Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/418

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404
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Europeans. The fact that the psychical and intellectual, as well as the physical, differences between particular races of men are really insignificant, is destined to be made more plain the more the subject is impartially studied, and the efforts of certain men, learned in distinctions of types, to set up fixed marks of separation between them, will not succeed.—Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from "Das Ausland."

 
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SKETCH OF DR. WILLIAM FARR.

DR. WILLIAM FARR, who died on the 14th of April last, aged seventy-six, was the founder of the English system of vital statistics, and was chiefly instrumental in bringing it to its present state of perfection; and, in the measure that the study of the statistical tables has furnished facts for the guidance of sanitary officers, he may be said to have contributed directly and very greatly to the improvement that took place in the public health conditions of Great Britain during his career.

Dr. Farr was born at Kenley, Shropshire, England, in 1807. He went to school at Dorrington and Shrewsbury, then entered upon a university course in Paris, and concluded his studies in the University of London, in 1831. He served for six months as house-surgeon of Shrewsbury Infirmary, subsequently began the practice and teaching of medicine in London, and afterward edited for some time the "Medical Annual" and the "British Annals of Medicine." In this work he exhibited a power of statistical analysis that attracted the attention of the proprietor of the "Lancet," and he became a constant and valued contributor to that journal, of articles dealing chiefly with vital and medical statistics. He thus acquired a reputation in this line of work, which induced his selection by the Government, in 1838, as compiler of abstracts in the newly-created office of the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths, and Marriages. An act of Parliament was passed directing that a statement of the cause of death should be inserted in connection with the registry of the fact, and Dr. Farr was assigned this work specifically on account of his known capacity for statistically analyzing the materials that would come under his eye; the registrar-general stating in his first report that the assignment had been made to him as "a gentleman of the medical profession, whose scientific knowledge and intimate acquaintance with statistical inquiries were ample pledges of his peculiar fitness." For forty years in succession Dr. Farr's reports of his analyses were presented to the registrar-general to form one of the most important parts of his reports, and were the medium for contributing facts, the practical ap-