Page images
PDF
EPUB

staircase. Then again winding stairs are frequent; but if you should take them, Heaven knows what would become of you; and frequent, too, are glazed doors permanently closed, with naught behind them but silence, dust, and darkness....

“We are looking for the apartment of Don Francisco Bringas.”

“Bringas ? yes, yes,” said an old woman; “you're close to it. All you have got to do is, go down the first circular stairway you come to, and then make a half-turn. Bringas? yes to be sure; he's sacristan of the chapel.”

"Sacristan,- he? What is the matter with you? He is head clerk of the Administrative Department.”

«Oh, then he must be lower down, just off the terrace. I suppose you know your way to the fountain ? »

“No, not we.”
«You know the stairs called the Cáceres Staircase ?»
“No, not that either.”
“At any rate, you know where the Oratory is ? »
“We know nothing about it.”
« But the choir of the Oratory? but the dove-cotes ? ” —

Sum total, we had not the slightest acquaintance with any of that congeries of winding turns, sudden tricks, and baffling sur. prises. The architectural arrangement was a mad caprice, a mocking jest at all plan and symmetry. Nevertheless, despite our notable lack of experience we stuck to our quest, and even carried our infatuation so far as to reject the services of a boy who offered himself as our guide.

“We are now in the wing facing on the Plaza de Oriente," said Pez; “that is to say, at exactly the opposite extreme from the wing in which our friend resides." His geographical notions were delivered with the gravity and conviction of some character in Jules Verne. «Hence, the problem now demanding our attention is by what route to get from here to the western wing. In the first place, the cupola of the chapel and the grand stairway roof-covering furnish us with a certain basis; we should take our bearings from them. I assume that, having once arrived in the western wing, we shall be numskulls indeed if we do not strike Bringas's abode. All the same, I for one will never return to these outlandish regions without a pocket compass, and what is more, without a good supply of provender too, against such emergencies as this.”

Before striking out on the new stage of our explorations, as thus projected, we paused to look down from the window. The Plaza de Oriente lay below us in a beautiful panorama, and beyond it a portion of Madrid crested with at least fifty cupolas, steeples, and bell towers. The equestrian Philip IV. appeared a mere toy, and the Royal Theatre a paltry shed. . . . The doves had their nests far below where we stood, and we saw them, by pairs or larger groups, plunge headlong downward into the dizzy abyss, and then presently come whirling upward again, with swift and graceful motion, and settle on the carved capitals and moldings. It is credibly stated that all the political revolutions do not matter a jot to these doves, and there is nothing either in the ancient pile they inhabit or in the free realms of air around it, to limit their sway. They remain undisputed masters of the place.

Away we go once more. Pez begins to put the geographical notions he has acquired from the books of Jules Verne yet further into practice. At every step he stops to say to me, “Now we are making our way northward.—We shall undoubtedly soon find a road or trail on our right, leading to the west. — There is no cause to be alarmed in descending this winding stairway to the second story.— Good, it is done! Well, bless me! where are we now? I don't see the main dome any longer, not so much as a lightning-rod of it. — We are in the realms of the feebly flickering gas once more.— Suppose we ascend again by this other stairway luckily just at hand. What now? Well, here we are back again in the eastward wing and nothing else, just where we were before. Are we? no, yes; see, down there in the court the big dome is still on our right. There's a regular grove of chimney stacks. You may believe it or not, but this sort of thing begins to make my head swim; it seems as if the whole place gave a lurch now and then, like a ship at sea.— The fountain must be over that way, do you see? for the maids are coming and going from there with their pitchers. — Oh well, I for one give the whole thing up. We want a guide, and an expert, or we'll never get out of this. I can't take another step; we've walked miles and I can't stand on my legs.— Hey, there, halloo! send us a guide! — Oh for a guide! Get me out of this infernal tangle quickly!” ...

We came at last to Bringas's apartment. When we got there, we understood how we must have passed it, earlier, without knowing it, for its number was quite rubbed out and invisible.

Translation of William Henry Bishop.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

HE modern doctrine of heredity regards man less as an indi

vidual than as a link in a series, involuntarily inheriting and Geek transmitting a number of peculiarities, physical and mental. The general acceptance of this doctrine would necessitate a modification of popular ethical conceptions, and consequently of social conditions. Except Darwin, probably no one has done so much to place the doctrine on a scientific basis as Francis Galton, whose brilliant researches have sought to establish the hereditary nature of psychical as well as physical qualities.

Mr. Galton first took up the subject of the transmissibility of intellectual gifts in his Hereditary Genius' (1869). An examination of the relationships of the judges of England for a period of two hundred years, of the statesmen of the time of George III., of the premiers of the last one hundred years, and of a certain selection of divines and modern scholars, together with the kindred of the most illustrious commanders, men of letters and science, poets, painters, and musicians of all times and nations, resulted in his conclusion that man's mental abilities are derived by inheritance under exactly the same limitations as are the forms and features of the whole organic world. Mr. Galton argued that, as it is practicable to produce a highly gifted race of men by judicious marriages during several consecutive generations, the State ought to encourage by dowries and other artificial means such marriages as make for the elevation of the race.

Having set forth the hereditary nature of general intellectual ability, he attempts to discover what particular qualities commonly combine to form genius, and whether they also are transmissible. (English Men of Science: Their Nature and Nurture(1874) was a summary of the results obtained from inquiries addressed to the most eminent scientific men of England, respecting the circumstances of heredity and environment which might have been influential in directing them toward their careers. One hundred and eighty persons were questioned. From the replies it appeared that in the order of their prevalence, the chief qualities that commonly unite to form scientific genius are energy both of body and mind; good health; great independence of character; tenacity of purpose; practical business habits; and strong innate tastes for science generally, or for some branch of it. The replies indicated the hereditary character of the qualities in question, showing incidentally that in the matter of heredity the influence of the father is greater than that of the mother. It would have been interesting to have had the results of similar inquiries in the case of other classes of eminent persons,— statesmen, lawyers, poets, divines, etc. However, it is problematical whether other classes would have entered so heartily into the spirit of the inquiry, and given such full and frank replies.

Large variation in individuals from their parents is, he argues, not only not incompatible with the strict doctrine of heredity, but is a consequence of it wherever the breed is impure. Likewise, abnormal attributes of individual parents are less transmissible than the general characteristics of the family. Both these influences operate to deprive the science of heredity of the certainty of prediction in individual cases. The latter influence - i. e., the law of reversion - is made the subject of a separate inquiry in the volume entitled Natural Inheritance' (1889).

In Inquiries into the Human Faculty and its Development' (1883), he described a method of accurately measuring mental processes, such as sensation, volition, the formation of elementary judgments, and the estimation of numbers; suggested composite photography as a means of studying the physiognomy of criminal and other classes; treated the subject of heredity in crime; and discussed the mental process of visualizing

Finger Prints) (1892) is a study from the point of view of heredity of the patterns observed in the skin of finger-tips. These patterns are not only hereditary, but also furnish a certain means of identification - an idea improved in Mark Twain's story of Pudd'nhead Wilson.'

Mr. Galton is himself an example of the heredity of genius, being a grandson of Erasmus Darwin, the author of 'Zoönomia,' and a cousin of Charles Darwin. Born near Birmingham in 1822, he studied some time at Birmingham Hospital and at King's College, London, with the intention of entering the medical profession; but abandoned this design, and was graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1844. He soon after made two journeys of exploration in Africa, the latter of which is described in his Narrative of an Explorer in South Africa' (1853). An indirect result of these journeys was “The Art of Travel; or Shifts and Contrivances in Wild Countries (1855).

Meteorographica' (1863) is noteworthy as the first attempt ever made to represent in charts on a large scale the progress of the weather, and on account of the theory of anti-cyclones which Mr. Galton advances in it.

Although strictly scientific in aim and method, Mr. Galton's writings, particularly those on heredity, appeal to all classes of readers

and possess a distinct literary value. One may admire in them simplicity and purity of diction, animation of style, fertility in the construction of theory, resourcefulness in the search for proof, and a fine enthusiasm for the subject under consideration.

THE COMPARATIVE WORTH OF DIFFERENT RACES

From (Hereditary Genius)

very long-established race has necessarily its peculiar fitness E for the conditions under which it has lived, owing to the

sure operation of Darwin's law of natural selection. However, I am not much concerned for the present with the greater part of those aptitudes, but only with such as are available in some form or other of high civilization. We may reckon upon the advent of a time when civilization, which is now sparse and feeble and far more superficial than it is vaunted to be, shall overspread the globe. Ultimately it is sure to do so, because civilization is the necessary fruit of high intelligence when found in a social animal, and there is no plainer lesson to be read off the face of Nature than that the result of the operation of her laws is to evoke intelligence in connection with sociability. Intelligence is as much an advantage to an animal as physical strength or any other natural gift; and therefore, out of two varieties of any race of animal who are equally endowed in other respects, the most intelligent variety is sure to prevail in the battle of life. Similarly, among animals as intelligent as man, the most social race is sure to prevail, other qualities being equal.

Under even a very moderate form of material civilization, a vast number of aptitudes acquired through the “survivorship of the fittest” and the unsparing destruction of the unfit, for hun. dreds of generations, have become as obsolete as the old mail. coach habits and customs since the establishment of railroads, and there is not the slightest use in attempting to preserve them; they are hindrances, and not gains, to civilization. I shall refer to some of these a little further on, but I will first speak of the qualities needed in civilized society. They are, speaking generally, such as will enable a race to supply a large contingent to the various groups of eminent men of whom I have treated in my several chapters. Without going so far as to say that this very convenient test is perfectly fair, we are at all events justified in making considerable use of it, as I will do in the estimates I am about to give.

« PreviousContinue »