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xii   PREFACE

that many have obtained the distinction through such aid who could not otherwise have done so, but they are far from being all-important factors of success. The facts that lie patent before the eyes of every medical man, engineer, and the members of most professions, afford ample material for researches that would command the attention of the scientific world if viewed with intelligence and combined by a capable mind.

It is so difficult to compare the number of those who might have succeeded with the number of those who do, that the following illustration may perhaps be useful : By adding to the 53 registration counties in England, the 12 in Wales, the 33 in Scotland and the 3 2 in Ireland, an aggregate of 130 is obtained. The English counties, and the others in a lesser degree, have to be ransacked in order to supply the fifteen annually-elected Fellows ; so it requires more than eight of these counties to yield an annual supply of a single Fellow to the Royal Society.

It is therefore contended that the Fellows of the Royal Society have sufficient status to be reckoned " noteworthy," and, such being the case, they are a very convenient body for inquiries like these. They are trained to, and have sympathy with, scientific investigations ; biographical notices are published of them during their lifetime, notably in the convenient compendium " Who's Who," to which there will be frequent occasion to refer ; and they are more or less known to one another, either directly or through friends, making it comparatively easy to satisfy the