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volume is a reprint of a work published twenty-three years ago,
which has long been unpurchasable, except at second-hand and at fancy
prices. It was a question whether to revise the whole and to bring the
information up to date, or simply to reprint it after remedying a few staring
errata. The latter course has been adopted, because even a few additional
data would have made it necessary to recast all the tabulations, while a
thorough reconstruction would be a work of greater labour than I can now
At the time when the book was written, the human mind was popularly
thought to act independently of natural laws, and to be capable of almost
any achievement, if compelled to exert itself by a will that had a power of
initiation. Even those who had more philosophical habits of thought were far
from looking upon the mental faculties of each individual as being limited
with as much strictness as those of his body, still less was the idea of the
hereditary transmission of ability clearly apprehended. The earlier part of
the book should be read in the light of the imperfect knowledge of the time
when it was written, since what was true in the above respects Previous page Top Next page