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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

these various well-defined vital phenomena are dependent, if we can succeed in establishing their direct relation, their immediate continuity with the rest of the world, then we cannot possibly be far from having reached the solution of the first phase of our problem.

There can be no manner of doubt that the secrets of the origin of vitality, and of the rise of organization, must all lie encompassed in these most unsophisticated dots of living material. What more enticing prospect for scientific investigation could be found? The nature of vital phenomena, if not disclosed even here in its plainest mode of manifestation, must ever remain incomprehensible. It is the fundamental truth of living reality, in all its native force, which in this unorganized and quickened matter appeals to our understanding, and it needs but candor, simplicity, and courage, to become initiated into the mystery of vitality. Let us, then, endeavor to cast away the incumbrance of so much foreknowledge, misleading as it has proved. If at all attainable, here it is, with our diminutive specimens of vitality, that true insight is to be gained. At any rate, we cannot leave the inquiry till we know, or till we have become fully convinced, that vital phenomena, even in their elements, are impervious to human knowledge.

Having for the last four years concentrated his whole attention on the manifestations of primitive life, and reached results which he deems important, the present writer, in a succeeding and fuller article, will attempt to convey to the general reader some idea of what he has gained by these studies.

 

COMPOSITE PORTRAITS.[1]
By FRANCIS GALTON, F. R. S.

I SUBMIT to the Anthropological Institute my first results in carrying out a process that I suggested last August in my Presidential Address to the Anthropological Subsection of the British Association at Plymouth, in the following words:

"Having obtained drawings or photographs of several persons alike in most respects, but differing in minor details, what sure method is there of extracting the typical characteristics from them? I may mention a plan which had occurred both to Mr. Herbert Spencer and myself, the principle of which is to superimpose optically the various drawings and to accept the aggregate result. Mr. Spencer suggested to me in conversation that the drawings reduced to the same scale might be traced on separate pieces of transparent paper and secured one upon another, and then held between the eye and the light. I have attempted this with some success. My own idea was, to throw faint images of the several portraits, in succession, upon the same sensitized photographic plate. I may add that it is perfectly easy to superimpose optically two portraits by means of a
  1. Abstract of a paper read before the London Anthropological Institute, April 30, 1878.