September 1854 I
whole time to
arranging my huge pile
of notes, to observing,
and to experimenting in relation to the
transmutation of species.
1798 observation by Malthus that
human populations would double every 25 years unless they were limited
by food, war, etc. provided both Darwin and Wallace with the vital clue
that led to their independent discovery of natural selection.
in the summer
of 1858 Mr.
Wallace, who was then in the Malay archipelago, sent me an essay "On
the Tendency of Varieties to
depart indefinitely from the Original
Type;" and this essay
contained exactly the same theory as mine. Mr.
Wallace expressed the wish that if I thought well of his essay, I
should sent it to Lyell for perusal.
Wallace (1823-1913) Self-taught
explorer, socialist, philosopher, entrepreneur and largely
co-discoverer of the 'natural selection' evolutionary process.
extract from my MS. and the letter to Asa Gray had neither been
intended for publication, and were badly written. Mr. Wallace's essay,
on the other hand, was admirably expressed and quite clear.
Nevertheless, our joint productions excited very little attention, and
the only published
notice of them which I can remember was by Professor
Haughton of Dublin, whose verdict was that
all that was new in them was false,
and what was true was old.
and Harvard botonist, to whom Darwin sent
abstract of his
new theory in September 1857.
Wallace and Charles Darwin - codiscoverers of
this montage from separate
to bring the two great heroes of
a commemorative photograph.
versions of the same photo,
taken in 1859, the year Darwin published The
Origin of Species
by no means
naturalists whose minds are stocked with a multitude of facts all
viewed, during a long course of years, from a point of view directly
opposite to mine.
of The Origin of Species, including Darwin's hand
written title page
William Darwin's 1863
portrait of his father.
may, of course, be
egregiously wrong; but I cannot persuade
myself that a theory
which explains several
large classes of facts can be wholly
few of the
editions of The Origin of Species. Since 1859, it has
never been out of print.
is no doubt the chief
life. It was from the first highly successful. The first
of 1250 copies was sold on the day
of publication, and a second edition
of 3000 copies soon afterwards. Sixteen thousand copies
have now (1876)
been sold in England;
and considering how stiff a book it is, this is a
large sale. It has been translated into almost every European tongue,
even into such languages as Spanish, Bohemian, Polish, and Russian.
To read The Origin of Speces online, click
Darwin grew his
famous beard in
excellent albumen print portrait by Ernest
was taken around 1867.
The universe we observe has
the properties we should
if there is, at
bottom, no design, no purpose,
no evil, no good, nothing
but blind, pitiless indifference.
has sometimes been said
success of the 'Origin' proved "that the subject was in the air," or
"that men's minds were prepared for it." I do not think that this is
strictly true, for I occasionally sounded not a few naturalists, and
never happened to come across a single one who seemed to
about the permanence of
species. Even Lyell and Hooker, though they would
listen with interest to me, never seemed to agree. I tried once or
twice to explain to able men what I
meant by Natural Selection, but