William Far (1807-1883) ranks with John Graunt (1620-1674) for his contributions to medical statistics. He was the first to express mathematically the rise and fall of epidemic disease by applying statistical methods to epidemiology. That he also had a deep concern for the frail and premature infant is evident in the following plea directed toward the medical audience.
Great qualities of soul are often hidden in the frail child. One Christmas day a premature posthumous son was born in England of such an extremely diminutive size, and apparently of so perishable a frame, that two women who were sent to Lady Pakenham at North Witham, to bring some medicine to strengthen him, did not expect to find him alive on their return. He would inevitably have been consigned to the caverns of Taygetus if the two women had carried him to Spartan tryers. As it was, the frail boy grew up into Newton, lived more than four-score years, and revealed to mankind the laws of the universe. If he had perished, England would not have been what it is in the world. In Paris one evening a puny child in a neat little basket was picked up: he had been left at the church door, the commissary of police was about to carry him to the foundling hospital, when a glazier's wife exclaimed: "You will kill the child in your hospital, give him to me; I have no children, I will take care of him."
She cherished her boy, poor as she was, until some one, perhaps his father, settled a small annuity on his life, with which he was educated at the Mazarin College, where he displayed the early genius of a Pascal: it was D'Alembert, to whom we are indebted for a new calculus, for the grand introduction to the Cyclopaedia, and for innumerable physical discoveries.