Recognized HTML document
Previous Index Next

Life and Letters of Francis Galton

for ascertaining whether a man has real insight and sympathy with boyish growth-any other test than a brilliant degree in classical or other studies-before we appoint him to be headmaster of a school, where quite unconsciously he may make one boy after another miserable ? I very gravely doubt it, and because I doubt it I have quoted much from Francis Galton's diary, and must now give a letter written a few months later (February 22, 1837)., In the interval, i.e. since the letter to Adele, the Doctor had been apparently trying to treat his boys more as men, but the general scope of his method remained clearly the same


Thank you very much for your kind letter and allowing me to take mathematical lessons from Mr Mason. I have come over to your opinion that Classics are of the greatest use in training the mind, but I feel certain that I do not get on as I ought to do here. But even not counting that ; there is a thing which you must own is of almost equal importance with classics, and that is extensive reading in English, both History and Poets'. Now although the Dr says he approves of that kind of reading, yet when he comes in in the evening and 'sees us reading any book besides a classical one, he always says to us ,Have you done your lessons?" Then, if we say Yes, he makes us say them ; then if we do know them perfectly he tells us to look over what we have done before, etc. In fact although nominally he approves of it, yet really he tries to put a stop to it.

Also on thinking it over, it seems to me that 6 books of Euclid are very little for 2 years'. Now there was one thing which I forgot to say about English reading, that my time- of life is the one to make the most use of hereafter, and can any person get on anywhere without having read certainly a great deal of English? When I read now I am obliged to read under the table at meals, or pick up time as I can which amounts to very little in the end. As for my Classics I certainly am not getting on. If at Easter we are made -part of the Doctor's class we shall be put back and the old round of impositions and hard work will come again as the Dr himself has assured us more than once. If we remain on the other hand in Gedge's class, I shall keep where I am. I ask you in this letter to remove [me] not because I am unhappy here, for certainly we have much more liberty and are treated more as men but because I feel I. am really not getting on. I am not going down in my class, but then my class is

' On Dec. 14, 1836 his diary tells us that he "bought Lord Chesterfield and some pomegranates." In Oct. 1837 he thanks his mother for sending him money to buy Southey, but Southey being unprocurable, he had purchased Crabbe.

' I think Francis had learnt in mathematics a good deal more than this-perhaps partly with Mr Mason. Thus there are from the year 1837 fragments of algebraic notes on homogeneous products and limiting ratios. On a slip of paper recording work done, we have not only the 6th and part of the 11th books of Euclid, but Algebra Part I and Part TI, except cubits, biquadratios and theory of equations; Statics and velocities of bodies, Dynamics, oscillations, projectiles, etc.; Hydrostatics and Hydraulics, and a "very little Differentials."

Previous Index Next