176 Life and Letters of Francis Galton
My friends I've told you once that really
I did hit C most severely
Who answered nothing when I whacked him, But now some plucky friend has backed him, And made him threaten me a dipping Or a sanguinary whipping.
X and Y- together
D-n it if he don't deserve a Licking with a Life-preserver,
Up ! and, when your coat is put on, Buy the instrument at Mutton.
Versification was indeed very much in Galton's mind at this time and on April 5, 1843, he writes to his father
MY DEAR FATHER,
I am having the greatest fun imaginable in getting up an "English Epigram Society"' which is to meet 3 times a term, the members are to send in their epigrams anonymously and they are to be read by some one chosen by lot. The subject is to be chosen out of those proposed by a majority. I have got the first in the University among the rising men to join it, two young Fellows of Trinity and bachelors, etc., so I expect that some of the Epigrams will be first rate. The society consists of 12. All the men I have spoken to have jumped at the idea, and I have great hopes of its working exceedingly well.
I think I shall be able to come down this week, when I would coach it to Hatton and then walk on. I send you a poem, I have just sent it for the Camden medal and fear it will not interest you much as it is all relative to the present great controversy as to whether man has a conscience (innate I mean) or not. Paley and Locke and many Greek philosophers as you know against it, Plato and Bishop Butler and some German metaphysicians and Whewell on the other side. Stewart seems to be for it, but does not give a decided opinion one way or the other. The mottoes I have chosen explain the point of the whole; I take the paraphrase of the one from Plato to be: "They have ever in their soul a specimen of the Divine nature, lasting and bright as silver or gold." I was obliged to print it before sending it in. I leave it on the honor of the Family that it be not shown to any besides themselves I mean my Father and Mother, Bessy, Adele, Emma, nor in any way to be spoken of to others.
Your affectionate son, FRAS. GALTON.
The poem is of deep interest-not as a poem, it gained no prize2but as evidence of Galton's faith and view of life at this period of his
` See Bristed, loc. cit. p. 214.
2 The prize was won by Galton's friend, W. Johnson of King's. As Mrs Browning puts it:
Many fervent souls
Strike rhyme on rhyme, who would strike steel on steel If steel had offered, in a restless heat Of doing something.
Aurora Leigh., 22nd ed. p. 34.