From A. R. Wallace 22 October 1
I am very glad you approve of my article on “Creation by Law” as a whole.2
The “machine metaphor is not mine, but the N.B. reviewers.3 I merely accept it and show that it is on our side and not against us, but I do not think it at all a good metaphor to be used as an argument either way. I did not half develope the argument on the limits of variation, being myself limited in space; but I feel satisfied that it is the true answer to the very common and very strong objection, that “variation has strict limits”. The fallacy is the requiring variation in domesticity to go beyond the limits of the same variation under nature. It does do so sometimes however, because the conditions of existence are so different. I do not think a case can be pointed out in which the limits of variation under domestication are not up to or beyond those already marked out in nature, only we generally get in the species an amount of change which in nature occurs only in the whole range of the genus or family 4
The many cases however in which variation has gone far beyond nature and has not yet stopped, are ignored. For instance no wild pomaceous fruit is I believe so large as our apples, and no doubt they could be got much larger if flavour &c. were entirely neglected.
I may perhaps push “protection” too far some times for it is my hobby just now,—but as the Lion & the Tiger are I think the only two non-arboreal cats, I think the Tiger stripe agreeing so well with its usual habitat is at least a probable case.5
I am rewriting my article on Birds’ nests for the new “Nat. Hist. Review.”6
I cannot tell you about the first appearance of tears, but it is very early,—the first week or two I think.7 I can see the Vict. Mag. at the London Library.8
I shall read your book every word. I hear from Sir C. Lyell that you come out with a grand [new] theory at the end, which even the Cautious! Huxley is afraid of!9 Sir C. said he could think of nothing else since he read it. I long to see it.
My address is Hurstpierpoint during the winter, and when in Town, 76 Westbourne Grove.
I suppose you will now be going on with your book on Sexual selection & Man, by way of relaxation!10 It is a glorious subject but will require delicate handling.
Yours very faithfully | Alfred R. Wallace—
C. Darwin Esq.
Response to CD’s comments on "Creation by law" [see 5637].
The limits of variation discussed.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5656,” accessed on 30 March 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-5656