessary to insist upon the epithet
"wild," because an ox of tamed parentage has different natural
instincts; for instance, an English ox is far less gregarious than
those I am about to describe, and affords a proportionately less
valuable illustration to my argument. The oxen of which I speak
belonged to the Damaras, and none of the ancestry of these cattle
had ever been broken to harness. They were watched from a distance
during the day, as they roamed about the open country, and at night
they were driven with cries to enclosures, into which they rushed
much like a body of terrified wild animals driven by huntsmen into a
trap. Their scared temper was such as to make it impossible to lay
hold of them by other means than by driving the whole herd into a
clump, and lassoing the leg of the animal it was desired to seize,
and throwing him to the ground with dexterous force. With oxen and
cows of this description, whose nature is no doubt shared by the
bulls, I spent more than a year in the closest companionship.

I had nearly a hundred of the beasts broken in for the waggon, for
packs, and for the saddle. I travelled an entire journey of
exploration on the back of one of them, with others by my side,
either labouring at their tasks or walking at leisure; and with
others again who were wholly unbroken, and who served the purpose of
an itinerant larder. At night, when there had been no time to erect
an enclosure to hold them, I lay down in their midst, and it was
interesting to observe how readily they then availed themselves of
the neighbourhood of the camp fire and of man, conscious of the
protection they afforded from prowling carnivora, whose cries and
roars, now distant, now near, continually broke upon the stillness.
These opportunities of studying the disposition of such peculiar
cattle were not wasted upon me. I had only too much leisure to think
about them, and the habits of the animals strongly attracted my
curiosity. The better I understood them, the more complex and worthy
of study did their minds appear to be. But I am now concerned only
with their blind gregarious instincts, which are conspicuously
distinct from the ordinary social desires. In the latter they are
deficient; thus they are not amiable to one another, but show on the
whole more expressions of spite and disgust than of forbearance or
fondness. They do not suffer from an ennui, which society can remove,
because their coarse feeding and their ruminant habits make them
somewhat stolid. Neither can they love society, as monkeys do, for
the opportunities it affords of a fuller and more varied life,
because they remain self-absorbed in the middle of their herd, while
the monkeys revel together in frolics, scrambles, fights, loves, and
chatterings. Yet although the ox has so little affection for, or
individual interest in, his fellows, he cannot endure even a
momentary severance from his herd. If he be separated from it by
stratagem or force, he exhibits every sign of mental agony; he
strives with all his might to get back again, and when he succeeds,
he plunges into its middle to bathe his whole body with the comfort
of closest companionship. This passionate terror at segregation is a
convenience to the herdsman, who may rest assured in the darkness or
in the mist that the whole herd is safe whenever he can get a
glimpse of a single ox. It is also the cause of great inconvenience
to the traveller in ox-waggons, who constantly feels himself in a
position towards his oxen like that of a host to a company of
bashful gentlemen at the time when he is trying to get them to move
from the drawing-room to the dinner-table, and no one will go first,
but every one backs and gives place to his neighbour. The traveller
finds great difficulty in procuring animals capable of acting the
part of fore-oxen to his team, the ordinary members of the wild herd
being wholly unfitted by nature to move in so prominent and isolated
a position, even though, as is the custom, a boy is always in front
to persuade or pull them onwards. Therefore, a good fore-ox is an
animal of an exceptionally independent disposition. Men who break in
wild cattle for harness watch assiduously for those who show a
self-reliant nature, by grazing apart or ahead of the rest, and
these they break in for fore-oxen. The other cattle may be
indifferently devoted to ordinary harness purposes, or to slaughter;
but the born leaders are far too rare to be used for any less
distinguished service than that which they alone are capable of
fulfilling. But a still more exceptional degree of merit may
sometimes be met with among the many thousands of Damara cattle. It
is possible to find an ox who may be ridden, not indeed as freely as
a horse, for I have never heard of a feat like that, but at all
events wholly apart from the companionship of others; and an
accomplished rider will even succeed in urging him out at a trot
from the very middle of his fellows. With respect to the negative
side of the scale, though I do not recollect definite instances, I
can recall general impressions of oxen showing a deficiency from the
average ox standard of self-reliance, about equal to the excess of
that quality found in ordinary fore-oxen. Thus I recollect there
were some cattle of a peculiarly centripetal instinct, who ran more
madly than the rest into the middle of the herd when they were
frightened; and I have no reason to doubt from general recollections
that the law of deviation from an average would be as applicable to
independence of character among cattle as one might expect it
theoretically to be. The conclusion to which we are driven is, that
few of the Damara cattle have enough originality and independence of
disposition to pass unaided through their daily risks in a tolerably
comfortable manner. They are essentially slavish, and seek no better
lot than to be led by any one of their number who has enough
self-reliance to accept that position. No ox ever dares to act
contrary to the rest of the herd, but he accepts their common
determination as an authority binding on his conscience.

An incapacity of relying on oneself and a faith in others are
precisely the conditions that compel brutes to congregate and live
in herds; and, again, it is essential to their safety in a country
infested by large carnivora, that they should keep closely together
in herds. No ox grazing alone could live for many days unless he
were protected, far more assiduously and closely than is possible to
barbarians. The Damara owners confide perhaps 200 cattle to a couple
of half-starved youths, who pass their time in dozing or in grubbing
up roots to eat. The owners know that it is hopeless to protect the
herd from lions, so they leave it to take its chance; and as regards
human marauders they equally know that the largest number of cattle
watchers they could spare could make no adequate resistance to an
attack; they therefore do not send more than two, who are enough to
run home and give the alarm to the whole male population of the
tribe to run in arms on the tracks of their plundered property.
Consequently, as I began by saying, the cattle have to take care of
themselves against the wild beasts, and they would infallibly be
destroyed by them if they had not safeguards of their own, which are
not easily to be appreciated at first sight at their full value. We
shall understand them better by considering the precise nature of
the danger that an ox runs. When he is alone it is not simply that he
is too defenceless, but that he is easily surprised. A crouching
lion fears cattle who turn boldly upon him, and he does so with
reason. The horns of an ox or antelope are able to make an ugly
wound in the paw or chest of a springing beast when he receives its
thrust in the same way that an over-eager pugilist meets his
adversary's "counter" hit. Hence it is that a cow who has calved by
the wayside, and has been temporarily abandoned by the caravan, is
never seized by lions. The incident frequently occurs, and as
frequently are the cow and calf eventually brought safe to the camp;
and yet there is usually evidence in footprints of her having
sustained a regular siege from the wild beasts; but she is so
restless and eager for the safety of her young that no beast of prey
can approach her unawares. This state of exaltation is of course
exceptional; cattle are obliged in their ordinary course of life to
spend a considerable part of the day with their heads buried in the
grass, where they can neither see nor smell what is about them. A
still larger part of their time must be spent in placid rumination,
during which they cannot possibly be on the alert. But a herd of
such animals, when considered as a whole, is always on the alert; at
almost every moment some eyes, ears, and noses will command all
approaches, and the start or cry of alarm of a single beast is a
signal to all his companions. To live gregariously is to become a
fibre in a vast sentient web overspreading many acres; it is to
become the possessor of faculties always awake, of eyes that see in
all directions, of ears and nostrils that explore a broad belt of air;
it is also to become the occupier of every bit of vantage ground
whence the approach of a wild beast might be overlooked. The
protective senses of each individual who chooses to live in
companionship are multiplied by a large factor, and he thereby
receives a maximum of security at a minimum cost of restlessness.
When we isolate an animal who has been accustomed to a gregarious
life, we take away his sense of protection, for he feels himself
exposed to danger from every part of the circle around him, except
the one point on which his attention is momentarily fixed; and he
knows that disaster may easily creep up to him from behind.
Consequently his glance is restless and anxious, and is turned in
succession to different quarters; his movements are hurried and
agitated, and he becomes a prey to the extremest terror. There can
be no room for doubt that it is suitable to the well-being of cattle
in a country infested with beasts of prey to live in close
companionship, and being suitable, it follows from the law of
natural selection that the development of gregarious and therefore
of slavish instincts must be favoured in such cattle. It also
follows from the same law that the degree in which those instincts
are developed is on the whole the most conducive to their safety. If
they were more gregarious they would crowd so closely as to
interfere with each other when grazing the scattered pasture of
Damara land; if less gregarious, they would be too widely scattered
to keep a sufficient watch against the wild beasts.

I now proceed to consider more particularly why the range of
deviation from the average is such that we find about one ox out of
fifty to possess sufficient independence of character to serve as a
pretty good fore-ox. Why is it not one in five or one in five hundred?
The reason undoubtedly is that natural selection tends to give but
one leader to each suitably-sized herd, and to repress superabundant
leaders. There is a certain size of herd most suitable to the
geographical and other conditions of the country; it must not
be too large, or the scattered puddles which form their only
watering-places for a great part of the year would not suffice; and
there are similar drawbacks in respect to pasture. It must not be
too small, or it would be comparatively insecure; thus a troop of
five animals is far more easy to be approached by a stalking
huntsman than one of twenty, and the latter than one of a hundred. We
have seen that it is the oxen who graze apart, as well as those who
lead the herd, who are recognised by the trainers of cattle as
gifted with enough independence of character to become fore-oxen.
They are even preferred to the actual leaders of the herd; they dare
to move more alone, and therefore their independence is undoubted.
The leaders are safe enough from lions, because their flanks and rear
are guarded by their followers; but each of those who graze apart,
and who represent the superabundant supply of self-reliant animals,
have one flank and the rear exposed, and it is precisely these whom
the lions take. Looking at the matter in a broad way, we may justly
assert that wild beasts trim and prune every herd into compactness,
and tend to reduce it into a closely-united body with a single
well-protected leader. That the development of independence of
character in cattle is thus suppressed below its otherwise natural
standard by the influence of wild beasts, is shown by the greater
display of self-reliance among cattle whose ancestry for some
generations have not been exposed to such danger.

What has been said about cattle, in relation to wild beasts, applies
with more or less obvious modifications to barbarians in relation to
their neighbours, but I insist on a close resemblance in the
particular circumstance, that many savages are so unamiable and
morose as to have hardly any object in associating together, besides
that of mutual support. If we look at the inhabitants of the very
same country as the oxen I have described, we shall find them
congregated into multitudes of tribes, all more or less at war with
one another. We shall find that few of these tribes are very small,
and few very large, and that it is precisely those that are
exceptionally large or small whose condition is the least stable. A
very small tribe is sure to be overthrown, slaughtered, or driven
into slavery by its more powerful neighbour. A very large tribe
falls to pieces through its own unwieldiness, because, by the nature
of things, it must be either deficient in centralisation or
straitened in food, or both. A barbarian population is obliged to
live dispersedly, since a square mile of land will support only a
few hunters or shepherds; on the other hand, a barbarian government
cannot be long maintained unless the chief is brought into frequent
contact with his dependants, and this is geographically impossible
when his tribe is so scattered as to cover a great extent of
territory. The law of selection must discourage every race of
barbarians which supplies self-reliant individuals in such large
numbers as to cause tribes of moderate size to lose their blind
desire of aggregation. It must equally discourage a breed that is
incompetent to supply such men in sufficiently abundant ratio to the
rest of the population to ensure the existence of tribes of not too
large a size. It must not be supposed that gregarious instincts are
equally important to all forms of savage life; but I hold, from what
we know of the clannish fighting habits of our forefathers, that
they were every whit as applicable to the earlier ancestors of our
European stock as they are still to a large part of the black
population of Africa.

There is, moreover, an extraordinary power of tyranny invested in
the chiefs of tribes and nations of men, that so vastly outweighs
the analogous power possessed by the leaders of animal herds as to
rank as a special attribute of human society, eminently conducive to
slavishness. If any brute in a herd makes itself obnoxious to the
leader, the leader attacks him, and there is a free fight between the
two, the other animals looking on the while. But if a man makes
himself obnoxious to his chief, he is attacked, not by the chief
single-handed, but by the overpowering force of his executive. The
rebellious individual has to brave a disciplined host; there are
spies who will report his doings, a local authority who will send a
detachment of soldiers to drag him to trial; there are prisons ready
built to hold him, civil authorities wielding legal powers of
stripping him of all his possessions, and official executioners
prepared to torture or kill him. The tyrannies under which men have
lived, whether under rude barbarian chiefs, under the great
despotisms of half-civilised Oriental countries, or under some of
the more polished but little less severe governments of modern days,
must have had a frightful influence in eliminating independence of
character from the human race. Think of Austria, of Naples, and even
of France under Napoleon III. It was stated[1] in 1870 that,
according to papers found at the Tuileries, 26,642 persons had been
arrested in France for political offences since 2nd December, 1851,
and that 14,118 had been transported, exiled, or detained in prison.

I have already spoken in _Hereditary Genius_ of the large effects of
religious persecution in comparatively recent years, on the natural
character of races, and shall not say more about it here; but it
must not be omitted from the list of steady influences continuing
through ancient historical times down, in some degree, to the
present day, in destroying the self-reliant, and therefore the
nobler races of men.

I hold that the blind instincts evolved under these long-continued
conditions have been ingrained into our breed, and that they are a
bar to our enjoying the freedom which the forms of modern
civilisation are otherwise capable of giving us. A really
intelligent nation might be held together by far stronger forces
than are derived from the purely gregarious instincts. A nation need
not be a mob of slaves, clinging to one another through fear, and
for the most part incapable of self-government, and begging to be led;
but it might consist of vigorous self-reliant men, knit to one
[6] another by innumerable ties, into a strong, tense, and elastic

[Footnote 6: _Daily News_, 17th October, 1870.]

       *       *       *       *       *

The character of the corporate action of a nation in which each man
judges for himself, might be expected to possess statistical
constancy. It would be the expression of the dominant character of a
large number of separate members of the same race, and ought
therefore to be remarkably uniform. Fickleness of national character
is principally due to the several members of the nation exercising
no independent judgment, but allowing themselves to be led hither and
thither by the successive journalists, orators, and sentimentalists
who happen for the time to have the chance of directing them.

Our present natural dispositions make it impossible for us to attain
the ideal standard of a nation of men all judging soberly for
themselves, and therefore the slavishness of the mass of our
countrymen, in morals and intellect, must be an admitted fact in all
schemes of regenerative policy.

The hereditary taint due to the primeval barbarism of our race, and
maintained by later influences, will have to be bred out of it
before our descendants can rise to the position of free members of
an intelligent society: and I may add that the most likely nest at
the present time for self-reliant natures is to be found in States
founded and maintained by emigrants.

Servility has its romantic side, in the utter devotion of a slave to
the lightest wishes and the smallest comforts of his master, and in
that of a loyal subject to those of his sovereign; but such devotion
cannot be called a reasonable self-sacrifice; it is rather an
abnegation of the trust imposed on man to use his best judgment, and
to act in the way he thinks the wisest. Trust in authority is a
trait of the character of children, of weakly women, and of the sick
and infirm, but it is out of place among members of a thriving
resolute community during the fifty or more years of their middle
life. Those who have been born in a free country feel the atmosphere
of a paternal government very oppressive. The hearty and earnest
political and individual life which is found when every man has a
continual sense of public responsibility, and knows that success
depends on his own right judgment and exertion, is replaced under a
despotism by an indolent reliance upon what its master may direct,
and by a demoralising conviction that personal advancement is best
secured by solicitations and favour.


It is needless for me to speak here about the differences in
intellectual power between different men and different races, or
about the convertibility of genius as shown by different members of
the same gifted family achieving eminence in varied ways, as I have
already written at length on these subjects in _Hereditary Genius_
and in _Antecedents of English Men of Science_. It is, however, well
to remark that during the fourteen years that have elapsed since the
former book was published, numerous fresh instances have arisen of
distinction being attained by members of the gifted families whom I
quoted as instances of heredity, thus strengthening my arguments.


Anecdotes find their way into print, from time to time, of persons
whose visual memory is so clear and sharp as to present mental
pictures that may be scrutinised with nearly as much ease and
prolonged attention as if they were real objects. I became
interested in the subject and made a rather extensive inquiry into
the mode of visual presentation in different persons, so far as
could be gathered from their respective statements. It seemed to me
that the results might illustrate the essential differences between
the mental operations of different men, that they might give some
clue to the origin of visions, and that the course of the inquiry
might reveal some previously unnoticed facts. It has done all this
more or less, and I will explain the results in the present and in
the three following chapters.

It is not necessary to trouble the reader with my earlier tentative
steps to find out what I desired to learn. After the inquiry had
been fairly started it took the form of submitting a certain number
of printed questions to a large number of persons (see Appendix E).
There is hardly any more difficult task than that of framing
questions which are not likely to be misunderstood, which admit of
easy reply, and which cover the ground of inquiry. I did my best in
these respects, without forgetting the most important part of
all--namely, to tempt my correspondents to write freely in fuller
explanation of their replies, and on cognate topics as well. These
separate letters have proved more instructive and interesting by far
than the replies to the set questions.

The first group of the rather long series of queries related to the
illumination, definition, and colouring of the mental image, and
were framed thus:--

"Before addressing yourself to any of the Questions on the
opposite page, think of some definite object--suppose it is
your breakfast-table as you sat down to it this morning--and
consider carefully the picture that rises before your mind's eye."

1. _Illumination_.--Is the image dim or fairly clear? Is its
brightness comparable to that of the actual scene?

2. _Definition_.--Are all the objects pretty well defined at the
same time, or is the place of sharpest definition at any one moment
more contracted than it is in a real scene?

3. _Colouring_.--Are the colours of the china, of the toast,
bread-crust, mustard, meat, parsley, or whatever may have been on
the table, quite distinct and natural?

The earliest results of my inquiry amazed me. I had begun by
questioning friends in the scientific world, as they were the most
likely class of men to give accurate answers concerning this faculty
of visualising, to which novelists and poets continually allude,
which has left an abiding mark on the vocabularies of every language,
and which supplies the material out of which dreams and the
well-known hallucinations of sick people are built.

To my astonishment, I found that the great majority of the men of
science to whom I first applied protested that mental imagery was
unknown to them, and they looked on me as fanciful and fantastic in
supposing that the words "mental imagery" really expressed what I
believed everybody supposed them to mean. They had no more notion of
its true nature than a colour-blind man, who has not discerned his
defect, has of the nature of colour. They had a mental deficiency of
which they were unaware, and naturally enough supposed that those
who affirmed they possessed it, were romancing. To illustrate their
mental attitude it will be sufficient to quote a few lines from the
letter of one of my correspondents, who writes:--

"These questions presuppose assent to some sort of a proposition
regarding the 'mind's eye,' and the 'images' which it sees.... This
points to some initial fallacy.... It is only by a figure of speech
that I can describe my recollection of a scene as a 'mental image'
which I can 'see' with my 'mind's eye.' ... I do not see it ... any
more than a man sees the thousand lines of Sophocles which under due
pressure he is ready to repeat. The memory possesses it, etc."

Much the same result followed inquiries made for me by a friend
among members of the French Institute.

On the other hand, when I spoke to persons whom I met in general
society, I found an entirely different disposition to prevail. Many
men and a yet larger number of women, and many boys and girls,
declared that they habitually saw mental imagery, and that it was
perfectly distinct to them and full of colour. The more I pressed
and cross-questioned them, professing myself to be incredulous, the
more obvious was the truth of their first assertions. They described
their imagery in minute detail, and they spoke in a tone of surprise
at my apparent hesitation in accepting what they said. I felt that I
myself should have spoken exactly as they did if I had been
describing a scene that lay before my eyes, in broad daylight, to a
blind man who persisted in doubting the reality of vision. Reassured
by this happier experience, I recommenced to inquire among
scientific men, and soon found scattered instances of what I sought,
though in by no means the same abundance as elsewhere. I then
circulated my questions more generally among my friends and through
their hands, and obtained the replies that are the main subject of
this and of the three next chapters. They were from persons of both
sexes, and of various ages, and in the end from occasional
correspondents in nearly every civilised country.

I have also received batches of answers from various educational
establishments both in England and America, which were made after
the masters had fully explained the meaning of the questions, and
interested the boys in them. These have the merit of returns derived
from a general census, which my other data lack, because I cannot
for a moment suppose that the writers of the latter are a haphazard
proportion of those to whom they were sent. Indeed I know of some who,
disavowing all possession of the power, and of many others who,
possessing it in too faint a degree to enable them to express what
their experiences really were, in a manner satisfactory to themselves,
sent no returns at all. Considerable statistical similarity was,
however, observed between the sets of returns furnished by the
schoolboys and those sent by my separate correspondents, and I may
add that they accord in this respect with the oral information I
have elsewhere obtained. The conformity of replies from so many
different sources which was clear from the first, the fact of their
apparent trustworthiness being on the whole much increased by
cross-examination (though I could give one or two amusing instances
of break-down), and the evident effort made to give accurate answers,
have convinced me that it is a much easier matter than I had
anticipated to obtain trustworthy replies to psychological questions.
Many persons, especially women and intelligent children, take
pleasure in introspection, and strive their very best to explain
their mental processes. I think that a delight in self-dissection
must be a strong ingredient in the pleasure that many are said to
take in confessing themselves to priests.

Here, then, are two rather notable results: the one is the proved
facility of obtaining statistical insight into the processes of
other persons' minds, whatever _à priori_ objection may have been
made as to its possibility; and the other is that scientific men, as
a class, have feeble powers of visual representation. There is no
doubt whatever on the latter point, however it may be accounted for.
My own conclusion is, that an over-ready perception of sharp mental
pictures is antagonistic to the acquirement of habits of
highly-generalised and abstract thought, especially when the steps
of reasoning are carried on by words as symbols, and that if the
faculty of seeing the pictures was ever possessed by men who think
hard, it is very apt to be lost by disuse. The highest minds are
probably those in which it is not lost, but subordinated, and is
ready for use on suitable occasions. I am, however, bound to say,
that the missing faculty seems to be replaced so serviceably by other
modes of conception, chiefly, I believe, connected with the
incipient motor sense, not of the eyeballs only but of the muscles
generally, that men who declare themselves entirely deficient in the
power of seeing mental pictures can nevertheless give life-like
descriptions of what they have seen, and can otherwise express
themselves as if they were gifted with a vivid visual imagination.
They can also become painters of the rank of Royal Academicians.

The facts I am now about to relate are obtained from the returns of
100 adult men, of whom 19 are Fellows of the Royal Society, mostly
of very high repute, and at least twice, and I think I may say three
times, as many more are persons of distinction in various kinds of
intellectual work. As already remarked, these returns taken by
themselves do not profess to be of service in a general statistical
sense, but they are of much importance in showing how men of
exceptional accuracy express themselves when they are speaking of
mental imagery. They also testify to the variety of experiences to
be met with in a moderately large circle. I will begin by giving a
few cases of the highest, of the medium, and of the lowest order of
the faculty of visualising. The hundred returns were first
classified according to the order of the faculty, as judged to the
best of my ability from the whole of what was said in them, and of
what I knew from other sources of the writers; and the number
prefixed to each quotation shows its place in the class-list.


(From returns, furnished by 100 men, at least half of whom are
distinguished in science or in other fields of intellectual work.)

_Cases where the faculty is very high_.

1. Brilliant, distinct, never blotchy.

2. Quite comparable to the real object. I feel as though I was
dazzled, _e.g._ when recalling the sun to my mental vision.

3. In some instances quite as bright as an actual scene.

4. Brightness as in the actual scene.

5. Thinking of the breakfast-table this morning, all the objects in
my mental picture are as bright as the actual scene.

6. The image once seen is perfectly clear and bright.

7. Brightness at first quite comparable to actual scene.

8. The mental image appears to correspond in all respects with
reality. I think it is as clear as the actual scene.

9. The brightness is perfectly comparable to that of the real scene.

10. I think the illumination of the imaginary image is nearly equal
to that of the real one.

11. All clear and bright; all the objects seem to me well defined at
the same time.

12. I can see my breakfast-table or any equally familiar thing with
my mind's eye, quite as well in all particulars as I can do if the
reality is before me.

_Cases where the faculty is mediocre_.

46. Fairly clear and not incomparable in illumination with that of
the real scene, especially when I first catch it. Apt to become
fainter when more particularly attended to.

47. Fairly clear, not quite comparable to that of the actual scene.
Some objects are more sharply defined than others, the more familiar
objects coming more distinctly in my mind.

48. Fairly clear as a general image; details rather misty.

49. Fairly clear, but not equal to the scene. Defined, but not
sharply; not all seen with equal clearness.

50. Fairly clear. Brightness probably at least one-half to
two-thirds of original. [The writer is a physiologist.] Definition
varies very much, one or two objects being much more distinct than
the others, but the latter come out clearly if attention be paid to

51. Image of my breakfast-table fairly clear, but not quite so
bright as the reality. Altogether it is pretty well defined; the
part where I sit and its surroundings are pretty well so.

52. Fairly clear, but brightness not comparable to that of the
actual scene. The objects are sharply defined; some of them are
salient, and others insignificant and dim, but by separate efforts I
can take a visualised inventory of the whole table.

53. Details of breakfast-table _when the scene is reflected on_ are
fairly defined and complete, but I have had a familiarity of many
years with my own breakfast-table, and the above would not be the
case with a table seen casually unless there were some striking
peculiarity in it,

54. I can recall any single object or group of objects, but not the
whole table at once. The things recalled are generally clearly
defined. Our table is a long one; I can in my mind pass my eyes all
down the table and see the different things distinctly, but not the
whole table at once.

_Cases where the faculty is at the lowest_.

89. Dim and indistinct, yet I can give an account of this morning's
breakfast-table; split herrings, broiled chickens, bacon, rolls,
rather light-coloured marmalade, faint green plates with stiff pink
flowers, the girls' dresses, etc. etc. I can also tell where all the
dishes were, and where the people sat (I was on a visit). But my
imagination is seldom pictorial except between sleeping and waking,
when I sometimes see rather vivid forms.

90. Dim and not comparable in brightness to the real scene. Badly
defined with blotches of light; very incomplete.

91. Dim, poor definition; could not sketch from it. I have a
difficulty in seeing two images together.

92. Usually very dim. I cannot speak of its brightness, but only of
its faintness. Not well defined and very incomplete.

93. Dim, imperfect.

94. I am very rarely able to recall any object whatever with any
sort of distinctness. Very occasionally an object or image will
recall itself, but even then it is more like a generalised image
than an individual image. I seem to be almost destitute of
visualising power, as under control.

95. No power of visualising. Between sleeping and waking, in illness
and in health, with eyes closed, some remarkable scenes have
occasionally presented themselves, but I cannot recall them when
awake with eyes open, and by daylight, or under any circumstances
whatever when a copy could be made of them on paper. I have drawn
both men and places many days or weeks after seeing them, but it was
by an effort of memory acting on study at the time, and assisted by
trial and error on the paper or canvas, whether in black, yellow, or
colour, afterwards.

96. It is only as a figure of speech that I can describe my
recollection of a scene as a "mental image" which I can "see" with
my "mind's eye." ... The memory possesses it, and the mind can at
will roam over the whole, or study minutely any part.

97. No individual objects, only a general idea of a very uncertain

98. No. My memory is not of the nature of a spontaneous vision,
though I remember well where a word occurs in a page, how furniture
looks in a room, etc. The ideas not felt to be mental pictures, but
rather the symbols of facts.

99. Extremely dim. The impressions are in all respects so dim, vague,
and transient, that I doubt whether they can reasonably be called
images. They are incomparably less than those of dreams.

100. My powers are zero. To my consciousness there is almost no
association of memory with objective visual impressions. I recollect
the breakfast-table, but do not see it.

These quotations clearly show the great variety of natural powers of
visual representation, and though the returns from which they are
taken have, as I said, no claim to be those of 100 Englishmen taken
at haphazard, nevertheless, to the best of my judgment, they happen
to differ among themselves in much the same way that such returns
would have done. I cannot procure a strictly haphazard series for
comparison, because in any group of persons whom I may question
there are always many too indolent to reply, or incapable of
expressing themselves, or who from some fancy of their own are
unwilling to reply. Still, as already mentioned, I have got together
several groups that approximate to what is wanted, usually from
schools, and I have analysed them as well as I could, and the general
result is that the above returns may be accepted as a fair
representation of the visualising powers of Englishmen. Treating
these according to the method described in the chapter of statistics,
we have the following results, in which, as a matter of interest, I
have also recorded the highest and the lowest of the series:--

_Highest_.--Brilliant, distinct, never blotchy.

       *       *       *       *       *

_First Suboctile_.--The image once seen is perfectly clear and

_First Octile_.--I can see my breakfast-table or any equally
familiar thing with my mind's eye quite as well in all particulars
as I can do if the reality is before me.

_First Quartile_--Fairly clear; illumination of actual scene is
fairly represented. Well defined. Parts do not obtrude themselves,
but attention has to be directed to different points in succession
to call up the whole.

_Middlemost_.--Fairly clear. Brightness probably at least from
one-half to two-thirds of the original. Definition varies very much,
one or two objects being much more distinct than the others, but the
latter come out clearly if attention be paid to them.

_Last Quartile_.--Dim, certainly not comparable to the actual scene.
I have to think separately of the several things on the table to
bring them clearly before the mind's eye, and when I think of some
things the others fade away in confusion.

_Last Octile_.--Dim and not comparable in brightness to the real
scene. Badly defined, with blotches of light; very incomplete; very
little of one object is seen at one time.

_Last Suboctile_.--I am very rarely able to recall any object
whatever with any sort of distinctness. Very occasionally an object
or image will recall itself, but even then it is more like a
generalised image than an individual one. I seem to be almost
destitute of visualising power as under control.

_Lowest_.--My powers are zero. To my consciousness there is almost
no association of memory with objective visual impressions. I
recollect the table, but do not see it.

I next proceed to colour, as specified in the third of my questions,
and annex a selection from the returns classified on the same
principle as in the preceding paragraph.


_Highest_.--Perfectly distinct, bright, and natural.

_First Suboctile_.--White cloth, blue china, argand coffee-pot,
buff stand with sienna drawing, toast--all clear.

_First Octile_.--All details seen perfectly.

_First Quartile_.--Colours distinct and natural till I begin to
puzzle over them.

_Middlemost_.--Fairly distinct, though not certain that they are
accurately recalled.

_Last Quartile_.--Natural, but very indistinct.

_Last Octile_.--Faint; can only recall colours by a special effort
for each.

_Last Suboctile_.--Power is nil.

_Lowest_.--Power is nil.

It may seem surprising that one out of every sixteen persons who are
accustomed to use accurate expressions should speak of their mental
imagery as perfectly clear and bright; but it is so, and many
details are added in various returns emphasising the assertion. One
of the commonest of these is to the effect, "If I could draw, I am
sure I could draw perfectly from my mental image." That some artists,
such as Blake, have really done so is beyond dispute, but I have
little doubt that there is an unconscious exaggeration in these
returns. My reason for saying so is that I have also returns from
artists, who say as follows: "My imagery is so clear, that if I had
been unable to draw I should have unhesitatingly said that I could
draw from it." A foremost painter of the present day has used that
expression. He finds deficiencies and gaps when he tries to draw
from his mental vision. There is perhaps some analogy between these
images and those of "faces in the fire." One may often fancy an
exceedingly well-marked face or other object in the burning coals,
but probably everybody will find, as I have done, that it is
impossible to draw it, for as soon as its outlines are seriously
studied, the fancy flies away.

Mr. Flinders Petrie, a contributor of interesting experiments on
kindred subjects to _Nature_, informs me that he habitually works
out sums by aid of an imaginary sliding rule, which he sets in the
desired way and reads off mentally. He does not usually visualise
the whole rule, but only that part of it with which he is at the
moment concerned (see Plate II. Fig. 34, where, however, the artist
has not put in the divisions very correctly). I think this is one of
the most striking cases of accurate visualising power it is possible
to imagine.

I have a few returns from chess-players who play games blindfolded;
but the powers of such men to visualise the separate boards with
different sets of men on the different boards, some ivory, some wood,
and so forth, are well known, and I need not repeat them. I will
rather give the following extract from an article in the _Pall Mall
Gazette_, 27th June 1882, on the recent chess tournament at Vienna:--

"The modern feats of blindfold play (without sight of board) greatly
surpass those of twenty years ago. Paul Morphy, the American, was
the first who made an especial study of this kind of display,
playing some seven or eight games blindfold and simultaneously
against various inferior opponents, and making lucrative exhibitions
in this way. His abilities in this line created a scare among other
rivals who had not practised this test of memory. Since his day many
chess-players who are gifted with strong and clear memory and power
of picturing to the mind the ideal board and men, have carried this
branch of exhibition play far beyond Morphy's pitch; and,
contemporaneously with this development, it has become acknowledged
that skill in blindfold play is not an absolute test of similarly
relative powers over the board: _e.g._ Blackburne and Zukertort can
play as many as sixteen, or even twenty, blindfold games at a time,
and win about 80 per cent of them at least. Steinitz, who beats them
both in match play, does not essay more than six blindfold at a time.
Mason does not, to our knowledge, make any _spécialité_ at all of
this sort."

I have many cases of persons mentally reading off scores when
playing the pianoforte, or manuscript when they are making speeches.
One statesman has assured me that a certain hesitation in utterance
which he has at times, is due to his being plagued by the image of
his manuscript speech with its original erasures and corrections. He
cannot lay the ghost, and he puzzles in trying to decipher it.

Some few persons see mentally in print every word that is uttered;
they attend to the visual equivalent and not to the sound of the
words, and they read them off usually as from a long imaginary strip
of paper, such as is unwound from telegraphic instruments. The
experiences differ in detail as to size and kind of type, colour of
paper, and so forth, but are always the same in the same person.

A well-known frequenter of the Royal Institution tells me that he
often craves for an absence of visual perceptions, they are so
brilliant and persistent. The Rev. George Henslow speaks of their
extreme restlessness; they oscillate, rotate, and change.

It is a mistake to suppose that sharp sight is accompanied by clear
visual memory. I have not a few instances in which the independence
of the two faculties is emphatically commented on; and I have at
least one clear case where great interest in outlines and accurate
appreciation of straightness, squareness, and the like, is
unaccompanied by the power of visualising. Neither does the faculty
go with dreaming. I have cases where it is powerful, and at the same
time where dreams are rare and faint or altogether absent. One
friend tells me that his dreams have not the hundredth part of the
vigour of his waking fancies.

The visualising and the identifying powers are by no means
necessarily combined. A distinguished writer on meta-physical topics
assures me that he is exceptionally quick at recognising a face that
he has seen before, but that he cannot call up a mental image of any
face with clearness.

Some persons have the power of combining in a single perception more
than can be seen at any one moment by the two eyes. It is needless
to insist on the fact that all who have two eyes see stereoscopically,
and therefore somewhat round a corner. Children, who can focus their
eyes on very near objects, must be able to comprise in a single
mental image much more than a half of any small object they are
examining. Animals such as hares, whose eyes are set more on the
side of the head than ours, must be able to perceive at one and the
same instant more of a panorama than we can. I find that a few
persons can, by what they often describe as a kind of touch-sight,
visualise at the same moment all round the image of a solid body.
Many can do so nearly, but not altogether round that of a
terrestrial globe. An eminent mineralogist assures me that he is
able to imagine simultaneously all the sides of a crystal with which
he is familiar. I may be allowed to quote a curious faculty of my
own in respect to this. It is exercised only occasionally and in
dreams, or rather in nightmares, but under those circumstances I am
perfectly conscious of embracing an entire sphere in a single
perception. It appears to lie within my mental eyeball, and to be
viewed centripetally.

This power of comprehension is practically attained in many cases by
indirect methods. It is a common feat to take in the whole
surroundings of an imagined room with such a rapid mental sweep as
to leave some doubt whether it has not been viewed simultaneously.
Some persons have the habit of viewing objects as though they were
partly transparent; thus, if they so dispose a globe in their
imagination as to see both its north and south poles at the same time,
they will not be able to see its equatorial parts. They can also
perceive all the rooms of an imaginary house by a single mental
glance, the walls and floors being as if made of glass. A fourth
class of persons have the habit of recalling scenes, not from the
point of view whence they were observed, but from a distance, and
they visualise their own selves as actors on the mental stage. By
one or other of these ways, the power of seeing the whole of an
object, and not merely one aspect of it, is possessed by many persons.

The place where the image appears to lie, differs much. Most persons
see it in an indefinable sort of way, others see it in front of the
eye, others at a distance corresponding to reality. There exists a
power which is rare naturally, but can, I believe, be acquired
without much difficulty, of projecting a mental picture upon a piece
of paper, and of holding it fast there, so that it can be outlined
with a pencil. To this I shall recur.

Images usually do not become stronger by dwelling on them; the first
idea is commonly the most vigorous, but this is not always the case.
Sometimes the mental view of a locality is inseparably connected
with the sense of its position as regards the points of the compass,
real or imaginary. I have received full and curious descriptions
from very different sources of this strong geographical tendency,
and in one or two cases I have reason to think it allied to a
considerable faculty of geographical comprehension.

The power of visualising is higher in the female sex than in the male,
and is somewhat, but not much, higher in public schoolboys than in
men. After maturity is reached, the further advance of age does not
seem to dim the faculty, but rather the reverse, judging from
numerous statements to that effect; but advancing years are
sometimes accompanied by a growing habit of hard abstract thinking,
and in these cases--not uncommon among those whom I have
questioned--the faculty undoubtedly becomes impaired. There is
reason to believe that it is very high in some young children, who
seem to spend years of difficulty in distinguishing between the
subjective and objective world. Language and book-learning certainly
tend to dull it.

The visualising faculty is a natural gift, and, like all natural
gifts, has a tendency to be inherited. In this faculty the tendency
to inheritance is exceptionally strong, as I have abundant evidence
to prove, especially in respect to certain rather rare peculiarities,
of which I shall speak in the next chapter, and which, when they
exist at all, are usually found among two, three, or more brothers
and sisters, parents, children, uncles and aunts, and cousins.

Since families differ so much in respect to this gift, we may
suppose that races would also differ, and there can be no doubt that
such is the case. I hardly like to refer to civilised nations,
because their natural faculties are too much modified by education
to allow of their being appraised in an off-hand fashion. I may,
however, speak of the French, who appear to possess the visualising
faculty in a high degree. The peculiar ability they show in
prearranging ceremonials _fêtes_ of all kinds, and their undoubted
genius for tactics and strategy, show that they are able to foresee
effects with unusual clearness. Their ingenuity in all technical
contrivances is an additional testimony in the same direction, and
so is their singular clearness of expression. Their phrase,
"figurez-vous," or "picture to yourself," seems to express their
dominant mode of perception. Our equivalent of "imagine" is ambiguous.

It is among uncivilised races that natural differences in the
visualising faculty are most conspicuous. Many of them make carvings
and rude illustrations, but only a few have the gift of carrying a
picture in their mind's eye, judging by the completeness and
firmness of their designs, which show no trace of having been
elaborated in that step-by-step manner which is characteristic of
draughtsmen who are not natural artists.

Among the races who are thus gifted are the commonly despised, but,
as I confidently maintain from personal knowledge of them, the much
underrated Bushmen of South Africa. They are no doubt deficient in
the natural instincts necessary to civilisation, for they detest a
regular life, they are inveterate thieves, and are incapable of
withstanding the temptation of strong drink. On the other hand, they
have few superiors among barbarians in the ingenious methods by
which they supply the wants of a difficult existence, and in the
effectiveness and nattiness of their accoutrements. One of their
habits is to draw pictures on the walls of caves of men and animals,
and to colour them with ochre. These drawings were once numerous,
but they have been sadly destroyed by advancing colonisation, and
few of them, and indeed few wild Bushmen, now exist. Fortunately a
large and valuable collection of facsimiles of Bushman art was made
before it became too late by Mr. Stow, of the Cape Colony, who has
very lately sent some specimens of them to this country, in the hope
that means might be found for the publication of the entire series.
Among the many pictures of animals in each of the large sheets full
of them, I was particularly struck with one of an eland as giving a
just idea of the precision and purity of their best work. Others,
again, were exhibited last summer at the Anthropological Institute
by Mr. Hutchinson.

The method by which the Bushmen draw is described in the following
extract from a letter written to me by Dr. Mann, the well-known
authority on South African matters of science. The boy to whom he
refers belonged to a wild tribe living in caves in the Drakenberg,
who plundered outlying farms, and were pursued by the neighbouring
colonists. He was wounded and captured, then sent to hospital, and
subsequently taken into service. He was under Dr. Mann's observation
in the year 1860, and has recently died, to the great regret of his
employer, Mr. Proudfoot, to whom he became a valuable servant.

Dr. Mann writes as follows:--

"This lad was very skilful in the proverbial Bushman art of
drawing animal figures, and upon several occasions I induced
him to show me how this was managed among his people. He
invariably began by jotting down upon paper or on a slate a
number of isolated dots which presented no connection or trace
of outline of any kind to the uninitiated eye, but looked like
the stars scattered promiscuously in the sky. Having with much
deliberation satisfied himself of the sufficiency of these dots,
he forthwith began to run a free bold line from one to the other,
and as he did so the form of an animal--horse, buffalo, elephant,
or some kind of antelope--gradually developed itself. This was
invariably done with a free hand, and with such unerring accuracy
of touch, that no correction of a line was at any time attempted.
I understood from the lad that this was the plan which was invariably
pursued by his kindred in making their clever pictures."

It is impossible, I think, for a drawing to be made on this method
unless the artist had a clear image in his mind's eye of what he was
about to draw, and was able, in some degree, to project it on the
paper or slate.

Other living races have the gift of drawing, but none more so than
the Eskimo. I will therefore speak of these and not of the
Australian and Tasmanian pictures, nor of the still ruder
performances of the old inhabitants of Guiana, nor of those of some
North American tribes, as the Iroquois. The Eskimos are geographers
by instinct, and appear to see vast tracts of country mapped out in
their heads. From the multitude of illustrations of their
map-drawing powers, I may mention one of those included in the
journals of Captain Hall, at p. 224, which were published in 1879 by
the United States Government, under the editorship of Professor J. E.
Nourse. It is the facsimile of a chart drawn by an Eskimo who was a
thorough barbarian in the accepted sense of the word; that is to say,
he spoke no language besides his own uncouth tongue, he was wholly
uneducated according to our modern ideas, and he lived in what we
should call a savage fashion. This man drew from memory a chart of
the region over which he had at one time or another gone in his canoe.
It extended from Pond's Bay, in lat. 73°, to Fort Churchill, in lat.
58°44', over a distance in a straight line of more than 960 nautical,
or 1100 English miles, the coast being so indented by arms of the
sea that its length is six times as great. On comparing this rough
Eskimo outline with the Admiralty chart of 1870, their accordance is
remarkable. I have seen many MS. route maps made by travellers a few
years since, when the scientific exploration of the world was much
less advanced than it is now, and I can confidently say that I have
never known of any traveller, white or brown, civilised or
uncivilised, in Africa, Asia, or Australia, who, being unprovided
with surveying instruments, and trusting to his memory alone, has
produced a chart comparable in extent and accuracy to that of this
barbarous Eskimo. The aptitude of the Eskimos to draw, is abundantly
shown by the numerous illustrations in Rink's work, all of which
were made by self-taught men, and are thoroughly realistic.

So much for the wild races of the present day; but even the Eskimo
are equalled in their power of drawing by the men of old times. In
ages so far gone by, that the interval that separates them from our
own may be measured in perhaps hundreds of thousands of years, when
Europe was mostly icebound, a race who, in the opinion of all
anthropologists, was closely allied to the modern Eskimo, lived in
caves in the more habitable places. Many broken relics of that race
have been found; some few of these are of bone engraved with flints
or carved into figures, and among these are representations of the
mammoth, elk, and reindeer, which, if made by an English labourer
with the much better implements at his command, would certainly
attract local attention and lead to his being properly educated, and
in much likelihood to his becoming a considerable artist if he had
intellectual powers to match.

It is not at all improbable that these prehistoric men had the same
geographical instincts as the modern Eskimo, whom they closely
resemble in every known respect. If so, it is perfectly possible
that scraps of charts scratched on bone or stone, of prehistoric
Europe, when the distribution of land, sea, and ice was very
different to what it is now, may still exist, buried underground,
and may reward the zeal of some future cave explorer.

There is abundant evidence that the visualising faculty admits of
being developed by education. The testimony on which I would
lay especial stress is derived from the published experiences of
M. Lecoq de Boisbaudran, late director of the École Nationale de Dessein,
in Paris, which are related in his _Education de la M. émoire
Pittoresque_ [1] He trained his pupils with extraordinary success,
beginning with the simplest figures. They were made to study the
models thoroughly before they tried to draw them from memory. One
favourite expedient was to associate the sight memory with the
muscular memory, by making his pupils follow at a distance the
outlines of the figures with a pencil held in their hands. After
three or four months' practice, their visual memory became greatly
strengthened. They had no difficulty in summoning images at will, in
holding them steady, and in drawing them. Their copies [7] were
executed with marvellous fidelity, as attested by a commission of
the Institute, appointed in 1852 to inquire into the matter, of
which the eminent painter Horace Vernet was a member. The present
Slade Professor of Fine Arts at University College, M. Légros, was a
pupil of M. de Boisbaudran. He has expressed to me his indebtedness
to the system, and he has assured me of his own success in teaching
others in a somewhat similar way.

[Footnote 7: Republished in an 8vo, entitled _Enseignment
Artistique_. Morel et Cie. Paris, 1879.]

Colonel Moncrieff informs me that, when wintering in 1877 near Fort
Garry in North America, young Indians occasionally came to his
quarters, and that he found them much interested in any pictures or
prints that were put before them. On one of these occasions he saw
an Indian tracing the outline of a print from the _Illustrated News_
very carefully with the point of his knife. The reason he gave for
this odd manoeuvre was, that he would remember the better how to
carve it when he returned home.

I could mention instances within my own experience in which the
visualising faculty has become strengthened by practice; notably one
of an eminent electrical engineer, who had the power of recalling
form with unusual precision, but not colour. A few weeks after he
had replied to my questions, he told me that my inquiries had
induced him to practise his colour memory, and that he had done so
with such success that he was become quite an adept at it, and that
the newly-acquired power was a source of much pleasure to him.

A useful faculty, easily developed by practice, is that of retaining
a retinal picture. A scene is flashed upon the eye; the memory of it
persists, and details, which escaped observation during the brief
time when it was actually seen, may be analysed and studied at
leisure in the subsequent vision.

The memories we should aim at acquiring are, however, such as are
based on a thorough understanding of the objects observed. In no
case is this more surely effected than in the processes of
mechanical drawing, where the intended structure has to be portrayed
so exactly in plan, elevation, side view, and sections, that the
workman has simply to copy the drawing in metal, wood, or stone, as
the case may be. It is undoubtedly the fact that mechanicians,
engineers, and architects usually possess the faculty of seeing
mental images with remarkable clearness and precision.

A few dots like those used by the Bushmen give great assistance in
creating an imaginary picture, as proved by our general habit of
working out ideas by the help of marks and rude lines. The use of
dolls by children also testifies to the value of an objective
support in the construction of mental images. The doll serves as a
kind of skeleton for the child to clothe with fantastic attributes,
and the less individuality the doll has, the more it is appreciated
by the child, who can the better utilise it as a lay figure in many
different characters. The chief art of strengthening visual, as well
as every other form of memory, lies in multiplying associations; the
healthiest memory being that in which all the associations are
logical, and toward which all the senses concur in their due
proportions. It is wonderful how much the vividness of a
recollection is increased when two or more lines of association are
simultaneously excited. Thus the inside of a known house is much
better visualised when we are looking at its outside than when we
are away from it, and some chess-players have told me that it is
easier for them to play a game from memory when they have a blank
board before them than when they have not.

There is an absence of flexibility in the mental imagery of most
persons. They find that the first image they have acquired of any
scene is apt to hold its place tenaciously in spite of subsequent
need of correction. They find a difficulty in shifting their mental
view of an object, and examining it at pleasure in different
positions. If they see an object equally often in many positions the
memories combine and confuse one another, forming a "composite" blur,
which they cannot dissect into its components. They are less able to
visualise the features of intimate friends than those of persons of
whom they have caught only a single glance. Many such persons have
expressed to me their grief at finding themselves powerless to
recall the looks of dear relations whom they had lost, while they
had no difficulty in recollecting faces that were uninteresting to

Others have a complete mastery over their mental images. They can
call up the figure of a friend and make it sit on a chair or stand
up at will; they can make it turn round and attitudinise in any way,
as by mounting it on a bicycle or compelling it to perform gymnastic
feats on a trapeze. They are able to build up elaborate geometric
structures bit by bit in their mind's eye, and add, subtract, or
alter at will and at leisure. This free action of a vivid
visualising faculty is of much importance in connection with the
higher processes of generalised thought, though it is commonly put
to no such purpose, as may be easily explained by an example. Suppose
a person suddenly to accost another with the following words:--
"I want to tell you about a boat." What is the idea that the word
"boat" would be likely to call up? I tried the experiment with this
result. One person, a young lady, said that she immediately saw the
image of a rather large boat pushing off from the shore, and that it
was full of ladies and gentlemen, the ladies being dressed in white
and blue. It is obvious that a tendency to give so specific an
interpretation to a general word is absolutely opposed to philosophic
thought. Another person, who was accustomed to philosophise, said
that the word "boat" had aroused no definite image, because he had
purposely held his mind in suspense. He had exerted himself not to
lapse into any one of the special ideas that he felt the word boat
was ready to call up, such as a skiff, wherry, barge, launch, punt,
or dingy. Much more did he refuse to think of any one of these with
any particular freight or from any particular point of view. A habit
of suppressing mental imagery must therefore characterise men who
deal much with abstract ideas; and as the power of dealing easily
and firmly with these ideas is the surest criterion of a high order
of intellect, we should expect that the visualising faculty would be
starved by disuse among philosophers, and this is precisely what I
found on inquiry to be the case.

But there is no reason why it should be so, if the faculty is free
in its action, and not tied to reproduce hard and persistent forms;
it may then produce generalised pictures out of its past experiences
quite automatically. It has no difficulty in reducing images to the
same scale, owing to our constant practice in watching objects as
they approach or recede, and consequently grow or diminish in
apparent size. It readily shifts images to any desired point of the
field of view, owing to our habit of looking at bodies in motion to
the right or left, upward or downward. It selects images that
present the same aspect, either by a simple act of memory or by a
feat of imagination that forces them into the desired position, and
it has little or no difficulty in reversing them from right to left,
as if seen in a looking-glass. In illustration of these generalised
mental images, let us recur to the boat, and suppose the speaker to
continue as follows:--"The boat was a four-oared racing-boat, it was
passing quickly to the left just in front of me, and the men were
bending forward to take a fresh stroke." Now at this point of the
story the listener ought to have a picture well before his eye. It
ought to have the distinctness of a real four-oar going to the left,
at the moment when many of its details still remained unheeded, such
as the dresses of the men and their individual features. It would be
the generic image of a four-oar formed by the combination into a
single picture of a great many sight memories of those boats.

In the highest minds a descriptive word is sufficient to evoke
crowds of shadowy associations, each striving to manifest itself.
When they differ so much from one another as to be unfitted for
combination into a single idea, there will be a conflict, each being
prevented by the rest from obtaining sole possession of the field of
consciousness. There could, therefore, be no definite imagery so
long as the aggregate of all the pictures that the word suggested of
objects presenting similar aspects, reduced to the same size, and
accurately superposed, resulted in a blur; but a picture would
gradually evolve as qualifications were added to the word, and it
would attain to the distinctness and vividness of a generic image
long before the word had been so restricted as to be individualised.
If the intellect be slow, though correct in its operations, the
associations will be few, and the generalised image based on
insufficient data. If the visualising power be faint, the
generalised image will be indistinct.

I cannot discover any closer relation between high visualising power
and the intellectual faculties than between verbal memory and those
same faculties. That it must afford immense help in some professions
stands to reason, but in ordinary social life the possession of a
high visualising power, as of a high verbal memory, may pass quite
unobserved. I have to the last failed in anticipating the character
of the answers that my friends would give to my inquiries, judging
from my previous knowledge of them; though I am bound to say that,
having received their answers, I could usually persuade myself that
they were justified by my recollections of their previous sayings
and conduct generally.

The faculty is undoubtedly useful in a high degree to inventive
mechanicians, and the great majority of those whom I have questioned
have spoken of their powers as very considerable. They invent their
machines as they walk, and see them in height, breadth, and depth as
real objects, and they can also see them in action. In fact, a
periodic action of any kind appears to be easily recalled. But the
powers of other men are considerably less; thus an engineer officer
who has himself great power of visual memory, and who has
superintended the mathematical education of cadets, doubts if one in
ten can visualise an object in three dimensions. I should have
thought the faculty would be common among geometricians, but many of
the highest seem able somehow to get on without much of it. There is
a curious dictum of Napoleon I. quoted in Hume's _Précis of Modern
Tactics_, p. 15, of which I can neither find the original authority
nor do I fully understand the meaning. He is reported to have said
that "there are some who, from some physical or moral peculiarity of
character, form a picture (_tableau_) of everything. No matter what
knowledge, intellect, courage, or good qualities they may have,
these men are unfit to command." It is possible that "tableau"
should be construed rather in the sense of a pictorial composition,
which, like an epigrammatic sentence, may be very complete and
effective, but not altogether true.

There can, however, be no doubt as to the utility of the visualising
faculty when it is duly subordinated to the higher intellectual
operations. A visual image is the most perfect form of mental
representation wherever the shape, position, and relations of
objects in space are concerned. It is of importance in every
handicraft and profession where design is required. The best workmen
are those who visualise the whole of what they propose to do, before
they take a tool in their hands. The village smith and the carpenter
who are employed on odd jobs employ it no less for their work than
the mechanician, the engineer, and the architect. The lady's maid
who arranges a new dress requires it for the same reason as the
decorator employed on a palace, or the agent who lays out great
estates. Strategists, artists of all denominations, physicists who
contrive new experiments, and in short all who do not follow routine,
have need of it. The pleasure its use can afford is immense. I have
many correspondents who say that the delight of recalling beautiful
scenery and great works of art is the highest that they know; they
carry whole picture galleries in their minds. Our bookish and wordy
education tends to repress this valuable gift of nature. A faculty
that is of importance in all technical and artistic occupations,
that gives accuracy to our perceptions, and justness to our
generalisations, is starved by lazy disuse, instead of being
cultivated judiciously in such a way as will on the whole bring the
best return. I believe that a serious study of the best method of
developing and utilising this faculty, without prejudice to the
practice of abstract thought in symbols, is one of the many pressing
desiderata in the yet unformed science of education.


Persons who are imaginative almost invariably think of _numerals_ in
some form of visual imagery. If the idea of _six_ occurs to them,
the word "six" does not sound in their mental ear, but the figure 6
in a written or printed form rises before their mental eye. The
clearness of the images of numerals, and the number of them that can
be mentally viewed at the same time, differs greatly in different
persons. The most common case is to see only two or three figures at
once, and in a position too vague to admit of definition. There are
a few persons in whom the visualising faculty is so low that they
can mentally see neither numerals nor anything else; and again there
are a few in whom it is so high as to give rise to hallucinations.
Those who are able to visualise a numeral with a distinctness
comparable to reality, and to behold it as if it were before their
eyes, and not in some sort of dreamland, will define the direction in
which it seems to lie, and the distance at which it appears to be.
If they were looking at a ship on the horizon at the moment that the
figure 6 happened to present itself to their minds, they could say
whether the image lay to the left or right of the ship, and whether
it was above or below the line of the horizon; they could always
point to a definite spot in space, and say with more or less
precision that that was the direction in which the image of the
figure they were thinking of, first appeared.

Now the strange psychological fact to which I desire to draw
attention, is that among persons who visualise figures clearly there
are many who notice that the image of the same figure invariably
makes its first appearance in the same direction, and at the same
distance. Such a person would always see the figure when it first
appeared to him at (we may suppose) one point of the compass to the
left of the line between his eye and the ship, at the level of the
horizon, and at twenty feet distance. Again, we may suppose that he
would see the figure 7 invariably half a point to the left of the
ship, at an altitude equal to the sun's diameter above the horizon,
and at thirty feet distance; similarly for all the other figures.
Consequently, when he thinks of the series of numerals 1, 2, 3, 4,
etc., they show themselves in a definite pattern that always
occupies an identical position in his field of view with respect to
the direction in which he is looking.

Those who do not see figures with the same objectivity, use
nevertheless the same expressions with reference to their mental
field of view. They can draw what they see in a manner fairly
satisfactory to themselves, but they do not locate it so strictly in
reference to their axis of sight and to the horizontal plane that
passes through it. It is with them as in dreams, the imagery is
before and around, but the eyes during sleep are turned inwards and

The pattern or "Form" in which the numerals are seen is by no means
the same in different persons, but assumes the most grotesque
variety of shapes, which run in all sorts of angles, bends, curves,
and zigzags as represented in the various illustrations to this
chapter. The drawings, however, fail in giving the idea of their
apparent size to those who see them; they usually occupy a wider
range than the mental eye can take in at a single glance, and compel
it to wander. Sometimes they are nearly panoramic.

These Forms have for the most part certain characteristics in common.
They are stated in all cases to have been in existence, so far as
the earlier numbers in the Form are concerned, as long back as the
memory extends; they come into view quite independently of the will,
and their shape and position, at all events in the mental field of
view, is nearly invariable. They have other points in common to
which I shall shortly draw attention, but first I will endeavour to
remove all doubt as to the authenticity and trustworthiness of these

I see no "Form" myself, and first ascertained that such a thing
existed through a letter from Mr. G. Bidder, Q.C., in which he
described his own case as a very curious peculiarity. I was at the
time making inquiries about the strength of the visualising faculty
in different persons, and among the numerous replies that reached me
I soon collected ten or twelve other cases in which the writers
spoke of their seeing numerals in definite forms. Though the
information came from independent sources, the expressions used were
so closely alike that they strongly corroborated one another. Of
course I eagerly followed up the inquiry, and when I had collected
enough material to justify publication, I wrote an account which
appeared in _Nature_ on 15th January 1880, with several illustrations.
This has led to a wide correspondence and to a much-increased store
of information, which enables me to arrive at the following
conclusions. The answers I received whenever I have pushed my
questions, have been straightforward and precise. I have not
unfrequently procured a second sketch of the Form even after more
than two years' interval, and found it to agree closely with the
first one. I have also questioned many of my own friends in general
terms as to whether they visualise numbers in any particular way.
The large majority are unable to do so. But every now and then I
meet with persons who possess the faculty, and I have become
familiar with the quick look of intelligence with which they receive
my question. It is as though some chord had been struck which had
not been struck before, and the verbal answers they give me are
precisely of the same type as those written ones of which I have now
so many. I cannot doubt of the authenticity of independent statements
which closely confirm one another, nor of the general accuracy of
the accompanying sketches, because I find now that my collection is
large enough for classification, that they might be arranged in an
approximately continuous series. I am often told that the
peculiarity is common to the speaker and to some near relative, and
that they had found such to be the case by accident. I have the
strongest evidence of its hereditary character after allowing, and
over-allowing, for all conceivable influences of education and
family tradition.

Last of all, I took advantage of the opportunity afforded by a
meeting of the Anthropological Institute to read a memoir there on
the subject, and to bring with me many gentlemen well known in the
scientific world, who have this habit of seeing numerals in Forms,
and whose diagrams were suspended on the walls. Amongst them are
Mr. G. Bidder, Q.C., the Rev. Mr. G. Henslow, the botanist;
Prof. Schuster, F.R.S., the physicist; Mr. Roget, Mr. Woodd Smith,
and Colonel Yule, C.B., the geographer. These diagrams are given
in Plate I. Figs. 20-24. I wished that some of my foreign
correspondents could also have been present, such as M. Antoine
d'Abbadie, the well-known French traveller and Membre de l'Institut,
and Baron v. Osten Sacken, the Russian diplomatist and entomologist,
for they had given and procured me much information.

I feel sure that I have now said enough to remove doubts as to the
authenticity of my data. Their trustworthiness will, I trust, be
still more apparent as I proceed; it has been abundantly manifest to
myself from the internal evidences in a large mass of correspondence,
to which I can unfortunately do no adequate justice in a brief memoir.
It remains to treat the data in the same way as any other scientific
facts and to extract as much meaning from them as possible.

The peculiarity in question is found, speaking very roughly, in about
1 out of every 30 adult males or 15 females. It consists in the
sudden and automatic appearance of a vivid and invariable "Form" in
the mental field of view, whenever a numeral is thought of, in which
each numeral has its own definite place. This Form may consist of a
mere line of any shape, of a peculiarly arranged row or rows of
figures, or of a shaded space.

I give woodcuts of representative specimens of these Forms, and very
brief descriptions of them extracted from the letters of my
correspondents. Sixty-three other diagrams on a smaller scale will
be found in Plates I., II. and III., and two more which are coloured
are given in Plate IV.

[Illustration: ]

D.A. "From the very first I have seen numerals up to nearly 200,
range themselves always in a particular manner, and in thinking of a
number it always takes its place in the figure. The more attention I
give to the properties of numbers and their interpretations, the
less I am troubled with this clumsy framework for them, but it is
indelible in my mind's eye even when for a long time less
consciously so. The higher numbers are to me quite abstract and
unconnected with a shape. This rough and untidy [8] production is
the best I can do towards representing what I see. There was a
little difficulty in the performance, because it is only by catching
oneself at unawares, so to speak, that one is quite sure that what
one sees is not affected by temporary imagination. But it does not
seem much like, chiefly because the mental picture never seems
_on_ the flat but _in_ a thick, dark gray atmosphere deepening in
certain parts, especially where 1 emerges, and about 20. How I get
from 100 to 120 I hardly know, though if I could require these
figures a few times without thinking of them on purpose, I should
soon notice. About 200 I lose all framework. I do not see the actual
figures very distinctly, but what there is of them is distinguished
from the dark by a thin whitish tracing. It is the place they take
and the shape they make collectively which is invariable. Nothing
more definitely takes its place than a person's age. The person is
usually there so long as his age is in mind."

[Footnote 8: The engraver took much pains to interpret the meaning
of the rather faint but carefully made drawing, by strengthening
some of the shades. The result was very very satisfactory, judging
from the author's own view of it, which is as follows:--"Certainly
if the engraver has been as successful with all the other
representations as with that of my shape and its accompaniments,
your article must be entirely correct."]

T. M. "The representation I carry in my mind of the numerical series
is quite distinct to me, so much so that I cannot think of any
number but I at once see it (as it were) in its peculiar place in
the diagram. My remembrance of dates is also nearly entirely
dependent on a clear mental vision of their _loci_ in the diagram.
This, as nearly as I can draw it, is the following:--"

[Illustration: ]

"It is only approximately correct (if the term 'correct' be at all
applicable). The numbers seem to approach more closely as I ascend
from 10 to 20, 30, 40, etc. The lines embracing a hundred numbers
also seem to approach as I go on to 400, 500, to 1000. Beyond 1000 I
have only the sense of an infinite line in the direction of the arrow,
losing itself in darkness towards the millions. Any special number
of thousands returns in my mind to its position in the parallel
lines from 1 to 1000. The diagram was present in my mind from early
childhood; I remember that I learnt the multiplication table by
reference to it at the age of seven or eight. I need hardly say that
the impression is not that of perfectly straight lines, I have
therefore used no ruler in drawing it."

J.S. "The figures are about a quarter of an inch in length, and in
ordinary type. They are black on a white ground. The numeral 200
generally takes the place of 100 and obliterates it. There is no
light or shade, and the picture is invariable."

[Illustration: ]

                                           etc.  etc.
      30   40   50   60   70   80   90   |

In some cases, the mental eye has to travel along the faintly-marked
and blank paths of a Form, to the place where the numeral that is
wanted is known to reside, and then the figure starts into sight. In
other cases all the numerals, as far as 100 or more, are faintly
seen at once, but the figure that is wanted grows more vivid than its
neighbours; in one of the cases there is, as it were, a chain, and
the particular link rises as if an unseen hand had lifted it. The
Forms are sometimes variously coloured, occasionally very
brilliantly (see Plate IV.). In all of these the definition and
illumination vary much in different parts. Usually the Forms fade
away into indistinctness after 100; sometimes they come to a dead
stop. The higher numbers very rarely fill so large a space in the
Forms as the lower ones, and the diminution of space occupied by
them is so increasingly rapid that I thought it not impossible they
might diminish according to some geometrical law, such as that which
governs sensitivity. I took many careful measurements and averaged
them, but the result did not justify the supposition.

It is beyond dispute that these forms originate at an early age;
they are subsequently often developed in boyhood and youth so as to
include the higher numbers, and, among mathematical students, the
negative values.

Nearly all of my correspondents speak with confidence of their Forms
having been in existence as far back as they recollect. One states
that he knows he possessed it at the age of four; another, that he
learnt his multiplication table by the aid of the elaborate mental
diagram he still uses. Not one in ten is able to suggest any clue as
to their origin. They cannot be due to anything written or printed,
because they do not simulate what is found in ordinary writings or

About one-third of the figures are curved to the left, two-thirds to
the right; they run more often upward than downward. They do not
commonly lie in a single plane. Sometimes a Form has twists as well
as bends, sometimes it is turned upside down, sometimes it plunges
into an abyss of immeasurable depth, or it rises and disappears in
the sky. My correspondents are often in difficulties when trying to
draw them in perspective. One sent me a stereoscopic picture
photographed from a wire that had been bent into the proper shape.
In one case the Form proceeds at first straightforward, then it
makes a backward sweep high above head, and finally recurves into
the pocket, of all places! It is often sloped upwards at a slight
inclination from a little below the level of the eye, just as
objects on a table would appear to a child whose chin was barely
above it.

It may seem strange that children should have such bold conceptions
as of curves sweeping loftily upward or downward to immeasurable
depths, but I think it may be accounted for by their much larger
personal experience of the vertical dimension of space than adults.
They are lifted, tossed and swung, but adults pass their lives very
much on a level, and only judge of heights by inference from the
picture on their retina. Whenever a man first ventures up in a
balloon, or is let, like a gatherer of sea-birds' eggs, over the
face of a precipice, he is conscious of having acquired a much
extended experience of the third dimension of space.

The character of the forms under which historical dates are
visualised contrast strongly with the ordinary Number-Forms. They
are sometimes copied from the numerical ones, but they are more
commonly based both clearly and consciously on the diagrams used in
the schoolroom or on some recollected fancy.

The months of the year are usually perceived as ovals, and they as
often follow one another in a reverse direction to those of the
figures on the clock, as in the same direction. It is a common
peculiarity that the months do not occupy equal spaces, but those
that are most important to the child extend more widely than the rest.
There are many varieties as to the topmost month; it is by no means
always January.

The Forms of the letters of the alphabet, when imaged, as they
sometimes are, in that way, are equally easy to be accounted for,
therefore the ordinary Number-Form is the oldest of all, and
consequently the most interesting. I suppose that it first came into
existence when the child was learning to count, and was used by him
as a natural mnemonic diagram, to which he referred the spoken words
"one," "two," "three," etc. Also, that as soon as he began to read,
the visual symbol figures supplanted their verbal sounds, and
permanently established themselves on the Form. It therefore existed
at an earlier date than that at which the child began to learn to
read; it represents his mental processes at a time of which no other
record remains; it persists in vigorous activity, and offers itself
freely to our examination.

The teachers of many schools and colleges, some in America, have
kindly questioned their pupils for me; the results are given in the
two first columns of Plate I. It appears that the proportion of
young people who see numerals in Forms is greater than that of adults.
But for the most part their Forms are neither well defined nor
complicated. I conclude that when they are too faint to be of
service they are gradually neglected, and become wholly forgotten;
while if they are vivid and useful, they increase in vividness and
definition by the effect of habitual use. Hence, in adults, the two
classes of seers and non-seers are rather sharply defined, the
connecting link of intermediate cases which is observable in
childhood having disappeared.

These Forms are the most remarkable existing instances of what is
called "topical" memory, the essence of which appears to lie in the
establishment of a more exact system of division of labour in the
different parts of the brain, than is usually carried on. Topical
aids to memory are of the greatest service to many persons, and
teachers of mnemonics make large use of them, as by advising a
speaker to mentally associate the corners, etc., of a room with the
chief divisions of the speech he is about to deliver. Those who feel
the advantage of these aids most strongly are the most likely to
cultivate the use of numerical forms. I have read many books on
mnemonics, and cannot doubt their utility to some persons; to myself
the system is of no avail whatever, but simply a stumbling-block,
nevertheless I am well aware that many of my early associations are
fanciful and silly.

The question remains, why do the lines of the Forms run in such
strange and peculiar ways? the reply is, that different persons have
natural fancies for different lines and curves. Their handwriting
shows this, for handwriting is by no means solely dependent on the
balance of the muscles of the hand, causing such and such strokes to
be made with greater facility than others. Handwriting is greatly
modified by the fashion of the time. It is in reality a compromise
between what the writer most likes to produce, and what he can
produce with the greatest ease to himself. I am sure, too, that I
can trace a connection between the general look of the handwritings
of my various correspondents and the lines of their Forms. If a
spider were to visualise numerals, we might expect he would do so in
some web-shaped fashion, and a bee in hexagons. The definite
domestic architecture of all animals as seen in their nests and
holes shows the universal tendency of each species to pursue their
work according to certain definite lines and shapes, which are to
them instinctive and in no way, we may presume, logical. The same is
seen in the groups and formations of flocks of gregarious animals
and in the flights of gregarious birds, among which the wedge-shaped
phalanx of wild ducks and the huge globe of soaring storks are as
remarkable as any.

I used to be much amused during past travels in watching the
different lines of search that were pursued by different persons in
looking for objects lost on the ground, when the encampment was
being broken up. Different persons had decided idiosyncracies, so
much so that if their travelling line of sight could have scored a
mark on the ground, I think the system of each person would have
been as characteristic as his Number-Form.

Children learn their figures to some extent by those on the clock. I
cannot, however, trace the influence of the clock on the Forms in
more than a few cases. In two of them the clock-face actually appears,
in others it has evidently had a strong influence, and in the rest
its influence is indicated, but nothing more. I suppose that the
complex Roman numerals in the clock do not fit in sufficiently well
with the simpler ideas based upon the Arabic ones.

The other traces of the origin of the Forms that appear here and
there, are dominoes, cards, counters, an abacus, the fingers,
counting by coins, feet and inches (a yellow carpenter's rule
appears in one case with 56 in large figures upon it), the country
surrounding the child's home, with its hills and dales, objects in
the garden (one scientific man sees the old garden walk and the
numeral 7 at a tub sunk in the ground where his father filled his
watering-pot). Some associations seem connected with the objects
spoken of in the doggerel verses by which children are often taught
their numbers.

But the paramount influence proceeds from the names of the numerals.
Our nomenclature is perfectly barbarous, and that of other civilised
nations is not better than ours, and frequently worse, as the French
"quatre-vingt dix-huit," or "four score, ten and eight," instead of
ninety-eight. We speak of ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, etc., in
defiance of the beautiful system of decimal notation in which we
write those numbers. What we see is one-naught, one-one, one-two, etc.,
and we should pronounce on that principle, with this proviso, that
the word for the "one" having to show both the place and the value,
should have a sound suggestive of "one" but not identical with it.
Let us suppose it to be the letter _o_ pronounced short as in
"on," then instead of ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, etc., we might
say _on-naught, on-one, on-two, on-three_, etc.

The conflict between the two systems creates a perplexity, to which
conclusive testimony is borne by these numerical forms. In most of
them there is a marked hitch at the 12, and this repeats itself at
the 120. The run of the lines between 1 and 20 is rarely analogous
to that between 20 and 100, where it usually first becomes regular.
The 'teens frequently occupy a larger space than their due. It is not
easy to define in words the variety of traces of the difficulty and
annoyance caused by our unscientific nomenclature, that are
portrayed vividly, and, so to speak, painfully in these pictures.
They are indelible scars that testify to the effort and ingenuity
with which a sort of compromise was struggled for and has finally
been effected between the verbal and decimal systems. I am sure that
this difficulty is more serious and abiding than has been suspected,
not only from the persistency of these twists, which would have long
since been smoothed away if they did not continue to subserve some
useful purpose, but also from experiments on my own mind. I find I
can deal mentally with simple sums with much less strain if I
audibly conceive the figures as on-naught, on-one, etc., and I can
both dictate and write from dictation with much less trouble when
that system or some similar one is adopted. I have little doubt that
our nomenclature is a serious though unsuspected hindrance to the
ready adoption by the public of a decimal system of weights and
measures. Three quarters of the Forms bear a duodecimal impress.

I will now give brief explanations of the Number-Forms drawn in
Plates I., II., and III., and in the two front figures in Plate IV.


Fig. 1 is by Mr. Walter Larden, science-master of Cheltenham College,
who sent me a very interesting and elaborate account of his own case,
which by itself would make a memoir; and he has collected other
information for me. The Number-Forms of one of his colleagues and of
that gentleman's sister are given in Figs. 53, 54, Plate III. I
extract the following from Mr. Larden's letter--it is all for which
I can find space:--

[Illustration: PLATE I. _Examples of Number-Forms_.]

"All numbers are to me as images of figures in general; I see them
in ordinary Arabic type (except in some special cases), and they
have definite positions in space (as shown in the Fig.). Beyond 100
I am conscious of coming down a dotted line to the position of 1
again, and of going over the same cycle exactly as before, _e.g._
with 120 in the place of 20, and so on up to 140 or 150. With higher
numbers the imagery is less definite; thus, for 1140, I can only say
that there are no new positions, I do not see the entire number in
the place of 40; but if I think of it as 11 hundred and 40, I see 40
in its place, 11 in its place, and 100 in its place; the picture is
not single though the ideas combine. I seem to stand near 1. I have
to turn somewhat to see from 30-40, and more and more to see from
40-100; 100 lies high up to my right and behind me. I see no shading
nor colour in the figures."

Figs. 2 to 6 are from returns collected for me by the Rev. A.D. Hill,
science-master of Winchester College, who sent me replies from 135
boys of an average age of 14-15. He says, speaking of their replies
to my numerous questions on visualising generally, that they
"represent fairly those who could answer anything; the boys
certainly seemed interested in the subject; the others, who had no
such faculty either attempting and failing, or not finding any
response in their minds, took no interest in the inquiry." A very
remarkable case of hereditary colour association was sent to me by
Mr. Hill, to which I shall refer later. The only five good cases of
Number-Forms among the 135 boys are those shown in the Figs. I need
only describe Fig. 2. The boy says:--"Numbers, except the first
twenty, appear in waves; the two crossing-lines, 60-70, 140-150,
never appear at the _same time_. The first twelve are the image of a
clock, and 13-20 a continuation of them."

Figs. 7, 8, are sent me by Mr. Henry F. Osborn of Princeton in the
United States, who has given cordial assistance in obtaining
information as regards visualising generally. These two are the only
Forms included in sixty returns that he sent, 34 of which were from
Princeton College, and the remaining 26 from Vassar (female) College.
Figs. 9-19 and Fig. 28 are from returns communicated by Mr. W.H.
Poole, science-master of Charterhouse College, which are very
valuable to me as regards visualising power generally. He read my
questions before a meeting of about 60 boys, who all consented to
reply, and he had several subsequent volunteers. All the answers
were short, straightforward, and often amusing. Subsequently the
inquiry extended, and I have 168 returns from him in all, containing
12 good Number-Forms, shown in Figs. 9-19, and in Fig. 28. The
first Fig. is that of Mr. Poole himself; he says, "The line only
represents position; it does not exist in my mind. After 100, I
return to my old starting-place, _e.g._ 140 occupies the same
position as 40."

The gross statistical result from the schoolboys is as follows:
--Total returns, 337: viz. Winchester 135, Princeton 34, Charterhouse
168; the number of these that contained well-defined Number-Forms
are 5, 1, and 12 respectively, or total 18--that is, one in twenty.
It may justly be said that the masters should not be counted,
because it was owing to the accident of their seeing the Number-Forms
themselves that they became interested in the inquiry; if this
objection be allowed, the proportion would become 16 in 337, or one
in twenty-one. Again, some boys who had no visualising faculty at
all could make no sense out of the questions, and wholly refrained
from answering; this would again diminish the proportion. The
shyness in some would help in a statistical return to neutralise the
tendency to exaggeration in others, but I do not think there is much
room for correction on either head. Neither do I think it requisite
to make much allowance for inaccurate answers, as the tone of the
replies is simple and straightforward. Those from Princeton, where
the students are older and had been specially warned, are remarkable
for indications of self-restraint. The result of personal inquiries
among adults, quite independent of and prior to these, gave me the
proportion of 1 in 30 as a provisional result for adults. This is as
well confirmed by the present returns of 1 in 21 among boys and
youths as I could have expected.

I have not a sufficient number of returns from girls for useful
comparison with the above, though I am much indebted to Miss Lewis
for 33 reports, to Miss Cooper of Edgbaston for 10 reports from the
female teachers at her school, and to a few other schoolmistresses,
such as Miss Stones of Carmarthen, whose returns I have utilised in
other ways. The tendency to see Number-Forms is certainly higher in
girls than in boys.

Fig. 20 is the Form of Mr. George Bidder, Q.C.; it is of much
interest to myself, because it was, as I have already mentioned,
through the receipt of it and an accompanying explanation that my
attention was first drawn to the subject. Mr. G. Bidder is son of
the late well-known engineer, the famous "calculating boy" of the
bygone generation, whose marvellous feats in mental arithmetic were
a standing wonder. The faculty is hereditary. Mr. G. Bidder himself
has multiplied mentally fifteen figures by another fifteen figures,
but with less facility than his father. It has been again transmitted,
though in an again reduced degree, to the third generation. He says:

"One of the most curious peculiarities in my own case is the
arrangement of the arithmetical numerals. I have sketched this to
the best of my ability. Every number (at least within the first
thousand, and afterwards thousands take the place of units) is
always thought of by me in its own definite place in the series,
where it has, if I may say so, a home and an individuality. I should,
however, qualify this by saying that when I am multiplying together
two large numbers, my mind is engrossed in the operation, and the
idea of locality in the series for the moment sinks out of prominence."

Fig. 21 is that of Prof. Schuster, F.R.S., whose visualising powers
are of a very high order, and who has given me valuable information,
but want of space compels me to extract very briefly. He says to the

"The diagram of numerals which I usually see has roughly the shape
of a horse-shoe, lying on a slightly inclined plane, with the open
end towards me. It always comes into view in front of me, a little
to the left, so that the right hand branch of the horse-shoe, at the
bottom of which I place 0, is in front of my left eye. When I move
my eyes without moving my head, the diagram remains fixed in space
and does not follow the movement of my eye. When I move the head the
diagram unconsciously follows the movement, but I can, by an effort,
keep it fixed in space as before. I can also shift it from one part
of the field to the other, and even turn it upside down. I use the
diagram as a resting-place for the memory, placing a number on it
and finding it again when wanted. A remarkable property of the
diagram is a sort of elasticity which enables me to join the two
ends of the horse-shoe together when I want to connect 100 with 0.
The same elasticity causes me to see that part of the diagram on
which I fix my attention larger than the rest."

Mr. Schuster makes occasional use of a simpler form of diagram,
which is little more than a straight line variously divided, and
which I need not describe in detail.

Fig. 22 is by Colonel Yule, C.B.; it is simpler than the others, and
he has found it to become sensibly weaker in later years; it is now
faint and hard to fix.

Fig. 23. Mr. Woodd Smith:--

"Above 200 the form becomes vague and is soon lost, except that 999
is always in a corner like 99. My own position in regard to it is
generally nearly opposite my own age, which is fifty now, at which
point I can face either towards 7-12, or towards 12-20, or 20-7, but
never (I think) with my back to 12-20."

Fig. 24. Mr. Roget. He writes to the effect that the first twelve
are clearly derived from the spots in dominoes. After 100 there is
nothing clear but 108. The form is so deeply engraven in his mind
that a strong effort of the will was required to substitute any
artificial arrangement in its place. His father, the late Dr. Roget
(well known for many years as secretary of the Royal Society), had
trained him in his childhood to the use of the _memoria technica_ of
Feinagle, in which each year has its special place in the walls of a
particular room, and the rooms of a house represent successive
centuries, but he never could locate them in that way. They _would_
go to what seemed their natural homes in the arrangement shown in
the figure, which had come to him from some unknown source.

The remaining Figs., 25-28, in Plate I., sufficiently express
themselves. The last belongs to one of the Charterhouse boys, the
others respectively to a musical critic, to a clergyman, and to a
gentleman who is, I believe, now a barrister.


Plate II. contains examples of more complicated Forms, which
severally require so much minuteness of description that I am in
despair of being able to do justice to them separately, and must
leave most of them to tell their own story.

Fig. 34 is that of Mr. Flinders Petrie, to which I have already
referred (p. 66).

Fig. 37 is by Professor Herbert McLeod, F.R.S. I will quote his
letter almost in full, as it is a very good example:--

"When your first article on visualised numerals appeared in _Nature_,
I thought of writing to tell you of my own case, of which I had
never previously spoken to any one, and which I never contemplated
putting on paper. It becomes now a duty to me to do so, for it is a
fourth case of the influence of the clock-face. [In my article I had
spoken of only three cases known to me.--F. G.] The enclosed paper
will give you a rough notion of the apparent positions of numbers in
my mind. That it is due to learning the clock is, I think, proved by
my being able to tell the clock certainly before I was four, and
probably when little more than three, but my mother cannot tell me
the exact date. I had a habit of arranging my spoon and fork on my
plate to indicate the positions of the hands, and I well remember
being astonished at seeing an old watch of my grandmother's which
had ordinary numerals in place of Roman ones. All this happened
before I could read, and I have no recollection of learning the
numbers unless it was by seeing numbers stencilled on the barrels in
my father's brewery.

"When learning the numbers from 12 to 20, they appeared to be
vertically above the 12 of the clock, and you will see from the
enclosed sketch that the most prominent numbers which I have
underlined all occur in the multiplication table. Those doubly
underlined are the most prominent [the lithographer has not rendered
these correctly.--F. G.], and just now I caught myself doing what I
did not anticipate--after doubly underlining some of the numbers, I
found that all the multiples of 12 except 84 are so marked. In the
sketch I have written in all the numbers up to 30; the others are
not added merely for want of space; they appear in their
corresponding positions. You will see that 21 is curiously placed,
probably to get a fresh start for the next 10. The loops gradually
diminish in size as the numbers rise, and it seems rather curious
that the numbers from 100 to 120 resemble in form those from 1 to 20.
Beyond 144 the arrangement is less marked, and beyond 200 they
entirely vanish, although there is some hazy recollection of a
futile attempt to learn the multiplication table up to 20 times 20."

[Illustration: PLATE II. _Examples of Number Forms_.]

"Neither my mother nor my sister is conscious of any mental
arrangement of numerals. I have not found any idea of this kind
among any of my colleagues to whom I have spoken on the subject, and
several of them have ridiculed the notion, and possibly think me a
lunatic for having any such feeling. I was showing the scheme to G.,
shortly after your first article appeared, on the piece of paper I
enclose, and he changed the diagram to a sea-serpent [most amusingly
and grotesquely drawn.--F. G.], with the remark, 'If you were a rich
man, and I knew I was mentioned in your will, I should destroy that
piece of paper, in case it should be brought forward as an evidence
of insanity!' I mention this in connection with a paragraph in your

Fig. 40 is, I think, the most complicated form I possess. It was
communicated to me by Mr. Woodd Smith as that of Miss L. K., a lady
who was governess in a family, whom he had closely questioned both
with inquiries of his own and by submitting others subsequently sent
by myself. It is impossible to convey its full meaning briefly, and
I am not sure that I understand much of the principle of it myself.
A shows part only (I have not room for more) of the series 2, 3, 5, 7,
10, 11, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, each as two sides of a square,--that is,
larger or smaller according to the magnitude of the number; 1 does
not appear anywhere. C similarly shows part of the series (all
divisible by 3) of 6, 9, 15, 21, 27, 30, 33, 39, 60, 63, 66, 69, 90,
93, 96. B shows the way in which most numbers divisible by 4 appear.
D shows the form of the numbers 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27,
29, 41, 42-49, 81-83, 85-87, 89, 101-103, 105-107, and 109. E shows
that of 31, 33-35, 37-39. The other numbers are not clear, viz. 50,
51, 53-55, 57-59. Beyond 100 the arrangement becomes hazy, except
that the hundreds and thousands go on again in complete, consecutive,
and proportional squares indefinitely. The groups of figures are not
seen together, but one or other starts up as the number is thought of.
The form has no background, and is always seen _in front_. No Arabic
or other figures are seen with it. Experiments were made as to the
time required to get these images well in the mental view, by
reading to the lady a series of numbers as fast as she could
visualise them. The first series consisted of twenty numbers of two
figures each--thus, 17, 28, 13, 52, etc.; these were gone through on
the first trial in 22 seconds, on the second in 16, and on the third
in 26. The second series was more varied, containing numbers of one,
two, and three figures--thus 121, 117, 345, 187, 13, 6, 25, etc.,
and these were gone through in three trials in 25, 25, and 22 seconds
respectively, forming a general result of 23 seconds for twenty
numbers, or 2-1/3 seconds per number. A noticeable feature in this
case is the strict accordance of the scale of the image with the
magnitude of the number, and the geometric regularity of the figures.
Some that I drew, and sent for the lady to see, did not at all
satisfy her eye as to their correctness.

I should say that not a few mental calculators work by bulks rather
than by numerals; they arrange concrete magnitudes symmetrically in
rank and file like battalions, and march these about. I have one
case where each number in a Form seems to bear its own _weight_.

Fig. 45 is a curious instance of a French Member of the Institute,
communicated to me by M. Antoine d'Abbadie (whose own Number-Form is
shown in Fig. 44):--

"He was asked, why he puts 4 in so conspicuous a place; he replied,
'You see that such a part of my name (which he wishes to withhold)
means 4 in the south of France, which is the cradle of my family;
consequently _quatre est ma raison d'être_.'"

Subsequently, in 1880, M. d'Abbadie wrote:--

"I mentioned the case of a philosopher whose, 4, 14, 24, etc., all
step out of the rank in his mind's eye. He had a haze in his mind
from 60, I believe [it was 50.--F.G.], up to 80; but latterly 80 has
sprung out, not like the sergeants 4, 14, 24, but like a captain,
farther out still, and five or six times as large as the privates 1,
2, 3, 5, 6, etc. 'Were I superstitious,' said he, 'I should
conclude that my death would occur in the 80th year of the century.'
The growth of 80 was _sudden_, and has remained constant ever since."

This is the only case known to me of a new stage in the development
of a Number-Form being suddenly attained.


Plate III. is intended to exhibit some instances of heredity. I have
no less than twenty-two families in which this curious tendency is
hereditary, and there may be many more of which I am still ignorant.
I have found it to extend in at least eight of these beyond the near
degrees of parent and child, and brother and sister. Considering that
the occurrence is so rare as to exist in only about one in every
twenty-five or thirty males, these results are very remarkable, and
their trustworthiness is increased by the fact that the hereditary
tendency is on the whole the strongest in those cases where the
Number-Forms are the most defined and elaborate. I give four
instances in which the hereditary tendency is found, not only in
having a Form at all, but also in some degree in the shape of the

Figs. 46-49 are those of various members of the Henslow family,
where the brothers, sisters, and some children of a sister have the

Figs. 53-54 are those of a master of Cheltenham College and his

Figs. 55-56 are those of a father and son; 57 and 58 belong to the
same family.

Figs. 59-60 are those of a brother and sister.

The lower half of the Plate explains itself. The last figure of all,
Fig. 65, is of interest, because it was drawn for an intelligent
little girl of only 11 years old, after she had been closely
questioned by the father, and it was accompanied by elaborate
coloured illustrations of months and days of the week. I thought
this would be a good test case, so I let the matter drop for two
years, and then begged the father to question the child casually,
and to send me a fresh account. I asked at the same time if any
notes had been kept of the previous letter. Nothing could have come
out more satisfactorily. No notes had been kept; the subject
had passed out of mind, but the imagery remained the same, with some
trifling and very interesting metamorphoses of details.

[Illustration: PLATE III. _Examples of an Hereditary Tendency to see
Number-Forms_, _4 Instances where the Number Forms in same family
are alike_ _3 Instances where the Number-Forms in same family are


I can find room in Plate IV. for only two instances of coloured
Number-Forms, though others are described in Plate III. Fig. 64 is
by Miss Rose G. Kingsley, daughter of the late eminent writer the Rev.
Charles Kingsley, and herself an authoress. She says:--

"Up to 30 I see the numbers in clear white; to 40 in gray; 40-50 in
flaming orange; 50-60 in green; 60-70 in dark blue; 70 I am not sure
about; 80 is reddish, I think; and 90 is yellow; but these latter
divisions are very indistinct in my mind's eye."

She subsequently writes:--

"I now enclose my diagram; it is very roughly done, I am afraid, not
nearly as well as I should have liked to have done it. My great fear,
has been that in thinking it over I might be led to write down
something more than what I actually see, but I hope I have avoided

Fig. 65 is an attempt at reproducing the form sent by Mr. George F.
Smythe of Ohio, an American correspondent who has contributed much
of interest. He says:--

"To me the numbers from 1 to 20 lie on a level plane, but from 20
they slope up to 100 at an angle of about 25°. Beyond 100 they are
generally all on a level, but if for any reason I have to think of
the numbers from 100 to 200, or from 200 to 300, etc., then the
numbers, between these two hundreds, are arranged just as those from
1 to 100 are. I do not, when thinking of a number, picture to
myself the figures which represent it, but I do think instantly of
the place which it occupies along the line. Moreover, in the case of
numbers from 1 to 20 (and, indistinctly, from 20 up to 28 or 30), I
always picture the number--not the figures--as occupying a
right-angled parallelogram about twice as long as it is broad. These
numbers all lie down flat and extend in a straight line from 1 to 12
over an unpleasant, arid, sandy plain. At 12 the line turns abruptly
to the right, passes into a pleasanter region where grass grows, and
so continues up to 20. At 20 the line turns to the left, and passes
up the before-described incline to 100. This figure will help you in
understanding my ridiculous notions. The asterisk (*) marks the
place where I commonly seem to myself to stand and view the line. At
times I take other positions, but never any position to the left of
the (*), nor to the right of the line from 20 upwards. I do not
associate colours with numbers, but there is a great difference in
the illumination which different numbers receive. If a traveller
should start at 1 and walk to 100, he would be in an intolerable
glare of light until near 9 or 10. But at 11 he would go into a land
of darkness and would have to feel his way. At 12 light breaks in
again, a pleasant sunshine, which continues up to 19 or 20, where
there is a sort of twilight. From here to 40 the illumination is
feeble, but still there is considerable light. At 40 things light up,
and until one reaches 56 or 57 there is broad daylight. Indeed the
tract from 48 to 50 is almost as bad as that from 1 to 9. Beyond 60
there is a fair amount of light up to about 97, From this point to
100 it is rather cloudy."

In a subsequent letter he adds:--

"I enclose a picture in perspective and colour of my 'form.' I have
taken great pains with this, but am far from satisfied with it. I
know nothing about drawing, and consequently am unable to put upon
the paper just what I see. The faults which I find with the picture
are these. The rectangles stand out too distinctly, as something
lying on the plane instead of being, as they ought, a part of the
plane. The view is taken of necessity from an unnatural stand-point,
and some way or other the region 1-12 does not look right. The
landscape is altogether too distinct in its features. I rather
_know that there is_ grass, and that there are trees in the
distance, than _see_ them. But the grass within a few feet of the
line I see distinctly. I cannot make the hill at the right slope
down to the plane as it ought. It is too steep. I have had my poor
success in indicating my notion of the darkness which overhangs the
region of eleven. In reality it is not a cloud at all, but a darkness.

"My sister, a married lady, thirty-eight years of age, sees numerals
much as I do, but very indistinctly. She cannot draw a figure which
is not by far too distinct."

Most of those who associate colours with numerals do so in a vague
way, impossible to convey with truth in a painting. Of the few who
see them with more objectivity, many are unable to paint or are
unwilling to take the trouble required to match the precise colours
of their fancies. A slight error in hue or tint always dissatisfies
them with their work.

Before dismissing the subject of numerals, I would call attention to
a few other associations connected with them. They are often
personified by children, and characters are assigned to them, it may
be on account of the part they play in the multiplication table, or
owing to some fanciful association with their appearance or their
sound. To the minds of some persons the multiplication table appears
dramatised, and any chance group of figures may afford a plot for a
tale. I have collated six full and trustworthy accounts, and find a
curious dissimilarity in the personifications and preferences; thus
the number 3 is described as (1) disliked; (2) a treacherous sneak;
(3) a good old friend; (4) delightful and amusing; (5) a female
companion to 2; (6) a feeble edition of 9. In one point alone do I
find any approach to unanimity, and that is in the respect paid to 12,
as in the following examples:--(1) important and influential;
(2) good and cautious--so good as to be almost noble; (3) a more
beautiful number than 10, from the many multiples that make it
up--in other words, its kindly relations to so many small numbers;
(4) a great love for 12, a large-hearted motherly person because of
the number of little ones that it takes, as it were, under its
protection. The decimal system seemed to me treason against this
motherly 12.--All this concurs with the importance assigned for
other reasons to the number 12 in the Number-Form.

There is no agreement as to the sex of numbers; I myself had
absurdly enough fancied that _of course_ the even numbers would be
taken to be of the male sex, and was surprised to find that they
were not. I mention this as an example of the curious way in which
our minds may be unconsciously prejudiced by the survival of some
forgotten early fancies. I cannot find on inquiring of philologists
any indications of different sexes having been assigned in any
language to different numbers.

Mr. Hershon has published an analysis of the Talmud, on the odd
principle of indexing the various passages according to the number
they may happen to contain; thus such a phrase as "there were three
men who," etc., would be entered under the number 3. I cannot find
any particular preferences given there to especial numbers; even 7
occurs less often than 1, 2, 3, 4, and 10. Their respective
frequency being 47, 54, 53, 64, 54, 51; 12 occurs only sixteen times.
Gamblers have not unfrequently the silliest ideas concerning numbers,
their heads being filled with notions about lucky figures and
beautiful combinations of them. There is a very amusing chapter in
_Rome Contemporaine_, by E. About, in which he speaks of this in
connection with the rage for lottery tickets.


Numerals are occasionally seen in Arabic or other figures, not
disposed in any particular Form, but coloured. An instance of this
is represented in Fig. 69 towards the middle part of the column, but
as I shall have shortly to enter at length into the colour
associations of the author, I will pass over this portion of them,
and will quote in preference from the letter of another correspondent.

Baron von Osten Sacken, of whom I have already spoken, writes:--

"The localisation of numerals, peculiar to certain persons, is
foreign to me. In my mind's eye the figures appear _in front_ of me,
within a limited space. My peculiarity, however, consists in the
fact that the numerals from 1 to 9 are differently coloured; (1)
black, (2) yellow, (3) pale brick red, (4) brown, (5) blackish gray,
(6) reddish brown, (7) green, (8) bluish, (9) reddish brown,
somewhat like 6. These colours appear very distinctly when I think
of these figures separately; in compound figures they become less
apparent. But the most remarkable manifestation of these colours
appears in my recollections of chronology. When I think of the
events of a given century they invariably appear to me on a
background coloured like the principal figure in the dates of that
century; thus events of the eighteenth century invariably appear to
me on a greenish ground, from the colour of the figure 7. This habit
clings to me most tenaciously, and the only hypothesis I can form
about its origin is the following:--My tutor, when I was ten to
twelve years old, taught me chronology by means of a diagram on
which the centuries were represented by squares, subdivided in 100
smaller squares; the squares representing centuries had _narrow
coloured borders_; it may be that in this way the recollection of
certain figures became associated with certain colours. I venture
this explanation without attaching too much importance to it, because
it seems to me that if it was true, my _direct_ recollection of those
coloured borders would have been stronger than it is; still, the
strong association of my chronology with colour seems to plead in
favour of that explanation."

Figs. 66, 67. These two are selected out of a large collection
of coloured Forms in which the months of the year are visualised.
They will illustrate the gorgeousness of the mental imagery of
some favoured persons. Of these Fig. 66 is by the wife of an able
London physician, and Fig. 67 is by Mrs. Kempe Welch, whose sister,
Miss Bevington, a well-known and thoughtful writer, also sees
coloured imagery in connection with dates. This Fig. 67 was one
of my test cases, repeated after the lapse of two years, and quite
satisfactorily. The first communication was a descriptive account,
partly in writing, partly by word of mouth; the second, on my asking
for it, was a picture which agreed perfectly with the description,
and explained much that I had not understood at the time. The small
size of the Fig. in the Plate makes it impossible to do justice to
the picture, which is elaborate and on a large scale, with a
perspective of similar hills stretching away to the far distance,
and each standing for a separate year. She writes:--

"It is rather difficult to give it fully without making it too
definite; on each side there is a total blank."

The instantaneous association of colour with sound characterises a
small percentage of adults, and it appears to be rather common,
though in an ill-developed degree, among children. I can here appeal
not only to my own collection of facts, but to those of others, for
the subject has latterly excited some interest in Germany. The first
widely known case was that of the brothers Nussbaumer, published in
1873 by Professor Bruhl of Vienna, of which the English reader will
find an account in the last volume of Lewis's _Problems of Life and
Mind_ (p. 280). Since then many occasional notices of similar
associations have appeared. A pamphlet containing numerous cases was
published in Leipsic in 1881 by two Swiss investigators, Messrs.
Bleuler and Lehmann.[9] One of the authors had the faculty very
strongly, and the other had not; so they worked conjointly with
advantage. They carefully tabulated the particulars of sixty-two
cases. As my present object is to subordinate details to the general
impression that I wish to convey of the peculiarities of different
minds, I will simply remark--First, that the persistence of the
colour association with sounds is fully as remarkable as that of the
Number-Form with numbers. Secondly, that the vowel sounds chiefly
evoke them. Thirdly, that the seers are invariably most minute in
their description of the precise tint and hue of the colour. They
are never satisfied, for instance, with saying "blue," but will take
a great deal of trouble to express or to match the particular blue
they mean. Fourthly, that no two people agree, or hardly ever do so,
as to the colour they associate with the same sound. Lastly, that
the tendency is very hereditary. The publications just mentioned
absolve me from the necessity of giving many extracts from the
numerous letters I have received, but I am particularly anxious to
bring the brilliancy of these colour associations more vividly
before the reader than is possible by mere description. I have
therefore given the elaborately-coloured diagrams in Plate IV., which
were copied by the artist directly from the original drawings, and
which have been printed by the superimposed impressions of different
colours from different lithographic stones. They have been, on the
whole, very faithfully executed, and will serve as samples of the
most striking cases. Usually the sense of colour is much too vague
to enable the seer to reproduce the various tints so definitely as
those in this Plate. But this is by no means universally the case.

Fig. 68 is an excellent example of the occasional association of
colours with letters. It is by Miss Stones, the head teacher in a
high school for girls, who, as I have already mentioned, obtained
useful information for me, and has contributed several suggestive
remarks of her own. She says:--

"The vowels of the English language always appear to me, when I
think of them, as possessing certain colours, of which I enclose a
diagram. Consonants, when thought of by themselves, are of a
purplish black; but when I think of a whole word, the colour of the
consonants tends towards the colour of the vowels. For example, in
the word 'Tuesday,' when I think of each letter separately, the
consonants are purplish-black, _u_ is a light dove colour, _e_ is a
pale emerald green, and _a_ is yellow; but when I think of the whole
word together, the first part is a light gray-green, and the latter
part yellow. Each word is a distinct whole. I have always associated
the same colours with the same letters, and no effort will change
the colour of one letter, transferring it to another. Thus the word
'red' assumes a light-green tint, while the word 'yellow' is
light-green at the beginning and red at the end. Occasionally, when
uncertain how a word should be spelt, I have considered what colour
it ought to be, and have decided in that way. I believe this has
often been a great help to me in spelling, both in English and
foreign languages. The colour of the letters is never smeared or
blurred in any way. I cannot recall to mind anything that should
have first caused me to associate colours with letters, nor can my
mother remember any alphabet or reading-book coloured in the way I
have described, which I might have used as a child. I do not
associate any idea of colour with musical notes at all, nor with any
of the other senses."

She adds:--

"Perhaps you may be interested in the following account from my
sister of her visual peculiarities: 'When I think of Wednesday I see
a kind of oval flat wash of yellow emerald green; for Tuesday, a
gray sky colour; for Thursday, a brown-red irregular polygon; and a
dull yellow smudge for Friday.'"

[Footnote 9: Zwangmässige Lichtempfindungen durch Schall und
verwandte Erscheinungen, von E. Bleuler und K. Lehmann. Leipsig, Fues'
Verlag (R. Reisland), 1881.]

The latter quotation is a sample of many that I have; I give it
merely as another instance of hereditary tendency.

I will insert just one description of other coloured letters than
those represented in the Plate. It is from Mrs. H., the married
sister of a well-known man of science, who writes:--

"I do not know how it is with others, but to me the colours of
vowels are so strongly marked that I hardly understand their
appearing of a different colour, or, what is nearly as bad,
colourless to any one. To me they are and always have been, as long
as I have known them, of the following tints:--"

A, pure white, and like china in texture.

E, red, not transparent; vermilion, with china-white would represent

I, light bright yellow; gamboge.

O, black, but transparent; the colour of deep water seen through
thick clear ice.

U, purple.

Y, a dingier colour than I.

"The shorter sounds of the vowels are less vivid and pure in colour.
Consonants are almost or quite colourless to me, though there is
some blackness about M.

"Some association with U in the words blue and purple may account
for that colour, and possibly the E in red may have to do with that
also; but I feel as if they were independent of suggestions of the

"My first impulse is to say that the association lies solely in the
sound of the vowels, in which connection I certainly feel it the
most strongly; but then the thought of the distinct redness of such
a [printed or written] word as '_great_' shows me that the relation
must be visual as well as aural. The meaning of words is so
unavoidably associated with the sight of them, that I think this
association rather overrides the primitive impression of the colour
of the vowels, and the word '_violet_' reminds me of its proper
colour until I look at the word as a mere collection of letters.

"Of my two daughters, one sees the colours quite differently from
this (A, blue; E, white; I, black; O, whity-brownish; U, opaque brown).
The other is only heterodox on the A and O; A being with her black,
and O white. My sister and I never agreed about these colours, and I
doubt whether my two brothers feel the chromatic force of the vowels
at all."

I give this instance partly on account of the hereditary interest. I
could add cases from at least three different families in which the
heredity is quite as strongly marked.

Fig. 69 fills the whole of the middle column of Plate IV., and
contains specimens from a large series of coloured illustrations,
accompanied by many pages of explanation from a correspondent,
Dr. James Key of Montagu, Cape Colony. The pictures will tell their
own tale sufficiently well. I need only string together a few brief
extracts from his letters, as follows:--

"I confess my inability to understand visualised numerals; it is
otherwise, however, with regard to colour associations with letters.
Ever since childhood these have been distinct and unchanging in my
consciousness; sometimes, although very seldom, I have mentioned them,
to the amazement of my teachers and the scorn of my comrades. A is
brown. I say it most dogmatically, and nothing will ever have the
effect, I am convinced, of making it appear otherwise! I can imagine
no explanation of this association. [He goes into much detail as to
conceivable reasons connected with his childish life to show that
none of these would do.] Shades of brown accompany to my mind the
various degrees of openness in pronouncing A. I have never been
destitute in all my conscious existence of a conviction that E is a
clear, cold, light-gray blue. I remember daubing in colours, when
quite a little child, the picture of a jockey, whose shirt received
a large share of E, as I said to myself while daubing it with grey.
[He thinks that the letter I may possibly be associated with black
because it contains no open space, and O with white because it does.]
The colour of R has been invariably of a copper colour, in which a
swarthy blackness seems to intervene, visually corresponding to the
trilled pronunciation of R. This same appearance exists also in J, X,
and Z."

The upper row of Fig. 69 shows the various shades of brown,
associated with different pronunciations of the letter A, as in
"fame," "can," "charm," and "all" respectively. The second, third
and fourth rows similarly refer to the various pronunciations of the
other vowels. Then follow the letters of the alphabet, grouped
according to the character of the appearance they suggest. After
these come the numerals. Then I give three lines of words such as
they appear to him. The first is my own name, the second is
"London," and the third is "Visualisation." Proceeding conversely,
Dr. Key collected scraps of various patterns of wall paper, and sent
them together with the word that the colour of the several patterns
suggested to him. Specimens of these are shown in the three bottom
lines of the Fig. I have gone through the whole of them with care,
together with his descriptions and reasons, and can quite understand
his meaning, and how exceedingly complex and refined these
associations are. The patterns are to him like words in poetry,
which call up associations that any substituted word of a like
dictionary meaning would fail to do. It would not, for example, be
possible to print words by the use of counters coloured like those
in Fig. 69, because the tint of each influences that of its
neighbours. It must be understood that my remarks, though based on
Dr. Key's diagrams and statements as on a text, do not depend, by
any means, wholly upon them, but on numerous other letters from
various quarters to the same effect. At the same time I should say
that Dr. Key's elaborate drawings and ample explanations, to which I
am totally unable to do justice in a moderate space, are the most
full and striking of any I have received. His illustrations are on a
large scale, and are ingeniously arranged so as to express his

Persons who have colour associations are unsparingly critical. To
ordinary individuals one of these accounts seems just as wild and
lunatic as another, but when the account of one seer is submitted to
another seer, who is sure to see the colours in a different way, the
latter is scandalised and almost angry at the heresy of the former.
I submitted this very account of Dr. Key to a lady, the wife of an
ex-governor of one of the most important British possessions, who
has vivid colour associations of her own, and who, I had some reason
to think, might have personal acquaintance with the locality where
Dr. Key lives. She could not comprehend his account at all, his
colours were so entirely different to those that she herself saw.

I have now completed as much as I propose to say about the quaint
phenomena of Visualised Forms of numbers and of dates, and of
coloured associations with letters. I shall not extend my remarks to
such subjects as a musician hearing mental music, of which I have
many cases, nor to fancies concerning the other senses, as none of
these are so noteworthy. I am conscious that the reader may desire
even more assurance of the trustworthiness of the accounts I have
given than the space now at my disposal admits, or than I could
otherwise afford without wearisome iteration of the same tale, by
multiplying extracts from my large store of material. I feel, too,
that it may seem ungracious to many obliging correspondents not to
have made more evident use of what they have sent than my few and
brief notices permit. Still their end and mine will have been gained,
if these remarks and illustrations succeed in leaving a just
impression of the vast variety of mental constitution that exists in
the world, and how impossible it is for one man to lay his mind
strictly alongside that of another, except in the rare instances of
close hereditary resemblance.


In the course of my inquiries into visual memory, I was greatly
struck by the frequency of the replies in which my informants
described themselves as subject to "visions." Those of whom I speak
were sane and healthy, but were subject notwithstanding to visual
presentations, for which they could not account, and which in a few
cases reached the level of hallucinations. This unexpected
prevalence of a visionary tendency among persons who form a part of
ordinary society seems to me suggestive and well worthy of being put
on record. The images described by different persons varied greatly
in distinctness, some were so faint and evanescent as to appear
unworthy of serious notice; others left a deep impression, and
others again were so vivid as actually to deceive the judgment. All
of these belong to the same category, and it is the assurance of
their common origin that affords justification for directing
scientific attention to what many may be inclined to contemptuously
disregard as the silly vagaries of vacant minds.

The lowest order of phenomena that admit of being classed as visions
are the "Number-Forms" to which I have just drawn attention. They
are in each case absolutely unchangable, except through a gradual
development in complexity. Their diversity is endless, and the
Number-Forms of different persons are mutually unintelligible. These
strange "visions," for such they must be called, are extremely vivid
in some cases, but are almost incredible to the vast majority of
mankind, who would set them down as fantastic nonsense; nevertheless,
they are familiar parts of the mental furniture of the rest, in
whose imaginations they have been unconsciously formed, and where
they remain unmodified and unmodifiable by teaching. I have received
many touching accounts of their childish experiences from persons
who see the Number-Forms, and other curious visions of which I have
spoken or shall speak. As is the case with the colour-blind, so with
these seers. They imagined at first that everybody else had the same
way of regarding things as themselves. Then they betrayed their
peculiarities by some chance remark that called forth a stare of
surprise, followed by ridicule and a sharp scolding for their
silliness, so that the poor little things shrank back into themselves,
and never ventured again to allude to their inner world. I will
quote just one of many similar letters as a sample. I received it,
together with much interesting information, immediately after a
lecture I gave to the British Association at Swansea, in which I had
occasion to speak of the Number-Forms. The writer says:--

"I had no idea for many years that every one did not imagine numbers
in the same positions as those in which they appear to me. One
unfortunate day I spoke of it, and was sharply rebuked for my
absurdity. Being a very sensitive child I felt this acutely, but
nothing ever shook my belief that, absurd or not, I always saw
numbers in this particular way. I began to be ashamed of what I
considered a peculiarity, and to imagine myself, from this and
various other mental beliefs and states, as somewhat isolated and
peculiar. At your lecture the other night, though I am now over
twenty-nine, the memory of my childish misery at the dread of being
peculiar came over me so strongly that I felt I must thank you for
proving that, in this particular at any rate, my case is most common."

The next sort of vision that flashes unaccountably into existence is
the instant association in some persons of colour with sound, which
was spoken of in the last chapter, and on which I need not say more

A third curious and abiding fantasy of certain persons is invariably
to connect visualised pictures with words, the same picture to the
same word. These are perceived by many in a vague, fleeting, and
variable way, but to a few they appear strangely vivid and permanent.
I have collected many cases of this peculiarity, and am much
indebted to the authoress, Mrs. Haweis, who sees these pictures, for
her kindness in sketching some of them for me, and for permitting me
to use her name in guarantee of their genuineness. She says:--

"Printed words have always had faces to me; they had definite
expressions, and certain faces made me think of certain words. The
words had _no_ connection with these except sometimes by accident.
The instances I give are few and ridiculous. When I think of the
word Beast, it has a face something like a gargoyle. The word Green
has also a gargoyle face, with the addition of big teeth. The word
Blue blinks and looks silly, and turns to the right. The word
Attention has the eyes greatly turned to the left. It is difficult
to draw them properly because, like Alice's 'Cheshire cat,' which at
times became a grin without a cat, these faces have expression
without features. The expression of course" [note the _naïve_ phrase
"of course."--F.G.] "depends greatly on those of the letters, which
have likewise their faces and figures. All the little a's turn their
eyes to the left, this determines the eyes of Attention. Ant, however,
looks a little down. Of course these faces are endless as words are,
and it makes my head ache to retain them long enough to draw."

Some of the figures are very quaint. Thus the interrogation
"what?" always excites the idea of a fat man cracking a long whip.
They are not the capricious creations of the fancy of the moment,
but are the regular concomitants of the words, and have been so as
far back as the memory is able to recall.

When in perfect darkness, if the field of view be carefully watched,
many persons will find a perpetual series of changes to be going on
automatically and wastefully in it. I have much evidence of this. I
will give my own experience the first, which is striking to me,
because I am very unimpressionable in these matters. I visualise
with effort; I am peculiarly inapt to see "after-images," "phosphenes,"
"light-dust," and other phenomena due to weak sight or sensitiveness;
and, again, before I thought of carefully trying, I should have
emphatically declared that my field of view in the dark was
essentially of a uniform black, subject to an occasional
light-purple cloudiness and other small variations. Now, however,
after habituating myself to examine it with the same sort of strain
that one tries to decipher a signpost in the dark, I have found out
that this is by no means the case, but that a kaleidoscopic change
of patterns and forms is continually going on, but they are too
fugitive and elaborate for me to draw with any approach to truth. I
am astonished at their variety, and cannot guess in the remotest
degree the cause of them. They disappear out of sight and memory the
instant I begin to think about anything, and it is curious to me
that they should often be so certainly present and yet be habitually
overlooked. If they were more vivid, the case would be very different,
and it is most easily conceivable that some very slight
physiological change, short of a really morbid character, would
enhance their vividness. My own deficiencies, however, are well
supplied by other drawings in my possession. These are by the Rev.
George Henslow, whose visions are far more vivid than mine. His
experiences are not unlike those of Goethe, who said, in an
often-quoted passage, that whenever he bent his head and closed his
eyes and thought of a rose, a sort of rosette made its appearance,
which would not keep its shape steady for a moment, but unfolded
from within, throwing out a succession of petals, mostly red but
sometimes green, and that it continued to do so without change in
brightness and without causing him any fatigue so long as he cared to
watch it. Mr. Henslow, when he shuts his eyes and waits, is sure in
a short time to see before him the clear image of some object or
other, but usually not quite natural in its shape. It then begins to
change from one form to another, in his case also for as long a time
as he cares to watch it. Mr. Henslow has zealously made repeated
experiments on himself, and has drawn what he sees. He has also tried
how far he is able to mould the visions according to his will. In
one case, after much effort, he contrived to bring the imagery back
to its starting-point, and thereby to form what he terms a "visual
cycle." The following account is extracted and condensed from his
very interesting letter, and will explain the illustrations copied
from his drawings that are given in Plate IV.

Fig. 70. The first image that spontaneously presented itself was a
cross-bow (1); this was immediately provided with an arrow (2),
remarkable for its pronounced barb and superabundance of feathering.
Some person, but too indistinct to recognise much more of him than
the hands, appeared to shoot the arrow from the bow. The single
arrow was then accompanied by a flight of arrows from right to left,
which completely occupied the field of vision. These changed into
falling stars, then into flakes of a heavy snowstorm; the ground
gradually appeared as a sheet of snow where previously there had
been vacant space. Then a well-known rectory, fish-ponds, walls, etc.,
all covered with snow, came into view most vividly and clearly
defined. This somehow suggested another view, impressed on his mind
in childhood, of a spring morning, brilliant sun, and a bed of red
tulips: the tulips gradually vanished except one, which appeared now
to be isolated and to stand in the usual point of sight. It was a
single tulip, but became double. The petals then fell off rapidly in
a continuous series until there was nothing left but the pistil
(3), but (as is almost invariably the case with his objects) that
part was greatly exaggerated. The stigmas then changed into three
branching brown horns (4); then into a knob (5), while the stalk
changed into a stick. A slight bend in it seems to have suggested a
centre-bit (6); this passed into a sort of pin passing through a
metal plate (7), this again into a lock (8), and afterwards into a
nondescript shape (9), distantly suggestive of the original cross-bow.
Here Mr. Henslow endeavoured to force his will upon the visions, and
to reproduce the cross-bow, but the first attempt was an utter
failure. The figure changed into a leather strap with loops (10), but
while he still endeavoured to change it into a bow the strap broke,
the two ends were separated, but it happened that an imaginary
string connected them (11). This was the first concession of his
automatic chain of thoughts to his will. By a continued effort the
bow came (12), and then no difficulty was felt in converting it into
the cross-bow, and thus returning to the starting-point. Fig. 71.
Mr. Henslow writes:--

"Though I can usually summon up any object thought of, it not only
is somewhat different from the real thing, but it rapidly changes.
The changes are in many cases clearly due to a suggestiveness in the
article of something else, but not always so, as in some cases
hereafter described. It is not at ail necessary to think of any
particular object at first, as something is sure to come
spontaneously within a minute or two. Some object having once
appeared, the automatism of the brain will rapidly induce the series
of changes. The images are sometimes very numerous, and very rapid
in succession: very frequently of great beauty and highly brilliant.
Cut glass (far more elaborate than I am conscious of ever having seen),
highly chased gold and silver filigree ornaments; gold and silver
flower-stands, etc.; elaborate coloured patterns of carpets in
brilliant tints are not uncommon.

"Another peculiarity resides in the extreme restlessness of my
visual objects. It is often very difficult to keep them still, as
well as from changing in character. They will rapidly oscillate or
else rotate to a most perplexing degree, and when the characters
change at the same time a critical examination is almost impossible.
When the process is in full activity, I feel as if I were a mere
spectator at a diorama of a very eccentric kind, and was in no way
concerned with the getting up of the performance.

"When a succession of images has been passing, I sometimes _determine_
to introduce an object, say a watch. Very often it is next to
impossible to succeed. There is an evident struggle. The watch,
pure and simple, will not come; but some hybrid structure
appears--something round, perhaps--but it lapses into a warming-pan
or other unexpected object.

"This practice has brought to my mind very clearly the distinction
between at least one form of automatism of the brain and volition;
but the strength of the former is enormous, for the visual objects,
when in full career of the change, are _imperative_ in their refusal
to be interfered with.

"I will now describe the cases illustrated. Fig. 71. I thought of a
gun. The _stock_ came into view, the metal plate on the end very
distinct towards the left (1). The wood was elaborately carved. I
cannot recall the pattern. As I scrutinised it, the stock oscillated
up and down, and _crumpled up_. The metallic plate sank inwards: and
the stock contracted so that it looked not unlike a tuning-fork
(2). I gave up the stock and proceeded cautiously to examine the lock.
I got it well into view, but no more of the gun. It turned out to be
an old-fashioned flint-lock. It immediately began to nod backwards
and forwards in a manner suggestive of the beak of a bird pecking.
Consequently it forthwith became converted into the head of a bird
with a long curved beak, the knob on the lock (3) becoming the head
of the bird. I then looked to the right expecting to find the barrel,
but the snout of a saw-fish with the tip _distinctly_ broken off
appeared instead. I had not thought either of a _flint_-lock or of a
saw-fish: both came spontaneously.

"Fig. 72. I have several times thought of a rosebud, as Goethe is
said to have been able to see one at will, and to observe it expand.
The following are some of the results:--The bud appeared
unexpectedly a moss rosebud. Its only abnormal appearance was the
inordinately elongated sepals (1). I tried to _force_ it to expand.
It enlarged but only partially opened (2), when all of a sudden it
burst open and the petals became reflexed (3).[10]

"Fig. 73. The spontaneous appearance of a poppy capsule (1)
dehiscing as usual by 'pores,' but with inordinately long and
arching valves over the pores. These valves were eminently
suggestive of hooded flowers. Hence they changed to a whorl of
_salvias_ (2). Each blossom now gyrated rapidly in a vertical plane.
Concentrating observation on _one_ rotating flower, it became a
'rotating haze,' as the rapid motion rendered the flower totally
indistinct. The 'haze' now shaped itself into a circle of moss with
a deep funnel-like cavity. This was suggestive of a bird's nest. It
became lined with _hair_, but the nest was a _deep_, pointed cavity.
A nest was suggestive of eggs. Hence a series appeared (4); the two
rows meeting in one at the apex appears to have arisen from the
_perspective_ view of the nest. The eggs all disappeared but one
(5), which increased in size; the bright point of light now shone
with great intensity like a star; then it gradually grew dimmer and
dimmer till it disappeared into the usual hazy obscurity into which
all [my] visual objects ultimately vanish."

I have a sufficient variety of cases to prove the continuity between
all the forms of visualisation, beginning with an almost total
absence of it, and ending with a complete hallucination. The
continuity is, however, not simply that of varying degrees of
intensity, but of variations in the character of the process itself,
so that it is by no means uncommon to find two very different forms
of it concurrent in the same person. There are some who visualise
well, and who also are seers of visions, who declare that the vision
is not a vivid visualisation, but altogether a different phenomenon.
In short, if we please to call all sensations due to external
impressions "_direct"_ and all others "_induced_" then there are
many channels through which the "_induction_" of the latter may
take place, and the channel of ordinary visualisation in the persons
just mentioned is different from that through which their visions

The following is a good instance of this condition. A friend writes:

"These visions often appear with startling vividness, and so far
from depending on any voluntary effort of the mind, [10] they remain
when I often wish them very much to depart, and no effort of the
imagination can call them up. I lately saw a framed portrait of a
face which seemed more lovely than any painting I have ever seen,
and again I often see fine landscapes which bear no resemblance to
any scenery I have ever looked upon. I find it difficult to define
the difference between a waking vision and a mental image, although
the difference is very apparent to myself. I think I can do it best
in this way. If you go into a theatre and look at a scene--say of a
forest by moonlight--at the back part of the stage you see every
object distinctly and sufficiently illuminated (being thus unlike a
mere act of memory), but it is nevertheless vague and shadowy, and
you might have difficulty in telling afterwards all the objects you
have seen. This resembles a mental image in point of clearness. The
waking vision is like what one sees in the open street in broad
daylight, when every object is distinctly impressed on the memory.
The two kinds of imagery differ also as regards voluntariness, the
image being entirely subservient to the will, the visions entirely
independent of it. They differ also in point of suddenness, the
images being formed comparatively slowly as memory recalls each
detail, and fading slowly as the mental effort to retain them is
relaxed, the visions appearing and vanishing in an instant. The
waking visions seem quite close, filling as it were the whole head,
while the mental image seems farther away in some far-off recess of
the mind."

[Footnote 10: The details and illustrations of four other
experiments with the image of a rosebud have been given me. They all
vary in detail.]

The number of sane persons who see visions no less distinctly than
this correspondent is much greater than I had any idea of when I
began this inquiry. I have received an interesting sketch of one,
prefaced by a description of it by Mrs. Haweis. She says:--

"All my life long I have had one very constantly-recurring vision, a
sight which came whenever it was dark or darkish, in bed or otherwise.
It is a flight of pink roses floating in a mass from left to right,
and this cloud or mass of roses is presently effaced by a flight of
'sparks' or gold speckles across them. The sparks totter or vibrate
from left to right, but they fly distinctly upwards; they are like
tiny blocks, half gold, half black, rather symmetrically placed
behind each other, and they are always in a hurry to efface the roses;
sometimes they have come at my call, sometimes by surprise, but they
are always equally pleasing. What interests me most is that, when a
child under nine, the flight of roses was light, slow, soft, close
to my eyes, roses so large and brilliant and palpable that I tried to
touch them; the _scent_ was overpowering, the petals perfect, with
leaves peeping here and there, texture and motion all natural. They
would stay a long time before the sparks came, and they occupied a
large area in black space. Then the sparks came slowly flying, and
generally, not always, effaced the roses at once, and every effort
to retain the roses failed. Since an early age the flight of roses
has annually grown smaller, swifter, and farther off, till by the
time I was grown up my vision had become a speck, so instantaneous
that I had hardly time to realise that it was there before the
fading sparks showed that it was past. This is how they still come.
The pleasure of them is past, and it always depresses me to speak of
them, though I do not now, as I did when a child, connect the vision
with any elevated spiritual state. But when I read Tennyson's
_Holy Grail_, I wondered whether anybody else had had my vision,
'Rose-red, with beatings in it.' I may add, I was a London child who
never was in the country but once, and I connect no particular
flowers with that visit. I may almost say that I had never seen a
rose, certainly not a quantity of them together."

A common form of vision is a phantasmagoria, or the appearance of a
crowd of phantoms, sometimes hurrying past like men in a street. It
is occasionally seen in broad daylight, much more often in the dark;
it may be at the instant of putting out the candle, but it generally
comes on when the person is in bed, preparing to sleep, but by no
means yet asleep. I know no less than three men, eminent in the
scientific world, who have these phantasmagoria in one form or
another. It will seem curious, but it is a fact that I know of no
less than five editors of very influential newspapers who experience
these night visitations in a vivid form. Two of them have described
the phenomena very forcibly in print, but anonymously, and two
others have written on cognate experiences.

A near relative of my own saw phantasmagoria very frequently. She
was eminently sane, and of such good constitution that her faculties
were hardly impaired until near her death at ninety. She frequently
described them to me. It gave her amusement during an idle hour to
watch these faces, for their expression was always pleasing, though
never strikingly beautiful. No two faces were ever alike, and no
face ever resembled that of any acquaintance. When she was not well
the faces usually came nearer to her, sometimes almost suffocatingly
close. She never mistook them for reality, although they were very
distinct. This is quite a typical case, similar in most respects to
many others that I have.[1]

A notable proportion of sane persons have had not only visions, but
actual hallucinations of sight, sound, or other sense, at one or
more periods of their lives. I have a considerable packet of
instances contributed by my personal friends, besides a large number
communicated to me by other correspondents. One lady, a
distinguished authoress, who was at the time a little fidgeted, but
in no way overwrought or ill, assured me that she once saw the
principal character of one of her novels glide through the door
straight up to her. It was about the size of a large doll, and it
disappeared as suddenly as it came. Another lady, the daughter of an
eminent musician, often imagines she hears her father playing. The
day she told me of it the incident had again occurred. She was
sitting in her room with her maid, and she asked the maid to open
the door that she might hear the music better. The moment the maid
got up the hallucination disappeared. Again, another lady,
apparently in vigorous health, and belonging to a vigorous family,
told me that during some past months she had been plagued by voices.
The words were at first simple nonsense; then the word "pray" was
frequently repeated; this was followed by some more or less coherent
sentences of little import, and finally the voices left her. In short,
the familiar hallucinations of the insane are to be met with far
more frequently than is commonly supposed, among people moving in
society and in good working health.

I have now nearly done with my summary of facts; it remains to make
a few comments on them.

The weirdness of visions lies in their sudden appearance, in their
vividness while present, and in their sudden departure. An incident
in the Zoological Gardens struck me as a helpful simile. I happened
to walk to the seal-pond at a moment when a sheen rested on the
unbroken surface of the water. After waiting a while I became
suddenly aware of the head of a seal, black, conspicuous, [12] and
motionless, just as though it had always been there, at a spot on
which my eye had rested a moment previously and seen nothing. Again,
after a while my eye wandered, and on its returning to the spot the
seal was gone. The water had closed in silence over its head without
leaving a ripple, and the sheen on the surface of the pond was as
unbroken as when I first reached it. Where did the seal come from,
and whither did it go? This could easily have been answered if the
glare had not obstructed the view of the movements of the animal
under water. As it was, a solitary link in a continuous chain of
actions stood isolated from all the rest. So it is with the visions;
a single stage in a series of mental processes emerges into the
domain of consciousness. All that precedes and follows lies outside
of it, and its character can only be inferred. We see in a general
way that a condition of the presentation of visions lies in the
over-sensitiveness of certain tracks or domains of brain action and
the under-sensitiveness of others, certain stages in a mental
process being represented very vividly in consciousness while the
other stages are unfelt; also that individualism is changed to

[Footnote 12: See some curious correspondence on this subject in
the _St. James' Gazette_, Feb. 10, 15, and 20, 1882.]

I do not recollect seeing it remarked that the ordinary phenomena of
dreaming seem to show that partial sensitiveness is a normal
condition during sleep. They do so because one of the most marked
characteristics of the dreamer is the absence of common sense. He
accepts wildly incongruous visions without the slightest scepticism.
Now common sense consists in the comprehension of a large number of
related circumstances, and implies the simultaneous working of many
parts of the brain. On the other hand, the brain is known to be
imperfectly supplied with blood during sleep, and cannot therefore
be at full work. It is probable enough, from hydraulic analogies,
that imperfect irrigation would lead to partial irrigation, and
therefore to suppression of action in some parts of the brain, and
that this is really the case seems to be proved by the absence of
common sense during dreams.

A convenient distinction is made between hallucinations and illusions.
Hallucinations are defined as appearances wholly due to fancy;
illusions, as fanciful perceptions of objects actually seen. There
is also a hybrid case which depends on fanciful visions fancifully
perceived. The problems we have to consider are, on the one hand,
those connected with "_induced_" vision, and, on the other hand,
those connected with the interpretation of vision, whether the
vision be _direct_ or _induced_.

It is probable that much of what passes for hallucination proper
belongs in reality to the hybrid case, being an illusive
interpretation of some induced visual cloud or blur. I spoke of the
ever-varying patterns in the optical field; these, under some slight
functional change, may become more consciously present, and be
interpreted into fantasmal appearances. Many cases could be adduced
to support this view.

I will begin with illusions. What is the process by which they are
established? There is no simpler way of understanding it than by
trying, as children often do, to see "faces in the fire," and to
carefully watch the way in which they are first caught. Let us call
to mind at the same time the experience of past illnesses, when the
listless gaze wandered over the patterns on the wall-paper and the
shadows of the bed-curtains, and slowly evoked the appearances of
faces and figures that were not easily laid again. The process of
making the faces is so rapid in health that it is difficult to
analyse it without the recollection of what took place more slowly
when we were weakened by illness. The first essential element in
their construction is, I believe, the smallness of the area covered
by the glance at any instant, so that the eye has to travel over a
long track before it has visited every part of the object towards
which the attention is directed generally. It is as with a plough,
that must travel many miles before the whole of a small field can be
tilled, but with this important difference--the plough travels
methodically up and down in parallel furrows; the eye wanders in
devious curves, with abrupt bends, and the direction of its course
at any instant depends on four causes: (1) on the easiest sequence
of muscular motion, speaking in a general sense, (2) on idiosyncrasy,
(3) on the mood, and (4) on the associations current at the moment.
The effect of idiosyncrasy ft excellently illustrated by the
"Number-Forms," where we observe that a very special sharply-defined
track of mental vision is preferred by each individual who sees them.
The influence of the mood of the moment is shown in the curves that
are felt appropriate to the various emotions, as the lank drooping
lines of grief, which make the weeping willow so fit an emblem of it.
In constructing fire-faces it seems to me that the eye in its
wanderings tends to follow a favourite course, and it especially
dwells upon the marks that happen to coincide with that course. It
feels its way, easily diverted by associations based on what has
just been noticed, until at last, by the unconscious practice of a
system of "trial and error," it hits upon a track that will
suit--one that is easily run over and that strings together
accidental marks in a way that happens to form a well-connected
picture. This fancy picture is then dwelt upon; all that is
incongruous with it becomes disregarded, while all deficiencies in
it are supplied by the fantasy. The latest stages of the process
might be represented by a diorama. Three lanterns would converge on
the same screen. The first throws an image of what the imagination
will discard, the second of that which it will retain, the third of
that which it will supply. Turn on the first and second, and the
picture on the screen will be identical with that which fell on the
retina. Shut off the first and turn on the third, and the picture
will be identical with the illusion.

Turner the painter made frequent use of a practice analogous to that
of looking for fire-faces in the burning coals; he was known to give
colours to children to daub in play on paper, while he keenly
watched for suggestive but accidental combinations.

I have myself had frequent experience of the automatic construction
of fantastic figures, through a practice I have somewhat encouraged
for the purpose, of allowing my hand to scribble at its own will,
while I am giving my best attention to what is being said by others,
as at small committees. It is always a surprise to me to see the
result whenever I turn my thoughts on what I have been subconsciously
doing. I can rarely recollect even a few of the steps by which the
drawings were made; they grew piece-meal, with some almost forgotten
notice, from time to time, of the sketch as a whole. I can trace no
likeness between what I draw and the images that present themselves
to me in dreams, and I find that a very trifling accident, such as a
chance dot on the paper, may have great influence on the general
character of any one of these automatic sketches.

Visions, like dreams, are often mere patchworks built up of bits of
recollections. The following is one of these:--

"When passing a shop in Tottenham Court Road, I went in to order a
Dutch cheese, and the proprietor (a bullet-headed man whom I had
never seen before) rolled a cheese on the marble slab of his counter,
asking me if that one would do. I answered 'Yes,' left the shop, and
thought no more of the incident. The following evening, on closing
my eyes, I saw a head detached from the body rolling about slightly
on a white surface. I recognised the face, but could not remember
where I had seen it, and it was only after thinking about it for
some time that I identified it as that of the cheesemonger who had
sold me the cheese on the previous day. I may mention that I have
often seen the man since, and that I found the vision I saw was
exactly like him, although if I had been asked to describe the man
before I saw the vision I should have been unable to do so."

Recollections need not be combined like mosaic work; they may be
blended, on the principle of composite portraiture. I suspect that
the phantasmagoria may be in some part due to blended memories; the
number of possible combinations would be practically endless, and
each combination would give a new face. There would thus be no limit
to the dies in the coinage of the brain.

I have found that the peculiarities of visualisation, such as the
tendency to see Number-Forms, and the still rarer tendency to
associate colour with sound, is strongly hereditary, and I should
infer, what facts seem to confirm, that the tendency to be a seer of
visions is equally so. Under these circumstances we should expect
that it would be unequally developed in different races, and that a
large natural gift of the visionary faculty might become
characteristic not only of certain families, as among the
second-sight seers of Scotland, but of certain races, as that of the

It happens that the mere acts of fasting, of want of sleep, and of
solitary musing, are severally conducive to visions. I have myself
been told of cases in which persons accidentally long deprived of
food became for a brief time subject to them. One was of a pleasure
party driven out to sea, and not being able to reach the coast till
nightfall, at a place where they got shelter but nothing to eat.
They were mentally at ease and conscious of safety, but all were
troubled with visions that were half dreams and half hallucinations.
The cases of visions following protracted wakefulness are well known,
and I have collected a few of them myself. I have already spoken of
the maddening effect of solitariness: its influence may be inferred
from the recognised advantages of social amusements in the treatment
of the insane. It follows that the spiritual discipline undergone
for purposes of self-control and self-mortification, have also the
incidental effect of producing visions. It is to be expected that
these should often bear a close relation to the prevalent subjects
of thought, and although they may be really no more than the
products of one portion of the brain, which another portion of the
same brain is engaged in contemplating, they often, through error,
receive a religious sanction. This is notably the case among
half-civilised races.

The number of great men who have been once, twice, or more frequently,
subject to hallucinations is considerable. A list, to which it would
be easy to make large additions, is given by Brierre de Boismont
(_Hallucinations_, etc., 1862), from whom I translate the following
account of the star of the first Napoleon, which he heard,
second-hand, from General Rapp:--

"In 1806 General Rapp, on his return from the siege of Dantzic,
having occasion to speak to the Emperor, entered his study without
being announced. He found him so absorbed that his entry was
unperceived. The General seeing the Emperor continue motionless,
thought he might be ill, and purposely made a noise. Napoleon
immediately roused himself, and without any preamble, seizing Rapp
by the arm, said to him, pointing to the sky, 'Look there, up there.'
The General remained silent, but on being asked a second time, he
answered that he perceived nothing. 'What!' replied the Emperor,
'you do not see it? It is my star, it is before you, brilliant;'
then animating by degrees, he cried out, 'it has never abandoned me,
I see it on all great occasions, it commands me to go forward, and
it is a constant sign of good fortune to me.'"

Napoleon was no doubt a consummate actor, ready and unscrupulous in
imposing on others, but I see no reason to distrust the genuineness
of this particular outburst, seeing that it is not the only instance
of his referring to the guidance of his star, as a literal vision
and not as a mere phrase, and that his belief in destiny was

It appears that stars of this kind, so frequently spoken of in
history, and so well known as a metaphor in language, are a common
hallucination of the insane. Brierre de Boismont has a chapter on
the stars of great men. I cannot doubt that visions of this
description were in some cases the basis of that firm belief in
astrology, which not a few persons of eminence formerly entertained.

The hallucinations of great men may be accounted for in part by
their sharing a tendency which we have seen to be not uncommon in
the human race, and which, if it happens to be natural to them, is
liable to be developed in their overwrought brains by the isolation
of their lives. A man in the position of the first Napoleon could
have no intimate associates; a great philosopher who explores ways
of thought far ahead of his contemporaries must have an inner world
in which he passes long and solitary hours. Great men may be even
indebted to touches of madness for their greatness; the ideas by
which they are haunted, and to whose pursuit they devote themselves,
and by which they rise to eminence, having much in common with the
monomania of insanity. Striking instances of great visionaries may
be mentioned, who had almost beyond doubt those very nervous seizures
with which the tendency to hallucinations is intimately connected.
To take a single instance, Socrates, whose _daimon_ was an audible
not a visual appearance, was, as has been often pointed out, subject
to cataleptic seizure, standing all night through in a rigid attitude.

It is remarkable how largely the visionary temperament has
manifested itself in certain periods of history and epochs of
national life. My interpretation of the matter, to a certain extent,
is this--That the visionary tendency is much more common among sane
people than is generally suspected. In early life, it seems to be a
hard lesson to an imaginative child to distinguish between the real
and visionary world. If the fantasies are habitually laughed at and
otherwise discouraged, the child soon acquires the power of
distinguishing them; any incongruity or nonconformity is quickly
noted, the visions are found out and discredited, and are no further
attended to. In this way the natural tendency to see them is
blunted by repression. Therefore, when popular opinion is of a
matter-of-fact kind, the seers of visions keep quiet; they do not
like to be thought fanciful or mad, and they hide their experiences,
which only come to light through inquiries such as these that I have
been making. But let the tide of opinion change and grow favourable
to supernaturalism, then the seers of visions come to the front. The
faintly-perceived fantasies of ordinary persons become invested by
the authority of reverend men with a claim to serious regard; they
are consequently attended to and encouraged, and they increase in
definition through being habitually dwelt upon. We need not suppose
that a faculty previously non-existent has been suddenly evoked, but
that a faculty long smothered by many in secret has been suddenly
allowed freedom to express itself, and to run into extravagance
owing to the removal of reasonable safeguards.


Man is so educable an animal that it is difficult to distinguish
between that part of his character which has been acquired through
education and circumstance, and that which was in the original grain
of his constitution. His character is exceedingly complex, even in
members of the simplest and purest savage race; much more is it so in
civilised races, who have long since been exempted from the full
rigour of natural selection, and have become more mongrel in their
breed than any other animal on the face of the earth. Different
aspects of the multifarious character of man respond to different
calls from without, so that the same individual, and, much more, the
same race, may behave very differently at different epochs. There
may have been no fundamental change of character, but a different
phase or mood of it may have been evoked by special circumstances,
or those persons in whom that mood is naturally dominant may through
some accident have the opportunity of acting for the time as
representatives of the race. The same nation may be seized by a
military fervour at one period, and by a commercial one at another;
they may be humbly submissive to a monarch, or become outrageous
republicans. The love of art, gaiety, adventure, science, religion
may be severally paramount at different times.

One of the most notable changes that can come over a nation is from
a state corresponding to that of our past dark ages into one like
that of the Renaissance. In the first case the minds of men are
wholly taken up with routine work, and in copying what their
predecessors have done; they degrade into servile imitators and
submissive slaves to the past. In the second case, some circumstance
or idea has finally discredited the authorities that impeded
intellectual growth, and has unexpectedly revealed new possibilities.
Then the mind of the nation is set free, a direction of research is
given to it, and all the exploratory and hunting instincts are
awakened. These sudden eras of great intellectual progress cannot be
due to any alteration in the natural faculties of the race, because
there has not been time for that, but to their being directed in
productive channels. Most of the leisure of the men of every nation
is spent in rounds of reiterated actions; if it could be spent in
continuous advance along new lines of research in unexplored regions,
vast progress would be sure to be made. It has been the privilege of
this generation to have had fresh fields of research pointed out to
them by Darwin, and to have undergone a new intellectual birth under
the inspiration of his fertile genius.

A pure love of change, acting according to some law of contrast as
yet imperfectly understood, especially characterises civilised man.
After a long continuance of one mood he wants to throw himself into
another for the pleasure of setting faculties into action that have
been long disused, but not yet paralysed by disuse, and which have
become fidgety for employment. He has so many opportunities for
procuring change, and has so complex a nature that he easily learns
to neglect a more deeply-seated feeling that innovation is wicked,
and which is manifest in children and barbarians. To a civilised man
the varied interests of civilisation are temptations in as many
directions; changes in dress and appliances of all kinds are
comparatively inexpensive to him owing to the cheapness of
manufactures and their variety; change of scene is easy from the
conveniences of locomotion. But a barbarian has none of these
facilities: his interests are few; his dress, such as it is, is
intended to stand the wear and tear of years, and all weathers; it
is relatively very costly, and is an investment, one may say, of his
capital rather than of his income; the invention of his people is
sluggish, and their arts are few, consequently he is perforce taught
to be conservative, his ideas are fixed, and he becomes scandalised
even at the suggestion of change.

The difficulty of indulging in variety is incomparably greater among
the rest of the animal world. If a pea-hen should take it into her
head that bars would be prettier than eyes in the tail of her spouse,
she could not possibly get what she wanted. It would require
hundreds of generations in which the pea-hens generally concurred in
the same view before sexual selection could effect the desired
alteration. The feminine delight of indulging her caprice in matters
of ornament is a luxury denied to the females of the brute world,
and the law that rules changes in taste, if studied at all, can only
be ascertained by observing the alternations of fashion in civilised

There are long sequences of changes in character, which, like the
tunes of a musical snuff-box, are regulated by internal mechanism.
They are such as those of Shakespeare's "Seven Ages," and others due
to the progress of various diseases. The lives of birds are
characterised by long chains of these periodic sequences. They are
mostly mute in winter, after that they begin to sing; some species
are seized in the early part of the year with so strong a passion
for migrating that if confined in a cage they will beat themselves
to death against its bars; then follow courtship and pairing,
accompanied by an access of ferocity among the males and severe
fighting for the females. Next an impulse seizes them to build nests,
then a desire for incubation, then one for the feeding of their young.
After this a newly-arisen tendency to gregariousness groups them
into large flocks, and finally they fly away to the place whence they
came, goaded by a similar instinct to that which drove them forth a
few months previously. These remarkable changes are mainly due to
the conditions of their natures, because they persist with more or
less regularity under altered circumstances. Nevertheless, they are
not wholly independent of circumstance, because the period of
migration, though nearly coincident in successive years, is modified
to some small extent by the weather and condition of the particular

The interaction of nature and circumstance is very close, and it is
impossible to separate them with precision. Nurture acts before birth,
during every stage of embryonic and pre-embryonic existence, causing
the potential faculties at the time of birth to be in some degree
the effect of nurture. We need not, however, be hypercritical about
distinctions; we know that the bulk of the respective provinces of
nature and nurture are totally different, although the frontier
between them may be uncertain, and we are perfectly justified in
attempting to appraise their relative importance.

I shall begin with describing some of the principal influences that
may safely be ascribed to education or other circumstances, all of
which I include under the comprehensive term of Nurture.


The furniture of a man's mind chiefly consists of his recollections
and the bonds that unite them. As all this is the fruit of experience,
it must differ greatly in different minds according to their
individual experiences. I have endeavoured to take stock of my own
mental furniture in the way described in the next chapter, in which
it will be seen how large a part consists of childish recollections,
testifying to the permanent effect of many of the results of early
education. The same fact has been strongly brought out by the
replies from correspondents whom I had questioned on their mental
imagery. It was frequently stated that the mental image invariably
evoked by certain words was some event of childish experience or
fancy. Thus one correspondent, of no mean literary and philosophical
power, recollects the left hand by a mental reference to the
rocking-horse which always stood by the side of the nursery wall
with its head in the same direction, and had to be mounted from the
side next the wall. Another, a politician, historian, and scholar,
refers all his dates to the mental image of a nursery diagram of the
history of the world, which has since developed huge bosses to
support his later acquired information.

Our abstract ideas being mostly drawn from external experiences,
their character also must depend upon the events of our individual
histories. For example, the spoken words house and home must awaken
ideas derived from the houses and the homes with which the hearer is,
in one way or other, acquainted, and these could not be the same to
persons of various social positions and places of residence. The
character of our abstract ideas, therefore, depends, to a
considerable degree, on our nurture.

I doubt, however, whether "abstract idea" is a correct phrase in
many of the cases in which it is used, and whether "cumulative idea"
would not be more appropriate. The ideal faces obtained by the
method of composite portraiture appear to have a great deal in
common with these so-called abstract ideas. The composite portraits
consist, as was explained, of numerous superimposed pictures,
forming a cumulative result in which the features that are common to
all the likenesses are clearly seen; those that are common to a few
are relatively faint and are more or less overlooked, while those
that are peculiar to single individuals leave no sensible trace at

This analogy, which I pointed out in a Memoir on Generic Images,
[11] has been extended and confirmed by subsequent experience of the
process. One objection to my view was that our so-called
generalisations are commonly no more than representative cases, our
recollections being apt to be unduly influenced by particular events,
and not by the totality of what we have seen; that the reason why
some one recollection has prevailed is that the case was sharply
defined, or had something unusual about it, or that our frame of
mind was at the time of observation susceptible to that particular
kind of impression. I have had exactly the same difficulties with
the composites. If one of the individual portraits has sharp outlines,
or if it is unlike the rest, or if the illumination is temporarily
strong, it will assert itself unduly in the result. The cases seem
to me exactly analogous. I get over my photographic difficulty very
easily by throwing the sharp portrait a little out of focus, by
eliminating such portraits as have exceptional features, and by
toning down the illumination to a standard intensity.

[Footnote 11: "Generic Images," _Proc. Royal Institute_, Friday,
April 25, 1879, partly reprinted in the Appendix.]


When we attempt to trace the first steps in each operation of our
minds, we are usually baulked by the difficulty of keeping watch,
without embarrassing the freedom of its action. The difficulty is
much more than the common and well-known one of attending to two
things at once. It is especially due to the fact that the elementary
operations of the mind are exceedingly faint and evanescent, and
that it requires the utmost painstaking to watch them properly. It
would seem impossible to give the required attention to the
processes of thought, and yet to think as freely as if the mind had
been in no way preoccupied. The peculiarity of the experiments I am
about to describe is that I have succeeded in evading this difficulty.
My method consists in allowing the mind to play freely for a very
brief period, until a couple or so of ideas have passed through it,
and then, while the traces or echoes of those ideas are still
lingering in the brain, to turn the attention upon them with a
sudden and complete awakening; to arrest, to scrutinise them, and to
record their exact appearance. Afterwards I collate the records at
leisure, and discuss them, and draw conclusions. It must be
understood that the second of the two ideas was never derived from
the first, but always directly from the original object. This was
ensured by absolutely withstanding all temptation to reverie. I do
not mean that the first idea was of necessity a simple elementary
thought; sometimes it was a glance down a familiar line of
associations, sometimes it was a well-remembered mental attitude or
mode of feeling, but I mean that it was never so far indulged in as
to displace the object that had suggested it from being the primary
topic of attention.

I must add, that I found the experiments to be extremely trying and
irksome, and that it required much resolution to go through with them,
using the scrupulous care they demanded. Nevertheless the results
well repaid the trouble. They gave me an interesting and unexpected
view of the number of the operations of the mind, and of the obscure
depths in which they took place, of which I had been little
conscious before. The general impression they have left upon me is
like that which many of us have experienced when the basement of our
house happens to be under thorough sanitary repairs, and we realise
for the first time the complex system of drains and gas and water
pipes, flues, bell-wires, and so forth, upon which our comfort
depends, but which are usually hidden out of sight, and with whose
existence, so long as they acted well, we had never troubled

The first experiments I made were imperfect, but sufficient to
inspire me with keen interest in the matter, and suggested the form
of procedure that I have already partly described. My first
experiments were these. On several occasions, but notably on one
when I felt myself unusually capable of the kind of effort required,
I walked leisurely along Pall Mall, a distance of 450 yards, during
which time I scrutinised with attention every successive object that
caught my eyes, and I allowed my attention to rest on it until one
or two thoughts had arisen through direct association with that
object; then I took very brief mental note of them, and passed on to
the next object. I never allowed my mind to ramble. The number of
objects viewed was, I think, about 300, for I had subsequently
repeated the same walk under similar conditions and endeavoured to
estimate their number, with that result. It was impossible for me to
recall in other than the vaguest way the numerous ideas that had
passed through my mind; but of this, at least, I am sure, that
samples of my whole life had passed before me, that many bygone
incidents, which I never suspected to have formed part of my stock
of thoughts, had been glanced at as objects too familiar to awaken
the attention. I saw at once that the brain was vastly more active
than I had previously believed it to be, and I was perfectly amazed
at the unexpected width of the field of its everyday operations.
After an interval of some days, during which I kept my mind from
dwelling on my first experiences, in order that it might retain as
much freshness as possible for a second experiment, I repeated the
walk, and was struck just as much as before by the variety of the
ideas that presented themselves, and the number of events to which
they referred, about which I had never consciously occupied myself
of late years. But my admiration at the activity of the mind was
seriously diminished by another observation which I then made, namely,
that there had been a very great deal of repetition of thought. The
actors in my mental stage were indeed very numerous, but by no means
so numerous as I had imagined. They now seemed to be something like
the actors in theatres where large processions are represented, who
march off one side of the stage, and, going round by the back, come
on again at the other. I accordingly cast about for means of laying
hold of these fleeting thoughts, and, submitting them to statistical
analysis, to find out more about their tendency to repetition and
other matters, and the method I finally adopted was the one already
mentioned. I selected a list of suitable words, and wrote them on
different small sheets of paper. Taking care to dismiss them from my
thoughts when not engaged upon them, and allowing some days to
elapse before I began to use them, I laid one of these sheets with
all due precautions, under a book, but not wholly covered by it, so
that when I leaned forward I could see one of the words, being
previously quite ignorant of what the word would be. Also I held a
small chronograph, which I started by pressing a spring the moment
the word caught my eye, and which stopped of itself the instant I
released the spring; and this I did so soon as about a couple of
ideas in direct association with the word had arisen in my mind. I
found that I could not manage to recollect more than two ideas with
the needed precision, at least not in a general way; but sometimes
several ideas occurred so nearly together that I was able to record
three or even four of them, while sometimes I only managed one. The
second ideas were, as I have already said, never derived from the
first, but always direct from the word itself, for I kept my
attention firmly fixed on the word, and the associated ideas were
seen only by a half glance. When the two ideas had occurred,

I stopped the chronograph and wrote them down, and the time they
occupied. I soon got into the way of doing all this in a very
methodical and automatic manner, keeping the mind perfectly calm and
neutral, but intent and, as it were, at full cock and on hair trigger,
before displaying the word. There was no disturbance occasioned by
thinking of the forthcoming revulsion of the mind the moment before
the chronograph was stopped. My feeling before stopping it was
simply that I had delayed long enough, and this in no way interfered
with the free action of the mind. I found no trouble in ensuring the
complete fairness of the experiment, by using a number of little
precautions, hardly necessary to describe, that practice quickly
suggested, but it was a most repugnant and laborious work, and it
was only by strong self-control that I went through my schedule
according to programme. The list of words that I finally secured was
75 in number, though I began with more. I went through them on four
separate occasions, under very different circumstances, in England
and abroad, and at intervals of about a month. In no case were the
associations governed to any degree worth recording, by remembering
what had occurred to me on previous occasions, for I found that the
process itself had great influence in discharging the memory of what
it had just been engaged in, and I, of course, took care between the
experiments never to let my thoughts revert to the words. The
results seem to me to be as trustworthy as any other statistical
series that has been collected with equal care.

On throwing these results into a common statistical hotch-pot, I
first examined into the rate at which these associated ideas were
formed. It took a total time of 660 seconds to form the 505 ideas;
that is, at about the rate of 50 in a minute, or 3000 in an hour.
This would be miserably slow work in reverie, or wherever the
thought follows the lead of each association that successively
presents itself. In the present case, much time was lost in mentally
taking the word in, owing to the quiet unobtrusive way in which I
found it necessary to bring it into view, so as not to distract the
thoughts. Moreover, a substantive standing by itself is usually the
equivalent of too abstract an idea for us to conceive properly
without delay. Thus it is very difficult to get a quick conception
of the word "carriage," because there are so many different
kinds--two-wheeled, four-wheeled, open and closed, and all of them
in so many different possible positions, that the mind possibly
hesitates amidst an obscure sense of many alternatives that cannot
blend together. But limit the idea to say a laudau, and the mental
association declares itself more quickly. Say a laudau coming down
the street to opposite the door, and an image of many blended
laudaus that have done so forms itself without the least hesitation.

Next, I found that my list of 75 words gone over 4 times, had given
rise to 505 ideas and 13 cases of puzzle, in which nothing
sufficiently definite to note occurred within the brief maximum
period of about 4 seconds, that I allowed myself to any single trial.
Of these 505 only 289 were different The precise proportions in
which the 505 were distributed in quadruplets, triplets, doublets,
or singles, is shown in the uppermost lines of Table I. The same
facts are given under another form in the lower lines of the Table,
which show how the 289 different ideas were distributed in cases of
fourfold, treble, double, or single occurrences.

                            TABLE I.
                      RECURRENT ASSOCIATIONS.
Total Number of |                                                 |
  Associations. |                   Occurring in                  |
                | Quadruplets. | Triplets.  | Doublets. | Singles.|
    505         |     116      |    108     |    114    |   167   |
 Per cent . 100 |      23      |     21     |     23    |    33   |
Total Number of |                                                 |
    Different   |                     Occurring                   |
  Associations. +-------------------------------------------------+
                | Four times.  |Three times.|  Twice.   |  Once.  |
      289       |      29      |     36     |     57    |   167   |
 Per cent . 100 |      10      |     12     |     20    |    58   |

I was fully prepared to find much iteration in my ideas but had
little expected that out of every hundred words twenty-three would
give rise to exactly the same association in every one of the four
trials; twenty-one to the same association in three out of the four,
and so on, the experiments having been purposely conducted under
very different conditions of time and local circumstances. This shows
much less variety in the mental stock of ideas than I had expected,
and makes us feel that the roadways of our minds are worn into very
deep ruts. I conclude from the proved number of faint and barely
conscious thoughts, and from the proved iteration of them, that the
mind is perpetually travelling over familiar ways without our memory
retaining any impression of its excursions. Its footsteps are so
light and fleeting that it is only by such experiments as I have
described that we can learn anything about them. It is apparently
always engaged in mumbling over its old stores, and if any one of
these is wholly neglected for a while, it is apt to be forgotten,
perhaps irrecoverably. It is by no means the keenness of interest
and of the attention when first observing an object, that fixes it
in the recollection. We pore over the pages of a _Bradshaw_, and
study the trains for some particular journey with the greatest
interest; but the event passes by, and the hours and other facts
which we once so eagerly considered become absolutely forgotten. So
in games of whist, and in a large number of similar instances. As I
understand it, the subject must have a continued living interest in
order to retain an abiding place in the memory. The mind must refer
to it frequently, but whether it does so consciously or
unconsciously is not perhaps a matter of much importance. Otherwise,
as a general rule, the recollection sinks, and appears to be utterly
drowned in the waters of Lethe.

The instances, according to my personal experience, are very rare,
and even those are not very satisfactory, in which some event
recalls a memory that had lain _absolutely_ dormant for many years.
In this very series of experiments a recollection which I thought
had entirely lapsed appeared under no less than three different
aspects on different occasions. It was this: when I was a boy, my
father, who was anxious that I should learn something of physical
science, which was then never taught at school, arranged with the
owner of a large chemist's shop to let me dabble at chemistry for a
few days in his laboratory. I had not thought of this fact, so far
as I was aware, for many years; but in scrutinising the fleeting
associations called up by the various words, I traced two mental
visual images (an alembic and a particular arrangement of tables and
light), and one mental sense of smell (chlorine gas) to that very
laboratory. I recognised that these images appeared familiar to me,
but I had not thought of their origin. No doubt if some strange
conjunction of circumstances had suddenly recalled those three
associations at the same time, with perhaps two or three other
collateral matters which may be still living in my memory, but which
I no not as yet identify, a mental perception of startling vividness
would be the result, and I should have falsely imagined that it had
supernaturally, as it were, started into life from an entire
oblivion extending over many years. Probably many persons would have
registered such a case as evidence that things once perceived can
never wholly vanish from the recollection, but that in the hour
of death, or under some excitement, every event of a past life
may reappear. To this view I entirely dissent. Forgetfulness
appears absolute in the vast majority of cases, and our supposed
recollections of a past life are, I believe, no more than that
of a large number of episodes in it, to be reckoned perhaps in
hundreds of thousands, but certainly not in tens of hundreds of
thousands, that have escaped oblivion. Every one of the fleeting,
half-conscious thoughts that were the subject of my experiments,
admitted of being vivified by keen attention, or by some appropriate
association, but I strongly suspect that ideas which have long since
ceased to fleet through the brain, owing to the absence of current
associations to call them up, disappear wholly. A comparison of old
memories with a newly-met friend of one's boyhood, about the events
we then witnessed together, show how much we had each of us forgotten.
Our recollections do not tally. Actors and incidents that seem to
have been of primary importance in those events to the one have been
utterly forgotten by the other. The recollection of our earlier
years are, in truth, very scanty, as any one will find who tries to
enumerate them.

My associated ideas were for the most part due to my own unshared
experiences, and the list of them would necessarily differ widely
from that which another person would draw up who might repeat my
experiments. Therefore one sees clearly, and I may say, one can see
_measurably_, how impossible it is in a general way for two
grown-up persons to lay their minds side by side together in perfect
accord. The same sentence cannot produce precisely the same effect on
both, and the first quick impressions that any given word in it may
convey, will differ widely in the two minds.

I took pains to determine as far as feasible the dates of my life at
which each of the associated ideas was first attached to the word.
There were 124 cases in which identification was satisfactory, and
they were distributed as in Table II.

                                TABLE  II.
                            PERIODS OF LIFE.
Total number  |            Occurring                     | Whose first  |
of different  |------------------------------------------+ formation    |
Associations. |  four    | three    |   twice |   once   | was in       |
              |  times.  | times.   |         |          |              |
     +--------|    +-----|    +-----|   +-----|    +-----|              |
     | per    |    |per  |    |per  |   |per  |    |per  |              |
     | cent.  |    |cent.|    |cent.|   |cent.|    |cent.|              |
  48 |   39   | 12 | 10  | 11 |  9  | 9 |  7  | 16 | 13  | boyhood and  |
     |        |    |     |    |     |   |     |    |     |   youth,     |
     |        |    |     |    |     |   |     |    |     |              |
  57 |   46   | 10 |  8  |  8 |  7  | 6 |  5  | 33 | 26  | subsequent   |
     |        |    |     |    |     |   |     |    |     |   manhood,   |
     |        |    |     |    |     |   |     |    |     |              |
  19 |   15   | -- | --  |  4 |  3  | 1 |  1  | 14 | 11  | quite recent |
     |        |    |     |    |     |   |     |    |     |   events.    |
 124 |  100   | 22 | 18  | 23 | 19  |16 | 13  | 63 | 50  |  Totals.     |

It will be seen from the Table that out of the 48 earliest
associations no less than 12, or one quarter of them, occurred in
each of the four trials; of the 57 associations first formed in
manhood, 10, or about one-sixth of them, had a similar recurrence,
but as to the 19 other associations first formed in quite recent
times, not one of them occurred in the whole of the four trials.
Hence we may see the greater fixity of the earlier associations, and
might measurably determine the decrease of fixity as the date of
their first formation becomes less remote.

The largeness of the number 33 in the middle entry of the last
column but one, which disconcerts the run of the series, is wholly
due to a visual memory of places seen in manhood. I will not speak
about this now, as I shall have to refer to it farther on. Neglecting,
for the moment, this unique class of occurrences, it will be seen
that one-half of the associations date from the period of life
before leaving college; and it may easily be imagined that many of
these refer to common events in an English education. Nay further, on
looking through the list of all the associations it was easy to see
how they are pervaded by purely English ideas, and especially such
as are prevalent in that stratum of English society in which I was
born and bred, and have subsequently lived. In illustration of this,
I may mention an anecdote of a matter which greatly impressed me at
the time. I was staying in a country house with a very pleasant
party of young and old, including persons whose education and
versatility were certainly not below the social average. One evening
we played at a round game, which consisted in each of us drawing as
absurd a scrawl as he or she could, representing some historical
event; the pictures were then shuffled and passed successively from
hand to hand, every one writing down independently their
interpretation of the picture, as to what the historical event was
that the artist intended to depict by the scrawl. I was astonished
at the sameness of our ideas. Cases like Canute and the waves, the
Babes in the Tower, and the like, were drawn by two and even three
persons at the same time, quite independently of one another,
showing how narrowly we are bound by the fetters of our early
education. If the figures in the above Table may be accepted as
fairly correct for the world generally, it shows, still in a
measurable degree, the large effect of early education in fixing our
associations. It will of course be understood that I make no absurd
profession of being able by these very few experiments to lay down
statistical constants of universal application, but that my principal
object is to show that a large class of mental phenomena, that have
hitherto been too vague to lay hold of, admit of being caught by the
firm grip of genuine statistical inquiry. The results that I have
thus far given are hotch-pot results. It is necessary to sort the
materials somewhat before saying more about them.

After  several trials I  found  that the associated ideas admitted
of being divided into three main groups. First there is the imagined
sound of words, as in verbal quotations or names of persons. This
was frequently a mere parrot-like memory which acted instantaneously
and in a meaningless way, just as a machine might act. In the next
group there was every other kind of sense imagery; the chime of
imagined bells, the shiver of remembered cold, the scent of some
particular locality, and, much  more frequently than all the rest
put together, visual imagery. The last of the three groups contains
what I will venture, for the want of a better name, to call
"histrionic" representations. It includes those cases where I either
act a part in imagination, or see in imagination a part acted, or,
most commonly by far, where I am both spectator and all the actors
at once, in an imaginary mental theatre. Thus I feel a nascent sense
of some muscular action while I simultaneously witness a puppet of
my brain--a part of myself--perform that action, and I assume a
mental attitude appropriate to the occasion. This, in my case, is a
very frequent way of generalising, indeed I rarely feel that I have
secure hold of a general idea until I have translated it somehow
into this form. Thus the word "abasement" presented itself to me, in
one of my experiments, by my mentally placing myself in a pantomimic
attitude of humiliation with half-closed eyes, bowed head, and
uplifted palms, while at the same time I was aware of myself as of a
mental puppet, in that position. This same word will serve to
illustrate the other groups also. It so happened in connection with
"abasement" that the word "David" or "King David" occurred to me on
one occasion in each of three out of the four trials; also that an
accidental misreading, or perhaps the merely punning association of
the words "a basement," brought up on all four occasions the image
of the foundations of a house that the builders had begun upon.

So much for the character of the association; next as to that of the
words. I found, after the experiments were over, that the words were
divisible into three distinct groups. The first contained "abbey,"
"aborigines," "abyss," and others that admitted of being presented
under some mental image. The second group contained "abasement,"
"abhorrence," "ablution," etc., which admitted excellently of
histrionic representation. The third group contained the more
abstract words, such as "afternoon," "ability," "abnormal," which
were variously and imperfectly dealt with by my mind. I give the
results in the upper part of Table III., and, in order to save
trouble, I have reduced them to percentages in the lower lines of
the Table.

                               TABLE III.
 Number  |              |         |          |                    |      |
of words |              | Sense   |Histrionic|   Purely Verbal    |      |
in each  |              |Imagery. |          | Names  | Phrases   | Total|
series.  |              |         |          |   of   |   and     |      |
         |              |         |          |Persons.|Quotations.|      |
         |              |---------+----------+--------+-----------+------+
   26    |"Abbey" series|   46    |    12    |   32   |    17     | 107  |
   20    |"Abasement" " |   25    |    26    |   11   |    17     |  79  |
   29    |"Afternoon" " |   23    |    27    |   16   |    38     | 104  |
   75    |              |         |          |        |           | 290  |
         |              |---------+----------+--------+-----------+------+
         |"Abbey" series|   43    |    11    |   30   |    16     | 100  |
         |"Abasement" " |   32    |    33    |   13   |    22     | 100  |
         |"Afternoon" " |   22    |    25    |   16   |    37     | 100  |

We see from this that the associations of the "abbey" series are
nearly half of them in sense imagery, and these were almost always
visual. The names of persons also more frequently occurred in this
series than in any other. It will be recollected that in Table II. I
drew attention to the exceptionally large number, 33, in the last
column. It was perhaps 20 in excess of what would have been expected
from the general run of the other figures. This was wholly due to
visual imagery of scenes with which I was first acquainted after
reaching manhood, and shows, I think, that the scenes of childhood
and youth, though vividly impressed on the memory, are by no means
numerous, and may be quite thrown into the background by the
abundance of after experiences; but this, as we have seen, is not the
case with the other forms of association. Verbal memories of old date,
such as Biblical scraps, family expressions, bits of poetry, and the
like, are very numerous, and rise to the thoughts so quickly,
whenever anything suggests them, that they commonly outstrip all
competitors. Associations connected with the "abasement" series are
strongly characterised by histrionic ideas, and by sense imagery,
which to a great degree merges into a histrionic character. Thus the
word "abhorrence" suggested to me, on three out of the four trials,
an image of the attitude of Martha in the famous picture of the
raising of Lazarus by Sebastian del Piombo in the National Gallery.
She stands with averted head, doubly sheltering her face by her hands
from even a sidelong view of the opened grave. Now I could not be
sure how far I saw the picture as such, in my mental view, or how
far I had thrown my own personality into the picture, and was acting
it as actors might act a mystery play, by the puppets of my own brain,
that were parts of myself. As a matter of fact, I entered it under
the heading of sense imagery, but it might very properly have gone
to swell the number of the histrionic entries.

The "afternoon" series suggested a great preponderance of mere catch
words, showing how slowly I was able to realise the meaning of
abstractions; the phrases intruded themselves before the thoughts
became defined. It occasionally occurred that I puzzled wholly over
a word, and made no entry at all; in thirteen cases either this
happened, or else after one idea had occurred the second was too
confused and obscure to admit of record, and mention of it had to be
omitted in the foregoing Table. These entries have forcibly shown to
me the great imperfection in my generalising powers; and I am sure
that most persons would find the same if they made similar trials.
Nothing is a surer sign of high intellectual capacity than the power
of quickly seizing and easily manipulating ideas of a very abstract
nature. Commonly we grasp them very imperfectly, and cling to their
skirts with great difficulty.

In comparing the order in which the ideas presented themselves, I
find that a decided precedence is assumed by the histrionic ideas,
wherever they occur; that verbal associations occur first and with
great quickness on many occasions, but on the whole that they are
only a little more likely to occur first than second; and that
imagery is decidedly more likely to be the second than the first of
the associations called up by a word. In short, gesture-language
appeals the most quickly to my feelings,

It would be very instructive to print the actual records at length,
made by many experimenters, if the records could be clubbed together
and thrown into a statistical form; but it would be too absurd to
print one's own singly. They lay bare the foundations of a man's
thoughts with curious distinctness, and exhibit his mental anatomy
with more vividness and truth than he would probably care to publish
to the world.

It remains to summarise what has been said in the foregoing memoir.
I have desired to show how whole 1 strata of mental operations that
have lapsed out of ordinary consciousness, admit of being dragged
into light, recorded and treated statistically, and how the
obscurity that attends the initial steps of our thoughts can thus be
pierced and dissipated. I then showed measurably the rate at which
associations sprung up, their character, the date of their first
formation, their tendency to recurrence, and their relative
precedence. Also I gave an instance showing how the phenomenon of a
long-forgotten scene, suddenly starting into consciousness, admitted
in many cases of being explained. Perhaps the strongest of the
impressions left by these experiments regards the multifariousness
of the work done by the mind in a state of half-unconsciousness, and
the valid reason they afford for believing in the existence of still
deeper strata of mental operations, sunk wholly below the level of
consciousness, which may account for such mental phenomena as cannot
otherwise be explained. We gain an insight by these experiments into
the marvellous number and nimbleness of our mental associations, and
we also learn that they are very far indeed from being infinite in
their variety. We find that our working stock of ideas is narrowly
limited and that the mind continually recurs to the same instruments
in conducting its operations, therefore its tracks necessarily
become more defined and its flexibility diminished as age advances.


When I am engaged in trying to think anything out, the process of
doing so appears to me to be this: The ideas that lie at any moment
within my full consciousness seem to attract of their own accord the
most appropriate out of a number of other ideas that are lying close
at hand, but imperfectly within the range of my consciousness. There
seems to be a presence-chamber in my mind where full consciousness
holds court, and where two or three ideas are at the same time in
audience, and an antechamber full of more or less allied ideas,
which is situated just beyond the full ken of consciousness. Out of
this antechamber the ideas most nearly allied to those in the
presence-chamber appear to be summoned in a mechanically logical way,
and to have their turn of audience.

The successful progress of thought appears to depend--first, on a
large attendance in the antechamber; secondly, on the presence there
of no ideas except such as are strictly germane to the topic under
consideration; thirdly, on the justness of the logical mechanism
that issues the summons. The thronging of the antechamber is, I am
convinced, altogether beyond my control; if the ideas do not appear,
I cannot create them, nor compel them to come. The exclusion of
alien ideas is accompanied by a sense of mental effort and volition
whenever the topic under consideration is unattractive, otherwise it
proceeds automatically, for if an intruding idea finds nothing to
cling to, it is unable to hold its place in the antechamber, and
slides back again. An animal absorbed in a favourite occupation
shows no sign of painful effort of attention; on the contrary, he
resents interruption that solicits his attention elsewhere. The
consequence of all this is that the mind frequently does good work
without the slightest exertion. In composition it will often produce
a better effect than if it acted with effort, because the essence of
good composition is that the ideas should be connected by the
easiest possible transitions. When a man has been thinking hard and
long upon a subject, he becomes temporarily familiar with certain
steps of thought, certain short cuts, and certain far-fetched
associations, that do not commend themselves to the minds of other
persons, nor indeed to his own at other times; therefore, it is
better that his transitory familiarity with them should have come to
an end before he begins to write or speak. When he returns to the
work after a sufficient pause he is conscious that his ideas have
settled; that is, they have lost their adventitious relations to one
another, and stand in those in which they are likely to reside
permanently in his own mind, and to exist in the minds of others.

Although the brain is able to do very fair work fluently in an
automatic way, and though it will of its own accord strike out
sudden and happy ideas, it is questionable if it is capable of
working thoroughly and profoundly without past or present effort.
The character of this effort seems to me chiefly to lie in bringing
the contents of the antechamber more nearly within the ken of
consciousness, which then takes comprehensive note of all its
contents, and compels the logical faculty to test them _seriatim_
before selecting the fittest for a summons to the presence-chamber.

Extreme fluency and a vivid and rapid imagination are gifts
naturally and healthfully possessed by those who rise to be great
orators or literary men, for they could not have become successful
in those careers without it. The curious fact already alluded to of
five editors of newspapers being known to me as having phantasmagoria,
points to a connection between two forms of fluency, the literary
and the visual. Fluency may be also a morbid faculty, being markedly
increased by alcohol (as poets are never tired of telling us), and
by various drugs; and it exists in delirium, insanity, and states of
high emotions. The fluency of a vulgar scold is extraordinary.

In preparing to write or speak upon a subject of which the details
have been mastered, I gather, after some inquiry, that the usual
method among persons who have the gift of fluency is to think
cursorily on topics connected with it, until what I have called the
antechamber is well filled with cognate ideas. Then, to allow the
ideas to link themselves in their own way, breaking the linkage
continually and recommencing afresh until some line of thought has
suggested itself that appears from a rapid and light glance to
thread the chief topics together. After this the connections are
brought step by step fully into consciousness, they are
short-circuited here and extended there, as found advisable until a
firm connection is found to be established between all parts of the
subject. After this is done the mental effort is over, and the
composition may proceed fluently in an automatic way. Though this, I
believe, is a usual way, it is by no means universal, for there are
very great differences in the conditions under which different
persons compose most readily. They seem to afford as good evidence
of the variety of mental and bodily constitutions as can be met with
in any other line of inquiry.

It is very reasonable to think that part at least of the inward
response to spiritual yearnings is of similar origin to the visions,
thoughts, and phrases that arise automatically when the mind has
prepared itself to receive them. The devout man attunes his mind to
holy ideas, he excludes alien thoughts, and he waits and watches in
stillness. Gradually the darkness is lifted, the silence of the mind
is broken, and the spiritual responses are heard in the way so often
described by devout men of all religions. This seems to me precisely
analogous to the automatic presentation of ordinary ideas to orators
and literary men, and to the visions of which I spoke in the chapter
on that subject. Dividuality replaces individuality, and one portion
of the mind communicates with another portion as with a different

Some persons and races are naturally more imaginative than others,
and show their visionary tendency in every one of the respects named.
They are fanciful, oratorical, poetical, and credulous. The
"enthusiastic" faculties all seem to hang together; I shall recur to
this in the chapter on enthusiasm.

I have already pointed out the existence of a morbid form of piety:
there is also a morbid condition of apparent inspiration to which
imaginative women are subject, especially those who suffer more or
less from hysteria. It is accompanied in a very curious way,
familiar to medical men, by almost incredible acts of deceit. It is
found even in ladies of position apparently above the suspicion of
vulgar fraud, and seems associated with a strange secret desire to
attract notice. Ecstatics, seers of visions, and devout fasting
girls who eat on the sly, often belong to this category.


The child is passionately attached to his home, then to his school,
his country, and religion; yet how entirely the particular home,
school, country, and religion are a matter of accident! He is born
prepared to attach himself as a climbing plant is naturally disposed
to climb, the kind of stick being of little importance. The models
upon whom the child or boy forms himself are the boys or men whom he
has been thrown amongst, and whom from some incidental cause he may
have learned to love and respect. The every-day utterances, the
likes and dislikes of his parents, their social and caste feelings,
their religious persuasions are absorbed by him; their views or
those of his teachers become assimilated and made his own. If a
mixed marriage should have taken place, and the father should die
while the children are yet young, and if a question arise between
the executors of his will and the mother as to the religious
education of the children, application is made as a matter of course
to the Court of Chancery, who decide that the children shall be
brought up as Protestants or as Catholics as the case may be, or the
sons one way and the daughters the other; and they are, and usually
remain so afterwards when free to act for themselves.

It is worthy of note that many of the deaf-mutes who are first
taught to communicate freely with others after they had passed the
period of boyhood, and are asked about their religious feelings up
to that time, are reported to tell the same story. They say that the
meaning of the church service whither they had accompanied their
parents, and of the kneeling to pray, had been absolutely
unintelligible, and a standing puzzle to them. The ritual touched no
chord in their untaught natures that responded in unison. Very much
of what we fondly look upon as a natural religious sentiment is
purely traditional.

The word religion may fairly be applied to any group of sentiments
or persuasions that  are strong  enough  to bind us to do that which
we intellectually may acknowledge to be our duty, and the possession
of some form of religion in this larger sense of the word is of the
utmost importance to moral stability. The sentiments must be strong
enough to make us ashamed at the mere thought of committing, and
distressed during the act of committing any untruth, or any
uncharitable act, or of neglecting what we feel to be right, in
order to indulge in laziness or gratify some passing desire. So long
as experience shows the religion to be competent to produce this
effect, it seems reasonable to believe that the particular dogma is
comparatively of little importance. But  as  the dogma or sentiments,
whatever they be, if they are not naturally instinctive, must be
ingrained in the character to produce their full effect, they should
be instilled early in life and allowed  to grow unshaken until their
roots are firmly fixed. The consciousness of this fact makes the
form of religious teaching in every church and creed identical in
one important particular though its substance may vary in every
respect. In subjects unconnected with sentiment, the freest inquiry
and the fullest deliberation are required before it is  thought
decorous to form a final opinion; but wherever sentiment is involved,
and especially in questions of religious dogma, about which there is
more sentiment and more difference of opinion among wise, virtuous,
and  truth-seeking men than  about any  other  subject  whatever,
free inquiry is peremptorily discouraged. The religious instructor
in every creed is one who makes it his profession to saturate his
pupils with prejudice. A vast and perpetual clamour arises from the
pulpits of endless proselytising sects throughout this great empire,
the priests of all of them crying with one consent, "This is the way,
shut your ears to the words of those who teach differently; don't
look at their books, do not even mention their names except to scoff
at  them; they are damnable. Have faith in what I tell you, and save
your souls!" In which of these conflicting doctrines are we to place
our faith if we are not to hear all sides, and to rely upon our own
judgment in the end? Are we to understand that it is the duty of man
to be credulous in accepting whatever the priest in whose
neighbourhood he happens to reside may say? Is it to believe
whatever his parents may have lovingly taught him? There are a vast
number of foolish men and women in the world who marry and have
children, and because they deal lovingly with their children it does
not at all follow that they can instruct them wisely. Or is it to
have faith in what the wisest men of all ages have found peace in
believing? The Catholic phrase, "_quod semper quod ubique quod
omnibus_"--"that which has been believed at all times, in all places,
and by all men"--has indeed a fine rolling sound, but where is the
dogma that satisfies its requirements? Or is it, such and such
really good and wise men with whom you are acquainted, and whom, it
may be, you have the privilege of knowing, have lived consistent
lives through the guidance of these dogmas, how can you who are many
grades their inferior in good works, in capacity and in experience,
presume to set up your opinion against theirs? The reply is, that it
is a matter of history and notoriety that other very good, capable,
and inexperienced men have led and are leading consistent lives
under the guidance of totally different dogmas, and that some of
them a few generations back would have probably burned your modern
hero as a heretic if he had lived in their times and they could have
got hold of him. Also, that men, however eminent in goodness,
intellect, and experience, may be deeply prejudiced, and that their
judgment in matters where their prejudices are involved cannot
thenceforward be trusted. Watches, as electricians know to their cost,
are liable to have their steel work accidentally magnetised, and the
best chronometer under those conditions can never again be trusted
to keep correct time.

Lastly, we are told to have faith in our conscience? well we know
now a great deal more about conscience than formerly. Ethnologists
have studied the manifestations of conscience in different people,
and do not find that they are consistent. Conscience is now known to
be partly transmitted by inheritance in the way and under the
conditions clearly explained by Mr. Darwin, and partly to be an
unsuspected result of early education. The value of inherited
conscience lies in its being the organised result of the social
experiences of many generations, but it fails in so far as it
expresses the experience of generations whose habits differed from
our own. The doctrine of evolution shows that no race can be in
perfect harmony with its surroundings; the latter are continually
changing, while the organism of the race hobbles after, vainly
trying to overtake them. Therefore the inherited part of conscience
cannot be an infallible guide, and the acquired part of it may,
under the influence of dogma, be a very bad one. The history of
fanaticism shows too clearly that this is not only a theory but a
fact. Happy the child, especially in these inquiring days, who has
been taught a religion that mainly rests on the moral obligations
between man and man in domestic and national life, and which, so far
as it is necessarily dogmatic, rests chiefly upon the proper
interpretation of facts about which there is no dispute,--namely, on
those habitual occurrences which are always open to observation, and
which form the basis of so-called natural religion.

It would be instructive to make a study of the working religion of
good and able men of all nations, in order to discover the real
motives by which they were severally animated,--men, I mean, who had
been tried by both prosperity and adversity, and had borne the test;
who, while they led lives full of interest to themselves, were
beloved by their own family, noted among those with whom they had
business relations for their probity and conciliatory ways, and
honoured by a wider circle for their unselfish furtherance of the
public good. Such men exist of many faiths and in many races.

Another interesting and cognate inquiry would be into the motives
that have sufficed to induce men who were leading happy lives, to
meet death willingly at a time when they were not particularly
excited. Probably the number of instances to be found, say among
Mussulmans, who are firm believers in the joys of Mahomet's Paradise,
would not be more numerous than among the Zulus, who have no belief
in any paradise at all, but are influenced by martial honour and
patriotism. There is an Oriental phrase, as I have been told, that
the fear of the inevitable approach of death is a European malady.

Terror at any object is quickly taught if it is taught consistently,
whether the terror be reasonable or not. There are few more stupid
creatures than fish, but they notoriously soon learn to be
frightened at any newly-introduced method of capture, say by an
artificial fly, which, at first their comrades took greedily. Some
one fish may have seen others caught, and have learned to take fright
at the fly. Whenever he saw it again he would betray his terror by
some instinctive gesture, which would be seen and understood by
others, and so instruction in distrusting the fly appears to spread.

All gregarious animals are extremely quick at learning terrors from
one another. It is a condition of their existence that they should
do so, as was explained at length in a previous chapter. Their
safety lies in mutual intelligence and support. When most of them
are browsing a few are always watching, and at the least signal of
alarm the whole herd takes fright simultaneously. Gregarious animals
are quickly alive to their mutual signals; it is beautiful to watch
great flocks of birds as they wheel in their flight and suddenly
show the flash of all their wings against the sky, as they
simultaneously and suddenly change their direction. Much of the
tameness or wildness of an animal's character is probably due to the
placidity or to the frequent starts of alarm of the mother while she
was rearing it. I was greatly struck with some evidence I happened
to meet with, of the pervading atmosphere of alarm and suspicion in
which the children of criminal parents are brought up, and which, in
combination with their inherited disposition, makes them, in the
opinion of many observers, so different to other children. The
evidence of which I speak lay in the tone of letters sent by
criminal parents to their children, who were inmates of the Princess
Mary Village Homes, from which I had the opportunity, thanks to the
kindness of the Superintendent, Mrs. Meredith, of hearing and seeing
extracts. They were full of such phrases as "Mind you do not say
anything about this," though the matters referred to were, to all
appearance, unimportant.

The writings of Dante on the horrible torments of the damned, and
the realistic pictures of the same subject in frescoes and other
pictures of the same date, showing the flames and the flesh hooks
and the harrows, indicate the transforming effect of those cruel
times, fifteen generations ago, upon the disposition of men. Revenge
and torture had been so commonly practised by rulers that they seemed
to be appropriate attributes of every high authority, and the
artists of those days saw no incongruity in supposing that a
supremely powerful master, however beneficent he might be, would
make the freest use of them.

Aversion is taught as easily as terror, when the object of it is
neutral and not especially attractive to an unprejudiced taste. I
can testify in my own person to the somewhat rapidly-acquired and
long-retained fancies concerning the clean and unclean, upon which
Jews and Mussulmans lay such curious stress. It was the result of my
happening to spend a year in the East, at an age when the brain is
very receptive of new ideas, and when I happened to be much
impressed by the nobler aspects of Mussulman civilisation, especially,
I may say, with the manly conformity of their every-day practice to
their creed, which contrasts sharply with what we see among most
Europeans, who profess extreme unworldliness and humiliation on one
day of the week, and act in a worldly and masterful manner during
the remaining six. Although many years have passed since that time, I
still find the old feelings in existence--for instance, that of
looking on the left hand as unclean.

It is difficult to an untravelled Englishman, who has not had an
opportunity of throwing himself into the spirit of the East, to
credit the disgust and detestation that numerous every-day acts,
which appear perfectly harmless to his countrymen, excite in many

To conclude, the power of nurture is very great in implanting
sentiments of a religious nature, of terror and of aversion, and in
giving a fallacious sense of their being natural instincts. But it
will be observed that the circumstances from which these influences
proceed, affect large classes simultaneously, forming a kind of
atmosphere in which every member of them passes his life. They
produce the cast of mind that distinguishes an Englishman from a
foreigner, and one class of Englishman from another, but they have
little influence in creating the differences that exist between
individuals of the same class.


The exceedingly close resemblance attributed to twins has been the
subject of many novels and plays, and most persons have felt a
desire to know upon what basis of truth those works of fiction may
rest. But twins have a special claim upon our attention; it is, that
their history affords means of distinguishing between the effects of
tendencies received at birth, and of those that were imposed by the
special circumstances of their after lives. The objection to
statistical evidence in proof of the inheritance of peculiar
faculties has always been: "The persons whom you compare may have
lived under similar social conditions and have had similar
advantages of education, but such prominent conditions are only a
small part of those that determine the future of each man's life. It
is to trifling accidental circumstances that the bent of his
disposition and his success are mainly due, and these you leave
wholly out of account--in fact, they do not admit of being tabulated,
and therefore your statistics, however plausible at first sight, are
really of very little use." No method of inquiry which I had
previously been able to carry out--and I have tried many methods--is
wholly free from this objection. I have therefore attacked the
problem from the opposite side, seeking for some new method by which
it would be possible to weigh in just scales the effects of Nature
and Nurture, and to ascertain their respective shares in framing the
disposition and intellectual ability of men. The life-history of
twins supplies what I wanted. We may begin by inquiring about twins
who were closely alike in boyhood and youth, and who were educated
together for many years, and learn whether they subsequently grew
unlike, and, if so, what the main causes were which, in the opinion
of the family, produced the dissimilarity. In this way we can obtain
direct evidence of the kind we want. Again, we may obtain yet more
valuable evidence by a converse method. We can inquire into the
history of twins who were exceedingly unlike in childhood, and learn
how far their characters became assimilated under the influence of
identical nurture, inasmuch as they had the same home, the same
teachers, the same associates, and in every other respect the same

My materials were obtained by sending circulars of inquiry to
persons who were either twins themselves or near relations of twins.
The printed questions were in thirteen groups; the last of them
asked for the addresses of other twins known to the recipient, who
might be likely to respond if I wrote to them. This happily led to a
continually widening circle of correspondence, which I pursued until
enough material was accumulated for a general reconnaisance of the

There is a large literature relating to twins in their purely
surgical and physiological aspect. The reader interested in this
should consult _Die Lehre von den Zwillingen_, von L. Kleinwächter,
Prag. 1871. It is full of references, but it is also unhappily
disfigured by a number of numerical misprints, especially in page 26.
I have not found any book that treats of twins from my present point
of view.

The reader will easily understand that the word "twins" is a vague
expression, which covers two very dissimilar events--the one
corresponding to the progeny of animals that usually bear more than
one at a birth, each of the progeny being derived from a separate
ovum, while the other event is due to the development of two
germinal spots in the same ovum. In the latter case they are
enveloped in the same membrane, and all such twins are found
invariably to be of the same sex. The consequence of this is, that I
find a curious discontinuity in my results. One would have expected
that twins would commonly be found to possess a certain average
likeness to one another; that a few would greatly exceed that
average likeness, and a few would greatly fall short of it. But this
is not at all the case. Extreme similarity and extreme dissimilarity
between twins of the same sex are nearly as common as moderate
resemblance. When the twins are a boy and a girl, they are never
closely alike; in fact, their origin is never due to the development
of two germinal spots in the same ovum.

I received about eighty returns of cases of close similarity,
thirty-five of which entered into many instructive details. In a few
of these not a single point of difference could be specified. In the
remainder, the colour of the hair and eyes were almost always
identical; the height, weight, and strength were nearly so.
Nevertheless, I have a few cases of a notable difference in height,
weight, and strength, although the resemblance was otherwise very
near. The manner and personal address of the thirty-five pairs of
twins are usually described as very similar, but accompanied by a
slight difference of expression, familiar to near relatives, though
unperceived by strangers. The intonation of the voice when speaking
is commonly the same, but it frequently happens that the twins sing
in different keys. Most singularly, the one point in which
similarity is rare is the handwriting. I cannot account for this,
considering how strongly handwriting runs in families, but I am sure
of the fact. I have only one case in which nobody, not even the twins
themselves, could distinguish their own notes of lectures, etc.;
barely two or three in which the handwriting was undistinguishable
by others, and only a few in which it was described as closely alike.
On the other hand, I have many in which it is stated to be unlike,
and some in which it is alluded to as the only point of difference.
It would appear that the handwriting is a very delicate test of
difference in organisation--a conclusion which I commend to the
notice of enthusiasts in the art of discovering character by the

One of my inquiries was for anecdotes regarding mistakes made
between the twins by their near relatives. The replies are numerous,
but not very varied in character. When the twins are children, they
are usually distinguished by ribbons tied round the wrist or neck;
nevertheless the one is sometimes fed, physicked, and whipped by
mistake for the other, and the description of these little domestic
catastrophes was usually given by the mother, in a phraseology that
is somewhat touching by reason of its seriousness. I have one case
in which a doubt remains whether the children were not changed in
their bath, and the presumed A is not really B, and _vice versâ_. In
another case, an artist was engaged on the portraits of twins who
were between three and four years of age; he had to lay aside his
work for three weeks, and, on resuming it, could not tell to which
child the respective likenesses he had in hand belonged. The
mistakes become less numerous on the part of the mother during the
boyhood and girlhood of the twins, but are almost as frequent as
before on the part of strangers. I have many instances of tutors
being unable to distinguish their twin pupils. Two girls used
regularly to impose on their music teacher when one of them wanted a
whole holiday; they had their lessons at separate hours, and the one
girl sacrificed herself to receive two lessons on the same day,
while the other one enjoyed herself from morning to evening. Here is
a brief and comprehensive account:--

"Exactly alike in all, their schoolmasters never could tell them
apart; at dancing parties they constantly changed partners without
discovery; their close resemblance is scarcely diminished by age."

The following is a typical schoolboy anecdote:--

"Two twins were fond of playing tricks, and complaints were
frequently made; but the boys would never own which was the guilty
one, and the complainants were never certain which of the two he was.
One head master used to say he would never flog the innocent for the
guilty, and another used to flog both."

No less than nine anecdotes have reached me of a twin seeing his or
her reflection in a looking-glass, and addressing it in the belief
it was the other twin in person.

I have many anecdotes of mistakes when the twins were nearly grown up.

"Amusing scenes occurred at college when one twin came to visit the
other; the porter on one occasion refusing to let the visitor out of
the college gates, for, though they stood side by side, he professed
ignorance as to which he ought to allow to depart."

Children are usually quick in distinguishing between their parent
and his or her twin; but I have two cases to the contrary. Thus, the
daughter of a twin says:--

"Such was the marvellous similarity of their features, voice, manner,
etc., that I remember, as a child, being very much puzzled, and I
think, had my aunt lived much with us, I should have ended by
thinking I had two mothers."

In the other case, a father who was a twin, remarks of himself and
his brother:--

"We were extremely alike, and are so at this moment, so much so that
our children up to five and six years old did not know us apart."

I have four or five instances of doubt during an engagement of
marriage. Thus:--

"A married first, but both twins met the lady together for the first
time, and fell in love with her there and then. A managed to see her
home and to gain her affection, though B went sometimes courting in
his place, and neither the lady nor her parents could tell which was

I have also a German letter, written in quaint terms, about twin
brothers who married sisters, but could not easily be distinguished
by them.[13] In the well-known novel by Mr. Wilkie Collins of
_Poor Miss Finch_, the blind girl distinguishes the twin she loves
by the touch of his hand, which gives her a thrill that the touch of
the other brother does not. Philosophers have not, I believe, as yet
investigated the conditions of such thrills; but I have a case in
which Miss Finch's test would have failed. Two persons, both friends
of a certain twin lady, told me that she had frequently remarked to
them that "kissing her twin sister was not like kissing her other
sisters, but like kissing herself--her own hand, for example."

It would be an interesting experiment for twins who were closely
alike to try how far dogs could distinguish them by scent.

[Footnote 13: I take this opportunity of withdrawing an anecdote,
happily of no great importance, published in _Men of Science_, p. 14,
about a man personating his twin brother for a joke at supper, and
not being discovered by his wife. It was told me on good authority;
but I have reason to doubt the fact, as the story is not known to
the son of one of the twins. However, the twins in question were
extraordinarily alike, and I have many anecdotes about them sent me
by the latter gentleman.]

I have a few anecdotes of strange mistakes made between twins in
adult life. Thus, an officer writes:--

"On one occasion when I returned from foreign service my father
turned to me and said, 'I thought you were in London,' thinking I
was my brother--yet he had not seen me for nearly four years--our
resemblance was so great."

The next and last anecdote I shall give is, perhaps, the most
remarkable of those I have; it was sent me by the brother of the
twins, who were in middle life at the time of its occurrence:--

"A was again coming home from India, on leave; the ship did not
arrive for some days after it was due; the twin brother B had come
up from his quarters to receive A, and their old mother was very
nervous. One morning A rushed in saying, 'Oh, mother, how are you?'
Her answer was, 'No, B, it's a bad joke; you know how anxious I am!'
and it was a little time before A could persuade her that he was the
real man."

Enough has been said to prove that an extremely close personal
resemblance frequently exists between twins of the same sex; and that,
although the resemblance usually diminishes as they grow into
manhood and womanhood, some cases occur in which the diminution of
resemblance is hardly perceptible. It must be borne in mind that it
is not necessary to ascribe the divergence of development, when it
occurs, to the effect of different nurtures, but it is quite
possible that it may be due to the late appearance of qualities
inherited at birth, though dormant in early life, like gout. To this
I shall recur.

There is a curious feature in the character of the resemblance
between twins, which has been alluded to by a few correspondents; it
is well illustrated by the following quotations. A mother of twins

"There seemed to be a sort of interchangeable likeness in expression,
that often gave to each the effect of being more like his brother
than himself."

Again, two twin brothers, writing to me, after analysing their
points of resemblance, which are close and numerous, and pointing
out certain shades of difference, add--

"These seem to have marked us through life, though for a while, when
we were first separated, the one to go to business, and the other to
college, our respective characters were inverted; we both think that
at that time we each ran into the character of the other. The proof
of this consists in our own recollections, in our correspondence by
letter, and in the views which we then took of matters in which we
were interested."

In explanation of this apparent interchangeableness, we must
recollect that no character is simple, and that in twins who
strongly resemble each other, every expression in the one may be
matched by a corresponding expression in the other, but it does not
follow that the same expression should be the prevalent one in both
cases. Now it is by their prevalent expressions that we should
distinguish between the twins; consequently when one twin has
temporarily the expression which is the prevalent one in his brother,
he is apt to be mistaken for him. There are also cases where the
development of the two twins is not strictly _pari passu_; they
reach the same goal at the same time, but not by identical stages.
Thus: A is born the larger, then B overtakes and surpasses A, and is
in his turn overtaken by A, the end being that the twins, on
reaching adult life, are of the same size. This process would aid in
giving an interchangeable likeness at certain periods of their growth,
and is undoubtedly due to nature more frequently than to nurture.

Among my thirty-five detailed cases of close similarity, there are
no less than seven in which both twins suffered from some special
ailment or had some exceptional peculiarity. One twin writes that
she and her sister "have both the defect of not being able to come
downstairs quickly, which, however, was not born with them, but came
on at the age of twenty." Three pairs of twins have peculiarities in
their fingers; in one case it consists in a slight congenital
flexure of one of the joints of the little finger; it was inherited
from a grandmother, but neither parents, nor brothers, nor sisters
show the least trace of it. In another case the twins have a
peculiar way of bending the fingers, and there was a faint tendency
to the same peculiarity in the mother, but in her alone of all the
family. In a third case, about which I made a few inquiries, which
is given by Mr. Darwin, but is not included in my returns, there was
no known family tendency to the peculiarity which was observed in
the twins of having a crooked little finger. In another pair of twins,
one was born ruptured, and the other became so at six months old.
Two twins at the age of twenty-three were attacked by toothache, and
the same tooth had to be extracted in each case. There are curious
and close correspondences mentioned in the falling off of the hair.
Two cases are mentioned of death from the same disease; one of which
is very affecting. The outline of the story was that the twins were
closely alike and singularly attached, and had identical tastes;
they both obtained Government clerkships, and kept house together,
when one sickened and died of Bright's disease, and the other also
sickened of the same disease and died seven months later.

Both twins were apt to sicken at the same time in no less than nine
out of the thirty-five cases. Either their illnesses, to which I
refer, were non-contagious, or, if contagious, the twins caught them
simultaneously; they did not catch them the one from the other. This
implies so intimate a constitutional resemblance, that it is proper
to give some quotations in evidence. Thus, the father of two twins

"Their general health is closely alike; whenever one of them has an
illness, the other invariably has the same within a day or two, and
they usually recover in the same order. Such has been the case with
whooping-cough, chicken-pox, and measles; also with slight bilious
attacks, which they have successively. Latterly, they had a feverish
attack at the same time."

Another parent of twins says:--

"If anything ails one of them, identical symptoms _nearly always_
appear in the other; this has been singularly visible in two
instances during the last two months. Thus, when in London, one fell
ill with a violent attack of dysentery, and within twenty-four hours
the other had precisely the same symptoms."

A medical man writes of twins with whom he is well acquainted:--

"Whilst I knew them, for a period of two years, there was not the
slightest tendency towards a difference in body or mind; external
influences seemed powerless to produce any dissimilarity."

The mother of two other twins, after describing how they were ill
simultaneously up to the age of fifteen, adds, that they shed their
first milk-teeth within a few hours of each other.

Trousseau has a very remarkable case (in the chapter on Asthma) in
his important work _Clinique M. édicale_. (In the edition of 1873 it
is in vol. ii. p. 473.) It was quoted at length in the original
French, in Mr. Darwin's _Variation under Domestication_, vol. ii. p.
252. The following is a translation:--

"I attended twin brothers so extraordinarily alike, that it was
impossible for me to tell which was which, without seeing them side
by side. But their physical likeness extended still deeper, for they
had, so to speak, a yet more remarkable pathological resemblance.
Thus, one of them, whom I saw at the Néothermes at Paris, suffering
from rheumatic ophthalmia, said to me, 'At this instant my brother
must be having an ophthalmia like mine;' and, as I had exclaimed
against such an assertion, he showed me a few days afterwards a
letter just received by him from his brother, who was at that time
at Vienna, and who expressed himself in these words--'I have my
ophthalmia; you must be having yours.' However singular this story
may appear, the fact is none the less exact; it has not been told to
me by others, but I have seen it myself; and I have seen other
analogous cases in my practice. These twins were also asthmatic, and
asthmatic to a frightful degree. Though born in Marseilles, they
were never able to stay in that town, where their business affairs
required them to go, without having an attack. Still more strange,
it was sufficient for them to get away only as far as Toulon in
order to be cured of the attack caught at Marseilles. They travelled
continually, and in all countries, on business affairs, and they
remarked that certain localities were extremely hurtful to them, and
that in others they were free from all asthmatic symptoms."

I do not like to pass over here a most dramatic tale in the
_Psychologie Morbide_ of Dr. J. Moreau (de Tours), M. édecin de
l'Hospice de Bicêtre. Paris, 1859, p. 172. He speaks "of two twin
brothers who had been confined, on account of monomania, at Bicêtre":--

"Physically the two young men are so nearly alike that the one is
easily mistaken for the other. Morally, their resemblance is no less
complete, and is most remarkable in its details. Thus, their
dominant ideas are absolutely the same. They both consider
themselves subject to imaginary persecutions; the same enemies have
sworn their destruction, and employ the same means to effect it.
Both have hallucinations of hearing. They are both of them
melancholy and morose; they never address a word to anybody, and
will hardly answer the questions that others address to them. They
always keep apart, and never communicate with one another. An
extremely curious fact which has been frequently noted by the
superintendents of their section of the hospital, and by myself, is
this: From time to time, at very irregular intervals of two, three,
and many months, without appreciable cause, and by the purely
spontaneous effect of their illness, a very marked change takes
place in the condition of the two brothers. Both of them, at the
same time, and often on the same day, rouse themselves from their
habitual stupor and prostration; they make the same complaints, and
they come of their own accord to the physician, with an urgent
request to be liberated. I have seen this strange thing occur, even
when they were some miles apart, the one being at Bicêtre, and the
other living at Saint-Anne."

I sent a copy of this passage to the principal authorities among the
physicians to the insane in England, asking if they had ever
witnessed any similar case. In reply, I have received three
noteworthy instances, but none to be compared in their exact
parallelism with that just given. The details of these three cases
are painful, and it is not necessary to my general purpose that I
should further allude to them.

There is another curious French case of insanity in twins, which was
pointed out to me by Sir James Paget, described by Dr. Baume in the
_Annales M. édico-Psychologiques_, 4 série, vol. i., 1863, p. 312,
of which the following is an abstract. The original contains a few
more details, but is too long to quote: Francois and Martin, fifty
years of age, worked as railroad contractors between Quimper and
Châteaulin. Martin had twice slight attacks of insanity. On January 15
a box was robbed in which the twins had deposited their savings. On
the night of January 23-24 both François (who lodged at Quimper) and
Martin (who lived with his wife and children at St. Lorette, two
leagues from Quimper) had the same dream at the same hour, three a.m.,
and both awoke with a violent start, calling out, "I have caught the
thief! I have caught the thief! they are doing mischief to my brother!"
They were both of them extremely agitated, and gave way to similar
extravagances, dancing and leaping.

Martin sprang on his grandchild, declaring that he was the thief,
and would have strangled him if he had not been prevented; he then
became steadily worse, complained of violent pains in his head, went
out of doors on some excuse, and tried to drown himself in the river
Steir, but was forcibly stopped by his son, who had watched and
followed him. He was then taken to an asylum by gendarmes, where he
died in three hours. Francois, on his part, calmed down on the
morning of the 24th, and employed the day in inquiring about the
robbery. By a strange chance, he crossed his brother's path at the
moment when the latter was struggling with the gendarmes; then he
himself became maddened, giving way to extravagant gestures and using
incoherent language (similar to that of his brother). He then asked
to be bled, which was done, and afterwards, declaring himself to be
better, went out on the pretext of executing some commission, but
really to drown himself in the River Steir, which he actually did,
at the very spot where Martin had attempted to do the same thing a
few hours previously.

The next point which I shall mention in illustration of the
extremely close resemblance between certain twins is the similarity
in the association of their ideas. No less than eleven out of the
thirty-five cases testify to this. They make the same remarks on the
same occasion, begin singing the same song at the same moment, and
so on; or one would commence a sentence, and the other would finish
it. An observant friend graphically described to me the effect
produced on her by two such twins whom she had met casually. She said:
"Their teeth grew alike, they spoke alike and together, and said the
same things, and seemed just like one person." One of the most
curious anecdotes that I have received concerning this similarity of
ideas was that one twin, A, who happened to be at a town in Scotland,
bought a set of champagne glasses which caught his attention, as a
surprise for his brother B; while, at the same time, B, being in
England, bought a similar set of precisely the same pattern as a
surprise for A. Other anecdotes of a like kind have reached me about
these twins.

The last point to which I shall allude regards the tastes and
dispositions of the thirty-five pairs of twins. In sixteen
cases--that is, in nearly one-half of them--these were described as
closely similar; in the remaining nineteen they were much alike, but
subject to certain named differences. These differences belonged
almost wholly to such groups of qualities as these: The one was the
more vigorous, fearless, energetic; the other was gentle, clinging,
and timid; or the one was more ardent, the other more calm and placid;
or again, the one was the more independent, original, and
self-contained; the other the more generous, hasty, and vivacious.
In short, the difference was that of intensity or energy in one or
other of its protean forms; it did not extend more deeply into the
structure of the characters. The more vivacious might be subdued by
ill health, until he assumed the character of the other; or the
latter might be raised by excellent health to that of the former.
The difference was in the key-note, not in the melody.

It follows from what has been said concerning the similar
dispositions of the twins, the similarity in the associations of
their ideas, of their special ailments, and of their illnesses
generally, that the resemblances are not superficial, but extremely
intimate. I have only two cases of a strong bodily resemblance being
accompanied by mental diversity, and one case only of the converse
kind. It must be remembered that the conditions which govern extreme
likeness between twins are not the same as those between ordinary
brothers and sisters, and that it would be incorrect to conclude
from what has just been said about the twins that mental and bodily
likeness are invariably co-ordinate, such being by no means the case.

We are now in a position to understand that the phrase "close
similarity" is no exaggeration, and to realise the value of the
evidence I am about to adduce. Here are thirty-five cases of twins
who were "closely alike" in body and mind when they were young, and
who have been reared exactly alike up to their early manhood and
womanhood. Since then the conditions of their lives have changed;
what change of Nurture has produced the most variation?

It was with no little interest that I searched the records of the
thirty-five cases for an answer; and they gave an answer that was
not altogether direct, but it was distinct, and not at all what I
had expected. They showed me that in some cases the resemblance of
body and mind had continued unaltered up to old age, notwithstanding
very different conditions of life; and they showed in the other
cases that the parents ascribed such dissimilarity as there was,
wholly or almost wholly to some form of illness. In four cases it
was scarlet fever; in a fifth, typhus; in a sixth, a slight effect
was ascribed to a nervous fever; in a seventh it was the effect of
an Indian climate; in an eighth, an illness (unnamed) of nine
months' duration; in a ninth, varicose veins; in a tenth, a bad
fracture of the leg, which prevented all active exercise afterwards;
and there were three additional instances of undefined forms of ill
health. It will be sufficient to quote one of the returns; in this
the father writes:

"At birth they were _exactly_ alike, except that one was born with a
bad varicose affection, the effect of which had been to prevent any
violent exercise, such as dancing or running, and, as she has grown
older, to make her more serious and thoughtful. Had it not been for
this infirmity, I think the two would have been as exactly alike as
it is possible for two women to be, both mentally and physically;
even now they are constantly mistaken for one another."

In only a very few cases is some allusion made to the dissimilarity
being partly due to the combined action of many small influences,
and in none of the thirty-five cases is it largely, much less wholly,
ascribed to that cause. In not a single instance have I met with a
word about the growing dissimilarity being due to the action of the
firm free-will of one or both of the twins, which had triumphed over
natural tendencies; and yet a large proportion of my correspondents
happen to be clergymen, whose bent of mind is opposed, as I feel
assured from the tone of their letters, to a necessitarian view of

It has been remarked that a growing diversity between twins may be
ascribed to the tardy development of naturally diverse qualities;
but we have a right, upon the evidence I have received, to go
farther than this. We have seen that a few twins retain their close
resemblance through life; in other words, instances do exist of an
apparently thorough similarity of nature, in which such difference
of external circumstances as may be consistent with the ordinary
conditions of the same social rank and country do not create
dissimilarity. Positive evidence, such as this, cannot be outweighed
by any amount of negative evidence. Therefore, in those cases where
there is a growing diversity, and where no external cause can be
assigned either by the twins themselves or by their family for it,
we may feel sure that it must be chiefly or altogether due to a want
of thorough similarity in their nature. Nay, further, in some cases
it is distinctly affirmed that the growing dissimilarity can be
accounted for in no other way. We may, therefore, broadly conclude
that the only circumstance, within the range of those by which
persons of similar conditions of life are affected, that is capable
of producing a marked effect on the character of adults, is illness
or some accident which causes physical infirmity. The twins who
closely resembled each other in childhood and early youth, and were
reared under not very dissimilar conditions, either grow unlike
through the development of natural characteristics which had lain
dormant at first, or else they continue their lives, keeping time
like two watches, hardly to be thrown out of accord except by some
physical jar. Nature is far stronger than Nurture within the limited
range that I have been careful to assign to the latter.

The effect of illness, as shown by these replies, is great, and well
deserves further consideration. It appears that the constitution of
youth is not so elastic as we are apt to think, but that an attack,
say of scarlet fever, leaves a permanent mark, easily to be measured
by the present method of comparison. This recalls an impression made
strongly on my mind several years ago, by the sight of some curves
drawn by a mathematical friend. He took monthly measurements of the
circumference of his children's heads during the first few years of
their lives, and he laid down the successive measurements on the
successive lines of a piece of ruled paper, by taking the edge of
the paper as a base. He then joined the free ends of the lines, and
so obtained a curve of growth. These curves had, on the whole, that
regularity of sweep that might have been expected, but each of them
showed occasional halts, like the landing-places on a long flight of
stairs. The development had been arrested by something, and was not
made up for by after growth. Now, on the same piece of paper my
friend had also registered the various infantile illnesses of the
children, and corresponding to each illness was one of these halts.
There remained no doubt in my mind that, if these illnesses had been
warded off, the development of the children would have been
increased by almost the precise amount lost in these halts. In other
words, the disease had drawn largely upon the capital, and not only
on the income, of their constitutions. I hope these remarks may
induce some men of science to repeat similar experiments on their
children of the future. They may compress two years of a child's
history on one side of a ruled half-sheet of foolscap paper, if they
cause each successive line to stand for a successive month,
beginning from the birth of the child; and if they economise space
by laying, not the 0-inch division of the tape against the edge of
the pages, but, say, the 10-inch division.

The steady and pitiless march of the hidden weaknesses in our
constitutions, through illness to death, is painfully revealed by
these histories of twins. We are too apt to look upon illness and
death as capricious events, and there are some who ascribe them to
the direct effect of supernatural interference, whereas the fact of
the maladies of two twins being continually alike shows that illness
and death are necessary incidents in a regular sequence of
constitutional changes beginning at birth, and upon which external
circumstances have, on the whole, very small effect. In cases where
the maladies of the twins are continually alike, the clocks of their
two lives move regularly on at the same rate, governed by their
internal mechanism. When the hands approach the hour, there are
sudden clicks, followed by a whirring of wheels; the moment that
they touch it, the strokes fall. Necessitarians may derive new
arguments from the life-histories of twins.

We will now consider the converse side of our subject, which appears
to me even the more important of the two. Hitherto we have
investigated cases where the similarity at first was close, but
afterwards became less; now we will examine those in which there was
great dissimilarity at first, and will see how far an identity of
nurture in childhood and youth tended to assimilate them. As has
been already mentioned, there is a large proportion of cases of
sharply-contrasted characteristics, both of body and mind, among
twins. I have twenty such cases, given with much detail. It is a
fact that extreme dissimilarity, such as existed between Esau and
Jacob, is a no less marked peculiarity in twins of the same sex than
extreme similarity. On this curious point, and on much else in the
history of twins, I have many remarks to make, but this is not the
place to make them.

The evidence given by the twenty cases above mentioned is absolutely
accordant, so that the character of the whole may be exactly
conveyed by a few quotations.

(1.) One parent says:--"They have had _exactly the same nurture_
from their birth up to the present time; they are both perfectly
healthy and strong, yet they are otherwise as dissimilar as two boys
could be, physically, mentally, and in their emotional nature."

(2.) "I can answer most decidedly that the twins have been perfectly
dissimilar in character, habits, and likeness from the moment of
their birth to the present time, though they were nursed by the same
woman, went to school together, and were never separated till the
age of fifteen."

(3.) "They have never been separated, never the least differently
treated in food, clothing, or education; both teethed at the same
time, both had measles, whooping-cough, and scarlatina at the same
time, and neither had had any other serious illness. Both are and
have been exceedingly healthy, and have good abilities, yet they
differ as much from each other in mental cast as any one of my
family differs from another."

(4.) "Very dissimilar in body and mind: the one is quiet, retiring,
and slow but sure; good-tempered, but disposed to be sulky when
provoked;--the other is quick, vivacious, forward, acquiring easily
and forgetting soon; quick-tempered and choleric, but quickly
forgiving and forgetting. They have been educated together and never

(5.) "They were never alike either in body or mind, and their
dissimilarity increases daily. The external influences have been
identical; they have never been separated."

(6.) "The two sisters are very different in ability and disposition.
The one is retiring, but firm and determined; she has no taste for
music or drawing. The other is of an active, excitable temperament:
she displays an unusual amount of quickness and talent, and is
passionately fond of music and drawing. From infancy, they have been
rarely separated even at school, and as children visiting their
friends, they always went together."

(7.) "They have been treated exactly alike  both were brought up by
hand; they have been under the same nurse and governess from their
birth, and they are very fond of each other. Their increasing
dissimilarity must be ascribed to a natural difference of mind and
character, as there has been nothing in their treatment to account
for it."

(8.) "They are as different as possible. [A minute and unsparing
analysis of the characters of the two twins is given by their father,
most instructive to read, but impossible to publish without the
certainty of wounding the feelings of one of the twins, if these
pages should chance to fall under his eyes.] They were brought up
entirely by hand, that is, on cow's milk, and treated by one nurse
in precisely the same manner."

(9.) "The home-training and influence were precisely the same, and
therefore I consider the dissimilarity to be accounted for almost
entirely by innate disposition and by causes over which we have no

(10.) "This case is, I should think, somewhat remarkable for
dissimilarity in physique as well as for strong contrast in character.
They have been unlike in body and mind throughout their lives. Both
were reared in a country house, and both were at the same schools
till _aet._ 16."

(11.) "Singularly unlike in body and mind from babyhood; in looks,
dispositions, and tastes they are quite different. I think I may
say the dissimilarity was innate, and developed more by time than

(12.) "We were never in the least degree alike. I should say my
sister's and my own character are diametrically opposed, and have
been utterly different from our birth, though a very strong
affection subsists between us."

(13.) The father remarks:--"They were curiously different in body
and mind from their birth."

The surviving twin (a senior wrangler of Cambridge) adds:--"A fact
struck all our school contemporaries, that my brother and I were
complementary, so to speak, in point of ability and disposition. He
was contemplative, poetical, and literary to a remarkable degree,
showing great power in that line. I was practical, mathematical, and
linguistic. Between us we should have made a very decent sort of a

I could quote others just as strong as these, in some of which the
above phrase "complementary" also appears, while I have not a single
case in which my correspondents speak of originally dissimilar
characters having become assimilated through identity of nurture.
However, a somewhat exaggerated estimate of dissimilarity may be due
to the tendency of relatives to dwell unconsciously on distinctive
peculiarities, and to disregard the far more numerous points of
likeness that would first attract the notice of a stranger. Thus in
case 11 I find the remark, "Strangers see a strong likeness between
them, but none who knows them well can perceive it."  Instances are
common of slight acquaintances mistaking members, and especially
daughters of a family, for one another, between whom intimate
friends can barely discover a resemblance. Still, making reasonable
allowance for unintentional exaggeration, the impression that all
this evidence leaves on the mind is one of some wonder whether
nurture can do anything at all, beyond giving instruction and
professional training. It emphatically corroborates and goes far
beyond the conclusions to which we had already been driven by the
cases of similarity. In those, the causes of divergence began to act
about the period of adult life, when the characters had become
somewhat fixed; but here the causes conducive to assimilation began
to act from the earliest moment of the existence of the twins, when
the disposition was most pliant, and they were continuous until the
period of adult life. There is no escape from the conclusion that
nature prevails enormously over nurture when the differences of
nurture do not exceed what is commonly to be found among persons of
the same rank of society and in the same country. My fear is, that
my evidence may seem to prove too much, and be discredited on that
account, as it appears contrary to all experience that nurture
should go for so little. But experience is often fallacious in
ascribing great effects to trifling circumstances. Many a person has
amused himself with throwing bits of stick into a tiny brook and
watching their progress; how they are arrested, first by one chance
obstacle, then by another; and again, how their onward course is
facilitated by a combination of circumstances. He might ascribe much
importance to each of these events, and think how largely the
destiny of the stick had been governed by a series of trifling
accidents. Nevertheless all the sticks succeed in passing down the
current, and in the long-run, they travel at nearly the same rate. So
it is with life, in respect to the several accidents which seem to
have had a great effect upon our careers. The one element, that
varies in different individuals, but is constant in each of them, is
the natural tendency; it corresponds to the current in the stream,
and inevitably asserts itself.

Much stress is laid on the persistence of moral impressions made in
childhood, and the conclusion is drawn, that the effects of early
teaching must be important in a corresponding degree. I acknowledge
the fact, so far as has been explained in the chapter on Early
Sentiments, but there is a considerable set-off on the other side.
Those teachings that conform to the natural aptitudes of the child
leave much more enduring marks than others. Now both the teachings
and the natural aptitudes of the child are usually derived from its
parents. They are able to understand the ways of one another more
intimately than is possible to persons not of the same blood, and
the child instinctively assimilates the habits and ways of thought
of its parents. Its disposition is "educated" by them, in the true
sense of the word; that is to say, it is evoked, not formed by them.
On these grounds I ascribe the persistence of many habits that date
from early home education, to the peculiarities of the instructors
rather than to the period when the instruction was given. The marks
left on the memory by the instructions of a foster-mother are soon
sponged clean away. Consider the history of the cuckoo, which is
reared exclusively by foster-mothers. It is probable that nearly
every young cuckoo, during a series of many hundred generations, has
been brought up in a family whose language is a chirp and a twitter.
But the cuckoo cannot or will not adopt that language, or any other
of the habits of its foster-parents. It leaves its birthplace as
soon as it is able, and finds out its own kith and kin, and
identifies itself henceforth with them. So utterly are its earliest
instructions in an alien bird-language neglected, and so completely
is its new education successful, that the note of the cuckoo tribe
is singularly correct.


  [Footnote 14: This memoir is reprinted from the _Transactions of
  the Ethnological Society_]

Before leaving the subject of Nature and Nurture, I would direct
attention to evidence bearing on the conditions under which animals
appear first to have been domesticated. It clearly shows the small
power of nurture against adverse natural tendencies.

The few animals that we now possess in a state of domestication were
first reclaimed from wildness in prehistoric times. Our remote
barbarian ancestors must be credited with having accomplished a very
remarkable feat, which no subsequent generation has rivalled. The
utmost that we of modern times have succeeded in doing, is to
improve the races of those animals that we received from our
forefathers in an already domesticated condition.

There are only two reasonable solutions of this exceedingly curious
fact. The one is, that men of highly original ideas, like the
mythical Prometheus, arose from time to time in the dawn of human
progress, and left their respective marks on the world by being the
first to subjugate the camel, the llama, the reindeer, the horse,
the ox, the sheep, the hog, the dog, or some other animal to the
service of man. The other hypothesis is that only a few species of
animals are fitted by their nature to become domestic, and that
these were discovered long ago through the exercise of no higher
intelligence than is to be found among barbarous tribes of the
present day. The failure of civilised man to add to the number of
domesticated species would on this supposition be due to the fact
that all the suitable material whence domestic animals could be
derived has been long since worked out.

I submit that the latter hypothesis is the true one for the reasons
about to be given; and if so, the finality of the process of
domestication must be accepted as one of the most striking instances
of the inflexibility of natural disposition, and of the limitations
thereby imposed upon the [15] choice of careers for animals, and by
analogy for those of men.

[Footnote 15: _Transactionsof the Ethnological Society_, 1865,
with an alteration in the opening and concluding paragraphs, and
with a few verbal emendations. If I had discussed the subject now
for the first time I should have given extracts from the and with a
few verbal emendations. If I had discussed the subject now for the
first time I should have given extracts from the works of the
travellers of the day, but it seemed needless to reopen the inquiry
merely to give it a more modern air. I have also preferred to let
the chapter stand as it was written, because considerable portions of
it have been quoted by various authors (_e.g._ Bagehot, _Economic
Studies_, pp. 161 to 166: Longman, 1880), and the original memoir is
not easily accessible.]

My argument will be this:--All savages maintain pet animals, many
tribes have sacred ones, and kings of ancient states have imported
captive animals on a vast scale, for purposes of show, from
neighbouring countries. I infer that every animal, of any pretensions,
has been tamed over and over again, and has had numerous
opportunities of becoming domesticated. But the cases are rare in
which these opportunities have led to any result. No animal is
fitted for domestication unless it fulfils certain stringent
conditions, which I will endeavour to state and to discuss. My
conclusion is, that all domesticable animals of any note have long
ago fallen under the yoke of man. In short, that the animal creation
has been pretty thoroughly, though half unconsciously, explored, by
the every-day habits of rude races and simple civilisations.

It is a fact familiar to all travellers, that savages frequently
capture young animals of various kinds, and rear them as favourites,
and sell or present them as curiosities. Human nature is generally
akin: savages may be brutal, but they are not on that account devoid
of our taste for taming and caressing young animals; nay, it is not
improbable that some races may possess it in a more marked degree
than ourselves, because it is a childish taste with us; and the
motives of an adult barbarian are very similar to those of a
civilised child.

In proving this assertion, I feel embarrassed with the multiplicity
of my facts. I have only space to submit a few typical instances,
and must, therefore, beg it will be borne in mind that the following
list could be largely reinforced. Yet even if I inserted all I have
thus far been able to collect, I believe insufficient justice would
be done to the real truth of the case. Captive animals do not
commonly fall within the observation of travellers, who mostly
confine themselves to their own encampments, and abstain from
entering the dirty dwellings of the natives; neither do the majority
of travellers think tamed animals worthy of detailed mention.
Consequently the anecdotes of their existence are scattered
sparingly among a large number of volumes. It is when those
travellers are questioned who have lived long and intimately with
savage tribes that the plenitude of available instances becomes most

I proceed to give anecdotes of animals being tamed in various parts
of the world, at dates when they were severally beyond the reach of
civilised influences, and where, therefore, the pleasure taken by
the natives in taming them must be ascribed to their unassisted
mother-wit. It will be inferred that the same rude races who were
observed to be capable of great fondness towards animals in
particular instances, would not unfrequently show it in others.

[North America.]--The traveller Hearne, who wrote towards the end of
the last century, relates the following story of moose or elks in
the more northern parts of North America. He says:--

"I have repeatedly seen moose at Churchill as tame as sheep and even
more so.... The same Indian that brought them to the Factory had, in
the year 1770, two others so tame that when on his passage to Prince
of Wales's Fort in a canoe, the moose always followed him along the
bank of the river; and at night, or on any other occasion when the
Indians landed, the young moose generally came and fondled on them,
as the most domestic animal would have done, and never offered to
stray from the tents."

Sir John Richardson, in an obliging answer to my inquiries about the
Indians of North America, after mentioning the bison calves, wolves,
and other animals that they frequently capture and keep, said:--

"It is not unusual, I have heard, for the Indians to bring up young
bears, the women giving them milk from their own breasts."

He mentions that he himself purchased a young bear, and adds:--

"The red races are fond of pets and treat them kindly; and in
purchasing them there is always the unwillingness of the women and
children to overcome, rather than any dispute about price. My young
bear used to rob the women of the berries, they had gathered, but
the loss was borne with good nature."

I will again quote Hearne, who is unsurpassed for his minute and
accurate narratives of social scenes among the Indians and Esquimaux.
In speaking of wolves he says:--

"They always burrow underground to bring forth their young, and
though it is natural to suppose them very fierce at those times, yet
I have frequently seen the Indians go to their dens and take out the
young ones and play with them. I never knew a Northern Indian hurt
one of them; on the contrary, they always put them carefully into
the den again; and I have sometimes seen them paint the faces of the
young wolves with vermilion or red ochre."

[South America.]--Ulloa, an ancient traveller, says:--

"Though the Indian women breed fowl and other domestic animals in
their cottages, they never eat them: and even conceive such a
fondness for them, that they will not sell them, much less kill them
with their own hands. So that if a stranger who is obliged to pass
the night in one of their cottages, offers ever so much money for a
fowl, they refuse to part with it, and he finds himself under the
necessity of killing the fowl himself. At this his landlady shrieks,
dissolves into tears, and wrings her hands, as if it had been an
only son, till seeing the mischief past mending, she wipes her eyes
and quietly takes what the traveller offers her."

The care of the South American Indians, as Quiloa truly states, is
by no means confined to fowls. Mr. Bates, the distinguished
traveller and naturalist of the Amazons, has favoured me with a list
of twenty-two species of quadrupeds that he has found tame in the
encampments of the tribes of that valley. It includes the tapir, the
agouti, the guinea-pig, and the peccari. He has also noted five
species of quadrupeds that were in captivity, but not tamed. These
include the jaguar, the great ant-eater, and the armadillo. His list
of tamed birds is still more extensive.

[North Africa.]--The ancient Egyptians had a positive passion for
tamed animals, such as antelopes, monkeys, crocodiles, panthers, and
hyenas. Mr. Goodwin, the eminent Egyptologist, informed me that
"they anticipated our zoological tastes completely," and that some
of the pictures referring to tamed animals are among their very
earliest monuments, viz. 2000 or 3000 years B.C. Mr. Mansfield
Parkyns, who passed many years in Abyssinia and the countries of the
Upper Nile, writes me word in answer to my inquiries;--

"I am sure that negroes often capture and keep alive wild animals. I
have bought them and received them as presents--wild cats, jackals,
panthers, the wild dog, the two best lions now in the Zoological
Gardens, monkeys innumerable and of all sorts, and mongoose. I cannot
say that I distinctly recollect any pets among the _lowest_ orders
of men that I met with, such as the Denkas, but I am sure they exist,
and in this way. When I was on the White Nile and at Khartoum, very
few merchants went up the White Nile; none had stations. They were
little known to the natives; but none returned without some live
animal or bird which they had procured from them. While I was at
Khartoum, there came an Italian wild beast showman, after the
Wombwell style. He made a tour of the towns up to Doul and Fazogly,
Kordofan and the peninsula, and collected a large number of animals.
Thus my opinion distinctly is, that negroes do keep wild animals
alive. _I am sure of it_; though I can only vaguely recollect them
in one or two cases. I remember some chief in Abyssinia who had a
pet lion which he used to tease, and I have often seen monkeys about

[Equatorial Africa.]--The most remarkable instance I have met with
in modern Africa is the account of a menagerie that existed up to
the beginning of the reign of the present king of the Wahumas, on
the shores of Lake Nyanza. Suna, the great despot of that country,
reigned till 1857. Captains Burton and Speke were in the
neighbourhood in the following year, and Captain Burton thus
describes (_Journal R. G. Soc._, xxix. 282) the report he received
of Suna's collection:--

"He had a large menagerie of lions, elephants, leopards, and similar
beasts of disport; he also kept for amusement fifteen or sixteen
albinos; and so greedy was he of novelty, that even a cock of
peculiar form or colour would have been forwarded by its owner to
feed his eyes."

Captain Speke, in his subsequent journey to the Nile, passed many
months at Uganda, as the guest of Suna's youthful successor, M'tese.
The fame of the old menagerie was fresh when Captain Speke was there.
He wrote to me as follows concerning it:--

"I was told Suna kept buffaloes, antelopes, and animals of all
colours' (meaning 'sorts'), and in equal quantities.  M'tese, his son,
no sooner came to the throne, than he indulged in shooting them down
before his admiring wives, and now he has only one buffalo and a few
parrots left."

In Kouka, near Lake Tchad, antelopes and ostriches are both kept tame,
as I was informed by Dr. Barth.

[South Africa.]--The instances are very numerous in South Africa
where the Boers and half-castes amuse themselves with rearing zebras,
antelopes, and the like; but I have not found many instances among
the native races. Those that are best known to us are mostly nomad
and in a chronic state of hunger, and therefore disinclined to
nurture captured animals as pets; nevertheless, some instances can
be adduced. Livingstone alludes to an extreme fondness for small
tame singing-birds (pp. 324 and 453). Dr. (now Sir John) Kirk, who
accompanied him in later years, mentions guinea-fowl--that do not
breed in confinement, and are merely kept as pets--in the Shiré
valley, and Mr. Oswell has furnished me with one similar anecdote. I
feel, however, satisfied that abundant instances could be found if
properly sought for. It was the frequency with which I recollect to
have heard of tamed animals when I myself was in South Africa,
though I never witnessed any instance, that first suggested to me
the arguments of the present paper. Sir John Kirk informs me that:

"As you approach the coast or Portuguese settlements, pets of all
kinds become very common; but then the opportunity of occasionally
selling them to advantage may help to increase the number; still,
the more settled life has much to do with it."

In confirmation of this view, I will quote an early writer,
Pigafetta (_Hakluyt Coll._, ii. 562), on the South African kingdom
of Congo, who found a strange medley of animals in captivity, long
before the demands of semi-civilisation had begun to prompt their

The King of Congo, on being Christianised by the Jesuit missionaries
in the sixteenth century, "signified that whoever had any idols
should deliver them to the lieutenants of the country. And within
less than a month all the idols which they worshipped were brought
into court, and certainly the number of these toys was infinite, for
every man adored what he liked without any measure or reason at all.
Some kept serpents of horrible figures, some worshipped the greatest
goats they could get, some leopards, and others monstrous creatures.
Some held in veneration certain unclean fowls, etc. Neither did they
content themselves with worshipping the said creatures when alive,
but also adored the very skins of them when they were dead and
stuffed with straw."

[Australia.]--Mr. Woodfield records the following touching anecdote
in a paper communicated to the Ethnological Society, as occurring in
an unsettled part of West Australia, where the natives rank as the
lowest race upon the earth:--

"During the summer of 1858-9 the Murchison river was visited by
great numbers of kites, the native country of these birds being
Shark's Bay. As other birds were scarce, we shot many of these kites,
merely for the sake of practice, the natives eagerly devouring them
as fast as they were killed. One day a man and woman, natives of
Shark's Bay, came to the Murchison, and the woman immediately
recognising the birds as coming from her country, assured us that
the natives there never kill them, and that they are so tame that
they will perch on the shoulders of the women and eat from their
hands. On seeing one shot she wept bitterly, and not even the offer
of the bird could assuage her grief, for she absolutely refused to
eat it. No more kites were shot while she remained among us."

The Australian women habitually feed the puppies they intend to rear
from their own breasts, and show an affection to them equal, if not
exceeding, that to their own infants. Sir Charles Nicholson informs
me that he has known an extraordinary passion for cats to be
demonstrated by Australian women at Fort Phillip.

[New Guinea Group.]--Captain Develyn is reported (Bennett,
_Naturalist in Australia_, p. 244) to say of the island of New
Britain, near Australia, that the natives consider cassowaries "to a
certain degree sacred, and rear them as pets. They carry them in their
arms, and entertain a great affection for them."

Professor Huxley informs me that he has seen sucking-pigs nursed at
the breasts of women, apparently as pets, in islands of the New
Guinea Group.

[Polynesia.]--The savage and cannibal Fijians were no exceptions to
the general rule, for Dr. Seemann wrote me word that they make pets
of the flying fox (bat), the lizard, and parroquet. Captain Wilkes,
in his exploring expedition (ii. 122), says the pigeon in the Samoon
islands "is commonly kept as a plaything, and particularly by the
chiefs. One of our officers unfortunately on one occasion shot a
pigeon, which caused great commotion, for the bird was a king pigeon,
and to kill it was thought as great a crime as to take the life of a

Mr. Ellis, writing of these islands (_Polynesian Researches_, ii. 285),

"Eels are great favourites, and are tamed and fed till they attain
an enormous size. Taoarii had several in different parts of the
island. These pets were kept in large holes, two or three feet deep,
partially filled with water. I have been several times with the
young chief, when he has sat down by the side of the hole, and by
giving a shrill sort of whistle, has brought out an enormous eel,
which has moved about the surface of the water and eaten with
confidence out of his master's hand."

[Syria.]--I will conclude this branch of my argument by quoting the
most ancient allusion to a pet that I can discover in writing,
though some of the Egyptian pictured representations are
considerably older. It is the parable spoken by the Prophet Samuel
to King David, that is expressed in the following words:--

"The poor man had nothing save one little ewe lamb, which he had
bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him and with
his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup,
and lay in his bosom, and was to him as a daughter."

We will now turn to the next stage of our argument. Not only do
savages rear animals as pets, but communities maintain them as sacred.
The ox of India and the brute gods of Egypt occur to us at once; the
same superstition prevails widely. The quotation already given from
Pigafetta is in point; the fact is too well known to readers of
travel to make it necessary to devote space to its proof. I will
therefore simply give a graphic account, written by M. Jules Gérard,
of Whydah in West Africa:--

"I visited the Temple of Serpents in this town, where thirty of
these monstrous deities were asleep in various attitudes. Each day
at sunset, a priest brings them a certain number of sheep, goats,
fowls, etc., which are slaughtered in the temple and then divided
among the 'gods.' Subsequently during the night they (? the priests)
spread themselves about the town, entering the houses in various
quarters in search of further offerings. It is forbidden under
penalty of death to kill, wound, or even strike one of these sacred
serpents, or any other of the same species, and only the priests
possess the privilege of taking hold of them, for the purpose of
reinstating them in the temple should they be found elsewhere."

It would be tedious and unnecessary to adduce more instances of wild
animals being nurtured in the encampments of savages, either as pets
or as sacred animals. It will be found on inquiry that few travellers
have failed altogether to observe them. If we consider the small number
of encampments they severally visited in their line of march, compared
with the vast number that are spread over the whole area, which is or
has been inhabited by rude races, we may obtain some idea of the
thousands of places at which half-unconscious attempts at domestication
are being made in each year. These thousands must themselves be multiplied
many thousandfold, if we endeavour to calculate the number of similar
attempts that have been made since men like ourselves began to inhabit
the world.

My argument, strong as it is, admits of being considerably
strengthened by the following consideration:--

The natural inclination of barbarians is often powerfully reinforced
by an enormous demand for captured live animals on the part of their
more civilised neighbours. A desire to create vast hunting-grounds
and menageries and amphitheatrical shows, seems naturally to occur
to the monarchs who preside over early civilisations, and travellers
continually remark that, whenever there is a market for live animals,
savages will supply them in any quantities. The means they employ to
catch game for their daily food readily admits of their taking them
alive. Pit-falls, stake-nets, and springes do not kill. If the
savage captures an animal unhurt, and can make more by selling it
alive than dead, he will doubtless do so. He is well fitted by
education to keep a wild animal in captivity. His mode of pursuing
game requires a more intimate knowledge of the habits of beasts than
is ever acquired by sportsmen who use more perfect weapons. A savage
is obliged to steal upon his game, and to watch like a jackal for
the leavings of large beasts of prey. His own mode of life is akin
to that of the creatures he hunts. Consequently, the savage is a
good gamekeeper; captured animals thrive in his charge, and he finds
it remunerative to take them a long way to market. The demands of
ancient Rome appear to have penetrated Northern Africa as far or
farther than the steps of our modern explorers. The chief centres of
import of wild animals were Egypt, Assyria (and other Eastern
monarchies), Rome, Mexico, and Peru. I have not yet been able to
learn what were the habits of Hindostan or China. The modern
menagerie of Lucknow is the only considerable native effort in those
parts with which I am acquainted.

[Egypt.]--The mutilated statistical tablet of Karnak (_Trans. R. Soc.
Lit._, 1847, p. 369, and 1863, p. 65) refers to an armed invasion of
Armenia by Thothmes III., and the payment of a large tribute of
antelopes and birds. When Ptolemy Philadelphus feted the
Alexandrians (_Athenoeus_, v.), the Ethiopians brought dogs,
buffaloes, bears, leopards, lynxes, a giraffe, and a rhinoceros.
Doubtless this description of gifts was common. Live beasts are the
one article of curiosity and amusement that barbarians can offer to
civilised nations.

[Assyria.]--Mr. Fox Talbot thus translates (_Journal Asiatic Soc._,
xix. 124) part of the inscription on the black obelisk of Ashurakbal
found in Nineveh and now in the British Museum:--

"He caught in hunter's toils (a blank number) of armi, turakhi, nali,
and yadi. Every one of these animals he placed in separate enclosures.
He brought up their young ones and counted them as carefully as
young lambs. As to the creatures called burkish, utrati (dromedaries?),
tishani, and dagari, he wrote for them and they came. The
dromedaries he kept in enclosures, where he brought up their young
ones. He entrusted each kind of animal to men of their own country to
tend them. There were also curious animals of the Mediterranean Sea,
which the King of Egypt sent as a gift and entrusted to the care of
men of their own land. The very choicest animals were there in
abundance, and birds of heaven with beautiful wings. It was a
splendid menagerie, and all the work of his own hands. The names of
the animals were placed beside them."

[Rome.]--The extravagant demands for the amphitheatre of ancient
Rome must have stimulated the capture of wild animals in Asia, Africa,
and the then wild parts of Europe, to an extraordinary extent. I
will quote one instance from Gibbon:--

"By the order of Probus, a vast quantity of large trees torn up by
the roots were transplanted into the midst of the circus. The
spacious and shady forest was immediately filled with a thousand
ostriches, a thousand stags, a thousand fallow-deer, and a thousand
wild boars, and all this variety of game was abandoned to the
riotous impetuosity of the multitude. The tragedy of the succeeding
day consisted in the massacre of a hundred lions, an equal number of
lionesses, two hundred leopards, and three hundred bears."

Farther on we read of a spectacle by the younger Gordian of
"twenty zebras, ten elks, ten giraffes, thirty African hyenas, ten
Indian tigers, a rhinoceros, an hippopotamus, and thirty-two

[Mexico.]--Gomara, the friend and executor of Herman Cortes, states:

"There were here also many cages made of stout beams, in some of
which there were lions (pumas); in others, tigers (jaguars); in
others, ounces; in others, wolves; nor was there any animal on four
legs that was not there. They had for their rations deer and other
animals of the chase. There were also kept in large jars or tanks,
snakes, alligators, and lizards. In another court there were cages
containing every kind of birds of prey, such as vultures, a dozen
sorts of falcons and hawks, eagles, and owls. The large eagles
received turkeys for their food. Our Spaniards were astonished at
seeing such a diversity of birds and beasts; nor did they find it
pleasant to hear the hissing of the poisonous snakes, the roaring of
the lions, the shrill cries of the wolves, nor the groans of the
other animals given to them for food."

[Peru.]--Garcilasso de la Vega (_Commentaries Reales_, v. 10), the
son of a Spanish conqueror by an Indian princess, born and bred in
Peru, writes:--

"All the strange birds and beasts which the chiefs presented to the
Inca were kept at court, both for grandeur and also to please the
Indians who presented them. When I came to Cuzco, I remember there
were some remains of places where they kept these creatures. One was
the serpent conservatory, and another where they kept the pumas,
jaguars, and bears."

[Syria and Greece.]--I could have said something on Solomon's apes
and peacocks, and could have quoted at length the magnificent order
given by Alexander the Great (Pliny, _Nat. Hist._, viii. 16) towards
supplying material for Aristotle's studies in natural history; but
enough has been said to prove what I maintained, namely, that
numerous cases occur, year after year, and age after age, in which
every animal of note is captured and its capabilities of
domestication unconsciously tested.

I would accept in a more stringent sense than it was probably
intended to bear, the text of St. James, who wrote at a time when a
vast variety and multitude of animals were constantly being
forwarded to Rome and to Antioch for amphitheatrical shows. He says
(James iii. 7), "Every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents,
and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind."

I conclude from what I have stated that there is no animal worthy of
domestication that has not frequently been captured, and might ages
ago have established itself as a domestic breed, had it not been
deficient in certain necessary particulars which I shall proceed to
discuss. These are numerous and so stringent as to leave no ground
for wonder that out of the vast abundance of the animal creation,
only a few varieties of a few species should have become the
companions of man.

It by no means follows that because a savage cares to take home a
young fawn to amuse himself, his family, and his friends, that he
will always continue to feed or to look after it. Such attention
would require a steadiness of purpose foreign to the ordinary
character of a savage. But herein lie two shrewd tests of the
eventual destiny of the animal as a domestic species.

_Hardiness_.--It must be able to shift for itself and to thrive,
although it is neglected; since, if it wanted much care, it would
never be worth its keep.

The hardiness of our domestic animals is shown by the rapidity with
which they establish themselves in new lands. The goats and hogs
left on islands by the earlier navigators throve excellently on the
whole. The horse has taken possession of the Pampas, and the sheep
and ox of Australia. The dog is hardly repressible in the streets of
an Oriental town.

_Fondness of Man_.--Secondly, it must cling to man, notwithstanding
occasional hard usage and frequent neglect. If the animal had no
natural attachment to our species, it would fret itself to death, or
escape and revert to wildness. It is easy to find cases where the
partial or total non-fulfilment of this condition is a corresponding
obstacle to domestication. Some kinds of cattle are too precious to
be discarded, but very troublesome to look after. Such are the
reindeer to the Lapps. Mr. Campbell of Islay informed me that the
tamest of certain herds of them look as if they were wild; they have
to be caught with a lasso to be milked. If they take fright, they
are off to the hills; consequently the Lapps are forced to
accommodate themselves to the habits of their beasts, and to follow
them from snow to sea and from sea to snow at different seasons. The
North American reindeer has never been domesticated, owing, I presume,
to this cause. The Peruvian herdsmen would have had great trouble to
endure had the llama and alpaca not existed, for their cogeners, the
huanacu and the vicuna, are hardly to be domesticated.

Zebras, speaking broadly, are unmanageable. The Dutch Boers
constantly endeavour to break them to harness, and though they
occasionally succeed to a degree, the wild mulish nature of the
animal is always breaking out, and liable to balk them.

It is certain that some animals have naturally a greater fondness
for man than others; and as a proof of this, I will again quote
Hearne about the moose, who are considered by him to be the easiest
to tame and domesticate of any of the deer tribe. Formerly the
closely-allied European elks were domesticated in Sweden, and used
to draw sledges, as they are now occasionally in Canada; but they
have been obsolete for many years. Hearne says:--

"The young ones are so simple that I remember to have seen an Indian
paddle his canoe up to one of them, and take it by the poll, without
experiencing the least opposition, the poor harmless animal seeming
at the same time as contented alongside the canoe as if swimming by
the side of its dam, and looking up in our faces with the same
fearless innocence that a house lamb would."

On the other hand, a young bison will try to dash out its brains
against the tree to which it is tied, in terror and hatred of its

It is interesting to note the causes that conduce to a decided
attachment of certain animals to man, or between one kind of animal
and another. It is notorious that attachments and aversions exist in
nature. Swallows, rooks, and storks frequent dwelling houses;
ostriches and zebras herd together; so do bisons and elks. On the
other hand, deer and sheep, which are both gregarious, and both eat
the same food and graze within the same enclosure, avoid one another.
The spotted Danish dog, the Spitz dog, and the cat, have all a
strong attachment to horses, and horses seem pleased with their
company; but dogs and cats are proverbially discordant. I presume
that two species of animals do not consider one another companionable,
or clubable, unless their behaviour and their persons are
reciprocally agreeable. A phlegmatic animal would be exceedingly
disquieted by the close companionship of an excitable one. The
movements of one beast may have a character that is unpleasing to
the eyes of another; his cries may sound discordant; his smell may
be repulsive. Two herds of animals would hardly intermingle, unless
their respective languages of action and of voice were mutually
intelligible. The animal which above all others is a companion to
man is the dog, and we observe how readily their proceedings are
intelligible to each other. Every whine or bark of the dog, each of
his fawning, savage, or timorous movements is the exact counterpart
of what would have been the man's behaviour, had he felt similar
emotions. As the man understands the thoughts of the dog, so the dog
understands the thoughts of the man, by attending to his natural
voice, his countenance, and his actions. A man irritates a dog by an
ordinary laugh, he frightens him by an angry look, or he calms him
by a kindly bearing; but he has less spontaneous hold over an ox or a
sheep. He must study their ways and tutor his behaviour before he
can either understand the feelings of those animals or make his own
intelligible to them. He has no natural power at all over many other
creatures. Who, for instance, ever succeeded in frowning away a
mosquito, or in pacifying an angry wasp by a smile?

_Desire of Comfort_.--This is a motive which strongly attaches
certain animals to human habitations, even though they are unwelcome:
it is a motive which few persons who have not had an opportunity of
studying animals in savage lands are likely to estimate at its true
value. The life of all beasts in their wild state is an exceedingly
anxious one. From my own recollection, I believe that every antelope
in South Africa has to run for its life every one or two days upon
an average, and that he starts or gallops under the influence of a
false alarm many times in a day. Those who have crouched at night by
the side of pools in the desert, in order to have a shot at the
beasts that frequent them, see strange scenes of animal life; how
the creatures gambol at one moment and fight at another; how a herd
suddenly halts in strained attention, and then breaks into a
maddened rush, as one of them becomes conscious of the stealthy
movements or rank scent of a beast of prey. Now this hourly
life-and-death excitement is a keen delight to most wild creatures,
but must be peculiarly distracting to the comfort-loving temperament
of others. The latter are alone suited to endure the crass habits
and dull routine of domesticated life. Suppose that an animal which
has been captured and half-tamed, received ill-usage from his captors,
either as punishment or through mere brutality, and that he rushed
indignantly into the forest with his ribs aching from blows and
stones. If a comfort-loving animal, he will probably be no gainer by
the change, more serious alarms and no less ill-usage awaits him; he
hears the roar of the wild beasts and the headlong gallop of the
frightened herds, and he finds the buttings and the kicks of other
animals harder to endure than the blows from which he fled. He has
the disadvantage of being a stranger, for the herds of his own
species which he seeks for companionship constitute so many cliques,
into which he can only find admission by more fighting with their
strongest members than he has spirit to undergo. As a set-off
against these miseries, the freedom of savage life has no charms for
his temperament; so the end of it is, that with a heavy heart he
turns back to the habitation he had quitted. When animals thoroughly
enjoy the excitement of wild life, I presume they cannot be
domesticated, they could only be tamed, for they would never return
from the joys of the wilderness after they had once tasted them
through some accidental wandering.

Gallinas, or guinea-fowl, have so little care for comfort, or indeed
for man, that they fall but a short way within the frontier of
domestication. It is only in inclement seasons that they take
contentedly to the poultry-yards.

Elephants, from their size and power, are not dependent on man for
protection; hence, those that have been reared as pets from the time
they were calves, and have never learned to dread and obey the
orders of a driver, are peculiarly apt to revert to wildness if they
once are allowed to wander and escape to the woods. I believe this
tendency, together with the cost of maintenance and the comparative
uselessness of the beasts, are among the chief causes why Africans
never tame them now; though they have not wholly lost the practice
of capturing them when full-grown, and of keeping them imprisoned
for some days alive. Mr. Winwood Reade's account of captured
elephants, seen by himself near Glass Town in Equatorial Western
Africa, is very curious.

_Usefulness to Man_.--To proceed with the list of requirements
which a captured animal must satisfy before it is possible he could
be permanently domesticated: there is the very obvious condition
that he should be useful to man; otherwise, in growing to maturity,
and losing the pleasing youthful ways which had first attracted his
captors and caused them to make a pet of him, he would be repelled.
As an instance in point, I will mention seals. Many years ago I used
to visit Shetland, when those animals were still common, and I heard
many stories of their being tamed: one will suffice:--A fisherman
caught a young seal; it was very affectionate, and frequented his hut,
fishing for itself in the sea. At length it grew self-willed and
unwieldy; it used to push the children and snap at strangers, and it
was voted a nuisance, but the people could not bear to kill it on
account of its human ways. One day the fisherman took it with him in
his boat, and dropped it in a stormy sea, far from home; the
stratagem was unsuccessful; in a day or two the well-known scuffling
sound of the seal, as it floundered up to the hut, was again heard;
the animal had found its way home. Some days after the poor creature
was shot by a sporting stranger, who saw it basking and did not know
it was tame. Now had the seal been a useful animal and not
troublesome, the fisherman would doubtless have caught others, and
set a watch over them to protect them; and then, if they bred freely
and were easy to tend, it is likely enough he would have produced a
domestic breed.

The utility of the animals as a store of future food is undoubtedly
the most durable reason for maintaining them; but I think it was
probably not so early a motive as the chief's pleasure in possessing
them. That was the feeling under which the menageries, described
above, were established. Whatever the despot of savage tribes is
pleased with becomes invested with a sort of sacredness. His tame
animals would be the care of all his people, who would become
skilful herdsmen under the pressure of fear. It would be as much as
their lives were worth if one of the creatures were injured through
their neglect. I believe that the keeping of a herd of beasts, with
the sole motive of using them as a reserve for food, or as a means
of barter, is a late idea in the history of civilisation. It has now
become established among the pastoral races of South Africa, owing
to the traffickings of the cattle-traders, but it was by no means
prevalent in Damara-Land when I travelled there in 1852. I then was
surprised to observe the considerations that induced the chiefs to
take pleasure in their vast herds of cattle. They were valued for
their stateliness and colour, far more than for their beef. They
were as the deer of an English squire, or as the stud of a man who
has many more horses than he can ride. An ox was almost a sacred
beast in Damara-Land, not to be killed except on momentous occasions,
and then as a sort of sacrificial feast, in which all bystanders
shared. The payment of two oxen was hush-money for the life of a man.
I was considerably embarrassed by finding that I had the greatest
trouble in buying oxen for my own use, with the ordinary articles of
barter. The possessor would hardly part with them for any
remuneration; they would never sell their handsomest beasts.

One of the ways in which the value of tamed beasts would be soon
appreciated would be that of giving milk to children. It is
marvellous how soon goats find out children and tempt them to suckle.
I have had the milk of my goats, when encamping for the night in
African travels, drained dry by small black children, who had not
the strength to do more than crawl about, but nevertheless came to
some secret understanding with the goats and fed themselves. The
records of many nations have legends like that of Romulus and Remus,
who are stated to have been suckled by wild beasts. These are
surprisingly confirmed by General Sleeman's narrative of six cases
where children were nurtured for many years by wolves in Oude.
(_Journey through Oude in 1849-50_, i. 206.)

_Breeding freely_.--Domestic animals must breed freely under
confinement. This necessity limits very narrowly the number of
species which might otherwise have been domesticated. It is one of
the most important of all the conditions that have to be satisfied.
The North American turkey, reared from the eggs of the wild bird, is
stated to be unknown in the third generation, in captivity. Our
turkey comes from Mexico, and was abundantly domesticated by the
ancient Mexicans.

The Indians of the Upper Amazon took turtle and placed them in
lagoons for use in seasons of scarcity. The Spaniards who first saw
them called these turtle "Indian cattle." They would certainly have
become domesticated like cattle, if they had been able to breed in

_Easy to tend_.--They must be tended easily. When animals reared
in the house are suffered to run about in the companionship of
others like themselves, they naturally revert to much of their
original wildness. It is therefore essential to domestication that
they should possess some quality by which large numbers of them may
be controlled by a few herdsmen. The instinct of gregariousness is
such a quality. The herdsman of a vast troop of oxen grazing in a
forest, so long as he is able to see one of them, knows pretty
surely that they are all within reach. If oxen are frightened and
gallop off, they do not scatter, but remain in a single body. When
animals are not gregarious, they are to the herdsman like a falling
necklace of beads whose string is broken, or as a handful of water
escaping between the fingers.

The cat is the only non-gregarious domestic animal. It is retained
by its extraordinary adhesion to the comforts of the house in which
it is reared.

An animal may be perfectly fitted to be a domestic animal, and be
peculiarly easy to tend in a general way, and yet the circumstances
in which the savages are living may make it too troublesome for them
to maintain a breed. The following account, taken from Mr. Scott
Nind's paper on the Natives of King George's Sound in Australia, and
printed in the first volume of the _Journal of the Geographical
Society_, is particularly to the point. He says:--

"In the chase the hunters are assisted by dogs, which they take when
young and domesticate; but they take little pains to train them to
any particular mode of hunting. After finding a litter of young, the
natives generally carry away one or two to rear; in this case, it
often occurs that the mother will trace and attack them; and, being
large and very strong, she is rather formidable. At some periods,
food is so scanty as to compel the dog to leave his master and
provide for himself; but in a few days he generally returns."

I have also evidence that this custom is common to the wild natives
of other parts of Australia.

The gregariousness of all our domestic species is, I think, the
primary reason why some of them are extinct in a wild state. The
wild herds would intermingle with the tame ones, some would become
absorbed, the others would be killed by hunters, who used the tame
cattle as a shelter to approach the wild. Besides this,
comfort-loving animals would be less suited to fight the battle of
life with the rest of the brute creation; and it is therefore to be
expected that those varieties which are best fitted for domestication,
would be the soonest extinguished in a wild state. For instance, we
could hardly fancy the camel to endure in a land where there were
large wild beasts.

_Selection_.--The irreclaimably wild members of every flock would
escape and be utterly lost; the wilder of those that remained would
assuredly be selected for slaughter, when ever it was necessary that
one of the flock should be killed. The tamest cattle--those that
seldom ran away, that kept the flock together and led them
homewards--would be preserved alive longer than any of the others.
It is therefore these that chiefly become the parents of stock, and
bequeath their domestic aptitudes to the future herd. I have
constantly witnessed this process of selection among the pastoral
savages of South Africa. I believe it to be a very important one, on
account of its rigour and its regularity. It must have existed from
the earliest times, and have been in continuous operation,
generation after generation, down to the present day.

_Exceptions_.--I have already mentioned the African elephant, the
North American reindeer, and the apparent, but not real exception of
the North American turkey. I should add the ducks and geese of North
America, but I cannot consider them in the light of a very strong
case, for a savage who constantly changes his home is not likely to
carry aquatic birds along with him. Beyond these few, I know of no
notable exceptions to my theory.


I see no reason to suppose that the first domestication of any animal,
except the elephant, implies a high civilisation among the people
who established it. I cannot believe it to have been the result of a
preconceived intention, followed by elaborate trials, to administer
to the comfort of man. Neither can I think it arose from one
successful effort made by an individual, who might thereby justly
claim the title of benefactor to his race; but, on the contrary,
that a vast number of half-unconscious attempts have been made
throughout the course of ages, and that ultimately, by slow degrees,
after many relapses, and continued selection, our several domestic
breeds became firmly established.

I will briefly restate what appear to be the conditions under which
wild animals may become domesticated:--1, they should be hardy; 2,
they should have an inborn liking for man; 3, they should be
comfort-loving; 4, they should be found useful to the savages; 5,
they should breed freely; 6, they should be easy to tend. It would
appear that every wild animal has had its chance of being
domesticated, that those few which fulfilled the above conditions
were domesticated long ago, but that the large remainder, who fail
sometimes in only one small particular, are destined to perpetual
wildness so long as their race continues. As civilisation extends
they are doomed to be gradually destroyed off the face of the earth
as useless consumers of cultivated produce. I infer that slight
differences in natural dispositions of human races may in one case
lead irresistibly to some particular career, and in another case may
make that career an impossibility.


There is nothing as yet observed in the order of events to make us
doubt that the universe is bound together in space and time, as a
single entity, and there is a concurrence of many observed facts to
induce us to accept that view. We may, therefore, not unreasonably
profess faith in a common and mysterious whole, and of the laborious
advance, under many restrictions, of that infinitely small part of
it which falls under our observation, but which is in itself
enormously large, and behind which lies the awful mystery of the
origin of all existence.

The conditions that direct the order of the whole of the living
world around us, are marked by their persistence in improving the
birthright of successive generations. They determine, at much cost
of individual comfort, that each plant and animal shall, on the
general average, be endowed at its birth with more suitable natural
faculties than those of its representative in the preceding
generation. They ensure, in short, that the inborn qualities of the
terrestrial tenantry shall become steadily better adapted to their
homes and to their mutual needs. This effect, be it understood, is
not only favourable to the animals who live long enough to become
parents, but is also favourable to those who perish in earlier life,
because even they are on the whole better off during their brief
career than if they had been born still less adapted to the
conditions of their existence. If we summon before our imagination
in a single mighty host, the whole number of living things from the
earliest date at which terrestrial life can be deemed to have
probably existed, to the latest future at which we may think it can
probably continue, and if we cease to dwell on the miscarriages of
individual lives or of single generations, we shall plainly perceive
that the actual tenantry of the world progresses in a direction that
may in some sense be described as the greatest happiness of the
greatest number.

We also remark that while the motives by which individuals in the
lowest stages are influenced are purely self regarding, they broaden
as evolution goes on. The word "self" ceases to be wholly personal,
and begins to include subjects of affection and interest, and these
become increasingly numerous as intelligence and depth of character
develop, and as civilisation extends. The sacrifice of the personal
desire for repose to the performance of domestic and social duties
is an everyday event with us, and other sacrifices of the smaller to
the larger self are by no means uncommon. Life in general may be
looked upon as a republic where the individuals are for the most
part unconscious that while they are working for themselves they are
also working for the public good.

We may freely confess ignorance of the outcome in the far future of
that personal life to which we each cling passionately in the joyous
morning of the affections, but which, as these and other interests
fail, does not seem so eminently desirable in itself. We know that
organic life can hardly be expected to flourish on this earth of
ours for so long a time as it has already existed, because the sun
will in all probability have lost too much of its heat and light by
then, and will have begun to grow dark and therefore cold, as other
stars have done. The conditions of existence here, which are now
apparently in their prime, will have become rigorous and
increasingly so, and there will be retrogression towards lower types,
until the simplest form of life shall have wholly disappeared from
the ice-bound surface. The whole living world will then have waxed
and waned like an individual life.

Neither can we discover whether organisms here are capable of
attaining the average development of organisms in other of the
planets that are probably circling round most of the myriads of stars,
whose physical constitution, where-ever it has as yet been observed
spectroscopically, does not differ much from that of our sun. But we
perceive around us a countless number of abortive seeds and germs; we
find out of any group of a thousand men selected at random, some who
are crippled, insane, idiotic, and otherwise born incurably
imperfect in body or mind, and it is possible that this world may
rank among other worlds as one of these.

We as yet understand nothing of the way in which our conscious
selves are related to the separate lives of the billions of cells of
which the body of each of us is composed. We only know that the
cells form a vast nation, some members of which are always dying and
others growing to supply their places, and that the continual
sequence of these multitudes of little lives has its outcome in the
larger and conscious life of the man as a whole. Our part in the
universe may possibly in some distant way be analogous to that of
the cells in an organised body, and our personalities may be the
transient but essential elements of an immortal and cosmic mind.

Our views of the object of life have to be framed so as not to be
inconsistent with the observed facts from which these various
possibilities are inferred; it is safer that they should not exclude
the possibilities themselves. We must look on the slow progress of
the order of evolution, and the system of routine by which it has
thus far advanced, as due to antecedents and to inherent conditions
of which we have not as yet the slightest conception. It is
difficult to withstand a suspicion that the three dimensions of
space and the fourth dimension of time may be four independent
variables of a system that is neither space nor time, but something
else wholly unconceived by us. Our present enigma as to how a First
Cause could itself have been brought into existence--how the
tortoise of the fable, that bears the elephant that bears the world,
is itself supported,--may be wholly due to our necessary
mistranslation of the four or more variables of the universe,
limited by inherent conditions, into the three unlimited variables
of Space and the one of Time.

Our ignorance of the goal and purport of human life, and the
mistrust we are apt to feel of the guidance of the spiritual sense,
on account of its proved readiness to accept illusions as realities,
warn us against deductive theories of conduct. Putting these, then,
at least for the moment, to one side, we find ourselves face to face
with two great and indisputable facts that everywhere force
themselves on the attention and compel consideration. The one is
that the whole of the living world moves steadily and continuously
towards the evolution of races that are progressively more and more
adapted to their complicated mutual needs and to their external
circumstances. The other is that the process of evolution has been
hitherto apparently carried out with, what we should reckon in our
ways of carrying out projects, great waste of opportunity and of life,
and with little if any consideration for individual mischance.
Measured by our criterion of intelligence and mercy, which consists
in the achievement of result without waste of time or opportunity,
without unnecessary pain, and with equitable allowance for pure
mistake, the process of evolution on this earth, so far as we can
judge, has been carried out neither with intelligence nor ruth, but
entirely through the routine of various sequences, commonly called
"laws," established or necessitated we know not how.

An incalculable amount of lower life has been certainly passed
through before that human organisation was attained, of which we and
our generation are for the time the holders and transmitters. This
is no mean heritage, and I think it should be considered as a sacred
trust, for, together with man, intelligence of a sufficiently high
order to produce great results appears, so far as we can infer from
the varied records of the prehistoric past, to have first dawned upon
the tenantry of the earth. Man has already shown his large power in
the modifications he has made on the surface of the globe, and in
the distribution of plants and animals. He has cleared such vast
regions of forest that his work that way in North America alone,
during the past half century, would be visable to an observer as far
off as the moon. He has dug and drained; he has exterminated plants
and animals that were mischievous to him; he has domesticated those
that serve his purpose, and transplanted them to great distances
from their native places. Now that this new animal man, finds
himself somehow in existence, endowed with a little power and
intelligence, he ought, I submit, to awake to a fuller knowledge of
his relatively great position, and begin to assume a deliberate part
in furthering the great work of evolution. He may infer the course
it is bound to pursue, from his observation of that which it has
already followed, and he might devote his modicum of power,
intelligence, and kindly feeling to render its future progress less
slow and painful. Man has already furthered evolution very
considerably, half unconsciously, and for his own personal advantages,
but he has not yet risen to the conviction that it is his religious
duty to do so deliberately and systematically.


The fact of an individual being naturally gifted with high qualities,
may be due either to his being an exceptionally good specimen of a
poor race, or an average specimen of a high one. The difference of
origin would betray itself in his descendants; they would revert
towards the typical centre of their race, deteriorating in the first
case but not in the second. The two cases, though theoretically
distinct, are confused in reality, owing to the frequency with which
exceptional personal qualities connote the departure of the entire
nature of the individual from his ancestral type, and the formation
of a new strain having its own typical centre. It is hardly
necessary to add that it is in this indirect way that natural
selection improves a race. The two events of selection and
difference of race ought, however, to be carefully distinguished in
broad practical considerations, while the frequency of their
concurrence is borne in mind and allowed for.

So long as the race remains radically the same, the stringent
selection of the best specimens to rear and breed from, can never
lead to any permanent result. The attempt to raise the standard of
such a race is like the labour of Sisyphus in rolling his stone
uphill; let the effort be relaxed for a moment, and the stone will
roll back. Whenever a new typical centre appears, it is as though
there was a facet upon the lower surface of the stone, on which it
is capable of resting without rolling back. It affords a temporary
sticking-point in the forward progress of evolution. The causes that
check the unlimited improvement of highly-bred animals, so long as
the race remains unchanged, are many and absolute.

In the first place there is an increasing delicacy of constitution;
the growing fineness of limb and structure end, after a few
generations, in fragility. Overbred animals have little stamina;
they resemble in this respect the "weedy" colts so often reared from
first-class racers. One can perhaps see in a general way why this
should be so. Each individual is the outcome of a vast number of
organic elements of the most various species, just as some nation
might be the outcome of a vast number of castes of individuals, each
caste monopolising a special pursuit. Banish a number of the humbler
castes--the bakers, the bricklayers, and the smiths, and the nation
would soon come to grief. This is what is done in high breeding;
certain qualities are bred for, and the rest are diminished as far
as possible, but they cannot be dispensed with entirely.

The next difficulty lies in the diminished fertility of highly-bred
animals. It is not improbable that its cause is of the same
character as that of the delicacy of their constitution. Together
with infertility is combined some degree of sexual indifference, or
when passion is shown, it is not unfrequently for some specimen of a
coarser type. This is certainly the case with horses and with dogs.

It will be easily understood that these difficulties, which are so
formidable in the case of plants and animals, which we can mate as
we please and destroy when we please, would make the maintenance of
a highly-selected breed of men an impossibility.

Whenever a low race is preserved under conditions of life that exact
a high level of efficiency, it must be subjected to rigorous
selection. The few best specimens of that race can alone be allowed
to become parents, and not many of their descendants can be allowed
to live. On the other hand, if a higher race be substituted for the
low one, all this terrible misery disappears. The most merciful form
of what I ventured to call "eugenics" would consist in watching for
the indications of superior strains or races, and in so favouring
them that their progeny shall outnumber and gradually replace that
of the old one. Such strains are of no infrequent occurrence. It is
easy to specify families who are characterised by strong resemblances,
and whose features and character are usually prepotent over those of
their wives or husbands in their joint offspring, and who are at the
same time as prolific as the average of their class. These strains
can be conveniently studied in the families of exiles, which, for
obvious reasons, are easy to trace in their various branches.

The debt that most countries owe to the race of men whom they
received from one another as immigrants, whether leaving their
native country of their own free will, or as exiles on political or
religious grounds, has been often pointed out, and may, I think, be
accounted for as follows:--The fact of a man leaving his compatriots,
or so irritating them that they compel him to go, is fair evidence
that either he or they, or both, feel that his character is alien to
theirs. Exiles are also on the whole men of considerable force of
character; a quiet man would endure and succumb, he would not have
energy to transplant himself or to become so conspicuous as to be an
object of general attack. We may justly infer from this, that exiles
are on the whole men of exceptional and energetic natures, and it is
especially from such men as these that new strains of race are likely
to proceed.


The influence of man upon the nature of his own race has already
been very large, but it has not been intelligently directed, and has
in many instances done great harm. Its action has been by invasions
and migration of races, by war and massacre, by wholesale
deportation of population, by emigration, and by many social customs
which have a silent but widespread effect.

There exists a sentiment, for the most part quite unreasonable,
against the gradual extinction of an inferior race. It rests on some
confusion between the race and the individual, as if the destruction
of a race was equivalent to the destruction of a large number of men.
It is nothing of the kind when the process of extinction works
silently and slowly through the earlier marriage of members of the
superior race, through their greater vitality under equal stress,
through their better chances of getting a livelihood, or through
their prepotency in mixed marriages. That the members of an inferior
class should dislike being elbowed out of the way is another matter;
but it may be somewhat brutally argued that whenever two individuals
struggle for a single place, one must yield, and that there will be
no more unhappiness on the whole, if the inferior yield to the
superior than conversely, whereas the world will be permanently
enriched by the success of the superior. The conditions of happiness
are, however, too complex to be disposed of by _à priori_ argument;
it is safest to appeal to observation. I think it could be easily
shown that when the differences between the races is not so great as
to divide them into obviously different classes, and where their
language, education, and general interests are the same, the
substitution may take place gradually without any unhappiness. Thus
the movements of commerce have introduced fresh and vigorous blood
into various parts of England: the new-comers have intermarried with
the residents, and their characteristics have been prepotent in the
descendants of the mixed marriages. I have referred in the earlier
part of the book to the changes of type in the English nature that
have occurred during the last few hundred years. These have been
effected so silently that we only know of them by the results.

One of the most misleading of words is that of "aborigines." Its use
dates from the time when the cosmogony was thought to be young and
life to be of very recent appearance. Its usual meaning seems to be
derived from the supposition that nations disseminated themselves
like colonists from a common centre about four thousand years, say
120 generations ago, and thenceforward occupied their lands
undisturbed until the very recent historic period with which the
narrator deals, when some invading host drove out the "aborigines."
This idyllic view of the march of events is contradicted by ancient
sepulchral remains, by language, and by the habits of those modern
barbarians whose history we know. There are probably hardly any
spots on the earth that have not, within the last few thousand years,
been tenanted by very different races; none hardly that have not
been tenanted by very different tribes having the character of at
least sub-races.

The absence of a criterion to distinguish between races and sub-races,
and our ethnological ignorance generally, makes it impossible to
offer more than a very off-hand estimate of the average variety of
races in the different countries of the world. I have, however,
endeavoured to form one, which I give with much hesitation, knowing
how very little it is worth. I registered the usually recognised
races inhabiting each of upwards of twenty countries, and who at the
same time formed at least half per cent of the population. It was, I
am perfectly aware, a very rough proceeding, so rough that for the
United Kingdom I ignored the prehistoric types and accepted only the
three headings of British, Low Dutch, and Norman-French. Again, as
regards India I registered as follows:--Forest tribes (numerous),
Dravidian (three principal divisions), Early Arian, Tartar (numerous,
including Afghans), Arab, and lastly European, on account of their
political importance, notwithstanding the fewness of their numbers.
Proceeding in this off-hand way, and after considering the results,
the broad conclusion to which I arrived was that on the average at
least three different recognised races were to be found in every
moderately-sized district on the earth's surface. The materials were
far too scanty to enable any idea to be formed of the rate of change
in the relative numbers of the constituent races in each country,
and still less to estimate the secular changes of type in those races.

It may be well to take one or two examples of intermixture. Spain
was occupied in the earliest historic times by at least two races,
of whom we know very little; it was afterwards colonised here and
there by Phoenicians in its southern ports, and by Greeks in its
eastern. In the third century B.C. it was invaded by the
Carthaginians, who conquered and held a large part of it, but were
afterwards supplanted by the Romans, who ruled it more or less
completely for 700 years. It was invaded in the fifth century A.D.
by a succession of German tribes, and was finally completely overrun
by the Visigoths, who ruled it for more than 200 years. Then came
the invasion of the Moors, who rapidly conquered the whole of the
Peninsula up to the mountains of Asturias, where the Goths still held
their own, and whence they issued from time to time and ultimately
recovered the country. The present population consists of the
remnants of one or more tribes of ancient Iberians, of the still
more ancient Basques, and of relics of all the invaders who have
just been named. There is, besides, a notable proportion of Gypsies
and not a few Jews.

This is obviously a most heterogeneous mixture, but to fully
appreciate the diversity of its origin the several elements should
be traced farther back towards their sources. Thus, the Moors are
principally descendants of Arabs, who flooded the northern provinces
of Africa in successive waves of emigration eastwards, both before
and after the Hegira, partly combining with the Berbers as they went,
and partly displacing them from the littoral districts and driving
them to the oases of the Sahara, whence they in their turn displaced
the Negro population, whom they drove down to the Soudan. The Gypsies,
according to Sir Henry Rawlinson,[16] came from the Indo-Scythic
tribes who inhabited the mouths of the Indus, and began to migrate
northward, from the fourth century onward. They settled in the
Chaldean marshes, assumed independence and defied the caliph. In A.D.
831 the grandson of Haroun al-Raschid sent a large expedition
against them, which, after slaughtering ten thousand, deported the
whole of the remainder first to Baghdad and thence onwards to Persia.
They continued unmanageable in their new home, and were finally
transplanted to the Cilician frontier in Asia Minor, and established
there as a military colony to guard the passes of the Taurus. In A.D.
962 the Greeks, having obtained some temporary successes, drove the
Gypsies back more into the interior, whence they gradually moved
towards the Hellespont under the pressure of the advancing Seljukians,
during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. They then crossed over
to Europe and gradually overspread it, where they are now estimated
to number more than three millions.

[Footnote 16: _Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society_, vol.
i. This account of the routes of the Gypsies is by no means
universally accepted, nor, indeed, was offered as a complete
solution of the problem of their migration, but it will serve to
show how complex that problem is.]

It must not be supposed that emigration on a large scale implies
even a moderate degree of civilisation among those who emigrate,
because the process has been frequently traced among the more
barbarous tribes, to say nothing of the evidence largely derived
from ancient burial-places. My own impression of the races in South
Africa was one of a continual state of ferment and change, of the
rapid development of some clan here and of the complete or almost
complete suppression of another clan there. The well-known history
of the rise of the Zulus and the destruction of their neighbours is
a case in point. In the country with which I myself was familiar the
changes had been numerous and rapid in the preceding few years, and
there were undoubted signs of much more important substitutions of
race in bygone times. The facts were briefly these: Damara Land was
inhabited by pastoral tribes of the brown Bantu race who were in
continual war with various alternations of fortune, and the several
tribes had special characteristics that were readily appreciated by
themselves. On the tops of the escarped hills lived a fugitive black
people speaking a vile dialect of Hottentot, and families of yellow
Bushmen were found in the lowlands wherever the country was unsuited
for the pastoral Damaras. Lastly, the steadily encroaching Namaquas,
a superior Hottentot race, lived on the edge of the district. They
had very much more civilisation than the Bushmen, and more than the
Damaras, and they contained a large infusion of Dutch blood.

The interpretation of all this was obviously that the land had been
tenanted a long time ago by Negroes, that an invasion of Bushmen
drove the Negroes to the hills, and that the supremacy of these
lasted so long that the Negroes lost their own language and acquired
that of the Bushmen. Then an invasion of a tribe of Bantu race
supplanted the Bushmen, and the Bantus, after endless struggles among
themselves, were being pushed aside at the time I visited them by
the incoming Namaquas, who themselves are a mixed race. This is
merely a sample of Africa; everywhere there are evidences of
changing races.

The last 300 or 400 years, say the last ten generations of mankind,
have witnessed changes of population on the largest scale, by the
extension of races long resident in Europe to the temperate regions
of Asia, Africa, America, and Australasia.

Siberia was barely known to the Russians of nine generations ago,
but since that time it has been continuously overspread by their
colonists, soldiers, political exiles, and transported criminals;
already some two-thirds of its population are Sclaves.

In South Africa the settlement at the Cape of Good Hope is barely
six generations old, yet during that time a curious and continuous
series of changes has taken place, resulting in the substitution of
an alien population for the Hottentots in the south and the Bantus
in the north. One-third of it is white, consisting of Dutch, English,
descendants of French Huguenot refugees, some Germans and Portuguese,
and the remainder is a strange medley of Hottentot, Bantu, Malay,
and Negro elements. In North Africa Egypt has become infiltrated
with Greeks, Italians, Frenchmen, and Englishmen during the last two
generations, and Algeria with Frenchmen.

In North America the change has been most striking, from a sparse
Indian population of hunters into that of the present inhabitants of
the United States and Canada; the former of these, with its total of
fifty millions inhabitants, already contains more than forty-three
millions of whites, chiefly of English origin; that is more of
European blood than is to be found in any one of the five great
European kingdoms of England, France, Italy, Germany, and Austria,
and less than that of Russia alone. The remainder are chiefly black,
the descendants of slaves imported from Africa. In the Dominion of
Canada, with its much smaller population of four millions, there has
been a less, but still a complete, swamping of the previous Indian
element by incoming whites.

In South America, and thence upwards to Mexico inclusive, the
population has been infiltrated in some parts and transformed in
others, by Spanish blood and by that of the Negroes whom they
introduced, so that not one half of its population can be reckoned
as of pure Indian descent. The West Indian Islands have had their
population absolutely swept away since the time of the Spanish
Conquest, except in a few rare instances, and African Negroes have
been substituted for them.

Australia and New Zealand tell much the same tale as Canada. A
native population has been almost extinguished in the former and is
swamped in the latter, under the pressure of an immigrant population
of Europeans, which is now twelve times as numerous as the Maories.
The time during which this great change has been effected is less
than that covered by three generations.

To this brief sketch of changes of population in very recent periods,
I might add the wave of Arab admixture that has extended from Egypt
and the northern provinces of Africa into the Soudan, and that of
the yellow races of China, who have already made their industrial
and social influence felt in many distant regions, and who bid fair
hereafter, when certain of their peculiar religious fancies shall
have fallen into decay, to become one of the most effective of the
colonising nations, and who may, as I trust, extrude hereafter the
coarse and lazy Negro from at least the metaliferous regions of
tropical Africa.

It is clear from what has been said, that men of former generations
have exercised enormous influence over the human stock of the
present day, and that the average humanity of the world now and in
future years is and will be very different to what it would have
been if the action of our forefathers had been different. The power
in man of varying the future human stock vests a great responsibility
in the hands of each fresh generation, which has not yet been
recognised at its just importance, nor deliberately employed. It is
foolish to fold the hands and to say that nothing can be done,
inasmuch as social forces and self-interests are too strong to be
resisted. They need not be resisted; they can be guided. It is one
thing to check the course of a huge steam vessel by the shock of a
sudden encounter when she is going at full speed in the wrong
direction, and another to cause her to change her course slowly and
gently by a slight turn of the helm.

Nay, a ship may be made to describe a half circle, and to end by
following a course exactly opposite to the first, without attracting
the notice of the passengers.


Over-population and its attendant miseries may not improbably become
a more serious subject of consideration than it ever yet has been,
owing to improved sanatation and consequent diminution of the
mortality of children, and to the filling up of the spare places of
the earth which are still void and able to receive the overflow of
Europe. There are no doubt conflicting possibilities which I need
not stop to discuss.

The check to over-population mainly advocated by Malthus is a
prudential delay in the time of marriage; but the practice of such a
doctrine would assuredly be limited, and if limited it would be most
prejudicial to the race, as I have pointed out in _Hereditary Genius_,
but may be permitted to do so again. The doctrine would only be
followed by the prudent and self-denying; it would be neglected by
the impulsive and self-seeking. Those whose race we especially want
to have, would leave few descendants, while those whose race we
especially want to be quit of, would crowd the vacant space with
their progeny, and the strain of population would thenceforward be
just as pressing as before. There would have been a little relief
during one or two generations, but no permanent increase of the
general happiness, while the race of the nation would have
deteriorated. The practical application of the doctrine of deferred
marriage would therefore lead indirectly to most mischievous results,
that were overlooked owing to the neglect of considerations bearing
on race. While criticising the main conclusion to which Malthus came,
I must take the opportunity of paying my humble tribute of admiration
to his great and original work, which seems to me like the rise of
a morning star before a day of free social investigation. There is
nothing whatever in his book that would be in the least offensive to
this generation, but he wrote in advance of his time and consequently
roused virulent attacks, notably from his fellow-clergymen, whose
doctrinaire notions upon the paternal dispensation of the world were
rudely shocked.

The misery check, as Malthus called all those influences that are
not prudential, is an ugly phrase not fully justified. It no doubt
includes death through inadequate food and shelter, through
pestilence from overcrowding, through war, and the like; but it also
includes many causes that do not deserve so hard a name. Population
decays under conditions that cannot be charged to the presence or
absence of misery, in the common sense of the word. These exist when
native races disappear before the presence of the incoming white man,
when after making the fullest allowances for imported disease, for
brandy drinking, and other assignable causes, there is always a
large residuum of effect not clearly accounted for. It is certainly
not wholly due to misery, but rather to listlessness, due to
discouragement, and acting adversely in many ways.

One notable result of dulness and apathy is to make a person
unattractive to the opposite sex and to be unattracted by them. It
is antagonistic to sexual affection, and the result is a diminution
of offspring. There exists strong evidence that the decay of
population in some parts of South America under the irksome tyranny
of the Jesuits, which crushed what little vivacity the people
possessed, was due to this very cause. One cannot fairly apply the
term "misery" to apathy; I should rather say that strong affections
restrained from marriage by prudential considerations more truly
deserved that name.


It is important to obtain a just idea of the relative effects of
early and late marriages. I attempted this in _Hereditary Genius_,
but I think the following is a better estimate. We are unhappily
still deficient in collected data as regards the fertility of the
upper and middle classes at different ages; but the facts collected
by Dr. Matthews Duncan as regards the lower orders will serve our
purpose approximately, by furnishing the required _ratios_, though
not the absolute values. The following are his results,[17] from
returns kept at the Lying-in Hospital of St. Georges-in-the-East:--

  Age of Mother
 at her Marriage.   Average Fertility.
      15-19              9.12
      20-24              7.92
      25-29              6.30
      30-34              4.60

The meaning of this Table will be more clearly grasped after a
little modification of its contents. We may consider the fertility
of each group to refer to the medium age of that group, as by writing
17 instead of 15-19, and we may slightly smooth the figures, then
we have--

Age of Mother at her         Approximate average
    Marriage.                      Fertility.
       17                       9.00 = 6 × 1.5
       22                       7.50 = 5 × 1.5
       27                       6.00 = 4 × 1.5
       32                       4.50 = 3 × 1.5

Which shows that the relative fertility of mothers married at the
ages of 17, 22, 27, and 32 respectively is as 6, 5, 4, and 3

The increase in population by a habit of early marriages is further
augmented by the greater rapidity with which the generations follow
each other. By the joint effect of these two causes, a large effect
is in time produced.

Let us compute a single example. Taking a group of 100 mothers
married at the age of 20, whom we will designate as A, and another
group of 100 mothers married at the age of 29, whom we will call B,
we shall find by interpolation that the fertility of A and B
respectively would be about 8.2 and 5.4. We need not, however,
regard their absolute fertility, which would differ in different
classes of society, but will only consider their relative production
of such female children as may live and become mothers, and we will
suppose the number of such descendants in the first generation to be
the same as that of the A and B mothers together[17]--namely, 200.
Then the number of such children in the A and B classes respectively,
being in the proportion of 8.2 to 5.4, will be 115 and 85.

[Footnote 17: _Fecundity, Fertility, Sterility_, etc.,
by Dr. Matthews Duncan. A. & C. Black: Edinburgh, 1871, p. 143.]

We have next to determine the average lengths of the A and B
generations, which may be roughly done by basing it on the usual
estimate of an average generation, irrespectively of sex, at a third
of a century, or say of an average female generation at 31.5 years.
We will further take 20 years as being 4.5 years earlier than the
average time of marriage, and 29 years as 4.5 years later than it,
so that the length of each generation of the A group will be 27 years,
and that of the B group will be 36 years. All these suppositions
appear to be perfectly fair and reasonable, while it may easily be
shown that any other suppositions within the bounds of probability
would lead to results of the same general order.

The least common multiple of 27 and 36 is 108, at the end of which
term of years A will have been multiplied four times over by the
factor 1.5, and B three times over by the factor 0.85. The results
are given in the following Table:--

            Number of Female Descendants who themselves
                            become Mothers.
After Number |            A             |          B                 |
of Years     | Of 100 Mothers whose     | Of 100 Mothers whose       |
as below.    | Marriages and those of   | Marriages and those of     |
             | their Daughters all take | their Daughters take       |
             | place at the Age of      | place at the Age of        |
             | 20 Years.                | 29 Years.                  |
             |          ---             |        ----                |
             | (Ratio of Increase in    | (Ratio of Decrease in      |
             |  each successive         | each successive Generation |
             |  Generation being 1.15.) | being 0.85.)               |
    108      |            175           |            61              |
    216      |            299           |            38              |
    324      |            535           |            23              |

The general result is that the group B gradually disappears, and the
group A more than supplants it. Hence if the races best fitted to
occupy the land are encouraged to marry early, they will breed down
the others in a very few generations.


It may seem very reasonable to ask how the result proposed in the
last paragraph is to be attained, and to add that the difficulty of
carrying so laudable a proposal into effect lies wholly in the
details, and therefore that until some working plan is suggested,
the consideration of improving the human race is Utopian. But this
requirement is not altogether fair, because if a persuasion of the
importance of any end takes possession of men's minds, sooner or
later means are found by which that end is carried into effect. Some
of the objections offered at first will be discovered to be
sentimental, and of no real importance--the sentiment will change
and they will disappear; others that are genuine are not met, but
are in some way turned or eluded; and lastly, through the ingenuity
of many minds directed for a long time towards the achievement of a
common purpose, many happy ideas are sure to be hit upon that would
not have occurred to a single individual.

       *       *       *       *       *

This being premised, it will suffice to faintly sketch out some sort
of basis for eugenics, it being now an understanding that we are
provisionally agreed, for the sake of argument, that the improvement
of race is an object of first-class importance, and that the popular
feeling has been educated to regard it in that light.

The final object would be to devise means for favouring individuals
who bore the signs of membership of a superior race, the proximate
aim would be to ascertain what those signs were, and these we will
consider first.

The indications of superior breed are partly personal, partly
ancestral. We need not trouble ourselves about the personal part,
because full weight is already given to it in the competitive careers;
energy, brain, morale, and health being recognised factors of success,
while there can hardly be a better evidence of a person being
adapted to his circumstances than that afforded by success. It is
the ancestral part that is neglected, and which we have yet to
recognise at its just value. A question that now continually arises
is this: a youth is a candidate for permanent employment, his
present personal qualifications are known, but how will he turn out
in later years? The objections to competitive examinations are
notorious, in that they give undue prominence to youths whose
receptive faculties are quick, and whose intellects are precocious.
They give no indication of the directions in which the health,
character, and intellect of the youth will change through the
development, in their due course, of ancestral tendencies that are
latent in youth, but will manifest themselves in after life.
Examinations deal with the present, not with the future, although it
is in the future of the youth that we are especially interested.
Much of the needed guidance may be derived from his family history.
I cannot doubt, if two youths were of equal personal merit, of whom
one belonged to a thriving and long-lived family, and the other to a
decaying and short-lived family, that there could be any hesitation
in saying that the chances were greater of the first-mentioned youth
becoming the more valuable public servant of the two.

A thriving family may be sufficiently defined or inferred by the
successive occupations of its several male members in the previous
generation, and of the two grandfathers. These are patent facts
attainable by almost every youth, which admit of being verified in
his neighbourhood and attested in a satisfactory manner.

A healthy and long-lived family may be defined by the patent facts
of ages at death, and number and ages of living relatives, within
the degrees mentioned above, all of which can be verified and
attested. A knowledge of the existence of longevity in the family
would testify to the stamina of the candidate, and be an important
addition to the knowledge of his present health in forecasting the
probability of his performing a large measure of experienced work.

Owing to absence of data and the want of inquiry of the family
antecedents of those who fail and of those who succeed in life, we
are much more ignorant than we ought to be of their relative
importance. In connection with this, I may mention some curious
results published by Mr. F.M. Holland[18] of Boston, U.S., as to the
antecedent family history of persons who were reputed to be more
moral than the average, and of those who were the reverse. He has

been good enough to reply to questions that I sent to him concerning
his criterion of morality, and other points connected with the
statistics, in a way that seems satisfactory, and he has very
obligingly furnished me with additional MS. materials. One of his
conclusions was that morality is more often found among members of
large families than among those of small ones. It is reasonable to
expect this would be the case owing to the internal discipline among
members of large families, and to the wholesome sustaining and
restraining effects of family pride and family criticism. Members of
small families are apt to be selfish, and when the smallness of the
family is due to the deaths of many of its members at early ages, it
is some evidence either of weakness of the family constitution, or of
deficiency of common sense or of affection on the part of the
parents in not taking better care of them. Mr. Holland quotes in his
letter to me a piece of advice by Franklin to a young man in search
of a wife, "to take one out of a bunch of sisters," and a popular
saying that kittens brought up with others make the best pets,
because they have learned to play without scratching. Sir William
Gull[19] has remarked that those candidates for the Indian Civil
Service who are members of large families are on the whole the

[Footnote 18: _Index Newspaper_, Boston, U.S. July 27, 1882.]

Far be it from me to say that any scheme of marks for family merit
would not require a great deal of preparatory consideration. Careful
statistical inquiries have yet to be made into the family
antecedents of public servants of mature age in connection with
their place in examination lists at the earlier age when they first
gained their appointments. This would be necessary in order to learn
the amount of marks that should be assigned to various degrees of
family merit. I foresee no peculiar difficulty in conducting such an
inquiry; indeed, now that competitive examinations have been in
general use for many years, the time seems ripe for it, but of
course its conduct would require much confidential inquiry and a
great deal of trouble in verifying returns. Still, it admits of
being done, and if the results, derived from different sources,
should confirm one another, they could be depended on.

[Footnote 19: _Blue Book C_--1446, 1876. On the Selection and
Training of Candidates for the Indian Civil Service.]

Let us now suppose that a way was seen for carrying some such idea
as this into practice, and that family merit, however defined, was
allowed to count, for however little, in competitive examinations.
The effect would be very great: it would show that ancestral
qualities are of present current value; it would give an impetus to
collecting family histories; it would open the eyes of every family
and or society at large to the importance of marriage alliance with
a good stock; it would introduce the subject of race into a
permanent topic of consideration, which (on the supposition of its
_bonâ fide_ importance that has been assumed for the sake of
argument) experience would show to be amply justified. Any act that
first gives a guinea stamp to the sterling guinea's worth of natural
nobility might set a great social avalanche in motion.


Endowments and bequests have been freely and largely made for
various social purposes, and as a matter of history they have
frequently been made to portion girls in marriage. It so happens
that the very day that I am writing this, I notice an account in the
foreign newspapers (September 19, 1882) of an Italian who has
bequeathed a sum to the corporation of London to found small
portions for three poor girls to be selected by lot. And again, a
few weeks ago I read also in the French papers of a trial, in
reference to the money adjudged to the "Rosière" of a certain village.
Many cases in which individuals and states have portioned girls may
be found in Malthus. It is therefore far from improbable that if the
merits of good race became widely recognised and its indications
were rendered more surely intelligible than they now are, that local
endowments, and perhaps adoptions, might be made in favour of those
of both sexes who showed evidences of high race and of belonging to
prolific and thriving families. One cannot forecast their form,
though we may reckon with some assurance that in one way or another
they would be made, and that the better races would be given a
better chance of marrying early.

A curious relic of the custom which was universal three or four
centuries ago, of entrusting education to celibate priests, forbade
Fellows of Colleges to marry, under the penalty of losing their
fellowships. It is as though the winning horses at races were
rendered ineligible to become sires, which I need hardly say is the
exact reverse of the practice. Races were established and endowed by
"Queen's plates" and otherwise at vast expense, for the purpose of
discovering the swiftest horses, who are thenceforward exempted from
labour and reserved for the sole purpose of propagating their species.
The horses who do not win races, or who are not otherwise specially
selected for their natural gifts, are prevented from becoming sires.
Similarly, the mares who win races as fillies, are not allowed to
waste their strength in being ridden or driven, but are tended under
sanatory conditions for the sole purpose of bearing offspring. It is
better economy, in the long-run, to use the best mares as breeders
than as workers, the loss through their withdrawal from active
service being more than recouped in the next generation through what
is gained by their progeny.

The college statutes to which I referred were very recently relaxed
at Oxford, and have been just reformed at Cambridge. I am told that
numerous marriages have ensued in consequence, or are ensuing. In
_Hereditary Genius_ I showed that scholastic success runs strongly
in families; therefore, in all seriousness, I have no doubt, that
the number of Englishmen naturally endowed with high scholastic
faculties, will be sensibly increased in future generations by the
repeal of these ancient statutes.

The English race has yet to be explored and their now unknown wealth
of hereditary gifts recorded, that those who possess such a
patrimony should know of it. The natural impulses of mankind would
then be sufficient to ensure that such wealth should no more
continue to be neglected than the existence of any other possession
suddenly made known to a man. Aristocracies seldom make alliances
out of their order, except to gain wealth. Is it less to be expected
that those who become aware that they are endowed with the power of
transmitting valuable hereditary gifts should abstain from
squandering their future children's patrimony by marrying persons of
lower natural stamp? The social consideration that would attach
itself to high races would, it may be hoped, partly neutralise a
social cause that is now very adverse to the early marriages of the
most gifted, namely, the cost of living in cultured and refined
society. A young man with a career before him commonly feels it
would be an act of folly to hamper himself by too early a marriage.
The doors of society that are freely open to a bachelor are closed
to a married couple with small means, unless they bear patent
recommendations such as the public recognition of a natural nobility
would give. The attitude of mind that I should expect to predominate
among those who had undeniable claims to rank as members of an
exceptionally gifted race, would be akin to that of the modern
possessors of ancestral property or hereditary rank. Such persons
feel it a point of honour not to alienate the old place or make
misalliances, and they are respected for their honest family pride.
So a man of good race would shrink from spoiling it by a lower
marriage, and every one would sympathise with his sentiments.


It remains to sketch in outline the principal conclusions to which
we seem to be driven by the results of the various inquiries
contained in this volume, and by what we know on allied topics from
the works of others.

We cannot but recognise the vast variety of natural faculty, useful
and harmful, in members of the same race, and much more in the human
family at large, all of which tend to be transmitted by inheritance.
Neither can we fail to observe that the faculties of men generally,
are unequal to the requirements of a high and growing civilisation.
This is principally owing to their entire ancestry having lived up
to recent times under very uncivilised conditions, and to the
somewhat capricious distribution in late times of inherited wealth,
which affords various degrees of immunity from the usual selective

In solution of the question whether a continual improvement in
education might not compensate for a stationary or even retrograde
condition of natural gifts, I made inquiry into the life history of
twins, which resulted in proving the vastly preponderating effects
of nature over nurture.

The fact that the very foundation and outcome of the human mind is
dependent on race, and that the qualities of races vary, and
therefore that humanity taken as a whole is not fixed but variable,
compels us to reconsider what may be the true place and function of
man in the order of the world. I have examined this question freely
from many points of view, because whatever may be the vehemence with
which particular opinions are insisted upon, its solution is
unquestionably doubtful. There is a wide and growing conviction
among truth-seeking, earnest, humble-minded, and thoughtful men,
both in this country and abroad, that our cosmic relations are by no
means so clear and simple as they are popularly supposed to be,
while the worthy and intelligent teachers of various creeds, who
have strong persuasions on the character of those relations, do not
concur in their several views.

The results of the inquiries I have made into certain alleged forms
of our relations with the unseen world do not, so far as they go,
confirm the common doctrines. One, for example, on the objective
efficacy of prayer[20] was decidedly negative. It showed that while
contradicting the commonly expressed doctrine, it concurred with the
almost universal practical opinion of the present day. Another
inquiry into visions showed that, however ill explained they may
still be, they belong for the most part, if not altogether, to an
order of phenomena which no one dreams in other cases of calling
supernatural. Many investigations concur in showing the vast
multiplicity of mental operations that are in simultaneous action,
of which only a minute part falls within the ken of consciousness,
and suggest that much of what passes for supernatural is due to one
portion of our mind being contemplated by another portion of it, as
if it had been that of another person. The term "individuality" is
in fact a most misleading word.

[Footnote 20: Not reprinted in this edition.]

I do not for a moment wish to imply that the few inquiries published
in this volume exhaust the list of those that might be made, for I
distinctly hold the contrary, but I refer to them in corroboration
of the previous assertion that our relations with the unseen world
are different to those we are commonly taught to believe.

In our doubt as to the character of our mysterious relations with
the unseen ocean of actual and potential life by which we are
surrounded, the generally accepted fact of the solidarity of the
universe--that is, of the intimate connections between distant parts
that bind it together as a whole--justifies us, I think, in looking
upon ourselves as members of a vast system which in one of its
aspects resembles a cosmic republic.

On the one hand, we know that evolution has proceeded during an
enormous time on this earth, under, so far as we can gather, a
system of rigorous causation, with no economy of time or of
instruments, and with no show of special ruth for those who may in
pure ignorance have violated the conditions of life.

On the other hand, while recognising the awful mystery of conscious
existence and the inscrutable background of evolution, we find that
as the foremost outcome of many and long birth-throes, intelligent
and kindly man finds himself in being. He knows how petty he is, but
he also perceives that he stands here on this particular earth, at
this particular time, as the heir of untold ages and in the van of
circumstance. He ought therefore, I think, to be less diffident than
he is usually instructed to be, and to rise to the conception that
he has a considerable function to perform in the order of events,
and that his exertions are needed. It seems to me that he should
look upon himself more as a freeman, with power of shaping the
course of future humanity, and that he should look upon himself less
as the subject of a despotic government, in which case it would be
his chief merit to depend wholly upon what had been regulated for him,
and to render abject obedience.

The question then arises as to the way in which man can assist in
the order of events. I reply, by furthering the course of evolution.
He may use his intelligence to discover and expedite the changes
that are necessary to adapt circumstance to race and race to
circumstance, and his kindly sympathy will urge him to effect them

When we begin to inquire, with some misgiving perhaps, as to the
evidence that man has present power to influence the quality of
future humanity, we soon discover that his past influence in that
direction has been very large indeed. It has been exerted hitherto
for other ends than that which is now contemplated, such as for
conquest or emigration, also through social conditions whose effects
upon race were imperfectly foreseen. There can be no doubt that the
hitherto unused means of his influence are also numerous and great.
I have not cared to go much into detail concerning these, but
restricted myself to a few broad considerations, as by showing how
largely the balance of population becomes affected by the earlier
marriages of some of its classes, and by pointing out the great
influence that endowments have had in checking the marriage of monks
and scholars, and therefore the yet larger influence they might be
expected to have if they were directed not to thwart but to
harmonise with natural inclination, by promoting early marriages in
the classes to be favoured. I also showed that a powerful influence
might flow from a public recognition in early life of the true value
of the probability of future performance, as based on the past
performance of the ancestors of the child. It is an element of
forecast, in addition to that of present personal merit, which has
yet to be appraised and recognised. Its recognition would attract
assistance in various ways, impossible now to specify, to the young
families of those who were most likely to stock the world with
healthy, moral, intelligent, and fair-natured citizens. The stream
of charity is not unlimited, and it is requisite for the speedier
evolution of a more perfect humanity that it should be so
distributed as to favour the best-adapted races. I have not spoken
of the repression of the rest, believing that it would ensue
indirectly as a matter of course; but I may add that few would
deserve better of their country than those who determine to live
celibate lives, through a reasonable conviction that their issue
would probably be less fitted than the generality to play their part
as citizens.

It would be easy to add to the number of possible agencies by which
the evolution of a higher humanity might be furthered, but it is
premature to do so until the importance of attending to the
improvement of our race shall have been so well established in the
popular mind that a discussion of them would be likely to receive
serious consideration.

It is hardly necessary to insist on the certainty that our present
imperfect knowledge of the limitations and conditions of hereditary
transmission will be steadily added to; but I would call attention
again to the serious want of adequate materials for study in the
form of life-histories. It is fortunately the case that many of the
rising medical practitioners of the foremost rank are become strongly
impressed with the necessity of possessing them, not only for the
better knowledge of the theory of disease, but for the personal
advantage of their patients, whom they now have to treat less
appropriately than they otherwise would, through ignorance of their
hereditary tendencies and of their illnesses in past years, the
medical details of which are rarely remembered by the patient, even
if he ever knew them. With the help of so powerful a personal motive
for keeping life-histories, and of so influential a body as the
medical profession to advocate its being done,[21] and to show how
to do it, there is considerable hope that the want of materials to
which I have alluded will gradually be supplied.

[Footnote 21: See an address on the Collective Investigation of
Disease, by Sir William Gull, _British Medical Journal_, January 27,
1883, p. 143; also the following address by Sir James Paget, p. 144.]

To sum up in a few words. The chief result of these Inquiries has
been to elicit the religious significance of the doctrine of
evolution. It suggests an alteration in our mental attitude, and
imposes a new moral duty. The new mental attitude is one of a
greater sense of moral freedom, responsibility, and opportunity; the
new duty which is supposed to be exercised concurrently with, and
not in opposition to the old ones upon which the social fabric
depends, is an endeavour to further evolution, especially that of
the human race.



The object and methods of Composite Portraiture will be best
explained by the following extracts from memoirs describing its
successive stages, published in 1878, 1879, and 1881 respectively:--


  [_Extract from Memoir read before the Anthropological Institute,
  in 1878_.]

I submit to the Anthropological Institute my first results in
carrying out a process that I suggested last August [1877] in my
presidential address to the Anthropological Subsection of the
British Association at Plymouth, in the following words:--

"Having obtained drawings or photographs of several persons alike in
most respects, but differing in minor details, what sure method is
there of extracting the typical characteristics from them? I may
mention a plan which had occurred both to Mr. Herbert Spencer and
myself, the principle of which is to superimpose optically the
various drawings, and to accept the aggregate result. Mr. Spencer
suggested to me in conversation that the drawings reduced to the
same scale might be traced on separate pieces of transparent paper
and secured one upon another, and then held between the eye and the
light. I have attempted this with some success. My own idea was to
throw faint images of the several portraits, in succession, upon the
same sensitised photographic plate. I may add that it is perfectly
easy to superimpose optically two portraits by means of a stereoscope,
and that a person who is used to handle instruments will find a
common double eyeglass fitted with stereoscopic lenses to be almost
as effectual and far handier than the boxes sold in shops."

Mr. Spencer, as he informed me, had actually devised an instrument,
many years ago, for tracing mechanically, longitudinal, transverse,
and horizontal sections of heads on transparent paper, intending to
superimpose them, and to obtain an average result by transmitted

Since my address was published, I have caused trials to be made, and
have found, as a matter of fact, that the photographic process of
which I there spoke enables us to obtain with mechanical precision a
generalised picture; one that represents no man in particular, but
portrays an imaginary figure possessing the average features of any
given group of men. These ideal faces have a surprising air of
reality. Nobody who glanced at one of them for the first time would
doubt its being the likeness of a living person, yet, as I have said,
it is no such thing; it is the portrait of a type and not of an

I begin by collecting photographs of the persons with whom I propose
to deal. They must be similar in attitude and size, but no exactness
is necessary in either of these respects. Then, by a simple
contrivance, I make two pinholes in each of them, to enable me to
hang them up one in front of the other, like a pack of cards, upon
the same pair of pins, in such a way that the eyes of all the
portraits shall be as nearly as possible superimposed; in which case
the remainder of the features will also be superimposed nearly enough.
These pinholes correspond to what are technically known to printers
as "register marks." They are easily made: A slip of brass or card
has an aperture cut out of its middle, and threads are stretched
from opposite sides, making a cross.[22] Two small holes are drilled
in the plate, one on either side of the aperture. The slip of brass
is laid on the portrait with the aperture over its face. It is turned
about until one of the cross threads cuts the pupils of both the eyes,
and it is further adjusted until the other thread divides the
interval between the pupils in two equal parts. Then it is held
firmly, and a prick is made through each of the holes.

[Footnote 22: I am indebted for the woodcuts to the Editor of
_Nature_, in which journal this memoir first appeared.]

[Illustration: ]

The portraits being thus arranged, a photographic camera is directed
upon them. Suppose there are eight portraits in the pack, and
that under existing circumstances it would require an exposure of
eighty seconds to give an exact photographic copy of any one
of them. The general principle of proceeding is this, subject in
practice to some variations of detail, depending on the different
brightness of the several portraits. We throw the image of each of
the eight portraits in turn upon the same part of the sensitised
plate for ten seconds. Thus, portrait No. 1 is in the front of the
pack; we take the cap off the object glass of the camera for ten
seconds, and afterwards replace it. We then remove No. 1 from the
pins, and No. 2 appears in the front; we take off the cap a second
time for ten seconds, and again replace it. Next we remove No. 2,
and No. 3 appears in the front, which we treat as its predecessors,
and so we go on to the last of the pack. The sensitised plate will
now have had its total exposure of eighty seconds; it is then
developed, and the print taken from it is the generalised picture of
which I speak. It is a composite of eight component portraits. Those
of its outlines are sharpest and darkest that are common to the
largest number of the components; the purely individual
peculiarities leave little or no visible trace. The latter being
necessarily disposed equally on both sides of the average, the
outline of the composite is the average of all the components. It is
a band and not a fine line, because the outlines of the components
are seldom exactly superimposed. The band will be darkest in its
middle whenever the component portraits have the same general type
of features, and its breadth, or amount of blur, will measure the
tendency of the components to deviate from the common type. This is
so for the very same reason that the shot-marks on a target are more
thickly disposed near the bull's-eye than away from it, and in a
greater degree as the marksmen are more skilful. All that has been
said of the outlines is equally true as regards the shadows; the
result being that the composite represents an averaged figure, whose
lineaments have been softly drawn. The eyes come out with
appropriate distinctness, owing to the mechanical conditions under
which the components are hung.

[Illustration: ]

A composite portrait represents the picture that would rise before
the mind's eye of a man who had the gift of pictorial imagination in
an exalted degree. But the imaginative power even of the highest
artists is far from precise, and is so apt to be biassed by special
cases that may have struck their fancies, that no two artists agree
in any of their typical forms. The merit of the photographic
composite is its mechanical precision, being subject to no errors
beyond those incidental to all photographic productions.

I submit several composites made for me by Mr. H. Reynolds. The
first set of portraits are those of criminals convicted of murder,
manslaughter, or robbery accompanied with violence. It will be
observed that the features of the composites are much better looking
than those of the components. The special villainous irregularities
in the latter have disappeared, and the common humanity that
underlies them has prevailed. They represent, not the criminal, but
the man who is liable to fall into crime. All composites are better
looking than their components, because the averaged portrait of many
persons is free from the irregularities that variously blemish the
looks of each of them.

I selected these for my first trials because I happened to possess a
large collection of photographs of criminals, through the kindness
of Sir Edmund Du Cane, the Director-General of Prisons, for the
purpose of investigating criminal types. They were peculiarly
adapted to my present purpose, being all made of about the same size,
and taken in much the same attitudes. It was while endeavouring to
elicit the principal criminal types by methods of optical
superimposition of the portraits, such as I had frequently employed
with maps and meteorological traces,[23] that the idea of composite
figures first occurred to me.

[Footnote 23: _Conference at the Loan Exhibition of Scientific
Instruments_, 1878. Chapman and Hall. Physical Geography Section, p.
312, _On Means of Combining Various Data in Maps and Diagrams_, by
Francis Galton, F.R.S.]

The other set of composites are made from pairs of components. They
are selected to show the extraordinary facility of combining almost
any two faces whose proportions are in any way similar.

It will, I am sure, surprise most persons to see how well defined
these composites are. When we deal with faces of the same type, the
points of similarity far outnumber those of dissimilarity, and there
is a much greater resemblance between faces generally than we who
turn our attention to individual differences are apt to appreciate.
A traveller on his first arrival among people of a race very
different to his own thinks them closely alike, and a Hindu has much
difficulty in distinguishing one Englishman from another.

The fairness with which photographic composites represent their
components is shown by six of the specimens. I wished to learn
whether the order in which the components were photographed made any
material difference in the result, so I had three of the portraits
arranged successively in each of their six possible combinations. It
will be observed that four at least of the six composites are
closely alike. I should say that in each of this set (which was made
by the wet process) the last of the three components was always
allowed a longer exposure than the second, and the second than the
first, but it is found better to allow an equal time to all of them.

[Illustration: The accompanying woodcut is as fair a representation
of one of the composites as is practicable in ordinary printing. It
was photographically transferred to the wood, and the engraver has
used his best endeavour to translate the shades into line engraving.
This composite is made out of only three components, and its
threefold origin is to be traced in the ears, and in the buttons to
the vest. To the best of my judgment, the original photograph is a
very exact average of its components; not one feature in it appears
identical with that of any one of them, but it contains a
resemblance to all, and is not more like to one of them than to
another. However, the judgment of the wood engraver is different.
His rendering of the composite has made it exactly like one of its
components, which it must be borne in mind he had never seen. It is
just as though an artist drawing a child had produced a portrait
closely resembling its deceased father, having overlooked an equally
strong likeness to its deceased mother, which was apparent to its
relatives. This is to me a most striking proof that the composite is
a true combination.]

The stereoscope, as I stated last August in my address at Plymouth,
affords a very easy method of optically superimposing two portraits,
and I have much pleasure in quoting the following letter, pointing
out this fact as well as some other conclusions to which I also had
arrived. The letter was kindly forwarded to me by Mr. Darwin; it is
dated last November, and was written to him by Mr. A.L. Austin, from
New Zealand, thus affording another of the many curious instances of
two persons being independently engaged in the same novel inquiry at
nearly the same time, and coming to similar results:--

   _November 6th_, 1877.


SIR,--Although a perfect stranger to you, and living on the reverse
side of the globe, I have taken the liberty of writing to you on a
small discovery I have made in binocular vision in the stereoscope.
I find by taking two ordinary carre-de-visite photos of two
different persons' faces, the portraits being about the same sizes,
and looking about the same direction, and placing them in a
stereoscope, the faces blend into one in a most remarkable manner,
producing in the case of some ladies' portraits, in every instance,
a _decided improvement_ in beauty. The pictures were not taken in a
binocular camera, and therefore do not stand out well, but by moving
one or both until the eyes coincide in the stereoscope the pictures
blend perfectly. If taken in a binocular camera for the purpose,
each person being taken on one half of the negative, I am sure the
results would be still more striking. Perhaps something might be
made of this in regard to the expression of emotions in man and the
lower animals, &c. I have not time or opportunities to make
experiments, but it seems to me something might be made of this by
photographing the faces of different animals, different races of
mankind, &c. I think a stereoscopic view of one of the ape tribe and
some low-caste human face would make a very curious mixture; also in
the matter of crossing of animals and the resulting offspring. It
seems to me something also might result in photos of husband and
wife and children, &c. In any case, the results are curious, if it
leads to nothing else. Should this come to anything you will no
doubt acknowledge myself as suggesting the experiment, and perhaps
send me some of the results. If not likely to come to anything, a
reply would much oblige me.

 Yours very truly,
   A.L. AUSTIN, C.E., F.R.A.S.

Dr. Carpenter informs me that the late Mr. Appold, the mechanician,
used to combine two portraits of himself under the stereoscope. The
one had been taken with an assumed stern expression, the other with
a smile, and this combination produced a curious and effective
blending of the two.

Convenient as the stereoscope is, owing to its accessibility, for
determining whether any two portraits are suitable in size and
attitude to form a good composite, it is nevertheless a makeshift
and imperfect way of attaining the required result. It cannot of
itself combine two images; it can only place them so that the office
of attempting to combine them may be undertaken by the brain. Now
the two separate impressions received by the brain through the
stereoscope do not seem to me to be relatively constant in their
vividness, but sometimes the image seen by the left eye prevails
over that seen by the right, and _vice versâ_. All the other
instruments I am about to describe accomplish that which the
stereoscope fails to do; they create true optical combinations. As
regards other points in Mr. Austin's letter, I cannot think that the
use of a binocular camera for taking the two portraits intended to
be combined into one by the stereoscope would be of importance. All
that is wanted is that the portraits should be nearly of the same
size. In every other respect I cordially agree with Mr. Austin.

The best instrument I have as yet contrived and used for optical
superimposition is a "double-image prism" of Iceland spar (see Fig.,
p. 228), formerly procured for me by the late Mr. Tisley, optician,
Brompton Road. They have a clear aperture of a square, half an inch
in the side, and when held at right angles to the line of sight will
separate the ordinary and extraordinary images to the amount of two
inches, when the object viewed is held at seventeen inches from the
eye. This is quite sufficient for working with carte-de-visite
portraits. One image is quite achromatic, the other shows a little
colour. The divergence may be varied and adjusted by inclining the
prism to the line of sight. By its means the ordinary image of one
component is thrown upon the extraordinary image of the other, and
the composite may be viewed by the naked eye, or through a lens of
long focus, or through an opera-glass (a telescope is not so good)
fitted with a sufficiently long draw-tube to see an object at that
short distance with distinctness. Portraits of somewhat different
sizes may be combined by placing the larger one farther from the eye,
and a long face may be fitted to a short one by inclining and
foreshortening the former. The slight fault of focus thereby
occasioned produces little or no sensible ill effect on the
appearance of the composite.

The front, or the profile, faces of two living persons sitting side
by side or one behind the other, can be easily superimposed by a
double-image prism. Two such prisms set one behind the other can be
made to give four images of equal brightness, occupying the four
corners of a rhombus whose acute angles are 45°. Three prisms will
give eight images, but this is practically not a good combination;
the images fail in distinctness, and are too near together for use.
Again, each lens of a stereoscope of long focus can have one or a
pair of these prisms attached to it, and four or eight images may be
thus combined.

[Illustration: Fig. 1 shows the simple apparatus which carries the
prism and on which the photograph is mounted. The former is set in a
round box which can be rotated in the ring at the end of the arm and
can be clamped when adjusted. The arm can be rotated and can also be
pulled out or in if desired, and clamped. The floor of the
instrument is overlaid with cork covered with black cloth, on which
the components can easily be fixed by drawing-pins. When using it,
one portrait is pinned down and the other is moved near to it,
overlapping its margin if necessary, until the eye looking through
the prism sees the required combination; then the second portrait is
pinned down also. It may now receive its register-marks from needles
fixed in a hinged arm, and this is a more generally applicable
method than the plan with cross threads, already described, as any
desired feature--the nose, the ear, or the hand, may thus be
selected for composite purposes. Let A, B, C, ... Y, Z, be the
components. A is pinned down, and B, C, ... Y, Z, are successfully
combined with A, and registered. Then before removing Z, take away A
and substitute any other of the already registered portraits, say B,
by combining it with Z; lastly, remove Z and substitute A by
combining it with B, and register it. Fig. 2 shows one of three
similarly jointed arms, which clamp on to the vertical covered with
cork and cloth, and the other carries Fig. 3, which is a frame
having lenses of different powers set into it, and on which, or on
the third frame, a small mirror inclined at 45º may be laid. When a
portrait requires foreshortening it can be pinned on one of these
frames and be inclined to the line of sight; when it is smaller than
its fellow it can be brought nearer to the eye and an appropriate
lens interposed; when a right-sided profile has to be combined with a
left-handed one, it must be pinned on one of the frames and viewed by
reflection from the mirror in the other. The apparatus I have drawn
is roughly made, and being chiefly of wood is rather clumsy, but it
acts well.]

Another instrument I have made consists of a piece of glass inclined
at a very acute angle to the line of sight, and of a mirror beyond it,
also inclined, but in the opposite direction to the line of sight.
Two rays of light will therefore reach the eye from each point of
the glass; the one has been reflected from its surface, and the
other has been first reflected from the mirror, and then transmitted
through the glass. The glass used should be extremely thin, to avoid
the blur due to double reflections; it may be a selected piece from
those made to cover microscopic specimens. The principle of the
instrument may be yet further developed by interposing additional
pieces of glass, successively less inclined to the line of sight,
and each reflecting a different portrait.

I have tried many other plans; indeed the possible methods of
optically superimposing two or more images are very numerous. Thus I
have used a sextant (with its telescope attached); also strips of
mirrors placed at different angles, their several reflections being
simultaneously viewed through a telescope. I have also used a
divided lens, like two stereoscopic lenses brought close together,
in front of the object glass of a telescope.


  [_Extract from Proceedings Royal Institution, 25th April 1879_]

Our general impressions are founded upon blended memories, and these
latter will be the chief topic of the present discourse. An analogy
will be pointed out between these and the blended portraits first
described by myself a year ago under the name of "Composite Portraits,"
and specimens of the latter will be exhibited.

The physiological basis of memory is simple enough in its broad
outlines. Whenever any group of brain elements has been excited by a
sense impression, it becomes, so to speak, tender, and liable to be
easily thrown again into a similar state of excitement. If the new
cause of excitement differs from the original one, a memory is the
result. Whenever a single cause throws different groups of brain
elements simultaneously into excitement, the result must be a
blended memory.

We are familiar with the fact that faint memories are very apt to
become confused. Thus some picture of mountain and lake in a country
which we have never visited, often recalls a vague sense of identity
with much we have seen elsewhere. Our recollections cannot be
disentangled, though general resemblances are recognised. It is also
a fact that the memories of persons who have great powers of
visualising, that is, of seeing well-defined images in the mind's eye,
are no less capable of being blended together. Artists are, as a
class, possessed of the visualising power in a high degree, and they
are at the same time pre-eminently distinguished by their gifts of
generalisation. They are of all men the most capable of producing
forms that are not copies of any individual, but represent the
characteristic features of classes.

There is then, no doubt, from whatever side the subject of memory is
approached, whether from the material or from the mental, and, in
the latter case, whether we examine the experiences of those in whom
the visualising faculty is faint or in whom it is strong, that the
brain has the capacity of blending memories together. Neither can
there be any doubt that general impressions are faint and perhaps
faulty editions of blended memories. They are subject to errors of
their own, and they inherit all those to which the memories are
themselves liable.

Specimens of blended portraits will now be exhibited; these might,
with more propriety, be named, according to the happy phrase of
Professor Huxley, "generic" portraits. The word generic presupposes
a genus, that is to say, a collection of individuals who have much
in common, and among whom medium characteristics are very much more
frequent than extreme ones. The same idea is sometimes expressed by
the word "typical," which was much used by Quetelet, who was the
first to give it a rigorous interpretation, and whose idea of a type
lies at the basis of his statistical views. No statistician dreams
of combining objects into the same generic group that do not cluster
towards a common centre; no more should we attempt to compose
generic portraits out of heterogeneous elements, for if we do so the
result is monstrous and meaningless.

It might be expected that when many different portraits are fused
into a single one, the result would be a mere smudge. Such, however,
is by no means the case, under the conditions just laid down, of a
great prevalence of the mediocre characteristics over the extreme
ones. There are then so many traits in common, to combine and to
reinforce one another, that they prevail to the exclusion of the rest.
All that is common remains, all that is individual tends to disappear.

The first of the composites exhibited on this occasion is made by
conveying the images of three separate portraits by means of three
separate magic-lanterns upon the same screen. The stands on which
the lanterns are mounted have been arranged to allow of nice
adjustment. The composite about to be shown is one that strains the
powers of the process somewhat too severely, the portraits combined
being those of two brothers and their sister, who have not even been
photographed in precisely the same attitudes. Nevertheless, the
result is seen to be the production of a face, neither male nor
female, but more regular and handsome than any of the component
portraits, and in which the common family traits are clearly marked.
Ghosts of portions of male and female attire, due to the
peculiarities of the separate portraits, are seen about and around
the composite, but they are not sufficiently vivid to distract the
attention. If the number of combined portraits had been large, these
ghostly accessories would have become too faint to be visible.

The next step is to compare this portrait of two brothers and their
sister which has been composed by optical means before the eyes of
the audience, and concerning the truthfulness of which there can be
no doubt, with a photographic composite of the same group. The
latter is now placed in a fourth magic-lantern with a brighter light
behind it, and its image is thrown on the screen by the side of the
composite produced by direct optical superposition. It will be
observed that the two processes lead to almost exactly the same
result, and therefore the fairness of the photographic process may
be taken for granted. However, two other comparisons will be made
for the sake of verification, namely, between the optical and
photographic composites of two children, and again between those of
two Roman contadini.

The composite portraits that will next be exhibited are made by the
photographic process, and it will now be understood that they are
truly composite, notwithstanding their definition and apparent
individuality. Attention is, however, first directed to a convenient
instrument not more than 18 inches in length, which is, in fact, a
photographic camera with six converging lenses and an attached screen,
on which six pictures can be adjusted and brilliantly illuminated by
artificial light. The effect of their optical combination can thus
be easily studied; any errors of adjustment can be rectified, and
the composite may be photographed at once.

It must not be supposed that any one of the components fails to
leave its due trace in the photographic composite, much less in the
optical one. In order to allay misgivings on the subject, a small
apparatus is laid on the table together with some of the results
obtained by it. It is a cardboard frame, with a spring shutter
closing an aperture of the size of a wafer, that springs open on the
pressure of a finger, and shuts again as suddenly when the pressure
is withdrawn. A chronograph is held in the other hand, whose index
begins to travel the moment the finger presses a spring, and stops
instantly on lifting the finger. The two instruments are worked
simultaneously; the chronograph checking the time allowed for each
exposure and summing all the times. It appears from several trials
that the effect of 1000 brief exposures is practically identical
with that of a single exposure of 1000 times the duration of any one
of them. Therefore each of a thousand components leaves its due
photographic trace on the composite, though it is far too faint to
be visible unless reinforced by many similar traces.

The composites now to be exhibited are made from coins or medals,
and in most instances the aim has been to obtain the best likeness
attainable of historical personages, by combining various portraits
of them taken at different periods of their lives, and so to elicit
the traits that are common to each series. A few of the individual
portraits are placed in the same slide with each composite to give a
better idea of the character of these blended representatives. Those
that are shown are (1) Alexander the Great, from six components;
(2) Antiochus, King of Syria, from six; (3) Demetrius Poliorcetes,
from six; (4) Cleopatra, from five. Here the composite is as usual
better looking than any of the components, none of which, however,
give any indication of her reputed beauty; in fact, her features are
not only plain, but to an ordinary English taste are simply hideous.
(5) Nero, from eleven; (6) A combination of five different Greek
female faces; and (7) A singularly beautiful combination of the
faces of six different Roman ladies, forming a charming ideal profile.

My cordial acknowledgment is due to Mr. R. Stuart Poole, the learned
curator of the coins and gems in the British Museum, for his kind
selection of the most suitable medals, and for procuring casts of
them for me for the present purpose. These casts were, with one
exception, all photographed to a uniform size of four-tenths of an
inch between the pupils of the eyes and the division between the lips,
which experience shows to be the most convenient size on the whole
to work with, regard being paid to many considerations not worth
while to specify in detail. When it was necessary the photograph was
reversed. These photographs were made by Mr. H. Reynolds; I then
adjusted and prepared them for taking the photographic composite.

The next series to be exhibited consists of composites taken from
the portraits of criminals convicted of murder, manslaughter, or
crimes accompanied by violence. There is much interest in the fact
that two types of features are found much more frequently among
these than among the population at large. In one, the features are
broad and massive, like those of Henry VIII., but with a much
smaller brain. The other, of which five composites are exhibited,
each deduced from a number of different individuals, varying four to
nine, is a face that is weak and certainly not a common English face.
Three of these composites, though taken from entirely different sets
of individuals, are as alike as brothers, and it is found on
optically combining any three out of the five composites, that is on
combining almost any considerable number of the individuals, the
result is closely the same. The combination of the three composites
just alluded to will now be effected by means of the three
converging magic-lanterns, and the result may be accepted as generic
in respect of this particular type of criminals.

The process of composite portraiture is one of pictorial statistics.
It is a familiar fact that the average height of even a dozen men of
the same race, taken at hazard, varies so little, that for ordinary
statistical purposes it may be considered constant. The same may be
said of the measurement of every separate feature and limb, and of
every tint, whether of skin, hair, or eyes. Consequently a pictorial
combination of any one of these separate traits would lead to
results no less constant than the statistical averages. In a portrait,
there is another factor to be considered besides the measurement of
the separate traits, namely, their relative position; but this, too,
in a sufficiently large group, would necessarily have a statistical
constancy. As a matter of observation, the resemblance between
persons of the same "genus" (in the sense of "generic," as already
explained) is sufficiently great to admit of making good pictorial
composites out of even small groups, as has been abundantly shown.

Composite pictures, are, however, much more than averages; they are
rather the equivalents of those large statistical tables whose totals,
divided by the number of cases, and entered in the bottom line, are
the averages. They are real generalisations, because they include
the whole of the material under consideration. The blur of their
outlines, which is never great in truly generic composites, except
in unimportant details, measures the tendency of individuals to
deviate from the central type. My argument is, that the generic
images that arise before the mind's eye, and the general impressions
which are faint and faulty editions of them, are the analogues of
these composite pictures which we have the advantage of examining at
leisure, and whose peculiarities and character we can investigate,
and from which we may draw conclusions that shall throw much light
on the nature of certain mental processes which are too mobile and
evanescent to be directly dealt with.


  [_Read before the Photographic Society, 24th June, 1881_.]

I propose to draw attention to-night to the results of recent
experiments and considerable improvements in a process of which I
published the principles three years ago, and which I have
subsequently exhibited more than once.

I have shown that, if we have the portraits of two or more different
persons, taken in the same aspect and under the same conditions of
light and shade, and that if we put them into different optical
lanterns converging on the same screen and carefully adjust
them--first, so as to bring them to the same scale, and, secondly,
so as to superpose them as accurately as the conditions admit--then
the different faces will blend surprisingly well into a single
countenance. If they are not very dissimilar, the blended result
will always have a curious air of individuality, and will be
unexpectedly well defined; it will exactly resemble none of its
components, but it will have a sort of family likeness to all of them,
and it will be an ideal and an averaged portrait. I have also shown
that the image on the screen might be photographed then and there,
or that the same result may be much more easily obtained by a method
of successive photography, and I have exhibited many specimens made
on this principle. Photo-lithographs of some of these will be found
in the _Proceedings of the Royal Institution_, as illustrations of a
lecture I gave there "On Generic Images" in 1879.

The method I now use is much better than those previously described;
it leads to more accurate results, and is easier to manage. I will
exhibit and explain the apparatus as it stands, and will indicate
some improvements as I go on. The apparatus is here. I use it by
gaslight, and employ rapid dry plates, which, however, under the
conditions of a particularly small aperture and the character of the
light, require sixty seconds of total exposure. The apparatus is 4
feet long and 6-1/2 inches broad; it lies with its side along the
edge of the table at which I sit, and it is sloped towards me, so
that, by bending my neck slightly, I can bring my eye to an eye-hole,
where I watch the effect of the adjustments which my hands are free
to make. The entire management of the whole of these is within an
easy arm's length, and I complete the process without shifting my

The apparatus consists of three parts, A, B, and C. A is rigidly
fixed; it contains the dark slide and the contrivances by which the
position of the image can be viewed; the eye-hole, _e_, already
mentioned, being part of A. B is a travelling carriage that holds
the lens, and is connected by bellows-work with A. In my apparatus
it is pushed out and in, and clamped where desired, but it ought to
be moved altogether by pinion and rack-work.[24] The lens I use is a
I B Dallmeyer. Its focal length is appropriate to the size of the
instrument, and I find great convenience in a lens of wide aperture
when making the adjustments, as I then require plenty of light; but,
as to the photography, the smaller the aperture the better. The hole
in my stop is only two-tenths of an inch in diameter, and I believe
one-tenth would be more suitable.

[Footnote 24: I have since had a more substantial instrument made
with these and similar improvements.]


_Side View._

_End View._

A The body of the camera, which is fixed.

B Lens on a carriage, which can be
moved to and fro.

C Frame for the transparency, on a carriage
that also supports the lantern;
the whole can be moved to and fro.

_r_ The reflector inside the camera.

_m_ The arm outside the camera attached
to the axis of the reflector; by
moving it, the reflector can be
moved up or down.

_g_ A ground-glass screen on the roof,
which receives the image when the
reflector is turned down, as in the

_e_ The eye-hole through which the image
is viewed on _g_; a thin piece of
glass immediately below _e_, reflects
the illuminated fiducial lines in the
transparency at _f_, and gives them
the appearance of lying upon _g_,--the
distances _f e_ and _g e_ being
made equal, the angle _f e g_ being
made a right angle, and the plane
of the thin piece of glass being
made to bisect _f e g_.

_f_ Framework, adjustable, holding the
transparency with the fiducial lines
on it.

_t_ Framework, adjustable, holding the
transparency of the portrait.

C is a travelling carriage that supports the portraits in turn, from
which the composite has to be made. I work directly from the
original negatives with transmitted light; but prints can be used
with light falling on their face. For convenience of description I
will confine myself to the first instance only, and will therefore
speak of C as the carriage that supports the frame that holds the
negative transparencies. C can be pushed along the board and be
clamped anywhere, and it has a rack and pinion adjustment; but it
should have been made movable by rack and pinion along the whole
length of the board. The frame for the transparencies has the same
movements of adjustment as those in the stage of a microscope. It
rotates round a hollow axis, through which a beam of light is thrown,
and independent movements in the plane, at right angles to the axis,
can be given to it in two directions, at right angles to one another,
by turning two separate screws. The beam of light is furnished by
three gas-burners, and it passes through a condenser. The gas is
supplied through a flexible tube that does not interfere with the
movements of C, and it is governed by a stop-cock in front of the

The apparatus, so far as it has been described with any detail, and
ignoring what was said about an eye-hole, is little else than a
modified copying-camera, by which an image of the transparency could
be thrown on the ordinary focusing-screen, and be altered in scale
and position until it was adjusted to fiducial lines drawn on the
screen. It is conceivable that this should be done, and that the
screen should be replaced by the dark slide, and a brief exposure
given to the plate; then, that a fresh transparency should be
inserted, a fresh focusing adjustment made, and a second exposure
given, and so on. This, I say, is conceivable, but it would be very
inconvenient. The adjusting screws would be out of reach; the head
of the operator would be in an awkward position; and though these
two difficulties might be overcome in some degree, a serious risk of
an occasional shift of the plate during the frequent replacement of
the dark slide would remain. I avoid all this by making my
adjustments while the plate continues in position with its front open.
I do so through the help of a reflector temporarily interposed
between it and the lens. I do not use the ordinary focusing-screen
at all in making my adjustments, but one that is flush, or nearly so,
with the roof of the camera. When the reflector is interposed, the
image is wholly cut off from the sensitised plate, and is thrown
upwards against this focusing-screen, _g_. When the reflector is
withdrawn, the image falls on the plate. It is upon this
focusing-screen in the roof that I see the fiducial lines by which I
make all the adjustments. Nothing can be more convenient than the
position of this focusing-screen for working purposes. I look down
on the image as I do upon a book resting on a sloping desk, and all
the parts of the apparatus are within an easy arm's length.

My reflector in my present instrument is, I am a little ashamed to
confess, nothing better than a piece of looking-glass fixed to an
axle within the camera, near its top left-hand edge. One end of the
axle protrudes, and has a short arm; when I push the arm back, the
mirror is raised; when I push it forward it drops down. I used a
swing-glass because the swing action is very true, and as my
apparatus was merely a provisional working model made of soft wood,
I did not like to use sliding arrangements which might not have
acted truly, or I should certainly have employed a slide with a
rectangular glass prism, on account of the perfect reflection it
affords. And let me say, that a prism of 2 inches square in the side
is quite large enough for adjustment purposes, for it is only the
face of the portrait that is wanted to be seen. I chose my
looking-glass carefully, and selected a piece that was plane and
parallel. It has not too high a polish, and therefore does not give
troublesome double reflections. In fact, it answers very respectably,
especially when we consider that perfection of definition is thrown
away on composites. I thought of a mirror silvered on the front of
the glass, but this would soon tarnish in the gaslight, so I did not
try it. For safety against the admission of light unintentionally, I
have a cap to the focusing-screen in the roof, and a slide in the
fixed body of the instrument immediately behind the reflector and
before the dark slide. Neither of these would be wanted if the
reflector was replaced by a prism, set into one end of a sliding
block that had a large horizontal hole at the other end, and a
sufficient length of solid wood between the two to block out the
passage of light both upwards and downwards whenever the block is
passing through the half-way position.

As regards the fiducial lines, they might be drawn on the glass
screen; but black lines are not, I find, the best. It is far easier
to work with illuminated lines; and it is important to be able to
control their brightness. I produce these lines by means of a
vertical transparency, set in an adjustable frame, connected with A,
and having a gas-light behind it. Below the eye-hole _e_, through
which I view the glass-screen _g_, is a thin piece of glass set at
an angle of 45°, which reflects the fiducial lines and gives them
the appearance of lying on the screen, the frame being so adjusted
that the distance from the thin piece of glass to the transparency
and to the glass-screen _g_ is the same. I thus obtain beautiful
fiducial lines, which I can vary from extreme faintness to extreme
brilliancy, by turning the gas lower or higher, according to the
brightness of the image of the portrait, which itself depends on the
density of the transparency that I am engaged upon. This arrangement
seems as good as can be. It affords a gauge of the density of the
negative, and enables me to regulate the burners behind it, until
the image of the portrait on _g_ is adjusted to a standard degree of

For convenience in enlarging or reducing, I take care that the
intersection of the vertical fiducial line with that which passes
through the pupils of the eyes shall correspond to the optical axis
of the camera. Then, as I enlarge or reduce, that point in the image
remains fixed. The uppermost horizontal fiducial line continues to
intersect the pupils, and the vertical one continues to divide the
face symmetrically. The mouth has alone to be watched. When the
mouth is adjusted to the lower fiducial line, the scale is exact. It
is a great help having to attend to no more than one varying element.
The only inconvenience is that the image does not lie in the best
position on the plate when the point between the eyes occupies its
centre. This is easily remedied by using a larger back with a
suitable inner frame. I have a more elaborate contrivance in my
apparatus to produce the same result, which I need not stop to

For success and speed in making composites, the apparatus should be
solidly made, chiefly of metal, and all the adjustments ought to
work smoothly and accurately. Good composites cannot be made without
very careful adjustment in scale and position. An off-hand way of
working produces nothing but failures.

I will first exhibit a very simple but instructive composite effect.
I drew on a square card a circle of about 2-1/2 inches in diameter,
and two cross lines through its centre, cutting one another at right
angles. Round each of the four points, 90° apart, where the cross
cuts the circle, I drew small circles of the size of wafers and
gummed upon each a disc of different tint. Finally I made a single
black dot half-way between two of the arms of the cross. I then made
a composite of the four positions of the card, as it was placed
successively with each of its sides downwards. The result is a
photograph having a sharply-defined cross surrounded by four discs
of precisely uniform tint, and between each pair of arms of the
cross there is a very faint dot. This photograph shows many things.
The fact of its being a composite is shown by the four faint dots.
The equality of the successive periods of exposure is shown by the
equal tint of the four dots. The accuracy of adjustment is shown by
the sharpness of the cross being as great in the composite as in the
original card. We see the smallness of the effect produced by any
trait, such as the dot, when it appears in the same place in only
one of the components: if this effect be so small in a series of
only four components, it would certainly be imperceptible in a much
larger series. Thirdly, the uniformity of resulting tint in the
composite wafer is quite irrespective of the order of exposure. Let
us call the four component wafers A, B, C, D, respectively, and the
four composite wafers 1, 2, 3, 4; then we see, by the diagram, that
the order of exposure has differed in each case, yet the result is
identical. Therefore the order of exposure has no effect on the

|Composite.|Successive places of the Components.|
| 1     2  | A    B | D    A | C    D | B    C  |
| 4     3  | D    C | C    B | B    A | A    D  |

In 1 it has been A, D, C, B,
 " 2    "        B, A, D, C,
 " 3    "        C, B, A, D,
 " 4    "        D, C, B, A,

I will next show a series consisting of two portraits considerably
unlike to one another, and yet not so very discordant as to refuse
to conform, and of two intermediate composites. In making one of the
composites I gave two-thirds of the total time of exposure to the
first portrait, and one-third to the second portrait. In making the
other composite, I did the converse. It will be seen how good is the
result in both cases, and how the likeness of the longest exposed
portrait always predominates.

The next is a series of four composites. The first consists of 57
hospital patients suffering under one or other of the many forms of
consumption. I may say that, with the aid of Dr. Mahomed, I am
endeavouring to utilise this process to elicit the physiognomy of
disease. The composite I now show is what I call a hotch-pot
composite; its use is to form a standard whence deviations towards
any particular sub-type may be conveniently gauged. It will be
observed that the face is strongly marked, and that it is quite
idealised. I claim for composite portraiture, that it affords a
method of obtaining _pictorial averages_, which effects
simultaneously for every point in a picture what a method of numerical
averages would do for each point in the picture separately. It
gives, in short, the average tint of every unit of area in the
picture, measured from the fiducial lines as co-ordinates. Now every
statistician knows, by experience, that numerical averages usually
begin to agree pretty fairly when we deal with even twenty or thirty
cases. Therefore we should expect to find that any groups of twenty
or thirty men of the same class would yield composites bearing a
considerable likeness to one another. In proof that this is the case,
I exhibit three other composites: the one is made from the first 28
portraits of the 57, the second from the last 27, and the third is
made from 36 portraits taken indiscriminately out of the 57. It will
be observed that all the four composites are closely alike.

I will now show a few typical portraits I selected out of 82 male
portraits of a different series of consumptive male patients; they
were those that had more or less of a particular wan look, that I
wished to elicit. The selected cases were about 18 in number, and
from these I took 12, rejecting about six as having some marked
peculiarity that did not conform well with the remaining 12. The
result is a very striking face, thoroughly ideal and artistic, and
singularly beautiful. It is, indeed, most notable how beautiful all
composites are. Individual peculiarities are all irregularities, and
the composite is always regular.

I show a composite of 15 female faces, also of consumptive patients,
that gives somewhat the same aspect of the disease; also two others
of only 6 in each, that have in consequence less of an ideal look,
but which are still typical. I have here several other typical faces
in my collection of composites; they are all serviceable as
illustrations of this memoir, but, medically speaking, they are only
provisional results.

I am indebted to Lieutenant Leonard Darwin, R.E., for an interesting
series of negatives of officers and privates of the Royal Engineers.
Here is a composite of 12 officers; here is one of 30 privates. I
then thought it better to select from the latter the men that came
from the southern counties, and to again make a further selection of
11 from these, on the principle already explained. Here is the
result. It is very interesting to note the stamp of culture and
refinement on the composite officer, and the honest and vigorous but
more homely features of the privates. The combination of these two,
officers and privates together, gives a very effective physiognomy.

Let it be borne in mind that existing cartes-de-visite are almost
certain to be useless. Among dozens of them it is hard to find three
that fulfil the conditions of similarity of aspect and of shade. The
negatives have to be made on purpose. I use a repeating back and a
quarter plate, and get two good-sized heads on each plate, and of a
scale that never gives less than four-tenths of an inch between the
pupils of the eyes and the mouth. It is only the head that can be
used, as more distant parts, even the ears, become blurred hopelessly.

It will be asked, of what use can all this be to ordinary
photographers, even granting that it may be of scientific value in
ethnological research, in inquiries into the physiognomy of disease,
and for other special purposes? I think it can be turned to most
interesting account in the production of family likenesses. The most
unartistic productions of amateur photography do quite as well for
making composites as those of the best professional workers, because
their blemishes vanish in the blended result. All that amateurs have
to do is to take negatives of the various members of their families
in precisely the same aspect (I recommend either perfect full-face
or perfect profile), and under precisely the same conditions of
light and shade, and to send them to a firm provided with proper
instrumental appliances to make composites from them. The result is
sure to be artistic in expression and flatteringly handsome, and
would be very interesting to the members of the family. Young and old,
and persons of both sexes can be combined into one ideal face. I can
well imagine a fashion setting in to have these pictures.

Professional skill might be exercised very effectively in retouching
composites. It would be easy to obliterate the ghosts of stray
features that are always present when the composite is made from
only a few portraits, and it would not be difficult to tone down any
irregularity in the features themselves, due to some obtrusive
peculiarity in one of the components. A higher order of artistic
skill might be well bestowed upon the composites that have been made
out of a large number of components. Here the irregularities
disappear, the features are perfectly regular and idealised, but the
result is dim. It is like a pencil drawing, where many attempts have
been made to obtain the desired effect; such a drawing is smudged
and ineffective; but the artist, under its guidance, draws his final
work with clear bold touches, and then he rubs out the smudge. On
precisely the same principle the faint but beautifully idealised
features of these composites are, I believe, capable of forming the
basis of a very high order of artistic work.


  [_Read before the Statistical Society in_ 1873.]

It is well known that the population of towns decays, and has to be
recruited by immigrants from the country, but I am not aware that
any statistical investigation has yet been attempted of the rate of
its decay. The more energetic members of our race, whose breed is
the most valuable to our nation, are attracted from the country to
our towns. If residence in towns seriously interferes with the
maintenance of their stock, we should expect the breed of Englishmen
to steadily deteriorate, so far as that particular influence is

I am well aware that the only perfectly trustworthy way of
conducting the inquiry is by statistics derived from numerous
life-histories, but I find it very difficult to procure these data.
I therefore have had recourse to an indirect method, based on a
selection from the returns made at the census of 1871, which appears
calculated to give a fair approximation to the truth. My object is
to find the number of adult male representatives in this generation,
of 1000 adult males in the previous one, of rural and urban
populations respectively. The principle on which I have proceeded is

I find (A) the number of children of equal numbers of urban and of
rural mothers. The census schedules contain returns of the names and
ages of the members of each "family," by which word we are to
understand those members who are alive and resident in the same
house with their parents. When the mothers are young, the children
are necessarily very young, and nearly always (in at least those
classes who are unable to send their children to boarding schools)
live at home. If, therefore, we limit our inquiries to the census
"families" of young mothers, the results may be accepted as
practically identical with those we should have obtained if we had
direct means of ascertaining the number of their living children.
The limits of age of the mothers which I adopted in my selection were,
24 and 40 years. Had I to begin the work afresh, I should prefer
the period from 20 to 35, but I have reason to feel pretty well
contented with my present data. I correct the results thus far
obtained on the following grounds:--(B) the relative mortality of
the two classes between childhood and maturity; (C) the relative
mortality of the rural and urban mothers during childbearing ages;
(D) their relative celibacy; and (E) the span of a rural and urban
generation. It will be shown that B is important, and C noteworthy,
but that D and E may be disregarded.

In deciding on the districts to be investigated, it was important to
choose well-marked specimens of urban and rural populations. In the
former, a town was wanted where there were various industries, and
where the population was not increasing. A town where only one
industry was pursued would not be a fair sample, because the
particular industry might be suspected of having a special influence,
and a town that was increasing would have attracted numerous
immigrants from the country, who are undistinguishable as such in
the census returns. Guided by these considerations, I selected
Coventry, where silk weaving, watch-making, and other industries are
carried on, and whose population had scarcely varied during the
decade preceding the census of 1871.[25] It is an open town, in
which the crowded alleys of larger places are not frequent. Its urban
peculiarities are therefore minimised, and its statistical returns
would give a picture somewhat too favourable of the average
condition of life in towns. For specimens of rural districts, I
chose small agricultural parishes in Warwickshire.

[Footnote 25:  It has greatly changed since this was written.]

By the courteous permission of Dr. Farr, I was enabled to procure
extracts from the census returns concerning 1000 "families" of
factory hands at Coventry, in which the age of the mother was
neither less than 24 nor more than 40 years, and concerning another
1000 families of agricultural labourers in rural parishes of
Warwickshire, under the same limitations as to the age of the mother.
When these returns were classified (see Table I., p. 246), I found
the figures to run in such regular sequence as to make it certain
that the cases were sufficiently numerous to give trustworthy results.
It appeared that:

(A) The 1000 families of factory hands comprised 2681 children, and
the 1000 of agricultural labourers comprised 2911; hence, the
children in the urban "families," the mothers being between the ages
of 24 and 40, are on the whole about 8 per cent, less numerous than
the rural. I see no reason why these numbers should not be accepted
as relatively correct for families, in the ordinary sense of that
word, and for mothers of all ages. An inspection of the table does
indeed show that if the selection had begun at an earlier age than 24,
there would have been an increased proportion of sterile and of
small families among the factory hands, but not sufficient to
introduce any substantial modification of the above results. It is,
however, important to recollect that the small error, whatever its
amount may be, is a concession in favour of the towns.

(B) I next make an allowance for the mortality between childhood and
maturity, which will diminish the above figures in different
proportions, because the conditions of town life are more fatal to
children than those of the country. No life tables exist for
Coventry and Warwickshire; I am therefore obliged to use statistics
for similarly conditioned localities, to determine the amount of the
allowance that should be made. The life tables of Manchester [26]
will afford the data for towns, and those of the "Healthy Districts"
[27] will suffice for the country. By applying these, we could
calculate the number of the children of ages specified in the census
returns who would attain maturity. I regret extremely that when I
had the copies taken, I did not give instructions to have the ages
of all the children inserted; but I did not, and it is too late now
to remedy the omission. I am therefore obliged to make a very rough,
but not unfair, estimate. The average age of the children was about
3 years, and 25 years may be taken as representing the age of
maturity. Now it will be found that 74 per cent. of children in
Manchester, of the age of 3, reach the age of 25, while 86 per cent.
of children do so in the "Healthy Districts." Therefore, if my rough
method be accepted as approximately fair, the number of adults who
will be derived from the children of the 1000 factory families
should be reckoned at (2681 × 74/100) = 1986, and those from the
1000 agricultural at (2911 × 86/100) = 2503.

[Footnote 26:  "Seventh Annual Report of Registrar-General."]

[Footnote 27:  Healthy Districts Life Table, by Dr. Farr. _Phil
Trans. Royal Society_, 1859.]

(C) The comparison we seek is between the total families produced by
an equal number of urban and rural women who had survived the age of
24. Many of these women will not marry at all; I postpone that
consideration to the next paragraph. Many of the rest will die
before they reach the age of 40, and more of them will die in the
town than in the country. It appears from data furnished by the
above-mentioned tables, that if 100 women of the age of 24 had
annually been added to a population, the number of those so added,
living between the ages of 24 and 40 (an interval of seventeen years)
would be 1539 under the conditions of life in Manchester, and 1585
under those of the healthy districts. Therefore the small factors to
be applied respectively to the two cases, on account of this
correction, are 1539/(17 × 100) and 1585/(17 × 100).

(D)  I have no trustworthy data for the relative prevalence of
celibacy in town and country. All that I have learned from the
census returns is, that when searching them for the 1000 families,
131 bachelors were noted between the ages of 24 and 40, among the
factory hands, and 144 among the agricultural labourers. If these
figures be accepted as correct guides to the amount of celibacy
among the women, it would follow that I must be considered to have
discussed the cases of 1131 factory, and 1144 agricultural women,
when dealing with those of 1000 mothers in either class.
Consequently that the respective corrections to be applied, are
given by the factors 1000/1131 and 1000/1141 or 88.4/1000 and 87.6/
1000. This difference of less than 1 per cent, is hardly worth
applying, moreover I do not like to apply it, because it seems to me
erroneous and to act in the wrong direction, inasmuch as unmarried
women can obtain employment more readily in the town than in the
country, and celibacy is therefore more likely to be common in the
former than in the latter.

(E) The possible difference in the length of an urban and rural
generation must not be forgotten. We, however, have reason to
believe that the correction on this ground will be insignificant,
because the length of a generation is found to be constant under
very different circumstances of race, and therefore we should expect
it to be equally constant in the same race under different conditions;
such as it is, it would probably tell against the towns.

Let us now sum up the results. The corrections are not to be applied
for (D) and (E), so we have only to regard (A) × (B) × (C), that

2681 × 74/100 × 1539/1700   1796   77
------------------------- = ---- = --
2911 × 86/100 × 1585/1700   2334   100

In other words, the rate of supply in towns to the next adult
generation is only 77 per cent., or, say, three-quarters of that in
the country. This decay, if it continued constant, would lead to the
result that the representatives of the townsmen would be less than
half as numerous as those of the country folk after one century, and
only about one fifth as numerous after two centuries, the
proportions being 45/100 and 21/100 respectively.

[Transcriber's Note: In the original manuscript, Table I occupied
two facing pages. This is the left-hand (sinister) page; the right-hand
(dexter) page is immediately below.]

TABLE I. -- _Census Returns of 1000 Families of Factory Hands in
Coventry, and 1000 Families of Agricultural Labourers in  Warwickshire,
grouped according to the Age of the Mother and the Number of Children
in the Family._

               |NUMBER OF CHILDREN IN FAMILY.                    |
               |    0.   |    1.   |    2.   |    3.    |   4.   |
               | F  | A  | F  | A  | F  | A  | F  | A  | F  | A  |
               | a  | g  | a  | g  | a  | g  | a  | g  | a  | g  |
               | c  | r  | c  | r  | c  | r  | c  | r  | c  | r  |
               | t  | i  | t  | i  | t  | i  | t  | i  | t  | i  |
               | o  | c  | o  | c  | o  | c  | o  | c  | o  | c  |
               | r  | u  | r  | u  | r  | u  | r  | u  | r  | u  |
Age of Mother  | y  | l  | y  | l  | y  | l  | y  | l  | y  | l  |
               | .  | t  | .  | t  | .  | t  | .  | t  | .  | t  |
24 to 25       | 28   17   40   31 | 24   32   12   10    2      |
               |                   +-------------------+         |
26  " 27       | 19   18   36   24   36   28   23   26 |  8    8 |
               |                                       |         |
28  " 29       | 18   17   32   16  20[A] 33   36   23 | 14   23 |
               |                                       |         |
30  " 31       | 13    4   23   18   24   21  28[A] 31 | 18   22 |
               |                                       |         |
32  " 33       | 18   11   16   14   19   13  22[A] 27 | 23   26 |
               |---------+                             |         |
34  " 35       | 14   15 | 11    6   17   16   28   18 | 31   34 |
               |         +-------------------+         |         |
36  " 37       | 12   17    4   11   10   13 | 22   14 | 16   20 |
               |                             +---------+         |
38  " 39       |  8    6    9   15   14   17   16   21   22   23 |
               |                                                 |
40             |  8    7    3   10    8    9   13   14    8   10 |
Total within   |                                                 |
   outline     | 96   67  258  109  116  111  171  149           |
Total between  |                                                 |
   outlines    | 42   45   16   36   56   71   29   35  142  166 |
Total beyond   |                                                 |
   outline     |                                                 |
Total          |138  112  174  145  172  182  200  184  142  166 |

[Footnote A: These three cases are anomalous, the Factory being less
than the Agricultural. In the instance of 20-33, the anomaly is double,
because the sequence of the figures shows that neither of these can be
correct; certainly not the first of them.]

_Note_.--It will be observed to the left of the outline, that is,
in the upper and left hand of the table, where the mothers are young
and the children few, the factory families predominate, while the
agricultural are the most numerous between the outlines, that is,
especially in the middle of the table, where the mothers are less young,
and the family is from four to five in number. The two are equally
numerous to the right of the outlines, that is, to the right of the
table, where the families are large.

[Transcriber's Note: In the original manuscript, Table I occupied
two facing pages. This is the right-hand (dexter) page; the left-hand
(snister) page is immediately above.]

TABLE I. -- _Census Returns of 1000 Families of Factory Hands in
Coventry, and 1000 Families of Agricultural Labourers in  Warwickshire,
grouped according to the Age of the Mother and the Number of Children
in the Family._

|  NUMBER OF CHILDREN IN FAMILY.                    |
|    5.   |    6.   |    7.   |    8.   |   9.    |
| F  | A  | F  | A  | F  | A  | F  | A  | F  | A  |
| a  | g  | a  | g  | a  | g  | a  | g  | a  | g  |
| c  | r  | c  | r  | c  | r  | c  | r  | c  | r  |
| t  | i  | t  | i  | t  | i  | t  | i  | t  | i  |
| o  | c  | o  | c  | o  | c  | o  | c  | o  | c  |
| r  | u  | r  | u  | r  | u  | r  | u  | r  | u  |
| y  | l  | y  | l  | y  | l  | y  | l  | y  | l  |Age of Mother
| .  | t  | .  | t  | .  | t  | .  | t  | .  | t  |
|  1    1 |                                       |  24  to 25
|         |                                       |
|         |                                       |  26 "  27
|         |                                       |
|  6    6 |  4    1    2                          |  28 "  29
|         |                                       |
| 12   15 |  2    5         2         1           |  30 "  31
|         |                                       |
| 21   25 |  9    5         1         2           |  32 "  33
|         |                                       |
| 14   18 | 12    9    5    3         1           |  34 "  35
|         |                                       |
| 15   25 | 12   10    4    5     5   2           |  36 "  37
|         |                                       |
| 14   22 | 10   15    6    7         2    1      |  38 "  39
|         |                                       |
|  7   11 |  3    9    7    7     2   1           |  40
|                                                 |Total within outline.
| 90  123                                         |Total between outline
|           52   54   24   25   7    9    1       |Total beyond outline.
| 90  123   52   54   24   25   7    9    1       |Total.


|                     |   Number of Families  |   Number of Children   |
|                     |--------+--------------+------------------------|
|                     | Factory| Agricultural | Factory | Agricultural |
| Within outline      |   541  |   436        |   903   |   778        |
| Between outlines    |   375  |   476        |  1233   |  1562        |
| Beyond outlines     |    84  |    88        |   545   |   571        |
| Total               |  1000  |  1000        |  2681   |  2911        |


  [_Read at the Anthropological Institute_, Nov., 1882.]

I submit a simple apparatus that I have designed to measure the
delicacy of the sensitivity of different persons, as shown by their
skill in discriminating weights, identical in size, form, and colour,
but different in specific gravity. Its interest lies in the
accordance of the successive test values with the successive
graduations of a true scale of sensitivity, in the ease with which
the tests are applied, and the fact that the same principle can be
made use of in testing the delicacy of smell and taste.

I use test-weights that mount in a series of "just perceptible
differences" to an imaginary person of extreme delicacy of perception,
their values being calculated according to Weber's law. The lowest
weight is heavy enough to give a decided sense of weight to the hand
when handling it, and the heaviest weight can be handled without any
sense of fatigue. They therefore conform with close approximation to
a geometric series; thus--
    _WR0, WR1, WR2, WR3_, etc.,
and they bear as register-marks the values of the successive indices,
0, 1, 2, 3, etc. It follows that if a person can just distinguish
between any particular pair of weights, he can also just distinguish
between any other pair of weights whose register-marks differ by the
same amount. Example: suppose A can just distinguish between the
weights bearing the register-marks 2 and 4, then it follows from the
construction of the apparatus that he can just distinguish between
those bearing the register-marks 1 and 3, or 3 and 5, or 4 and 6, etc.;
the difference being 2 in each case.

There can be but one interpretation of the phrase that the dulness
of muscular sense in any person, B, is twice as great as in that of
another person, A. It is that B is only capable of perceiving one
grade of difference where A can perceive two. We may, of course,
state the same fact inversely, and say that the delicacy of muscular
sense is in that case twice as great in A as in B. Similarly in all
other cases of the kind. Conversely, if having known nothing
previously about either A or B, we discover on trial that A can just
distinguish between two weights such as those bearing the
register-marks 5 and 7, and that B can just distinguish between
another pair, say, bearing the register-marks 2 and 6; then since
the difference between the marks in the latter case is twice as
great as in the former, we know that the dulness of the muscular
sense of B is exactly twice that of A. Their relative dulness, or if
we prefer to speak in inverse terms, and say their relative
sensitivity, is determined quite independently of the particular
pair of weights used in testing them.

It will be noted that the conversion of results obtained by the
use of one series of test-weights into what would have been given
by another series, is a piece of simple arithmetic, the fact
ultimately obtained by any apparatus of this kind being the "just
distinguishable" fraction of real weight. In my own apparatus the
unit of weight is 2 per cent.; that is, the register-mark 1 means 2
per cent.; but I introduce weights in the earlier part of the scale
that deal with half units; that is, with differences of 1 per cent.
In another apparatus the unit of weight might be 3 per cent., then
three grades of mine would be equal to two of the other, and mine
would be converted to that scale by multiplying them by 2/3. Thus
the results obtained by different apparatus are strictly comparable.

A sufficient number of test-weights must be used, or trials made, to
eliminate the influence of chance. It might perhaps be thought that
by using a series of only five weights, and requiring them to be
sorted into their proper order by the sense of touch alone, the
chance of accidental success would be too small to be worth
consideration. It might be said that there are 5 × 4 × 3 × 2, or 120
different ways in which five weights can be arranged, and as only
one is right, it must be 120 to 1 against a lucky hit. But this is
many fold too high an estimate, because the 119 possible mistakes
are by no means equally probable. When a person is tested, an
approximate value for his grade of sensitivity is rapidly found, and
the inquiry becomes narrowed to finding out whether he can surely
pass a particular mistake. He is little likely to make a mistake of
double the amount in question, and it is almost certain that he will
not make a mistake of treble the amount. In other words, he would
never be likely to put one of the test-weights more than one step
out of its proper place. If he had three weights to arrange in their
consecutive order, 1, 2, 3, there are 3×2 = 6 ways of arranging them;
of these, he would be liable to the errors of 1, 3, 2, and of 2, 1, 3,
but he would hardly be liable to such gross errors as 2, 3, 1, or 3,
2, 1, or 3, 1, 2. Therefore of the six permutations in which three
weights may be arranged three have to be dismissed from consideration,
leaving three cases only to be dealt with, of which two are wrong
and one is right. For the same reason there are only four reasonable
chances of error in arranging four weights, and only six in
arranging five weights, instead of the 119 that were originally
supposed. These are--

12354        13245        13254
21345        21354        21435

But exception might be taken to two even of these, namely, those
that appear in the third column, where 5 is found in juxtaposition
with 2 in the first case, and 4 with 1 in the second. So great a
difference between two adjacent weights would be almost sure to
attract the notice of the person who was being tested, and make him
dissatisfied with the arrangement. Considering all this, together
with the convenience of carriage and manipulation, I prefer to use
trays, each containing only three weights, the trials being made
three or four times in succession. In each trial there are three
possibilities and only one success, therefore in three trials the
probabilities against uniform success are as 27 to 1, and in four
trials at 81 to 1.

_Values of the Weights_.--After preparatory trials, I adopted 1000
grains as the value of _W_ and 1020 as that of _R_, but I am now
inclined to think that 1010 would have been better. I made the
weights by filling blank cartridges with shot, wool, and wads, so as
to distribute the weight equally, and I closed the cartridges with a
wad, turning the edges over it with the instrument well known to
sportsmen. I wrote the corresponding value of the index of _R_ on
the wad by which each of them was closed, to serve as a register
number. Thus the cartridge whose weight was _WR4_ was marked 4'. The
values were so selected that there should be as few varieties as
possible. There are thirty weights in all, but only ten varieties,
whose Register Numbers are respectively 0, 1, 2, 3, 3-1/2, 4-1/2, 5,
6, 7, 9, 12. The reason of this limitation of varieties was to
enable the weights to be interchanged whenever there became reason
to suspect that the eye had begun to recognise the appearance of any
one of them, and that the judgment might be influenced by that
recognition, and cease to be wholly guided by the sense of weight.

We are so accustomed to deal with concurrent impressions that it is
exceedingly difficult, even with the best intention of good faith,
to ignore the influence of any corroborative impression that may be
present. It is therefore right to take precautions against this
possible cause of inaccuracy. The most perfect way would be to drop
the weights, each in a little bag or sheath of light material, so
that the operatee could not see the weights, while the ratio between
the weights would not be sensibly changed by the additional weight
of the bags. I keep little bags for this purpose, inside the box
that holds the weights.

_Arrangement of the Weights_.--The weights are placed in sets of
threes, each set in a separate shallow tray, and the trays lie in
two rows in a box. Each tray bears the register-marks of each of the
weights it contains. It is also marked boldly with a Roman numeral
showing the difference between the register-marks of the adjacent
weights. This difference indicates the grade of sensitivity that the
weights in the tray are designed to test. Thus the tray containing
the weights _WR0_, _WR3_, _WR6_ is marked as in Fig. 1, and that
which contains _WR2_, _WR7_, _WR12_ is marked as in Fig. 2.

[Illustration: Fig. 1.]

[Illustration: Fig. 2.]

The following is the arrangement of the trays in the box. The
triplets they contain suffice for ordinary purposes.

| Just        |             |             |
| perceptible | Grade of    | Sequences   |
| Ratio.      | Sensitivity | of Weights  |
| 1.020       |    I.       |  1, 2, 3    |
| 1.030       |   I.1/2     | 2, 3-1/2, 5 |
| 1.040       |    II.      |  3, 5, 7    |
| 1.050       |   II.1/2    | 2, 4-1/2, 7 |
| 1.061       |    III.     |  0, 3, 6    |
| 1.071       |  III.1/2    | 0, 3-1/2, 7 |
| 1.082       |    IV.      |  1, 5, 9    |
| 1.082       |   IV.1/2    | 0, 4-1/2, 9 |
| 1.104       |     V.      |  2, 5, 7    |
| 1.127       |    VI.      |  0, 6, 12   |

But it will be observed that sequences of 1/2 can also be obtained,
and again, that it is easy to select doublets of weights for coarser
tests, up to a maximum difference of XII., which may be useful in
cases of morbidly diminished sensitivity.

_Manipulation_.--A tray is taken out, the three weights that it
contains is shuffled by the operator who then passes them on to the
experimenter. The latter sits at ease with his hand in an
unconstrained position, and lifts the weights in turn between his
finger and thumb, the finger pressing against the top, the thumb
against the bottom of the cartridge. Guided by the touch alone, he
arranges them in the tray in what he conceives to be their proper
sequence; he then returns the tray to the operator, who notes the
result, the operator then reshuffles the weights and repeats the
trial. It is necessary to begin with coarse preparatory tests, to
accustom the operatee to the character of the work. After a minute
or two the operator may begin to record results, and the testing may
go for several minutes, until the hand begins to tire, the judgment
to be confused, and blunders to arise. Practice does not seem to
increase the delicacy of perception after the first few trials, so
much as might be expected.


The base of the inner tube of the whistle is the foremost end of a
plug, that admits of being advanced or withdrawn by screwing it out
or in; thus the depth of the inner tube of the whistle can be varied
at pleasure. The more nearly the plug is screwed home, the less is
the depth of the whistle and the more shrill does its note become,
until a point is reached at which, although the air that proceeds
from it vibrates as violently as before, as shown by its effect on a
sensitive flame, the note ceases to be audible.

The number of vibrations per second in the note of a whistle or
other "closed pipe" depends on its depth. The theory of acoustics
shows that the length of each complete vibration is four times that
of the depth of the closed pipe, and since experience proves that
all sound, whatever may be its pitch, is propagated at the same rate,
which under ordinary conditions of temperature and barometric
pressure may be taken at 1120 feet, or 13,440 inches per second,--it
follows that the number of vibrations in the note of a whistle may
be found by dividing 13,440 by four times the depth, measured in
inches, of the inner tube of the whistle. This rule, however,
supposes the vibrations of the air in the tube to be strictly
longitudinal, and ceases to apply when the depth of the tube is less
than about one and a half times its diameter. When the tube is
reduced to a shallow pan, a note may still be produced by it, but
that note has reference rather to the diameter of the whistle than
to its depth, being sometimes apparently unaltered by a further
decrease of depth. The necessity of preserving a fair proportion
between the diameter and the depth of a whistle is the reason why
these instruments, having necessarily little depth, require to be
made with very small bores.

The depth of the inner tube of the whistle at any moment is shown by
the graduations on the outside of the instrument. The lower portion
of the instrument as formerly made for me by the late Mr. Tisley,
optician, Brompton Road,[28] is a cap that surrounds the body of the
whistle, and is itself fixed to the screw that forms the plug. One
complete turn of the cap increases or diminishes the depth of the whistle,
by an amount equal to the interval between two adjacent threads of the
screw. For mechanical convenience, a screw is used whose pitch is 25 to
the inch; therefore one turn of the cap moves the plug one twenty-fifth
of an inch, or ten two-hundred-and-fiftieths. The edge of the cap is
divided into ten parts, each of which corresponds to the tenth of a
complete turn; and, therefore, to one two-hundred-and-fiftieth of an
inch. Hence in reading off the graduations the tens are shown on the
body of the whistle, and the units are shown on the edge of the cap.

The scale of the instrument having for its unit the two-hundred-and-
fiftieth part of an inch, it follows that the number of vibrations
in the note of the whistle is to be found by dividing (13440 x 250)/4
or 84,000, by the graduations read off on its scale.

A short table is annexed, giving the number of vibrations calculated
by this formula, for different depths, bearing in mind that the
earlier entries cannot be relied upon unless the whistle has a very
minute bore, and consequently a very feeble note.

| Scale Readings |  Corresponding |
| (one division  |  Number of     |
|  = 1/250       |  Vibrations    |
|  of an inch).  |  per Second    |
|      10        |      84,000    |
|      15        |      56,000    |
|      20        |      42,000    |
|      25        |      33,600    |
|      30        |      28,000    |
|      35        |      24,000    |
|      40        |      21,000    |
|      45        |      28,666    |
|      50        |      16,800    |
|      55        |      15,273    |
|      60        |      14,000    |
|      65        |      12,923    |
|      70        |      12,000    |
|      75        |      11,200    |
|      80        |      10,500    |
|      85        |       9,882    |
|      90        |       9,333    |
|      95        |       8,842    |
|     100        |       8,400    |
|     105        |       8,000    |
|     110        |       7,591    |
|     115        |       7,305    |
|     120        |       7,000    |
|     125        |       6,720    |
|     130        |       6,461    |

[Footnote 28: Mr. Hawksley, surgical instrument maker 307 Oxford
Street also makes these.]

The largest whistles suitable for experiments on the human ear, have
an inner tube of about 0.16 inches in diameter, which is equal to 40
units of the scale. Consequently in these instruments the theory of
closed pipes ceases to be trustworthy when the depth of the whistle
is less than about 60 units. In short, we cannot be sure of sounding
with them a higher note than one of 14,000 vibrations to the second,
unless we use tubes of still smaller bore. In some of my experiments
I was driven to use very fine tubes indeed, not wider than those
little glass tubes that hold the smallest leads for Mordan's pencils.
I have tried without much success to produce a note that should be
both shrill and powerful, and correspond to a battery of small
whistles, by flattening a piece of brass tube, and passing another
sheet of brass up it, and thus forming a whistle the whole width of
the sheet, but of very small diameter from front to back. It made a
powerful note, but not a very pure one. I also constructed an
annular whistle by means of three cylinders, one sliding within the
other two, and graduated as before.

When the limits of audibility are approached, the sound becomes much
fainter, and when that limit is reached, the sound usually gives
place to a peculiar sensation, which is not sound but more like
dizziness, and which some persons experience to a high degree. Young
people hear shriller sounds than older people, and I am told there
is a proverb in Dorsetshire, that no agricultural labourer who is
more than forty years old, can hear a bat squeak. The power of
hearing shrill notes has nothing to do with sharpness of hearing,
any more than a wide range of the key-board of a piano has to do
with the sound of the individual strings. We all have our limits,
and that limit may be quickly found by these whistles in every case.
The facility of hearing shrill sounds depends in some degree on the
position of the whistle, for it is highest when it is held exactly
opposite the opening of the ear. Any roughness of the lining of the
auditory canal appears to have a marked effect in checking the
transmission of rapid vibrations when they strike the ear obliquely.
I myself feel this in a marked degree, and I have long noted the
fact in respect to the buzz of a mosquito. I do not hear the
mosquito much as it flies about, but when it passes close by my ear
I hear a "ping," the suddenness of which is very striking. Mr. Dalby,
the aurist, to whom I gave one of these instruments, tells me he
uses it for diagnoses. When the power of hearing high notes is
wholly lost, the loss is commonly owing to failure in the nerves,
but when very deaf people are still able to hear high notes if they
are sounded with force, the nerves are usually all right, and the
fault lies in the lining of the auditory canal.


The Questions that I circulated were as follows; there was an
earlier and uncomplete form, which I need not reproduce here.

The object of these Questions is to elicit the degree in which
different persons possess the power of seeing images in their mind's
eye, and of reviving past sensations.

From inquiries I have already made, it appears that remarkable
variations exist both in the strength and in the quality of these
faculties, and it is highly probable that a statistical inquiry into
them will throw light upon more than one psychological problem.

Before addressing yourself to any of the Questions on the opposite
page, think of some definite object--suppose it is your
breakfast-table as you sat down to it this morning--and consider
carefully the picture that rises before your mind's eye.

1. _Illumination_.--Is the image dim or fairly clear? Is its
brightness comparable to that of the actual scene?

2. _Definition_.--Are all the objects pretty well defined at the
same time, or is the place of sharpest definition at any one moment
more contracted than it is in a real scene?

3. _Colouring_.--Are the colours of the china, of the toast, bread
crust, mustard, meat, parsley, or whatever may have been on the table,
quite distinct and natural?

4. _Extent of field of view_.--Call up the image of some panoramic
view (the walls of your room might suffice), can you force yourself
to see mentally a wider range of it than could be taken in by any
single glance of the eyes? Can you mentally see more than three
faces of a die, or more than one hemisphere of a globe at the same
instant of time?

5. _Distance of images_.--Where do mental images appear to be
situated? within the head, within the eye-ball, just in front of the
eyes, or at a distance corresponding to reality?   Can you project
an image upon a piece of paper?

6. _Command over images_.--Can you retain a mental picture steadily
before the eyes? When you do so, does it grow brighter or dimmer?
When the act of retaining it becomes wearisome, in what part of the
head or eye-ball is the fatigue felt?

7. _Persons_.--Can you recall with distinctness the features of all
near relations and many other persons?    Can you at will cause your
mental image of any or most of them to sit, stand, or turn slowly
round?   Can you deliberately seat the image of a well-known person
in a chair and see it with enough distinctness to enable you to
sketch it leisurely (supposing yourself able to draw)?

8. _Scenery_.--Do you preserve the recollection of scenery with much
precision of detail, and do you find pleasure in dwelling on it? Can
you easily form mental pictures from the descriptions of scenery
that are so frequently met with in novels and books of travel?

9. _Comparison with reality_.--What difference do you perceive
between a very vivid mental picture called up in the dark, and a
real scene? Have you ever mistaken a mental image for a reality when
in health and wide awake?

10. _Numerals and dates_.--Are these invariably associated in your
mind with any peculiar mental imagery, whether of written or printed
figures, diagrams, or colours? If so, explain fully, and say if you
can account for the association?

11.--_Specialities_.--If you happen to have special aptitudes for
mechanics, mathematics (either geometry of three dimensions or pure
analysis), mental arithmetic, or chess-playing blindfold, please
explain fully how far your processes depend on the use of visual
images, and how far otherwise?

12. Call up before your imagination the objects specified in the six
following paragraphs, numbered A to F, and consider carefully
whether your mental representation of them generally, is in each
group very faint, faint, fair, good, or vivid and comparable to the
actual sensation:--

  A. _Light and colour_.--An evenly clouded sky (omitting all landscape),
   first bright, then gloomy. A thick surrounding haze, first white,
   then successively blue, yellow, green, and red.

  B. _Sound_.--The beat of rain against the window panes, the crack of
   a whip, a church bell, the hum of bees, the whistle of a railway,
   the clinking of tea-spoons and saucers, the slam of a door.

  C. _Smells_.--Tar, roses, an oil-lamp blown out, hay, violets, a fur
   coat, gas, tobacco.

  D. _Tastes_.--Salt,  sugar, lemon juice,   raisins,  chocolate,
   currant jelly.

  E. _Touch_.--Velvet, silk, soap, gum, sand, dough, a crisp dead leaf,
   the prick of a pin.

  F. _Other sensations_.--Heat, hunger, cold, thirst, fatigue, fever,
   drowsiness, a bad cold.

13. _Music_.--Have you any aptitude for mentally recalling music, or
for imagining it?

14. _At different ages_.--Do you recollect what your powers of
visualising, etc., were in childhood? Have they varied much within
your recollection?

_General remarks_.--Supplementary information written here, or on
a separate piece of paper, will be acceptable.


  _For an analysis of the several chapters, see Table of Contents._

Abbadie, A. d'
About, E.
Abstract ideas,
  like composite portraits;
  are formed with difficulty
Admiralty, records of lives of sailors
  captive animals;
  races of men
_Alert_, H.M.S.,
  the crew of
Alexander the Great,
  medals of;
  his help to Aristotle
  captive animals;
  change of population
Animals and birds,
  their attachments and aversions
  anthropometric committee;
Appold, Mr.
  their migrations
  his menagerie
  (_see also_ Psychometric experiments)
  captive animals
Athletic feats in present and past generations
Augive, or ogive
Austin, A.L.
  tame kites;
  change of population
Automatic thought

Barclay, Capt.,
  of Uri
Barth, Dr.
Bates, W.H.
Baume, Dr.
Belief (_ie_ Faith)
Bevington, Miss L.
Bible, family
Bidder, G.
Blackburne, Mr.
Blake, the artist
Bleuler and Lehman
Blind, the
Blood, terror at
Boisbaudran, Lecoq de
Breaking out (violent passion)
Brierre de Boismont
Bruhl, Prof.
Burton, Capt.
  their skill in drawing;
  in Damara Land

Campbell, J. (of Islay)
Candidates, selection of
Captive Animals (_see_ Domestication of Animals)
Cats can hear very shrill notes
  their terror at blood;
  gregariousness of;
  renders them easy to tend;
  cow guarding her newly-born calf;
  cattle highly prized by Damaras
Celibacy as a religious exercise;
  effect of endowments upon;
  to prevent continuance of an inferior race
Centesimal grades
Chance, influence of, in test experiments
Change, love of, characteristic of civilised man
  observations on at schools;
  changing phases of
Charterhouse College
Cheltenham College
Chess, played blindfold
  mental imagery;
  effect of illness on growth of head;
  moral impressions on;
  they and their parents understand each other;
  can hear shrill notes
Chinese, the
Clock face, origin of some Number-Forms
Colleges, celibacy of Fellows of
  (_see_ also chap. on Visionaries);
  colour blindness
Comfort, love of, a condition of domesticability
Competitive examinations
  also Memoirs I., II., and III. in Appendix
Composite origin of some visions;
  of ideas;
  of memories
  defective in criminals;
  its origin
  (_see_ Antechamber of);
  ignorance of its relation to the unconscious lives of cells of organism;
  its limited ken
Consumption, types of features connected with
Cooper, Miss

  criminals, their features;
  their peculiarities of character;
  their children

Cromwell's soldiers


  colour blindness
  was a Quaker

  their grade of sensitivity;
  their wild cattle and gregariousness;
  their pride in them;
  races of men in Damara Land


Darwin, Charles,
  impulse given by him to new lines of thought;
  on conscience;
  notes on twins;
  letter of Mr. A. L. Austin forwarded by

Darwin, Lieut., R.E.,
  photographs of Royal Engineers


Death, fear of; its orderly occurrence;
death and reproduction of
cells, and their unknown relation to

Despine, Prosper

Difference, verbal difficulty in defining
many grades of

Discipline, ascetic

_Discovery_, H.M.S., the crew of

Discrimination of weights by handling
them, etc.

Dividualism; also

Doctrines, diversity of

Dogs, their capacity for hearing shrill



Du Cane, Sir E.

Duncan, Dr. Mathews





Editors of newspapers

Egg, raw and boiled, when spun

Egypt, captive animals

Ellis, Rev. Mr. (Polynesia)

Emigrants, value of their breed;
migration of barbarian races



Engineers, Royal, features of

English race, change of type; colour
of hair; one direction in which
it might be improved; change
of stature; various components of


Epileptic constitution

Eskimo, faculty of drawing and map-making

Eugenic, definition of the word

Events, observed order of

Evolution, its effects are always behind-hand;
its slow progress; man
should deliberately further it

Exiles, families of

Experiments, psychometric

FACES seen in the fire, on wall paper, etc.,


Family likenesses; records; merit,
marks for

Fashion, changes of

Fasting, visions caused by;
fasting girls


Fellows of colleges

Fertility at different ages; is small
in highly-bred animals


First Cause, an enigma

Flame, sensitive, and high notes

Fleas are healthful stimuli to animals

Fluency of language and ideas

Forest clearing

Forms  in which numerals  are seen  (_see_
Number-Forms); months; letters;

Foxes, preservation of

France, political persecution in

French, the, imaginative faculty of

Friends, the Society of (_see_ Quakers)


Generations, length of and effect in population;
in town and country

Generic images; theory of

Geometric series of test-objects; geometric mean

Gerard, Jules


Gibbon, amphitheatrical shows

Goethe and his visualised rose


Goodwin, Mr.

Grades, deficiency of in language;

Graham, Dr., on idiots (note)

gregariousness of cattle;
gregarious animals quickly learn from
one another

Gull, Sir W., on vigour of members of
large families; on medical life-histories

Guy's Hospital Reports (consumptive


HAIR, colour of

Hall, Capt.

Hallucinations, cases of; origin of;
of great men

Handwriting; of twins

Hanwell Asylum, lunatics when at exercise

Hatherley, Lord
Haweis, Mrs.,
  words and faces;
Head measured for curve of growth
Hearne (N. America)
Height, comparative, of present and past
Henslow, Rev. G.,
Heredity, the family tie;
  of colour blindness in Quakers;
  of criminality;
  of faculty of visualising;
  of seeing Number-Forms;
  of colour associations with sound;
  of seership;
  of enthusiasm;
  of character and its help in the teaching
  of children by their parents;
  that of a good stock is a valuable patrimony,
Hershon, Mr., the Talmud,
Hill, Rev. A.D.,
Hippocrates and snake symbol,
History of twins,
Holland, F.M.,
Hottentots, keenness of sight,
  (_see_ Bushmen)
Human Nature, variety of,
Humanity of the future, power of present
  generation of men upon it,
Hutchinson, Mr.,
Huxley, Professor,
  on sucking pigs in New Guinea;
  generic images,

Idiots, deficient in energy; in sensitivity,
Illness, permanent effect on growth,
Illumination, method of regulating it
  when making composites;
  requires to be controlled,
Illusions, (_see_ also Hallucinations, cases of)
Imagery, mental,
Indian Civil Service, candidates for,
Individuality, doubt of among the insane,
  among the sane,
Influence of Man upon race,
Insane, the,
  similar forms of it in twins,
Inspiration analogous to ordinary fluency,
  morbid forms of,
Instincts, variety of,
  slavish (_see_ chapter on Gregarious and
  Slavish Instincts)
Intellectual differences,

Jesuits in S. America,
Jukes, criminal family,

Kensington Gardens, the promenaders in,
Key, Dr. J.,
Kingsley, Miss R.,
Kirk, Sir John,

Laboratories, anthropometric,
Larden, W.,
Legros, Prof.,
Lehman and Bleuler, (note)
Letters, association of colour with,
Lewis, G.H.,
Lewis, Miss,
Life-histories, their importance,
Livingstone, Dr.,
Longevity of families,

Macalister, Dr.,
M'Leod, Prof. H.,
Madness (_see_ Insanity)
Mahomed, Dr.,
  marriage portions,
Man, his influence upon race,
Mann, Dr.,
Marks for family merit,
Marlborough College,
  early and late,
  with persons of good race;
  marriage portions;
  of Fellows of Colleges;
  promotion of,
Medians and quartiles,
  physiological basis of;
  confusion of separate memories,
Mental imagery,
Meredith, Mrs.,
Milk offered by she-goats and wolves to children,
Moors, migrations of the,
Moreau, Dr. J. (of Tours),
Morphy, P.,
Muscular and accompanying senses, tests of,
  small fear of death;
  things clean and unclean,

Namaquas in Damara Land,
  (_see_ also Bushmen)
Napoleon I.,
  views in connection with the
  faculty of visualising;
  his star,
Nature (_see_ Nurture and Nature)
Negro displaced by Berbers;
  by Bushmen;
  exported as slaves;
  replaceable by Chinese,
Nervous irritability, as distinct from sensitivity,
New Guinea,
Nicholson, Sir C.,
Notes, audibility of very shrill,
Nourse, Prof. J.E.,
Numerals, their nomenclature;
  characters assigned to them;
Nurture and nature;
  history of twins,
Nussbaumer, brothers,

Observed order of events,
Ogive (statistical curve)

Osborn, Mr.
Osten Sacken, Baron v.
Oswell, Mr.
Oxen (_see_ Cattle)

Parkyns, Mansfield
Peculiarities, unconsciousness of
Persecution, its effect on the character of races
Peru, captive animals in
Pet animals
Petrie, Flinders
Photographic composites (_see_ Composite Portraiture);
  summed effect of a thousand brief exposures;
  order of exposure is indifferent
Phthisis, typical features of
Piety, morbid forms of, in the epileptic and insane;
  in the hysterical
Polynesia, pet eels
Ponies, their capacity for hearing shrill notes
Poole, R. Stuart
Poole, W.H.
  population in town and country;
  changes of;
  decays of;
  effects of early marriages on
Portraits, composite (_see_ Composite Portraiture);
  number of elements in a portrait;
  the National Portrait Gallery
Prejudices instilled by doctrinal teachers;
  affect the judgments of able men
Presence-chamber in mind
Pricker for statistical records
Princeton College, U.S.
Prisms, double image
Proudfoot, Mr.
Psychometric experiments

Quakers, frequency of colour blindness
Questions on visualising and other allied faculties

Race and Selection;
  influence of man upon;
  variety and number of races in different countries;
  sexual apathy of decaying races;
  signs of superior race;
  pride in being of good race
Races established to discover the best horses to breed from
Rapp, General
Rapture, religious
Rayleigh, Lord, sensitive flame and high notes
Reindeer, difficulty of taming
Republic of self-reliant men;
  of life generally;
Revivals, religious
Richardson, Sir John
Roberts, C. (note)
Roget, J.
Rome, wild animals captured for use of
Rosiere, marriage portion to

Sailors, keenness of eyesight tested;
  admiralty life-histories of
_St. James's Gazette_ (Phantasmagoria)
Savages, eyesight of
Schools, biographical notes at;
  opportunities of masters;
  observation of characters at
Schuster, Prof.
Seal in pond, a simile;
  captured and tamed
Seemann, Dr.
Seers (_see_ chapter on Visionaries);
  heredity of
Segregation, passionate terror at among cattle
Selection and race
Self, becoming less personal
Sentiments, early
Sequence of test weights
Serpent worship
Servility (_see_ Gregarious and Slavish Instincts);
  its romantic side
Sexual differences in sensitivity;
  in character;
  apathy in highly-bred animals
Siberia, change of population in
Slavishness (_see_ Gregarious and Slavish Instincts)
Smith, B. Woodd;
  curious Number-Form communicated by
Smythe, G.F.
Snakes, horror of some persons at;
  antipathy to, not common among mankind
Socrates and his catalepsy
Sound, association of colour with
Space and time
Spain, the races in
Speke, Capt.
Spencer, H., blended outlines
Spiritual sense, the
Stars of great men
Statistical methods;
  statistical constancy;
  that of republics of self-reliant men;
  statistics of mental imagery;
  pictorial statistics
Stature of the English
Steinitz, Mr.
Stones, Miss
Stow, Mr.
Suna, his menagerie

Talbot Fox
Talmud, frequency of the different numerals in
Tameness, learned when young;
  tame cattle preserved to breed from
Tastes, changes in
Terror at snakes;
  at blood;
  is easily taught
Test objects, weights, etc.
Time and space
Town and country population
Trousseau, Dr.
Turner, the painter
Twins, the history of
Typical centre

Unclean, the, and the clean
Unconcsciousness of peculiarities;
  in visionaries

Variety of human nature
  visionary families and races

Watches, magnetised
Welch, Mrs. Kempe
West Indies, change, of population in
Wheel and barrel
Whistles for audibility of shrill notes
Wildness taught young
Wilkes, Capt.
Winchester College
Wollaston, Dr.
Wolves, children suckled by
Women, relative sensitivity of;
  coyness and caprice;
  visualising faculty
Woodfield, Mr. (Australia)
Words, visualised pictures associated with
Workers, solitary

Young, Dr.
Yule, Colonel

Zebras, hard to tame
Zoological Gardens, whistles tried at;
  snakes fed;
  seal at
Zukertort, Mr.

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