Academy,  2 (1870–71), 138–40.

[Review of Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection, by Alfred R Wallace]  [1/2]

Anton Dohrn



Publications reviewed:

Wallace 1870


Darwinism, Theory, Exploration, Population, Descent, Natural Law, Biology, Ornithology, Amateurism, Creation, Human Species, Heredity, Instinct

    Suggests that the essays collected in Alfred R Wallace's book are 'interesting not only in their relation to the great theory, but also from the light which they throw on the gradual development of a remarkable man'. Although the researches on species of Wallace and Charles R Darwin 'culminate in very divergent results—an example ready to hand of the Darwinian law of the divergence of character', it is 'also worth noting that both enquirers received their first impulse towards a successful solution of the problem from Malthus's celebrated work On Population'. Praises Wallace for having earlier taken 'a stand in the most definite manner on the basis of the theory of descent, which had been so completely stamped out since the time of Lamarck', and notes that it 'required considerable boldness to undertake a problem, regarded at the time by almost everyone as unscientific, beneath the tropical sun of the Sunda Islands'. (138) Insists that Wallace's essay on the tendency of varieties to depart indefinitely from the original Type and Darwin's On the Origin of Species 'form together the one fountain-head from which the theory of natural selection has flowed, so we may recognise side by side with the mighty development of Darwin a perfectly independent position for Mr. Wallace' (138–39). Indeed, Wallace's work, particularly on instinct and birds, will 'open a new field of biology, as well for laymen as for trained enquirers'. Furthermore, Wallace in his book 'maintains with great emphasis that there are very important facts in Nature for whose explanation' the principle of natural selection 'does not suffice, and will never suffice'. (139)

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