Source: J. van Wyhe, The Writings of Charles Darwin on the Web. http://pages.britishlibrary.net/charles.darwin/
On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and
Species by Natural Means of Selection.
Communicated by Sir CHARLES LYELL, F.R.S., F.L.S., and J. D. HOOKER, Esq., M.D.,
London, June 30th, 1858.
MY DEAR SIR,—The accompanying papers, which we have the honour of communicating to
the Linnean Society, and which all related to the same subject, viz. the Laws which affect the
Production of Varieties, Races, and Species, contain the results of the investigations of two
indefatigable naturalists, Mr. Charles Darwin and Mr. Alfred Wallace.
The gentlemen having, independently and unknown to one another, conceived the same very
ingenious theory to account for the appearance and perpetuation of varieties and of specific
forms on our planet, and both fairly claim the merit of being original thinkers in this important
line of inquiry; but neither of them having published his views, though Mr. Darwin has for many
years past been repeatedly urged by us to do so, and both authors having now unreservedly
placed their papers in our hands, we think it would best promote the interests of science that a
selection from them should be laid before the Linnean Society. Taken in the order of their dates,
the consist of:—
1. Extracts from a MS. work on Species, by Mr. Darwin, which was sketched in 1839, and
copied in 1844, when the copy was read by Dr. Hooker, and its contents afterwards
communicated to Sir Charles Lyell. The first Part is devoted to "The Variation of Organic Beings
under Domestication and in their Natural State;" and the second chapter of that Part, from which
we propose to read to the Society the extracts referred to, is headed, "On the Variation of
Organic Beings in a state of Nature; on the Natural Means of Selection; on the Comparison of
Domestic Races and true Species."
2. An abstract of a private letter addressed to Professor Asa Gray, of Boston, U.S., in October
1857, by Mr. Darwin, in which he repeats his views, and which shows that these remained
unaltered from 1839 to 1857.
3. An Essay by Mr. Wallace, entitled "On the Tendency of Varieties to depart indefinitely from
the Original Type." This was written at Ternate in February 1858, for the perusal of his friend
and correspondent Mr. Darwin, and sent to him with the expressed wish that it should be
forwarded to Sir Charles Lyell, if Mr. Darwin thought if sufficiently novel and interesting. So
highly did Mr. Darwin appreciate the value of the views therein set forth, that he proposed, in a
letter to Sir Charles Lyell, to obtain Mr. Wallace's consent to allow the Essay to be published as
soon as possible. Of this step we highly approved, provided Mr. Darwin did not withhold from
the public, as he was strongly inclined to do (in favour of Mr. Wallace), the memoir which he