Punch,  39 (1860), 182.

Unnatural Selection and Improvement of Species. (A Paper Intended to be Read at our Social Science Congress by One who has been Spending Half-an-Hour or so with Darwin).



Address, Drollery


Darwinism, Evolution, Human Development, Animal Behaviour, Extinction

    This is the first article in Punch to deal directly with Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution by means of natural selection. Intended for an audience at the Social Science Congress, this spoof address opens by claiming that 'nine happy couples out of every ten are influenced' by 'the new Theory of Unnatural Selection', pointing out that what 'tends strongly to confirm our friend's [Darwin's] ingenious hypothesis', is the large number of mismatched couples. Examples of such mismatching and the principle of 'Like selects Unlike' include short husbands with tall wives. Insists that the 'fixed principle in nature' which is responsible for this is that men first make an apparently 'unnatural selection' of 'parties as dissimilar as can be to themselves', which propagate a 'Variety of species, both personal and mental'. Explains that 'philosophy and science both dispose us to contentment with our singly blessed state' and help us understand that mismatches may be more apparent than real. Warns that 'Natural Selection' does not necessarily lead to 'Improvement of Species' because, if people were 'unnaturally select in their selections' of partners, then 'the world would get so wise and good that there would really be little pleasure left in it'. 'Unnatural Selection', it adds, leads to folly which provides delight for those of 'refined and cultivated intellects', whilst natural selection would lead to the unpalatable result of the extinction of 'simpletons and snobs', and of Punch.

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