To James Shaw 11 February 1
I am much obliged to you for your kindness in sending me an abstract of your paper on beauty.1 In my opinion you take quite a correct view of the subject. It is clear that Dr. Dickson has either never seen my book, or overlooked the discussion on sexual selection.2 If you have any precise facts on birds’ ‘courtesy towards their own image in mirror or picture’ I should very much like to hear them.3 Butterflies offer an excellent instance of beauty being displayed in conspicuous parts; for those kinds which habitually display the underside of the wing have this side gaudily coloured, and this is not so in the reverse case.4 I daresay you will know that the males of many foreign butterflies are much more brilliantly coloured than the females, as in the case of birds.5 I can adduce good evidence from two large classes of facts (too large to specify), that flowers have become beautiful to make them conspicuous to insects.6
With my best thanks for your kindness and clear exposition of my views, I remain, etc., | Ch. Darwin.
Discusses beauty of birds and butterflies.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5004,” accessed on 14 February 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-5004