El origen de las especies










Cuando estaba como naturalista a bordo del Beagle, buque de la marina
real, me impresionaron mucho ciertos hechos que se presentan en la distribucióngeográfica de los seres orgánicos que viven en América del Sur
y en las relaciones geológicas entre los habitantes actuales y los pasados
de aquel continente. Estos hechos, como se verá en los últimos capítulos
de este libro, parecían dar alguna luz sobre el origen de las especies, este
misterio de los misterios, como lo ha llamado uno de nuestros mayores
filósofos. A mi regreso al hogarocurrióseme en 1837 que acaso se podría
llegar a descifrar algo de esta cuestión acumulando pacientemente y reflexionando
sobre toda clase de hechos que pudiesen tener quizá alguna
relación con ella. Después de cinco años de trabajo me permití discurrir
especulativamente sobre esta materia y redacté unas breves notas; éstas
las amplié en 1844, formando un bosquejo de las conclusiones que entoncesme parecían probables. Desde este período hasta el día de hoy me he
dedicado invariablemente al mismo asunto; espero que se me puede excusar
el que entre en estos detalles personales, que los doy para mostrar
que no me he precipitado al decidirme.
Mi obra está ahora (1859) casi terminada; pero como el completarla me
llevará aún muchos años y mi salud dista de ser robusta, he sido instado,para que publicase este resumen. Me ha movido, especialmente a hacerlo
el que míster Wallace, que está actualmente estudiando la historia natural
del Archipiélago Malayo, ha llegado casi exactamente a las mismas
conclusiones generales a que he llegado yo sobre el origen de las especies.
En 1858: me envió una Memoria sobre este asunto, con ruego de que
la transmitiese a sir Charles Lyell,quien la envió a la Linnean Society y
está publicada en el tercer tomo del Journal de esta Sociedad. Sir C. Lyell
y el doctor Hooker, que tenían conocimiento de mi trabajo, pues este último
había leído mi bosquejo de 1844, me honraron, juzgando, prudente
publicar, junto con la excelente Memoria de míster Wallace, algunos breves
extractos de mis manuscritos.
Este resumen que publico ahora tienenecesariamente que ser imperfecto.
No puedo dar aquí referencias y textos en favor de mis diversas
afirmaciones, y tengo que contar con que el lector pondrá alguna confianza
en mi exactitud. Sin duda se habrán deslizado errores, aunque espero
que siempre he sido prudente en dar crédito tan sólo a buenas autoridades.
No puedo dar aquí más que las conclusiones generales a que he
llegado conalgunos; hechos como ejemplos, que espero, sin embargo, serán
suficientes en la mayor parte de los casos. Nadie puede sentir más
que yo la necesidad de publicar después detalladamente, y con referencias,
todos los hechos sobre que se han fundado mis conclusiones, y que
espero hacer esto en una obra futura; pues sé perfectamente que apenas
se discute en este libro un solo punto acerca del cual nopuedan aducirse
hechos que con frecuencia llevan, al parecer, a conclusiones directamente
opuestas a aquellas a que yo he llegado. Un resultado justo puede obtenerse
sólo exponiendo y pesando perfectamente los hechos y argumentos
de ambas partes de la cuestión, y esto aquí no es posible.
Siento mucho que la falta de espacio me impida tener la satisfacción de
dar las gracias por el generosoauxilio que he recibido de muchísimos naturalistas,
a algunos de los cuales no conozco personalmente. No puedo,
sin embargo, dejar pasar esta oportunidad sin expresar mi profundo
agradecimiento al doctor Hooker, quien durante los últimos quince años
me ha ayudado de todos los modos posibles, con su gran cúmulo de conocimientos
y su excelente criterio.

Capítulo 1
La variación en estado…

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