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Darwinism (1889)   By: (1823-1913)

Book cover

First Page:

DARWINISM

AN EXPOSITION OF THE

THEORY OF NATURAL SELECTION

WITH SOME OF ITS APPLICATIONS

BY

ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE

LL.D., F.L.S., ETC.

WITH A PORTRAIT OF THE AUTHOR, MAP AND ILLUSTRATIONS

MACMILLAN AND CO. LONDON AND NEW YORK [Second Edition] 1889

[Illustration: Alfred R. Wallace]

PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION

The present edition is a reprint of the first, with a few verbal corrections and the alteration of some erroneous or doubtful statements. Of these latter the following are the most important:

P. 30. The statement as to the fulmar petrel, which Professor A. Newton assures me is erroneous, has been modified.

P. 34. A note is added as to Darwin's statement about the missel and song thrushes in Scotland.

P. 172. An error as to the differently coloured herds of cattle in the Falkland Islands, is corrected.

PARKSTONE, DORSET August, 1889 .

PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION

The present work treats the problem of the Origin of Species on the same general lines as were adopted by Darwin; but from the standpoint reached after nearly thirty years of discussion, with an abundance of new facts and the advocacy of many new or old theories.

While not attempting to deal, even in outline, with the vast subject of evolution in general, an endeavour has been made to give such an account of the theory of Natural Selection as may enable any intelligent reader to obtain a clear conception of Darwin's work, and to understand something of the power and range of his great principle.

Darwin wrote for a generation which had not accepted evolution, and which poured contempt on those who upheld the derivation of species from species by any natural law of descent. He did his work so well that "descent with modification" is now universally accepted as the order of nature in the organic world; and the rising generation of naturalists can hardly realise the novelty of this idea, or that their fathers considered it a scientific heresy to be condemned rather than seriously discussed.

The objections now made to Darwin's theory apply, solely, to the particular means by which the change of species has been brought about, not to the fact of that change. The objectors seek to minimise the agency of natural selection and to subordinate it to laws of variation, of use and disuse, of intelligence, and of heredity. These views and objections are urged with much force and more confidence, and for the most part by the modern school of laboratory naturalists, to whom the peculiarities and distinctions of species, as such, their distribution and their affinities, have little interest as compared with the problems of histology and embryology, of physiology and morphology. Their work in these departments is of the greatest interest and of the highest importance, but it is not the kind of work which, by itself, enables one to form a sound judgment on the questions involved in the action of the law of natural selection. These rest mainly on the external and vital relations of species to species in a state of nature on what has been well termed by Semper the "physiology of organisms," rather than on the anatomy or physiology of organs.

It has always been considered a weakness in Darwin's work that he based his theory, primarily, on the evidence of variation in domesticated animals and cultivated plants. I have endeavoured to secure a firm foundation for the theory in the variations of organisms in a state of nature; and as the exact amount and precise character of these variations is of paramount importance in the numerous problems that arise when we apply the theory to explain the facts of nature, I have endeavoured, by means of a series of diagrams, to exhibit to the eye the actual variations as they are found to exist in a sufficient number of species... Continue reading book >>




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