I do not, however, at all think the question can be settled by individual cases, but by only large masses of facts. The colours of the mass of female birds seem to me strictly analogous to the colours of both sexes of snipes, woodcocks, plovers, etc., which are undoubtedly protective.

Now, supposing, on your view, that the colours of a male bird become more and more brilliant by sexual selection, and a good deal of that colour is transmitted to the female till it becomes positively injurious to her during incubation, and the race is in danger of extinction; do you not think that all the females who had acquired less of the male's bright colours, or who themselves varied in a protective direction, would be preserved, and that thus a good protective colouring would soon be acquired?

If you admit that this could occur, and can show no good reason why it should not often occur, then we no longer differ, for this is the main point of my view.

Have you ever thought of the red wax-tips of the Bombycilla beautifully imitating the red fructification of lichens used in the nest, and therefore the FEMALES have it too? Yet this is a very sexual-looking character.

If sexes have been differentiated entirely by sexual selection the females can have no relation to environment. But in groups when both sexes require protection during feeding or repose, as snipes, woodcock, ptarmigan, desert birds and animals, green forest birds, etc., arctic birds of prey, and animals, then both sexes are modified for protection. Why should that power entirely cease to act when sexual differentiation exists and when the female requires protection, and why should the colour of so many FEMALE BIRDS seem to be protective, if it has not been made protective by selection.

It is contrary to the principles of "Origin of Species," that colour should have been produced in both sexes by sexual selection and never have been modified to bring the female into harmony with the environment. "Sexual selection is less rigorous than Natural Selection," and will therefore be subordinate to it.

I think the case of female Pieris pyrrha proves that females alone can be greatly modified for protection. (450/1. My latest views on this subject, with many new facts and arguments, will be found in the later editions of my "Darwinism," Chapter X. (A.R.W.))


(451/1. On October 4th, 1868, Mr. Wallace wrote again on the same subject without adding anything of importance to his arguments of September 27th. We give his final remarks:--)

October 4th, 1868.

I am sorry to find that our difference of opinion on this point is a source of anxiety to you. Pray do not let it be so. The truth will come out at last, and our difference may be the means of setting others to work who may set us both right. After all, this question is only an episode (though an important one) in the great question of the "Origin of Species," and whether you or I are right will not at all affect the main doctrine--that is one comfort.

I hope you will publish your treatise on "Sexual Selection" as a separate book as soon as possible; and then, while you are going on with your other work, there will no doubt be found some one to battle with me over your facts on this hard problem.

LETTER 452. TO A.R. WALLACE. Down, October 6th [1868].

Your letter is very valuable to me, and in every way very kind. I will not inflict a long answer, but only answer your queries. There are breeds (viz. Hamburg) in which both sexes differ much from each other and from both sexes of Gallus bankiva; and both sexes are kept constant by selection. The comb of the Spanish male has been ordered to be upright, and that of Spanish female to lop over, and this has been effected. There are sub-breeds of game fowl, with females very distinct and males almost identical; but this, apparently, is the result of spontaneous variation, without special selection. I am very glad to hear of case of female Birds of Paradise.

Charles Darwin

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