Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/76

This page has been validated.

Between the first and last quartiles extends the broad middle class. It includes the two middle quarters, or the central half of the population, whose characteristics are pretty uniform; it is at the beginning and end of the book that the exceptional cases lie in this, as in all other similar collections of statistics.

The medium quality of mental imagery among Englishmen may be briefly described as fairly vivid, but incomplete. The part of the picture that is well defined at any one moment is more contracted than it would be in a real scene; but, by moving the mental eye from point to point, the whole of the image, so far as it is remembered at all, may be successively brought into view. If this description be heightened a little, it will suit the high quartile; if it be lowered a little, it will suit the low quartile, so that with small variations it will apply to the whole of the middle class. When we arrive at the high and low octiles, the tenor of the returns is considerably changed; but we will pass by them and rest at the sub-octiles. At the highest of these the image is firm and clear, at the lowest there is scarcely any image at all.

This brief statement gives a scientifically exact idea of the distribution of the faculty among the inner fourteen in every sixteen Englishmen. I do not go further here, because I wish to specify the extent to which the faculty generally admits of being educated, and not to hold out ideals which are impossible of attainment except by very few. I shall submit direct evidence of what teaching can accomplish, but it will I am sure be allowed, in the mean time, that there is a probability of being able to educate a faculty among the great majority of men to the degree in which it manifests itself, without any education at all, in at least one person out of every sixteen. When speaking, as I shall soon do, of the various qualities of the faculty, I shall keep, as now, as far as possible to the commoner cases.

The power of visualizing is higher in the female sex than in the male, and is somewhat, but not much, higher in public-school boys than in men, I have, however, a few clear cases in which its power has greatly increased with advancing years. 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 visualizing 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, 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