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SINCE the publication of my work on Hereditary Genius in 1869, I
have written numerous memoirs, of which a list is given in an earlier
page, and which are scattered in various publications. They may have
appeared desultory when read in the order in which they appeared, but as
they had an underlying connection it seems worth while to bring their
substance together in logical sequence into a single volume. I have
revised, condensed, largely re-written, transposed old matter, and
interpolated much that is new; but traces of the fragmentary origin of the
work still remain, and I do not regret them. They serve to show that the
book is intended to be suggestive, and renounces all claim to be
encyclopedic. I have indeed, with that object, avoided going into details in
not a few cases where I should otherwise have written with fulness,
especially in the Anthropometric part. My general object has been to take
note of the varied hereditary faculties of different men, and of the great
differences in different families and races, to learn how far history may
have shown the practicability of supplanting inefficient human stock by
better strains, and to consider whether it might not be our duty to do so by
such efforts as may be reasonable, thus exerting ourselves to further the
ends of evolution more rapidly and with less distress than if events were
left to their own course. The subject is, however, so entangled with
collateral considerations that a straightforward step-by-step inquiry did
not seem to be the most suitable course. I thought it safer to proceed like
the surveyor of a new country, and endeavour to fix in the first instance as
truly as I could the position of several cardinal points. The general outline
of the results to which I finally arrived became more coherent and clear as
this process went on; they are briefly summarised in the concluding
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