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Inquiries into Human Faculty
question, and the result to be much the same as before, showing that the
reason of the resemblance was that the rejected portrait had a close
approximation to the ideal average picture of the rest. 
These small composites give a better notion of the utmost capacity of
the process than the larger ones, from which they are reduced. In the
latter, the ghosts of individual peculiarities are more visible, and usually
the equal traces left by every member of a moderately-sized group can be
made out by careful inspection; but it is hardly possible to do this in the
pictures in the Plate, except in a good light and in a very few of the cases.
On the other hand, the larger pictures do not contain more detail of value
than the smaller ones.
The medallion of Alexander the Great was made by combining the
images of six different medals, with a view of obtaining the type of
features that the makers of those medals concurred in desiring to ascribe
to him. The originals were kindly selected for me by Mr. R. Stuart Poole
from the collection in the British Museum. This composite was one of the
first I ever made, and is printed together with its six components in the
Journal of the Royal Institution in illustration of a lecture I gave there in
April 1879. It seems to me that it is possible on this principle to obtain a
truer likeness of a man than in an other way. Every artist makes mistakes;
but by combining the conscientious works of many artists, their separate
mistakes disappear, and what is common to all of their works remains. So
as regards different photographs of the same person, those accidental
momentary expressions are got rid of, which an ordinary photograph
made by a brief exposure cannot help recording. On the other hand, any
happy sudden trait of expression is lost. The composite gives the features
in repose.
The next pair of composites (full face and profile) on the Plate has not
been published before. The interest of the pair lies chiefly in their having
been made from only two components, and they show how curiously even
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