Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)

 
 
Discussion of Paper 'On Anthropological Desiderata'
(S90: 1864)

 
Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: Third party rendering of words Wallace offered in discussion of 'On Anthropological Desiderata,' a paper by James Reddie read at the Anthropological Society of London meeting of 2 February 1864, later printed in the Society's Journal series. Original pagination indicated within double brackets. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S090.htm


    [[p. cxxix]] Mr. A. R. Wallace thought that Mr. Pusey had very satisfactorily shown that Mr. Reddie's paper misrepresented the Darwinian theory. If the first step of that theory be admitted--that species may be formed from varieties--it was difficult to see how a line could be drawn between such a change and transmutation. Some of the groups into which the animal kingdom had been divided by naturalists were well marked, and others not so; and of those groups that were well marked, fossil remains have been discovered which indicate an intermediate link. From this it may be inferred that the strongly marked separations we now see, have been only produced by gradual extinction of the intermediate forms during a long geological period. The doctrine of Lamarck was different from the hypothesis of Mr. Darwin, as Mr. Pusey had already shown. It is a well-known law, that animals of the same species vary from several causes; and many peculiarities are continued by hereditary transmission, and in that manner varieties may be formed. The offspring resemble their parents generally, but variations exist between them in every possible characteristic. Indeed, unless it can be shown that the power of effecting changes by natural selection be a myth, it must be admitted that it is capable of producing wonderful changes, in the same manner as it must be admitted that artificial selection produces important changes. With reference to the explanations required by the author of the paper, why the canine teeth of the male gorilla, which does not live upon flesh, should be developed into tusks, Mr. Wallace said, the difference between the gorilla and man in that respect might be easily explained. The gorilla used its tusks as weapons of offence, and those that had [[p. cxxx]] the longest teeth mastered the others, and thus kept possession of the females, while the weaker varieties became extinct. Not a single fact had been adduced by the author of the paper to disprove Mr. Darwin's hypothesis. It has been said that the geological record is imperfect; but he, and those who supported that hypothesis, had the right to assume, that if the record were completed, it would confirm their views, and the very imperfection of the record may be adduced as favourable to that hypothesis. Respecting the assumed laws of hybridity, they were not altogether against it. There was, in fact, almost as much evidence on one side as on the other. With regard to the special question: how the different races of man could have originated? it appeared to him that those who totally object to the arguments of Mr. Darwin, Professor Huxley, and Sir Charles Lyell, should give anthropologists something in return for them; for they cannot be satisfied with mere negation. There were such wonderful analogies to the theory of transmutation in progress in nature, that it was impossible to be satisfied with the declarations of the objectors to the theory, that they did not know how such changes were effected; they ought at least to give a substitute for the theory they attempted to controvert.


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