110 Life and Letters of Francis Galton
December 6, 1839.
MY DEAR GOVERNOR,
I hope that you won't consider me guilty of disrespect in sending you such a disreputable letter. But as I am at King's College', and have not any other by me, and moreover as in these happy days of 2 ounce fourpennies anything in a decent envelope will do therefore--here goes.
I should have written before but I waited for Mr Hodgson, but as he won't come I wait no longer. I have spoken to Charles Darwin about Cambridge, who recommends next October and to read Mathematics like a house on fire; thinks I had better go as soon as possible for these reasons : that I cannot take my degree of B.M. until 5 years after matriculation, if not 6. A medical education takes 3 or 4 years, of which I shall have had 2, and after taking an M.A. degree I shall have 2 more before I can pass as Doctor. Now if I delay matriculation I shall defer the possibility of taking a physician's degree for a corresponding length of time which may be an inconvenience. Again he thinks it certain that when at Cambridge I shall forget all the theoretical part of Medicine, I mean z of Physiology, 3ths of Surgery and 5ths of Medicine, to say nothing of Anatomy Lectures, on the two last of which I shall attend next year and will be time thrown away.
Now about reading Mathematics, he said very truly that the faculty of observation rather than that of abstract reasoning tends to constitute a good Physician. The higher parts of Mathematics which are exceedingly interwoven with Chemical and Medical Phenomena (Electricity, Light, Heat etc., etc.) all exist and exist only on experience and observation .. don't stop half-way. Make the most of the opportunity and read them.
I quite agreed with all he said. Again, if after Cambridge I return to K. College, I should necessarily feel much greater interest in chemicalizing than I do now, not being able at present to comprehend one half of the fundamental principles which are mathematical, Light especially. This would be a great convenience with regard to the Laboratory, for were I to enter there now, I should be able to go there and tool about when I do not dissect (which I am afraid will be very often as there are hardly any subjects), and work regularly after Cambridge, when I could finish my medical education at King's College. Bowman thinks ditto, and he is a great man now, and he also says that every high mathematical M.D. that he knows has got on well. Dr Evans and Dr Blakiston of Birmingham, and Dr Watson of King's College, etc., etc. Please write and tell me what you think. Should I enter into the Laboratory, there is no time to lose. We shall have a week or ten days at Christmas, though, perhaps, it will scarcely be worth while to come down for so short a time. Good Bye etc. FRAS. GALTON.
DEAR BESSY. Thanks for your letter and missal forthcoming. But don't please [give] any advice in the middle (even though it's an ancestor's) for I am sure I have had enough, it's quite as eternal and does me no more good than Dr Sangrado's Warm Water.
0, Bessy, Bessy I have had another boil exactly by the side of the former which has partially reappeared. The new one is mountainous, but alas! not snow-capped like Ben Nevis, but more like Ben Lomond covered with scarlet heather. I shall have
1 Throughout this letter and for two months previously Francis invariably spells this 11 colledge " 1