Thanks WBDM for his reply [missing] to CD's previous letter .
Asks for more details on the erratic blocks.
Asks also if there is good evidence that there formerly existed [in New Zealand] some animal with hair, like an otter or beaver.
Finally, do the uncivilised natives have the same ideal of [human] beauty as Europeans?
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Sir
I am very much obliged to for finding time, amidst all your avocations, to answer my questions so fully.—
With regard to the erratic blocks, the most suspicious circumstance in regard to their
truly erratic character, is, as it strikes me, their all consisting of the quartz
rock.— Generally, but certainly not always, one finds several kinds of rock;
nor do I quite understand that you are sure that they are separate fragments, &
not rock in situ peeping out. Did M
Perhaps when you send me the iceberg sketch, you will answer this about
If I have not utterly exhausted your patience, I sh
Lastly, I fear you cannot answer my question whether the beau ideal of beauty amongst the less civilised natives (ie those least influenced by being accustomed to European faces) would agree with ours; viz whether we & they would pick out the same kind of beauty.— Forgive me if you can, & believe me,
Your's truly obliged | Charles Darwin
- f1 1663.f1See letter to W. B. D. Mantell, 3 April , n. 1, for the basis of the date.
- f2 1663.f2Possibly John Williams Harris, who in 1837 had discovered in New Zealand bones of Dinornis, the large extinct moa later described by Richard Owen (DNZB).
- f3 1663.f3See letter to W. B. D. Mantell, 3 April , n. 2.
- f4 1663.f4Before the arrival of Polynesian settlers, the only native land mammals in New Zealand were two species of bats (Encyclopedia of New Zealand 2: 380).
- f5 1663.f5CD wanted to compare the criteria affecting selection of mates among different species (see also letter from C. J. Andersson, [6 April 1856]). In Descent 2: 369, he wrote: ‘Until recently, as I hear from Mr. Mantell, almost every girl in New Zealand, who was pretty, or promised to be pretty, was tapu to some chief.’ ‘Tapu’ is a Maori variant of taboo, meaning set apart for a special use or purpose or restricted to the use of a god or chief (OED).