Alfred Russel Wallace: Letters and Reminiscences, Vol. 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 301 pages of information about Alfred Russel Wallace.


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Tunantins, Upper Amazon.  November 19, 1856.

Dear Wallace,—­ ...  I received about six months ago a copy of your paper in the Annals on “The Laws which have Governed the Introduction of New Species.”  I was startled at first to see you already ripe for the enunciation of the theory.  You can imagine with what interest I read and studied it, and I must say that it is perfectly well done.  The idea is like truth itself, so simple and obvious that those who read and understand it will be struck by its simplicity; and yet it is perfectly original.  The reasoning is close and clear, and although so brief an essay, it is quite complete, embraces the whole difficulty, and anticipates and annihilates all objections.

Few men will be in a condition to comprehend and appreciate the paper, but it will infallibly create for you a high and sound reputation.  The theory I quite assent to, and, you know, was conceived by me also, but I profess that I could not have propounded it with so much force and completeness.

Many details I could supply, in fact a great deal remains to be done to illustrate and confirm the theory:  a new method of investigating and propounding zoology and botany inductively is necessitated, and new libraries will have to be written; in part of this task I hope to be a labourer for many happy and profitable years.  What a noble subject would be that of a monograph of a group of beings peculiar to one region but offering different species in each province of it—­tracing the laws which connect together the modifications of forms and colour with the local circumstances of a province or station—­tracing as far as possible the actual affiliation of the species.

Two of such groups occur to me at once, in entomology, in Heliconiidae and Erotylidae of South America; the latter I think more interesting than the former for one reason—­the species are more local, having feebler means of locomotion than the Heliconiidae....—­Yours very truly,


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Amboyna.  January 4, 1858.

My dear Bates,—­My delay of six months in answering your very interesting and most acceptable letter dated an ideal absurdity put forth when such a simple hypothesis will explain all the facts.

I have been much gratified by a letter from Darwin, in which he says that he agrees with “almost every word” of my paper.  He is now preparing for publication his great work on species and varieties, for which he has been collecting information twenty years.  He may save me the trouble of writing the second part of my hypothesis by proving that there is no difference in nature between the origin of species

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Alfred Russel Wallace: Letters and Reminiscences, Vol. 1 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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