From A. R. Wallace 4 February 1866
9, St. Mark’s Crescent, | Regent’s Park, N.W.
Feb. 4th. 1866
My dear Darwin
I am very glad to hear you are a little better, & hope we shall soon have the pleasure of seeing your volume on “Variation under domestication”.1
I do not see the difficulty you seem to feel about 2 or more female forms of one species.2 The most common or typical female form must have certain characters or qualities which are sufficiently advantageous to it, to enable it to maintain its existence;—in general such as vary much from it, die out. But occasionally a variation may occur which has special advantageous characters of its own, (such as mimicking a protected species) & then this variation will maintain itself by selection.3 In no less than 3 of my polymorphic species of Papilio, one of the female forms mimics the Polydorus group, which like the Æneas group in America seem to have some special protection. In two or three other cases one of the female forms is confined to a restricted locality to the conditions of which it is probably specially adapted. In other cases one of the female forms resembles the male, and perhaps receives a protection from the abundance of the males, in the crowd of which it is passed over.4
I think these considerations render the production of two or three forms of female very conceivable. The physiological difficulty is to me greater, of how each of two forms of female, produces offspring like the other female as well as like itself, but no intermediates.
If you “know varieties that will not blend or intermix, but produce offspring quite like either parent”,—is not that the very physiological test of a species which is wanting for the complete proof of the “origin of species:”?5
I have by no means given up the idea of writing my travels, but I think I shall be able to do it better for the delay, as I can introduce chapters giving popular sketches of the subjects treated of in my various papers.6
I hope, if things go as I wish this summer, to begin work at it next winter.7 But I feel myself incorrigibly lazy, & have no such system of collecting & arranging facts or of making the most of my materials, as you, & many of our hard working naturalists possess in perfection.
With best wishes | Believe me Dear Darwin | Yours most sincerely | Alfred R. Wallace
C. Darwin Esq.
Looks forward to reading Variation.
Explains how two or more female forms occur in one species through selection. The physiological problem remains of how each produces offspring like the other without intermediates. Is not CD’s case of varieties that will not blend the physiological test of a species needed for "complete proof of the origin of species"?
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4997,” accessed on 21 January 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4997