Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)
Discussion of a Paper on Hybridity (S100: 1864)
Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: Third party rendering of words Wallace offered in discussion of
the paper 'On Hybridity,' read by Rev. F. W. Farrar at the Anthropological Society of London's
meeting of 5 April 1864, and later printed in the second volume of the Society's Journal series.
Original pagination indicated within double brackets. To link directly to this page, connect with:
[[p. ccxxvi]] Mr. A. R. Wallace thought the meeting were much indebted to M. Vogt for the
eloquent and forcible manner in which he had pointed out the excessive difficulty and
complexity of the subject, and the state of ignorance which generally prevails as to what
constitutes species. All the facts stated in the paper would, however, go to prove that no two
nations could produce fertile offspring, for it might be said that in all instances where fertility
existed there had been an influx of new blood. Such problems could not be satisfactorily solved,
because it was impossible to make the requisite experiments on men. It might be done with
animals, but with men it was a different thing. The only method by which the problem could be
solved would be, to introduce into some island women of one race and men of another, and leave
them to themselves, taking care that no other races were admitted on the island. But as that could
not be done, no evidence could be obtained that was not open to objection. One of the [[p.
ccxxvii]] instances alluded to in the paper, as affording evidence against the general fertility of
human races, rested on but slight grounds. It was asserted that with the Australians there was
great difficulty in producing offspring even at the first cross, and that instances of subsequent
fertility are rare. But he had received a communication from a friend, who had recently come
from Australia, which contradicted that opinion. He stated that he had known two instances of
Australian women having had children by white men and afterwards by men of their own tribe.
Numerous cases of the kind, he said, occurred in the bush, in one of which the woman had four
children; but the illegitimate children were always destroyed by the chiefs of tribes, which
accounted for their scarcity. His friend also mentioned that he had seen half-castes who had
children of their own, and his evidence also contradicted the assertion of Count Strzelecki, that
Australian women who had lived with Europeans became infertile for their own race. There was
the well known case of the Pitcairn islanders, in which the males of one race and females of
another race were shipwrecked on the island, and lived together for a long time without
communication with other people, and it would be important to know the results.
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