I ought to have written before to thank you for the copies of your papers on Primula and on "Cross-unions of Dimorphic Plants, etc." The latter is particularly interesting and the conclusion most important; but I think it makes the difficulty of how these forms, with their varying degrees of sterility, originated, greater than ever. If "natural selection" could not accumulate varying degrees of sterility for the plant's benefit, then how did sterility ever come to be associated with one cross of a trimorphic plant rather than another? The difficulty seems to be increased by the consideration that the advantage of a cross with a distinct individual is gained just as well by illegitimate as by legitimate unions. By what means, then, did illegitimate unions ever become sterile? It would seem a far simpler way for each plant's pollen to have acquired a prepotency on another individual's stigma over that of the same individual, without the extraordinary complication of three differences of structure and eighteen different unions with varying degrees of sterility!
However, the fact remains an excellent answer to the statement that sterility of hybrids proves the absolute distinctness of the parents.
I have been reading with great pleasure Mr. Bentham's last admirable address (216/1. "Proc. Linn. Soc." 1867-8, page lvii.), in which he so well replies to the gross misstatements of the "Athenaeum;" and also says award in favour of pangenesis. I think we may now congratulate you on having made a valuable convert, whose opinions on the subject, coming so late and being evidently so well considered, will have much weight.
I am going to Norwich on Tuesday to hear Dr. Hooker, who I hope will boldly promulgate "Darwinism" in his address. (216/2. Sir Joseph Hooker's Presidential Address at the British Association Meeting.) Shall we have the pleasure of seeing you there?
I am engaged in negociations about my book.
Hoping you are well and getting on with your next volumes.
(216/3. We are permitted by Mr. Wallace to append the following note as to his more recent views on the question of Natural Selection and sterility:--
"When writing my "Darwinism," and coming again to the consideration of this problem of the effect of Natural Selection in accumulating variations in the amount of sterility between varieties or incipient species twenty years later, I became more convinced, than I was when discussing with Darwin, of the substantial accuracy of my argument. Recently a correspondent who is both a naturalist and a mathematician has pointed out to me a slight error in my calculation at page 183 (which does not, however, materially affect the result), disproving the 'physiological selection' of the late Dr. Romanes, but he can see no fallacy in my argument as to the power of Natural Selection to increase sterility between incipient species, nor, so far as I am aware, has any one shown such fallacy to exist.