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  • 1883
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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 captivity.

_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 _a 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 x 1.5
22 7.50 = 5 x 1.5
27 6.00 = 4 x 1.5
32 4.50 = 3 x 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 approximately.

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 strongest.

[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 _bona 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 “Rosiere” 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 agencies.

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 mercifully.

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 light.

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 individual.

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,

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 versa_. 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 deg. 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 45 deg. 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 seat.

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 diagram.

_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 operator.

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 deg., which reflects the fiducial lines and gives them