Natural Inheritance

Francis GALTON

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GALTON, Francis. Natural Inheritance. London: Macmillan, 1889. Octavo, original maroon cloth. $1100.

First edition of this groundbreaking analysis of heredity by the founder of eugenics.

Employing the statistical techniques for which he became famous, in this work Galton considers the influence of genetic inheritance in humans, with emphasis on stature, eye color, “artistic faculty” and disease. “On the publication in 1859 of the Origin of Species by his cousin, Charles Robert Darwin, Galton at once became a convert to the views there enounced and began reflecting on the influence of heredity on the human race. He had been impressed by his own observation with the fact that distinction of any kind is apt to run in families. He therefore made a series of statistical inquiries whereby he proved the heritability of genius of all kinds… He showed how the degree of relationship between any pair of attributes or any pair of individuals may be estimated by a numerical factor termed the correlation. He also gave a numerical estimate of the average contribution to each individual from his two parents and his remoter ancestry… The study of heredity led Galton to the conviction that the human race might gain an indefinite improvement by breeding from the best and restricting the offspring of the worst. To this study he gave the name ‘eugenics,’ and it is probably by this that he will be best known” (DNB). Galton’s studies, strongly emphasizing nature over nurture (“heredity was a far more powerful agent in human development than nurture”), proved to be of profound importance throughout the 20th century, raising issues essential to the direction of a wide range of disciplines, including sociology, politics and genetic engineering. Garrison & Morton 233. Owner signature.

Interior fine, light rubbing to extremities and light toning to spine of original publisher’s cloth. Extremely good condition.

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