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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Thomas Belt   6 January [1868]1


Jan. 6

My dear Sir

I well remember your very interesting observations, and I have since collected many analogous facts, but when I shall have time and strength to publish I do not at all know. I thank you for your obliging offer, but I cannot at present think of any particular facts in relation to Nicaragua.2 I include, however, some queries on a subject, which greatly interests me; and if you could interest yourself I should be especially obliged for any answer in regard to Negroes or American Indians.3 You would have to read the queries several times over, and you will find it curiously difficult to observe; for any emotion excites some sympathy in observer’s mind and this at the moment makes the point to be forgotten. I should be grateful for a letter with even a single question answered. I have had many answers but hardly any about negroes—the less civilised the better.4 I sincerely hope that you will enjoy fairly good health, and be successful in your Expedition,5 and I remain

My dear Sir | yours very faithfully | Charles Darwin.


The year is established by the date of Belt’s arrival in Nicaragua on 15 February 1868 (Belt 1874, p. 1).
Belt had evidently informed CD of his forthcoming journey to Nicaragua, but no letter on the subject has been found.
CD refers to his queries on expression. For a copy of the queries, see Correspondence vol. 16, Appendix IV.
CD began sending handwritten copies of the queries on expression in 1867. For some earlier responses to the queries, see Correspondence vol. 15.
From 1868 to 1872 Belt was in charge of the mining operations of the Chontales Gold Mining Company in Nicaragua (ODNB). His book, The naturalist in Nicaragua (Belt 1874) described the natural history of the country. CD’s annotated copy is in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 49–50).


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

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.


Asks about expression of emotion among Negroes and American Indians in Nicaragua. Queries enclosed.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Belt
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 143: 77
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6546,” accessed on 11 July 2020,

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