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case of animals also ; and as animals usually breed much more rapidly than does mankind, the destruction every year from these causes must be enormous in order to keep down the numbers of each species, since they evidently do not increase regularly from year to year, as otherwise the world would long ago have been densely crowded with those that breed most quickly. Vaguely thinking over the enormous and constant destruction which this implied, it occurred to me to ask the question, Why do some die and some live? And the answer was clearly, that on the whole the best fitted live. From the effects of disease the most healthy escaped; from enemies, the strongest, the swiftest, or the most cunning; from famine, the best hunters or those with the best digestion; and so on. Then it suddenly flashed upon me that this self-acting process would necessarily improve the race, because in every generation the inferior would inevitably be killed off and the superior would remain—that is, the fittest would survive. Then at once I seemed to see the whole effect of this, that when changes of land and sea, or of climate, or of foodsupply, or of enemies occurred—and we know that such changes have always been taking place—and considering the amount of individual variation that my experience as a collector had shown me to exist, then it followed that all the changes necessary for the adaptation of the species to the changing conditions would be brought about; and as great changes in the environment are always slow, there would be ample time for the change to be effected by the survival of the best fitted in every generation. In this way every part of an animal's organization could be modified exactly as required, and in the very process of this modification the unmodified would die out, and thus the definite characters and the clear isolation of each new species would be explained. The more I thought over it the more I became convinced that I had at length found the long-soughtfor law of nature that solved the problem of the origin of species. For the next hour I thought over the deficiencies in the theories of Lamarck and of the author of the “Vestiges,” and I saw that my new theory supplemented these views and obviated every important difficulty. I waited anxiously for the termination of my fit so that I might at once make notes for a paper on the subject. The same evening I did this pretty fully, and on the two succeeding evenings wrote it out carefully in order to send it to Darwin by the next post, which would leave in a day or two. I wrote a letter to him in which I said that I hoped the idea would be as new to him as it was to me, and that it would supply the missing factor to explain the origin of species. I asked him if he thought it sufficiently important to show it to Sir Charles Lyell, who had thought so highly of my former paper. The subsequent history of this article is fully given in the “Life and Letters,” volume ii., and I was, of course, very much surprised to find that the same idea had occurred to Darwin, and that he had already nearly completed a large work fully developing it. The paper is reprinted in my “Natural Selection and Tropical Nature,” and in reading it now it must be remembered that it was but a hasty first sketch, that I had no opportunity of revising it before it was printed in the journal of the Linnean Society, and, especially, that at that time nobody had any idea of the constant variability of every common species, in every part and organ, which has since been proved to exist. Almost all the popular objections to Natural Selections are due to ignorance of this fact, and to the erroneous assumption that what are called “favourable variations” occur only rarely, instead of being abundant, as they certainly are, in every generation, and quite large enough for the efficient action of “survival of the fittest” in the improvement of the race.
During the first months of my residence at Ternate I made two visits to different parts of the large island of Gilolo, where my hunters obtained a number of very fine birds, but owing to the absence of good virgin forest and my own illhealth, I obtained very few insects. At length, on March 25, I obtained a passage to Dorey Harbour, on the north coast of New Guinea, in a trading schooner, which left me there, and called for me three or four months later to bring me back to Ternate. I was the first European who had lived alone on this great island; but partly owing to an accident which confined me to the house for a month, and partly because the locality was not a good one, I did not get the rare species of birds of paradise I had expected. I obtained, however, a number of new and rare birds and a fine collection of insects, though not so many of the larger and finer kinds as I expected. The weather had been unusually wet, and the place was unhealthy. I had four Malay servants with me, three of whom had fever as well as myself, and one of my hunters died, and though I should have liked to have stayed longer, we were all weak or unwell, and were very glad when the schooner arrived and took us back to Ternate. Here wholesome food and a comfortable house soon restored us to good health. When I unpacked and examined my collections I found that the birds I had obtained were very numerous and beautiful, and as my journey and residence in New Guinea had created much interest among my numerous Dutch friends in Ternate, I determined to make a little exhibition of them. I accordingly let it be known that I would be glad to see visitors on the next Sunday afternoon. I had a long table in the verandah which I had covered with new “trade” calico, and on this I laid out the best specimens of all my most showy or strange birds. There were numbers of gorgeous lories, parrots, and parrakeets, white and black cockatoos, exquisite fruit-pigeons of a great variety of colours, many fine kingfishers from the largest to the most minute, as well as the beautiful raguet-tailed species, beautiful black, green, and blue ground-thrushes, some splendid specimens of the Papuan and King paradise-birds, and many beautiful bee-eaters, rollers, fly-catchers, grakles, sun-birds, and paradise-crows, making altogether such an assemblage of strange forms and brilliant colours as no one of my visitors had ever imagined to exist so near them. Even I myself was surprised at the beauty of the show when thus brought together and displayed on the white table, which so well set off their varied and brilliant colours.
I now received letters informing me of the reception of the paper on “Varieties,” which I had sent to Darwin, and in a letter home I thus refer to it: “I have received letters from Mr. Darwin and Dr. Hooker, two of the most eminent naturalists in England, which have highly gratified me. I sent Mr. Darwin an essay on a subject upon which he is now writing a great work. He showed it to Dr. Hooker and Sir Charles Lyell, who thought so highly of it that they had it read before the Linnean Society. This insures me the acquaintance of these eminent men on my return home.” I also refer to my next voyage as follows:– “I am now about to start for a place where there are some soldiers, and a doctor, and an engineer who can speak English, so if it is good for collecting I shall stay there some months. It is called ‘Batchian, an island on the south-west side of Gilolo, and three or four days' sail from Ternate. I have now quite recovered from the effects of my New Guinea voyage, and am in good health.”
I reached Batchian on October 21, and about a month afterwards, there being a Government boat going to Ternate, I took the opportunity of writing to my school-fellow and oldest friend, Mr. George Silk. As he knew nothing whatever of natural history, I wrote to him on subjects more personal to myself, and which may therefore be more suitable to quote here:–
“I have just received yours of August 3 with reminiscences of Switzerland. To you it seems a short time since we were there together, to me an immeasurable series of ages In fact, Switzerland and the Amazon now seem to me quite unreal—a sort of former existence or long-ago dream. Malays and Papuans, beetles and birds, are what now occupy my thoughts, mixed with financial calculations and hopes for a happy future in old England, where I may live in solitude and seclusion, except from a few choice friends. You cannot, perhaps, imagine how I have come to love solitude. I seldom have a visitor but I wish him away in an hour. I find it very favourable to reflection; and if you have any acquaintance who is a fellow of the Linnean Society, borrow the journal of Proceedings for August last, and in the last article you will find some of my latest lucubrations, and also some complimentary remarks thereon by Sir Charles Lyell and Dr. Hooker, which (as I know neither of them) I am a little proud of. As to politics, I hate and abominate them. The news from India I now never read, as it is all an inextricable confusion without good maps and regular papers. Mine come in lumps—two or three months at a time, often with alternate issues stolen or lost. I therefore beg you to write no more politics—nothing public or newspaperish. Tell me about yourself, your own private doings, your health, your visits, your new and old acquaintances (for I know you pick up half a dozen every week d la Barragan). But, above all, tell me of what you read. Have you read the “Currency' book I returned you, “Horne Tooke, ‘Bentham, Family Herald leading articles? Give me your opinions on any or all of these. Follow the advice in Family Herald Article on ‘Happiness,” Ride a Hobby, and you will assuredly find happiness in it, as I do. Let ethnology be your hobby, as you seem already to have put your foot in the stirrup, but ride it hard. If I live to return I shall come out strong on Malay and Papuan races, and shall astonish Latham, Davis, & Co. 1 By-the-by, I have a letter from Davis ;" he says he sent my last letter to you, and it is lost mysteriously. Instead, therefore, of sending me a reply to my ‘poser,’ he repeats what he has said in every letter I have had from him, that “myriads of miracles are required to people the earth from one source.’ I am sick of him. You must read ‘Pritchard' through, and Lawrence's ‘Lectures on Man' carefully; but I am convinced no man can be a good ethnologist who does not travel, and not travel merely, but reside, as I do, months and years with each race, becoming well acquainted with their average physiognomy and their character, so as to be able to detect cross-breeds, which totally mislead the hasty traveller, who thinks they are transitions ! Latham, I am sure, is quite wrong on many points. “When I went to New Guinea, I took an old copy of