Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

Hereditary Genius: An Inquiry Into its Laws and Consequences
Galton, Francis
suddenly start into existence and disappear with equal 
abruptness, but rather, it rises in a gradual and regular 
curve out of the ordinary level of family life. The statistics 
show that there is a regular average increase of ability 
in the generations that precede its culmination, and as 
regular a decrease in those that succeed it. In the first 
case the marriages have been consentient to its production, 
in the latter they have been incapable of preserving it. 
After three successive dilutions of the blood, the descen¬ 
dants of the Judges appear incapable of rising to eminence. 
These results are not surprising even when compared with 
the far greater length of kinship through which features 
or diseases may be transmitted. Ability must be based 
on a triple footing, every leg of which has to be firmly 
planted. In order that a man should inherit ability in 
the concrete, he must inherit three qualities that are 
separate and independent of one another: he must in¬ 
herit capacity, zeal, and vigour ; for unless these three, 
or, at the very least, two of them, are combined, he 
cannot hope to make a figure in the world. The proba¬ 
bility against inheriting a combination of three qualities 
not correlated together, is necessarily in a triplicate pro¬ 
portion greater than it is against inheriting any one 
of them. 
There is a marked difference between the percentage of 
ability in the grandsons of the judge when his sons (the 
fathers of those grandsons) have been eminent than when 
they have not. Let us suppose that the son of a judge 
wishes to marry: what expectation has he that his own 
sons will become eminent men, supporters of his family, 
and not a burden to it, in their after life ? 
In the case where the son of the judge is himself emi¬ 
nent, I find, out of the 226 judges previous to the present 
reign, 22 whose sons have been distinguished men. I do 
not count instances in the present reign, because the


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