Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/192

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had a peculiar faculty for searching out the significant thing and limiting his attention to it. Volumes have been written on palmistry, without the slightest practical outcome. Galton at once passed by the conspicuous wrinkles and folds of the palm, "which are no more significant. . . than the creases in old clothes" and concentrated upon the minute papillary ridges of the thumbs and fingers with the consequence of a workable system of finger print identification.

Correlated with this ability to look with discerning eyes on either side of the beaten trail and into the jungle was a peculiar independence of the herd. Most investigators are not surveyors merely, but in so far as specialty fences will allow, crowd with the gregariousness of cattle into the same field. Ecological surveys are in fashion to-day, centrifuging eggs holds the attention of the crowd to-morrow. Francis Galton's association with men was wide and intimate, he sought help from those of the most diverse accomplishments and always urged friendly cooperation and criticism, but as a conceiver of problems and methods his independence was all but complete. Perhaps this self reliance was gained in his early explorations. It is seen not merely in the formulation of problems, but in his freedom from the conventional paraphernalia and impedimenta of research. Every difficulty or emergency was an opportunity; the ready ingenuity was in direct proportion to difficulties opposed. Many uses for the sextant may be found in the literature, but it required a Galton to apply it for obtaining anthropometric measurements of Hottentot dignitaries where conventional methods might have been undiplomatic. Most travelers when ready to sail from a country would have swallowed their wrath at the loss of a favorite ox or would have retaliated blunderingly. By putting himself under the command of a Hottentot chief with his band, with the stipulation that a flogging was to be the only punishment of the Damara miscreants, Mr. Galton at once turned the annoying incident into a golden opportunity of studying the tactics of a savage raid.

Francis Galton by his studies of noteworthy men of science found that no special education other than self instruction is really necessary to the attainment of eminence. Access to superior tuition and laboratories have doubtless helped some to attain distinction who could not otherwise have done so, but they are by no means all important factors. "The facts that lie patent before the eyes of every medical man, engineer and the members of most professions, afford ample material for researches that would command the attention of the scientific world if viewed with intelligence and combined by a capable mind." The truth of these views he exemplified by his own life.

Writing of scientific eminence and scientific ability in 1869 Mr. Galton observed that some men become renowned because of a single striking discovery. Others of equally high natural gifts and energy in application have not this good fortune. Their results are valuable