170 Life and Letters of Francis Galton
you. We went to the Queen's reception at Taymouth1. Major and Mrs Menzies took me with them in their carriage. The Highlanders looked very well, drawn up in files round a large quadrangle in 4 bodies dressed in the Campbell and Menzies dress and hunting tartans respectively. The Queen and Prince Albert looked most gracious, but were not cheered half enough. I am sure we Cantabs did all we could, but everybody else did nothing but gape with astonishment. The evening illuminations were most, perfect, everything in such perfect taste I saw Mr Dalrymple in a splendid highland dress among the lookers on; he did not recognise me and as I scarcely knew him, I did not address him. We "hung out" fireworks the other night and had several persons to come and see them; they went off very well. We subscribed 10 shillings each and got about 30 rockets, a dozen and a half Roman candles, many wheels, etc., etc.
I will write to you again from Inch Dairnie (where Aytoun of Trinity lives), he has written to ask me to stay as long as I possibly can, and I am thinking of spending a few days there; it is near Kirkcaldy to which place there are steamers every 2 hours from Edinburgh. Goodbye, Your affectionate son,
For those who have carefully read these Aberfeldy letters, there will I think be little doubt that Galton was nearing a breakdown ; the uncontrollable joyousness of the Keswick correspondence has gone ; there is little about work or long expeditions, there is a sub-tone indeed of depression. This finds its full utterance in the first letter that has been preserved from Galton's third Cambridge year. It seems to me as powerful an indictment of the competitive examination system as Galton's earlier attack on a classical school education. Before studying these Cambridge letters, I had imagined Galton's breakdown to be individual and due to his own constitution, but these letters directly show it to be the outcome of a pernicious examination system (superposed on great social and mental activities), which ruined the College career of men who distinguished themselves in later life, and whose University work ought to have been not only a delight to them; but of real service as a training for the future.
TRIN. COLL., Nov. 2, 1842.
MY DEAR FATHER,
I forgot in my last note to go into proper raptures about Stultz; he really is a wonderful man. I had no idea that it was in human power to make such extraordinary improvements in my personal attire as the combined geniuses of Stultz and Gobby have effected. Consultations of course had to be frequent during the course of the Friday and Saturday that I was in Town, but I at length emerged from my chrysalis crust of Cartwright and James' manufacture to the butterfly adornments of Messrs Stultz.
My head is very uncertain so that I can scarcely read at all; however I find that I am not at all solitary in that respect. Of the year above me the first 3 men in their College examinations are all going out in the poll, the first 2 from bad health and the
1 The seat of Lord Breadalbane.