skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To David Forbes   [20 March 1868]1

4 Chester Place | N.W.


My dear Mr. Forbes

Before leaving you I forgot to remind you that any notes on the idea of human beauty by natives who have associated little with Europeans, would be very interesting to me.2 Also if by any strange chance you should have observed any facts leading you to believe that the women of savage tribes have some influence in determining which men shall steal them or buy them or run away with them, I should like much to hear such facts.

I have lately been sending the enclosed queries to all parts of the world and I send a copy to you, although I well know that it is a most improbable chance that you should have recorded in your note books any remarks on the subject.3

I enjoyed my conversation with you very much & was astonished at the number of points to which you have attended.

Believe me, yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from David Forbes, 26 March 1868. In 1868, the Friday before 26 March was 20 March.
No further information has been found regarding the meeting between CD and Forbes. For CD’s interest in varying standards of beauty, see Descent 2: 370.
The enclosure has not been found, but was probably the printed version of CD’s queries about expression (see Correspondence vol. 16, Appendix V). Forbes had travelled extensively in Europe, Africa, and South America. From 1857 to 1860, while in Bolivia and Peru, he made a particular study of the Aymara, a group of people who have lived in the region of Lake Titicata since pre-Incan times; he later published a paper on them (D. Forbes 1870).


Any notes on idea of human beauty by natives who have little association with Europeans would interest CD.

Also influence of females on males’ choice.

Sends copy of Queries about expression.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
David Forbes
Sent from
London, Chester Place, 4
Source of text
Pushkin House archive (Constantin Romanov, collection of O. A. Novikov): P. D. 1975, F. 137 op. 1 n 35 neg n 331–333
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6002,” accessed on 21 August 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16