Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/420

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animation. On all these matters, when called upon, he gave his services cheerfully, and did thorough work. He was present as a representative of Great Britain at the several statistical congresses which have been held at intervals in the various capitals of Europe since the custom was begun, in 1851. At the Statistical Congress held at the Hague in 1869, he made a report upon coinage and metric weights and measures, in which was embodied a recommendation for an international system of metric coinage, with a strong argument in its favor.

"The forty years of Dr. Farr's life preceding his retirement from the public service in 1879," says the "Lancet," "were spent in unremitting statistical labor. It is impossible to doubt either the value of his work, or of its influence upon public opinion in health matters, preparing the way for and making possible the sanitary legislation of 1872 and 1875, which is already so favorably influencing the health and longevity of the English people. We know, however, of no complete list of his contributions to statistical literature." Besides the papers already mentioned in this sketch, we find, referred to in articles of which he is the subject, a paper in the "Lancet" "On Benevolent Funds and Life Assurance in Health and Sickness"; a pamphlet describing a system of Government life assurance; a paper in the "Transactions of the Royal Society" on the "Construction of Life Tables"; the article on "Vital Statistics" in McCulloch's "Statistics of the British Empire"; and papers on the "Finance of Life Insurance," the "Income Tax," the "Valuation of Railways," and the "Valuation of Railways, Telegraphs, Water Companies, Canals, and other Commercial Concerns, with Prospective, Deferred, Increasing, Decreasing, or Terminary Profits." The language of his papers was always characterized by lucidity, simplicity, and common sense, and, notwithstanding the supposed aridity of the subjects, often rose into eloquence and impressive presentation; and his influence on public opinion in health matters is believed by the "Lancet" to have been "in great measure due to his picturesque style of writing, which invested dry facts with popular interest, although it laid him open at times to depreciatory criticism from those who believe that the style of statistical literature and reports should be characterized by the soberest dryness."

In 1879 Major Graham, the registrar-general, Dr. Farr's superior, resigned his office. Public opinion indicated Dr. Farr as his legitimate and only fitting successor; but the Government overlooked the principle of civil-service selection and appointed another person, who was not known to have any special qualifications for the trust. Dr. Farr therefore wrote to Major Graham a letter of resignation of his own position, saying: "Having learned from you that Sir Brydges Henniker is to be the new registrar-general, and thus having lost all chance of being your successor, I shall be glad if the Lords of her Majesty's Treasury will allow me to resign my appointment, and will