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Darwin Correspondence Project

DCP-LETT-7719F

To E. J. Pfeiffer   26 April [1871]1

Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.

April 26

Madam

I am much obliged for your kindness in writing to me.2 I think it wd. have been an advantage if I had used the word fascination, but I intended to express some such idea when I join to charm admire &c, the word excite.—3

I fear that it wd. be very rash to use the illustration of the snake, as very few naturalists believe in snakes having any such power; though I myself am inclined to be a believer.4

Madam | Your obliged servant | Ch. Darwin

Footnotes

1
The year is established by the address, with ‘Bromley’ crossed out and ‘Beckenham’ added by hand, a form that CD used from April 1869 to May 1871, and by the reference to Descent (see n. 3, below), which was published in 1871.
2
See letter from E. J. Pfeiffer, [before 26 April 1871].
3
CD refers to Descent 2: 124, where he states that male birds ‘best able by their various charms to please or excite the female, are under ordinary circumstances accepted’.
4
See letter from E. J. Pfeiffer, [before 26 April 1871].

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-7719F
From
Darwin, C. R.
To
Pfeiffer, E. J.
Source of text
Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago (Misc. 14)
Physical description
1p

Summary

Thanks for EJP’s suggestion that it is fascination rather than aesthetic appreciation that drives sexual selection.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7719F,” accessed on 28 April 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-7719F

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