Harper's New Monthly Magazine,  7 (1883–84), 315–24.

Editor's Literary Record



Regular Feature, Review

Publications reviewed:

Galton 1883 Reade 1883 Gilbert 1882


Human Species, Anthropology, Eugenics, Heredity, Race, Human Development, Photography, Narcotics, Temperance, Mental Illness

    Observes that Francis Galton's new collection of essays, which 'discuss the possibility of improving the human race', is 'really a supplement or continuation of Hereditary Genius', and, as in that book, he maintains that 'Mankind can only be improved by developing the best natural aptitudes through the cultivation of race'. Points out that Galton is a strong believer in 'inherited traits and the prevailing effect of nature over nurture' and therefore thinks that 'something more than the machinery of education is necessary in reaching the highest human development'. Praises 'this most original, ingenious, and suggestive book' and proposes that, among many stimulating ideas and innovations, the 'most interesting of all are his inventions in "composite portraiture" by photography, which reduce the portraits of a group of people of a given type—of criminals, or philanthropists, or scientists, for example—into one portrait, which very closely resembles them all'. (316) Also notes that Alfred A Reade, the 'Secretary of the Society for the Suppression of Juvenile Smoking', has collected the 'testimony of a great number of men of letters and of science on the influence of tobacco and the various forms of alcohol upon the working powers' (317). The testimony shows, for instance, that in a working day William E Gladstone 'partakes of one or two glasses of claret at luncheon, and the same at dinner, with the addition of a glass of light port' while W Wilkie Collins 'finds champagne to agree with him', although 'in the main, the testimony undoubtedly favours the cause of abstinence, or at least of extreme moderation in the use of stimulants and narcotics'. Similarly, in another recent book, William Gilbert, 'believing that alcohol tends directly to the production of lunacy and idiocy, [has] made a careful study of the inmates in the fourteen general hospitals of London and its idiot and lunatic asylums', and his findings point 'very strongly to the dangers of alcohol'. (318)

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