28o MEMORIES OF MY LIFE
order of their estimated merit were marched to the middle of the hall to the tune of the "Conquering Hero," and received their costly prizes in the form of athletic groups in gold, silver, or bronze.
The point that especially interested me was that I had done my best to form just decisions of my own, and that I had already selected those who came second and third as among the best three. But I had wrongly classed the first prizeman. However, after the judges had made their award I recognised the superior justness of their estimate to my town. The power of classifying men correctly, by mere inspection, seemed to me much greater after this experience than before.
A little more than a year ago, I happened to be at Plymouth, and was interested in a Cattle exhibition, where a visitor could purchase ' a stamped and numbered ticket for sixpence, which qualified him to become a candidate in a weight-judging competition. An ox was selected, and each of about eight hundred candidates wrote his name and address on his ticket, together with his estimate of what the beast would weigh when killed and " dressed " by the butcher. The most successful of them gained prizes. The result of these estimates was analogous, under reservation, to the votes given by a democracy, and it seemed likely to be instructive to learn how votes were distributed on this occasion, and the value of the result. So I procured a loan of the cards after the ceremony was past, and worked them out in a memoir published in Nature [177-8]. It appeared that in this instance the vox populi was correct to within i per cent. of the real value ; it was 1207 pounds instead of 1198 pounds,