Variation, whatever may be its cause, and however it may be limited, is the essential phenomenon of Evolution. Variation, in fact, is Evolution. The readiest way … of solving the problem of Evolution is to study the facts of Variation.
William Bateson, Materials
By 1890 Bateson had settled down to the project which was to occupy much of his life – variation, its nature, scope, causes and significance. In his view the main post-Origin of Species pursuits, “the Embryological Method” and “the Study of Adaptation,” had run their respective courses and failed. Yet his position was precarious. His years “in the wilderness” had produced only one paper that could gain general approval. He no longer held the Balfour Scholarship. His sole source of professional income was his St. John's College fellowship (£200/annum). This was to be supplemented, from 1892 onwards, by stewardship of the college kitchens, gardens and farm (£200/annum). Thomas Huxley, the éminence griseof British biosciences...