CHAPTER XII. SUMMARY

THE investigation now concluded is based on the fact that the characteristics of any population that is in harmony with its environment, may remain statistically identical during successive generations. This is true for every characteristic whether it be affected to a great degree by a, natural selection, or only so slightly as to be practically independent of it. It was easy to see in a vague way, that an equation admits of being based on this fact ; that the equation might serve to suggest a theory of descent, and that no theory of descent that failed to satisfy it could possibly be true.

A large part of the book is occupied with preparations for putting this equation into a working form. Obstacles in the way of doing so, which I need not recapitulate, appeared on every side ; they had to be confronted in turns, and then to be either evaded or overcome. The final result was that the higher methods of statistics, which consist in applications of the law of Frequency of Error, were found eminently suitable for expressing