Wallace Letters Online

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Record number: WCP1674

Sent by:
unknown correspondent
Sent to:
Alfred Russel Wallace
[not recorded]

Sent by unknown correspondent, [address not recorded] to Alfred Russel Wallace [address not recorded] on  .

Record created:
02 September 2011 by Beccaloni, George


No summary available at this time.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)

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LETTER (WCP1674.1551)

An other document typewritten  in English and signed by unsigned.

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM WP6/10/1
Copyright owner:
Copyright of the unknown correspondent Literary Estate.

Physical description

Transcription information





In "The World of Life" 2, page 257, you say:

"The numbers of varying individuals in any dominant species (and it is only these which become modified into new species) is to be counted by millions x x x x it may be said that nearly half the total number vary favourably, and about one-fourth of the whole number in a very large degree".

This seems clear and explicit but I should like to be very sure that I am not mistaken in what appears to me to be the logical inference from this statement. Let me put my question in the form of a concrete proposition.

Assuming, as a possibility, that Pliopithecus was the ancestral from of both the anthropoid apes and man does the above statement imply that at some given time one-fourth of the total number of individuals of this species had effected or exhibited variations leading directly toward the evolution of higher Apes and men?

If so, this completely disposes of what John Burroughs calls "the great hazzard [sic] of life". Meaning by that the chance that humanity could never have appeared if a single pair of ancestral individuals, on whose variations alone the appearance of humanity depended, had been destroyed. I am sure that there are many beside myself who would be grateful for an explicit statement of your views on this point. 3



1. [WP6/10/1] is written in pencil in a different hand in the top right corner

2. Quotation marks added in pencil

3. The text of the letter is printed with a typewriter in black/grey ink

4. [Old Ref WP2/41] is written in pencil in the same hand as Endnote 1 in the bottom right corner

Please note that work on this transcript is not yet complete. Users are advised to study electronic image(s) of this document, if available.