A few years ago I published a short sketch of Mendel's discovery in heredity, and of some of the recent experiments which had arisen from it. Since then progress in these studies has been rapid, and the present account, though bearing the same title, has been completely rewritten. A number of illustrations have been added, and here I may acknowledge my indebtedness to Miss Wheldale for the two coloured plates of sweet peas, to the Hon. Walter Rothschild for the butterflies figured on Plate VI., to Professor Wood for photographs of sheep, and to Dr. Drinkwater for the figures of human hands. To my former publishers also, Messrs. Bowes and Bowes, I wish to express my thanks for the courtesy with which they acquiesced in my desire that the present edition should be published elsewhere.
As the book is intended to appeal to a wide audience, I have not attempted to give more experimental instances than were necessary to illustrate the story, nor have I burdened it with bibliographical reference. The reader who desires further information may be referred to Mr. Bateson's indispensable Volume on Mendel's Principles of Heredity (Cambridge, 1909), where a full account of these matters is readily accessible. Neither have I alluded to recent cytological work in so far as it may bear upon our problems. Many of the facts connected with the division of the chromosomes are striking and suggestive, but while so much difference of opinion exists as to their interpretation they are hardly suited for popular treatment.
In choosing typical examples to illustrate the growth of our ideas it was natural that I should give the preference to those with which I was most familiar. For this reason the book is in some measure a record of the work accomplished by the Cambridge School of Genetics, and it is not unfair to say that under the leadership of William Bateson the contributions of this school have been second to none. But it should not be forgotten that workers in other European countries, and especially in America, have amassed a large and valuable body of evidence with which it is impossible to deal in a small volume of this scope.
It is not long since the English language was enriched by two new words—Eugenics and Genetics—and their similarity of origin has sometimes led to confusion between them on the part of those who are innocent of Greek. Genetics is the term applied to the experimental study of heredity and variation in animals and plants, and the main concern of its students is the establishing of law and order among the phenomena there encountered. Eugenics, on the other hand, deals with the improvement of the human race under existing conditions of law and sentiment. The Eugenist has to take into account the religious and social beliefs and prejudices of mankind. Other issues are involved besides the purely biological one, though as time goes on it is coming to be more clearly recognised that the Eugenic ideal is sharply circumscribed by the facts of heredity and variation, and by the laws which govern the transmission of qualities in living things....