252 MEMORIES OF MY LIFE
title of " Personal Identification and Description " , on which larger subject there was much new to be said.
When thinking over the matter, the fact occurred to my recollection that thumb-marks had not infrequently been spoken and written about, so I inquiredinto their alleged use, especially by the Chinese. I also wrote a letter to Nature asking for information, which had the important effect of drawing a response from Sir William Herschel, who, as a Commissioner in India, had actually used them in his district, for many years, as a means of preventing personation. But the system fell into disuse after his departure. Sir William gave me every assistance, by forwarding to me both old and modern fingerprints of himself and of others of his family, and in showing his way of making the impressions.
I took up the study very seriously, thinking that finger-prints might prove to be of high anthropological significance, but I may say at once that they are not. I have examined large numbers of persons of different races to our own, as Jews, Basques, Red Indians, East Indians of various origins, Negroes, and a fair number of Chinese. Also persons of very different characters and temperaments, as students of science, students of art, Quakers, notabilities of various kinds, and a considerable number of idiots at Earlswood Asylum, without finding any pattern that was characteristic of any of them. But as I continued working at finger-prints, their importance as a means of identification became more and more obvious, and since my theoretical work on Heredity, Correlation, etc., of which I shall speak further, had