Mr. Wallace, on the other hand, still adheres to his view: see his "Darwinism," 1889, page 174, and for a more recent statement see page 292, note 1, Letter 211, and page 299.
The discussion of 1868 began with a letter from Mr. Wallace, written towards the end of February, giving his opinion on the "Variation of Animals and Plants;" the discussion on the sterility of hybrids is at page 185, Volume II., of the first edition.)
LETTER 209. A.R. WALLACE TO CHARLES DARWIN. February 1868.
The only parts I have yet met with where I somewhat differ from your views, are in the chapter on the causes of variability, in which I think several of your arguments are unsound: but this is too long a subject to go into now. Also, I do not see your objection to sterility between allied species having been aided by Natural Selection. It appears to me that, given a differentiation of a species into two forms, each of which was adapted to a special sphere of existence, every slight degree of sterility would be a positive advantage, not to the individuals who were sterile, but to each form. If you work it out, and suppose the two incipient species a...b to be divided into two groups, one of which contains those which are fertile when the two are crossed, the other being slightly sterile, you will find that the latter will certainly supplant the former in the struggle for existence; remembering that you have shown that in such a cross the offspring would be more vigorous than the pure breed, and therefore would certainly soon supplant them, and as these would not be so well adapted to any special sphere of existence as the pure species a and b, they would certainly in their turn give way to a and b.
LETTER 210. TO A.R. WALLACE. February 27th .
I shall be very glad to hear, at some future day, your criticisms on the "causes of variability." Indeed, I feel sure that I am right about sterility and Natural Selection. Two of my grown-up children who are acute reasoners have two or three times at intervals tried to prove me wrong; and when your letter came they had another try, but ended by coming back to my side. I do not quite understand your case, and we think that a word or two is misplaced. I wish some time you would consider the case under the following point of view. If sterility is caused or accumulated through Natural Selection, then, as every degree exists up to absolute barrenness, Natural Selection must have the power of increasing it. Now take two species A and B, and assume that they are (by any means) half-sterile, i.e., produce half the full number of offspring. Now try and make (by Natural Selection) A and B absolutely sterile when crossed, and you will find how difficult it is. I grant, indeed it is certain, that the degree of the sterility of the individuals of A and B will vary; but any such extra-sterile individuals of, we will say A, if they should hereafter breed with other individuals of A, will bequeath no advantage to their progeny, by which these families will tend to increase in number over other families of A, which are not more sterile when crossed with B. But I do not know that I have made this any clearer than in the chapter in my book. It is a most difficult bit of reasoning, which I have gone over and over again on paper with diagrams. (210/1. This letter appeared in "Life and Letters," III., page 80.)
LETTER 211. A.R. WALLACE TO CHARLES DARWIN. March 1st, 1868.
I beg to enclose what appears to me a demonstration on your own principles, that Natural Selection could produce sterility of hybrids. If it does not convince you, I shall be glad if you will point out where the fallacy lies. I have taken the two cases of a slight sterility overcoming perfect fertility, and of a perfect sterility overcoming a partial fertility,--the beginning and end of the process. You admit that variations in fertility and sterility occur, and I think you will also admit that if I demonstrate that a considerable amount of sterility would be advantageous to a variety, that is sufficient proof that the slightest variation in that direction would be useful also, and would go on accumulating.