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Darwin Correspondence Project

To James Shaw   [23 April 1866]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E. [6 Queen Anne Street, London]


Dear Sir

I am much obliged for your kind letter & all the great trouble which you have taken in sending me the various & interesting facts on birds admiring themselves.—2 I am very glad to hear of these facts.— I have just finished revising & adding to a new Edition of the Origin, & in this I have given, without going into details (so that I shall not be able to use your facts) some remarks on the subject of beauty.3 When the Edition is published in the course of the summer I will do myself the pleasure of sending you a copy.—4

With my best thanks I remain Dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from James Shaw, 19 April 1866, and by Shaw’s statement that he received this letter in April 1866 (R. Wallace ed. 1899, p. lvii). In 1866, 23 April was the first Monday after 19 April.
CD discussed beauty in the fourth edition of Origin, pp. 237–41. He briefly discussed cases in which birds looked at themselves in a mirror in Descent 2: 111.
Shaw’s name appears on CD’s presentation list for the fourth edition of Origin (see Correspondence vol. 14, Appendix IV).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.


Thanks for sending facts on birds admiring themselves; mentions use in new edition [4th] of Origin.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
James Shaw
Sent from
London, Queen Anne St Down letterhead
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.317)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5006,” accessed on 28 February 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14