238 NATURAL INHERITANCE.
through illness." Overwork and worry will make even mild-tempered men exceedingly touchy and cross.
The accurate discernment and designation of character is almost beyond the reach of any one, but, on the other hand, a rough estimate and a fair description of its prominent features is easily obtainable; and it seems to me that the testimony of a member of a family who has seen and observed a person in his unguarded moments and under very varied circumstances for many years, is a verdict deserving of much confidence. I shall have fulfilled my object in writing this paper if it leaves a clear impression of the great range and variety of temper among persons of both sexes in the upper and middle classes of English society; of its disregard in Marriage Selection ; of the great admixture of its good and bad varieties in the same family; and of its being, nevertheless, as hereditary as any other quality. Also, that 'although it exerts an immense influence for good or ill on domestic happiness, it seems that good temper has not been especially looked for, nor ill temper especially shunned, as it ought to be in marriage-selection.
THE GEOMETRIC MEAN, IN VITAL AND SOCIAL STATISTICS.'
My purpose is to show that an assumption which lies at the basis of the well-known law of " Frequency of Error" is incorrect when applied to many groups of vital and social phenomena, although that law has been applied to them by statisticians with partial success. Next, I will point out the correct hypothesis upon which a Law of Error suitable to these cases ought to be calculated ; and subsequently I will communicate a memoir by Mr. (now Dr.) Donald Macalister, who, at my suggestion, has mathematically investigated the subject.
The assumption to which I refer is, that errors in-excess or in deficiency of the truth are equally probable ; or conversely, that if two fallible measurements have been made of the same object, their
1 Reprinted, with slight revision, from the Proceedings of the Royal Society,
No. 198, 1879.