An explosion of tears would tell nothing.
LETTER 410. TO FRANCIS GALTON. Down, December 23rd [1870?].
I have only read about fifty pages of your book (to the Judges) (410/1. "Hereditary Genius: an Inquiry into its Laws and Consequences," by Francis Galton, London, 1869. "The Judges of England between 1660 and 1865" is the heading of a section of this work (page 55). See "Descent of Man" (1901), page 41.), but I must exhale myself, else something will go wrong in my inside. I do not think I ever in all my life read anything more interesting and original. And how well and clearly you put every point! George, who has finished the book, and who expressed himself just in the same terms, tells me the earlier chapters are nothing in interest to the later ones! It will take me some time to get to these later chapters, as it is read aloud to me by my wife, who is also much interested. You have made a convert of an opponent in one sense, for I have always maintained that, excepting fools, men did not differ much in intellect, only in zeal and hard work; and I still think [this] is an eminently important difference. I congratulate you on producing what I am convinced will prove a memorable work. I look forward with intense interest to each reading, but it sets me thinking so much that I find it very hard work; but that is wholly the fault of my brain, and not of your beautifully clear style.
LETTER 411. TO W.R. GREG. March 21st [1871?].
Many thanks for your note. I am very glad indeed to read remarks made by a man who possesses such varied and odd knowledge as you do, and who is so acute a reasoner. I have no doubt that you will detect blunders of many kinds in my book. (411/1. "The Descent of Man.") Your MS. on the proportion of the sexes at birth seems to me extremely curious, and I hope that some day you will publish it. It certainly appears that the males are decreasing in the London districts, and a most strange fact it is. Mr. Graham, however, I observe in a note enclosed, does not seem inclined to admit your conclusion. I have never much considered the subject of the causes of the proportion. When I reflected on queen bees producing only males when not impregnated, whilst some other parthenogenetic insects produced, as far as known, only females, the subject seemed to me hopelessly obscure. It is, however, pretty clear that you have taken the one path for its solution. I wished only to ascertain how far with various animals the males exceeded the females, and I have given all the facts which I could collect. As far as I know, no other data have been published. The equality of the sexes with race-horses is surprising. My remarks on mankind are quite superficial, and given merely as some sort of standard for comparison with the lower animals. M. Thury is the writer who makes the sex depend on the period of impregnation. His pamphlet was sent me from Geneva. (411/2. "Memoire sur la loi de Production des Sexes," 2nd edition, 1863 (a pamphlet published by Cherbuliez, Geneva).) I can lend it you if you like. I subsequently read an account of experiments which convinced me that M. Thury was in error; but I cannot remember what they were, only the impression that I might safely banish this view from my mind. Your remarks on the less ratio of males in illegitimate births strikes me as the most doubtful point in your MS.--requiring two assumptions, viz. that the fathers in such cases are relatively too young, and that the result is the same as when the father is relatively too old.
My son, George, who is a mathematician, and who read your MS. with much interest, has suggested, as telling in the right direction, but whether sufficient is another question, that many more illegitimate children are murdered and concealed shortly after birth, than in the case of legitimate children; and as many more males than females die during the first few days of life, the census of illegitimate children practically applies to an older age than with legitimate children, and would thus slightly reduce the excess of males.