Darwin-L Message Log 5:37 (January 1994)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.

<5:37>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu  Sat Jan  8 12:50:47 1994

Date: Sat, 08 Jan 1994 13:56:46 -0400 (EDT)
From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu
Subject: January 8 -- Today in the Historical Sciences
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro


1823: ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE is born at Usk, Monmouthshire, Wales.  Following
an apprenticeship to his brother as an assistant surveyor and an interval of
school teaching, Wallace will propose to his friend Henry Walter Bates that
they take advantage of their common interest in natural history and become
commercial collectors.  Although their first expedition to South America will
be successful, their ship and nearly all their collections will be destroyed
by fire on the return voyage to England.  Undeterred, Wallace will depart on a
second expedition to the Malay Archipelago in 1854.  In March of 1858 on the
island of Gilolo, in the midst of a malarial fever, Wallace will conceive of
the idea of evolution by natural selection, and will immediately send a
manuscript to Charles Darwin that will contain a nearly perfect summary of
Darwin's own views, which were then unpublished and which Wallace had never
seen.  On the advice of Charles Lyell and J.D. Hooker, Darwin will consent to
publish, under the pressure of this coincidence, two extracts from his own
work in progress, along with the manuscript of Wallace, in the _Journal of
the Proceedings of the Linnean Society_.  Wallace paper, "On the tendency of
varieties to depart indefinitely from the original type", will conclude thus:
"We believe we have now shown that there is a tendency in nature to the
continued progression of certain classes of _varieties_ further and further
from the original type -- a progression to which there appears no reason to
assign any definite limits -- and that the same principle which produces this
result in a state of nature will also explain why domestic varieties have a
tendency to revert to the original type.  This progression, by minute steps,
in various directions, but always checked and balanced by the necessary
conditions, subject to which alone existence can be preserved, may, it is
believed, be followed out so as to agree with all the phenomena presented by
organized beings, their extinction and succession in past ages, and all the
extraordinary modifications of form, instinct, and habits which they exhibit."

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