More on CD's objections to ARW's views on protection and natural selection.
Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.
My dear Wallace,
Your letter, like so many previous ones, has interested me much.—
Nothing would please me more than to find evidence of males selecting the more attractive females: I have for months being trying to persuade myself of this. There is the case of man in favour of this belief, & I know in hybrid unions of males preferring particular females, but alas not guided by colour.— Perhaps I may get more evidence, as I wade through my 20 years mass of notes.
I am not shaken about the female protected butterflies; I
will grant (only for argument) that the life of the male is
of very little value,— I will grant that the males do
not vary, yet why has not the protective beauty of the female
been transferred by inheritance to the male?
The beauty would be a gain to the male, as far as we can see,
as a protection; & I cannot believe that it w
I sometimes marvel how truth progresses, so difficult is it for one man to convince another, unless his mind is vacant. Nevertheless I myself to a certain extent contradict my own remark; for I believe far more in the importance of protection, than I did before reading your articles.—
I do not think you lay nearly stress enough in your articles on what you admit in your letter, viz ``there seems to be some production of vividness of colour in the male independent of protection''. This I am making a chief point; & have come to your conclusion so far that I believe that intense colouring in the female sex is often checked by being dangerous.—
That is an excellent remark of yours about no known case of
male alone assuming protective colours; but in the cases in
which protection has been gained by dull colours, I presume
that sexual selection would interfere with the male losing
his beauty. If the male alone had acquired beauty as a
protection, it would be most readily overlooked, as males are
so often more beautiful than their females. Moreover I grant
that the life of the male is somewhat less precious & thus
Yours most sincerely | C. Darwin
* This does not apply to sexual selection, for the greater the excess of males & the less precious their lives, so much the better for sexual selection.
I do not know whether you will care to read this scrawl
PS I heard yesterday that my Photograph has been sent to your London address—Westbourne Grove
- f1 6146.f1The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from A. R. Wallace, 28 April .
- f2 6146.f2CD refers to Thomas Clifford Allbutt. See letter from A. R. Wallace, 28 April . CD's discussion of the `law' that the sperm cell always travels to the germ cell has not been identified.
- f3 6146.f3See letter from A. R. Wallace, 28 April .
- f4 6146.f4See letter from A. R. Wallace, 28 April .
- f5 6146.f5See letter to A. R. Wallace, [21 March 1868] and n. 4.