Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/479

This page has been validated.
475
THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

THE FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE THEORY OF NATURAL SELECTION

Modern biological science may be said to date from the presentation by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace to the Linnean Society on July 1, 1858, of the theory of the origin of species by means of natural selection. The title of the joint paper was "On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection." This paper was presented to the society by Joseph D. Hooker and Charles Lyell, and the circumstances of the case are familiar to most readers of this journal.

It will be remembered that Mr. Wallace sent Darwin a paper written at Ternate in the Malay Archipelago in February, 1858, "On the Tendency of Varieties to depart Indefinitely from the Original Type." The argument was strikingly similar to that of a manuscript work on species which Darwin had sketched in 1839 and copied in 1844, when it was read by Hooker and its contents subsequently communicated to Lyell. During all this time Darwin had been accumulating facts and weighing objections to the theory. It was his first intention to allow Wallace's paper to be printed without his own, but he was persuaded by Hooker and Lyell to assent to a joint presentation of his sketch, together with a letter to Asa Gray dated September 5, 1857, and the paper by Wallace before the Linnean Society. With an introduction by Lyell and Hooker, it was read by the secretary to the society in July, 1858, and published that year in its journal. The papers were reprinted in the issue of The Popular Science Monthly for November, 1901.

The fiftieth anniversary of this event has now been adequately celebrated by the Linnean Society. It was of special interest that Dr. Wallace and Sir Joseph Hooker were present and made addresses. With the admirable generosity which has always characterized the relations of the two men, Wallace yielded the superior part to Darwin. He pointed out a certain similarity in their careers—both had been collectors

PSM V73 D479 The darwin wallace medal of the linnaean society.png
The Darwin-Wallace Medal of the Linnean Society.