Statistical Investigations 361 There is an interesting paragraph as to fraud
"As regards the probable trustworthiness of the information received, I am perfectly aware that a modern De Foe or Swift might write an interesting romance, and make a register apparently true to life, wholly out of his own head; but De Foes and Swifts are not common, and such persons would be sure to find better occupation than that. Moreover they could not gain a prize without committing a downright fraud. Able men are generally above petty tricks, and there will be abundant internal evidence fir every register to show whether the writer be able or not. It is almost needless to remark, that every statistician worthy of the name is wary and slow to accept startling conclusions without much indirect confirmation.... What I fear most is that the registers sent by many of the candidates will afford internal evidence of being little trustworthy, not through deliberate intent, but owing to the incapacity of the writers to state their cases clearly, and to support their statements with judiciously selected data." (pp. 248-9.)
Perhaps this latter remark was rather severe on the profession to whom Galton was appealing for aid ; it failed to give due weight to what should be the effect of the clinical training in a hospital on a man's powers of observation, record and deduction. Yet our poor hero saw with yearning those 23,000 qualified medical men and thought here at last was a source of the material essential to his work
"I should hope that the examination would be complete after some three months' labour of myself and the examiners. The prizes being allotted and done with, it will remain to work up the results... .The statistical meal will be a large one; I gloat over it in anticipation, and know that it will take long to digest. I cannot doubt that new ideas will be derived from a careful study of so unique a collection, enough I hope to justify to myself the cost and time spent on it. When I shall have done with this collection, its ultimate destination will probably be as a gift to some appropriate medical or anthropological institution. It will then be in the form of anonymous documents bearing mottoes, but with no mark by which any one of them could be distinguished .... Considering that prizes for essays usually attract numerous competitors, although the pains taken in working for them are rather barren of result except to the winners, I conclude that similar prizes leading to inquiries beneficial in every case, and from many points of view, ought to attract yet more numerous candidates, and to result in producing shelves full of family histories of unprecedented completeness and concentration, and of extreme value for a long time to come to medical and anthropological investigators." (p. 250.)
What killed this scheme of prizes to the doctors for medical registers of their families? I can find but one further reference to it (see our p. 367). All letters for the year 1883 seem to be wanting; so that we cannot trace the causes which led Galton to drop the emphasis on the medical register and offer his prizes for family records to laymen as well as medical men. Three extracts from L. G.'s Record may be given here as conveying about all the knowledge we have of the matter
"1882. Frank began his book on Human Faculty early in the year and it has gone on through the year, and was a great pastime to him during our summer ramble on the Rhine, in the Black Forest, Constance, and lastly Axenfels. Bad weather haunted us, but we were happy and I kept well and began sketching again. It was such a boon not to be kept by a British Association Meeting this summer. Mr Darwin's death in May had cast a deep gloom over us.... Besides what I have mentioned as to Frank's work during the year he gave a Lecture at Eton on Anthropometric Registers and Life Histories, and wrote a paper in the Fortnightly on the same, and gave a lecture to the Committee of the Medical Association'. He was invited to lecture at the Lowell Institution in America, but refused. In Meteorology he designed a clock for cumulative temperature. He is elected on to the Council of the Royal Society and was begged to accept the presidency of the Anthropological, but refused.
' Probably the Committee of the B.M.A. for Collective Investigation.