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Matter or Mucus?

You never know what you'll find on an old gravestone in an Edinburgh kirkyard.  It's rather arresting to wander into a family vault, gaze at the nearest tombstone, and find the words CHARLES DARWIN leaping out at you.

No, not that Darwin.  This chap died at the age of nineteen in the previous century, by which time he had become a doctor, "gained the first medal offered by the Aesculapian Society for a criterion to distinguish, Matter from Mucus", and "cultivated with success, the friendship of Ingenious Men" which led to his being buried in the family vault of Dr. A. Duncan, making me wonder if this was code for being gay.  The tombstone concludes, "Fame's boastful chissel, Fortune's silver plume, Mark but the mouldering urn, or deck the tomb."  Cheery stuff, and it's amusing to see that people were misuing commas in 1778 just as badly as they do today.  As R pointed out, you can just imagine the wild Edinburgh party games.  "Matter or mucus?"

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