4 THE POSSIBLE IMPROVEMENT
tions. There is no mystery about the fundamental principles of this abstract law ; it rests on such simple fundamental conceptions as, that if we toss two pence in the air they will, in the long run, come down one head and one tail twice as often as both heads or both tails. I will assume then, that the talents, so to speak, that go to the formation of civic worth are distributed with rough approximation according to this familiar law. In doing so, I in no way disregard the admirable work of Prof. Karl Pearson on the distribution of qualities, for which he was adjudged the Darwin Medal of the Royal Society a few years ago. He has amply proved that we must not blindly trust the Normal Law of Frequency ; in fact, that when variations are minutely studied they rarely fall into that perfect symmetry about the mean value which is one of its consequences. Nevertheless, my conscience is clear in using this law in the way I am about to. I say that if certain qualities vary normally, such and such will be the results ; that' these qualities are of a class that are found, whenever they have been tested, to vary normally to a fair degree of approximation, and consequently we may infer that our results are trustworthy indications of real facts.
A talent is a sum whose exact value few of us care to know, although we all appreciate the inner sense of the beautiful parable. I