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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).


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.


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.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6002,” accessed on 27 November 2021,

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