The Francis Galton Lunar Society Sketch

From the wonderful Paradise Circus Live, a sketch about the how breeding gets you everywhere:

By the early part of the 1900s the Lunar Society had lost its glimmer. The French Revolution and the riots in Birmingham have driven Joseph Priestley to America. The second generation of Lunartics aren’t quite up to scratch and as for the third…

Lunar Chairman: So, Mr Galton, you’d like to join the Lunar Society?

Francis Galton: Call me Francis, please. Like my father and Grandfather I’m nothing if not humble.


Lunar Chairman: Indeed. We judge each application on its own merits, I was only saying that to James Watt Junior the other day. This isn’t a formal interview, but I’d like to ask you some questions about your study and your background. Do you have any qualifications?

Francis Galton: I’ve a BA. I was studying medicine but gave it up to explore Africa and do mathematics. Our family has a history of travel.

Lunar Chairman: Let’s see, what did you grandfather do?

Francis Galton:  Well, I had two. One was a poet, naturalist and inventor. And a member of the Lunar Society. Erasmus Darwin, you may have heard of him.

Lunar Chairman: Oh, so you’re related to Charles Darwin? Great man.

Francis Galton resigned: My cousin, yes.

Lunar Chairman: And does that mean you’re the brother of Darwin Galton? The High Sheriff of Warwickshire?

Francis Galton getting steadily angrier: My brother, indeed.

Lunar Chairman: Oh, a fine gentleman. So you must be the grandson of Samuel Galton, a lunar man himself. Now remind me, what was his nickname?

Francis Galton getting steadily angrier: I really don’t recall.

Lunar Chairman: It was something amusing, I know. Maybe it was something to do with his Quakerism, he was quite devout I know.

Francis Galton through gritted teeth: I don’t think he spoke that much about it. Very quiet really.

Lunar Chairman: Was it ‘Gunpowder’? No, that was Priestley. erm ‘John’ that was it. Samuel ‘John’ Galton. Very funny. Did he invent the toilet?

Francis Galton through gritted teeth: No. My father was a noted Quaker, pacifist and.

Lunar Chairman: I remember now…

Francis Galton: Arms dealer.

Lunar Chairman: Yes, a very notable man. Lots of quiet reflection, good works, and guns. Many guns.

So, you come from a fine line. But as I was saying to Bessie Rayner Parkes, great granddaughter of Joseph Priestley, earlier. We must judge every application on its merits. We’ve had accusations of nepotism before. What are you working on at the moment?

Francis Galton: I have a theory that genius is hereditary. I’ve studied many notable people and found that their offspring often turn out to be notable also.

Lunar Chairman: It sounds plausible. What do you think Matthew Boulton III?

Matthew Boulton III gumby voice: You what?

Lunar Chairman: You don’t think that access to money and other influential people might be more to do with the success of these offspring.

Francis Galton: No, not at all. My granddfathers were both brilliant men, and so I am doubly brilliant. It’s basic evolutionary theory.

Lunar Chairman: But, not your theory though… the theory of your cousin Charles.

Francis Galton: Who is related to me and is hence a brilliant mind.

Lunar Chairman: I see. Have you got a name for your theory? Something catchy perhaps?

Francis Galton: Not only do I have a name — Eugenics — I have plans for the betterment of the human race. You see by a programme of selected breeding we can develop more and more brilliant men. All I need is your support in finding me a clever and dashed saucy wife.

Lunar Chairman: I’m afraid I don’t think we can help. You don’t think you theory sounds a tiny bit. Well, racist?

Francis Galton: It’s a way of improving the stock of all races. Some of my best friends aren’t the children of noted industrialists. I met a Chinese man once, offered to give him Africa.

Lunar Chairman: Yes, about that. All this ‘superior race’ stuff. There’s a feeling amongst us that it all might be a bit colonialist. Not quite what the Lunar Society should be standing for in the early 20th century. We’re trying to diversify, open the society up to the working classes, like Mr Powell here, a school headmaster.

Powell, is Galton’s world one that you’d like your young son Enoch to grow up in?

Enoch Powell Sr: No, not at all

Francis Galton: Did I mention my lineage?

Lunar Chairman: Welcome to the club.

Author: Jon Bounds

14th Most Influential Person in the West Midlands 2008, subsequently not placed. His new book about visiting every seaside pier in England and Wales — Pier Review — has been described as “On the Road meets On the Buses”, it's out now. Jon wrote and directed the first ever piece of drama to be performed on Twitter and founded the famous blog Birmingham: It's Not Shit.