Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/177

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
173
FRANCIS GALTON

ferentiate clearly preparation and life work. In some of our institutions a man eager for research in any field must have his enthusiasm smothered and his personal ingenuity choked down by all of the minor requirements for the gilt seal of the university degree. Independent of the university stamp Mr. Galton spent his youth using his eyes and mind while working with the best men he could in hospitals and at Cambridge, where owing to a serious breakdown in health he contented himself with a poll degree instead of reading for mathematical honors. Throughout life the discipline which made possible the next and greater task yielded its own contribution to science. Days and nights in wards demand keenness of observation. This and his early travels in Egypt and Syria prepared him to be a scientific explorer instead of merely a gentleman sportsman bagging big game in tropical Africa. His fascinating book on Damara and Ovampo Land gave him the scientific standing of a gold medalist of the Royal Geographical Society in 1853, but his "Art of Travel" which grew naturally (for a man of Mr. Gal ton's type of mind) out of his Syrian and African experience perhaps counted for more in the advancement of geography. The one contained its own quota of concrete facts; the other served to instruct others in the art of exploration. First-hand experience with clinical thermometers, practical use of sextants in the wilderness and early experiments with a printing telegraph are good preparation for an active part in the work of the standardization of instruments and of the development of methods for the publication of meteorological data. Human faculty and heredity are closely linked together, and from heredity to eugenics is only a short step, and one forced upon the man who goes deeply into the former.

Some of the reminiscences of the period of training which have been given us in the "Memories" are interesting even to those whose lives go back to the early days of modern medicine.

His life as indoor pupil in the Birmingham General Hospital began in the fall of 1858.

The times of which I am speaking were long before those of chloroform, and many years before that of Pasteur and Sir Joseph Lister. The stethoscope was considered generally to be new-fangled; the older and naturally deaf practitioners pooh-poohed and never used it.

Once a powerful drayman was brought in dead drunk with both of his legs crushed and mangled by a heavy wagon.

They had to be amputated at once. He remained totally unconscious all the time, and it was not until he awoke sober in the morning that he discovered that his legs were gone. He recovered completely. The question that then presented itself to me was, "Why could not people be made dead drunk before operations? Could it be effected without upsetting their digestion and doing harm in other ways?" The subsequent discovery of inhaling instead of drinking the intoxicating spirit, whether it be chloroform or ether, solved that question most happily.