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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Hermanus Hartogh Heijs van Zouteveen   [before 21 February 1871]1

p. 321 Vol. 1 Scolecida = Cestoda? (Taenia etc.)2

malar bone = os zygomaticum?3

pag. 125 vol. I “from the Drift”, does this signify the “warp of the Drift”, as Trimmer calls the youngest diluvial formation in England?4

motacilla regulus (golden crested wren) = Regulus cristatus?5

Curlews, = Numenius arquata?6

Roller = Coracias garrula?7

Latin names of butterflies and moths asked:

pag. 387. Admiral = Vanessa Antiopa?8

peacock = Vanessa Iö9

painted lady = Vanessa polychloros?10

393 Swallow-tail papilio = Papilio Machaon

pag. 397. What do you call quadrifid Noctuae?11

399. Humming bird sphinx = Sphinx Convolvuli?12

In the “Geneeskundige Courant” (= Medical Journal), Febr. 20 & 27, 1870, I wrote an article, in which I attempted to explain the difficult partus of European wifes (enfantement, I do not know the Engl. word) by natural selection being checked by obstetrics.13 In this article I quoted Elisée Reclus, who in “Revue des deux mondes”, Mars, 1860, p. 437 gives a curious example of the action of methodical selection in the case of man (Compare p. 112, vol. I of your book).14 He says:

“Les Goajires sont admirablement beaux et je ne crois pas, que dans toute l’Amérique on puisse trouver des indigènes ayant le regard plus fier, la démarche plus imposante et les formes plus sculpturales.... Ils sont forts et gracieux, très habiles a tous les exercises du corps. Leur teint dans le jeunesse est d’un rouge brique beaucoup plus clair que celui des Indiens de San-Blas et des côtes de l’Amér. centr.; mais il noircit avec l’âge, et dans la vieillesse il ressemble à la belle couleur de l’acajou— — —. Les femmes ont sans exception et jusque dans la vieillesse la plus avancée des formes d’une admirable fermeté et d’une grande perfection de contours; leur démarche est vraiment celle de la déesse— — — leurs traits ressemblent à ceux des belles Irlandaises.— — — —. Ce contrat” (p. 438) (marriage) “ne s’opère, que si l’homme et la femme se conviennent par l’âge et sont également forts et bien faits; les avortons et les infirmes, très rares d’ailleurs (1) sont impitoyablement condamnés au célibat;— — — — si le prétendant se fait remarquer entre tous ses compagnons par sa force, sa haute taille et sa grâce ils (the parents) lui accordent gratuitement une ou plusieurs femmes; parfois ils vont jusqu’à lui faire un présent de boeufs, de chevaux, de perles et de fusils, pour le remercier de l’insigne honneur qu’il leur fait d’entrer dans leur famille. Pour ces hommes la véritable aristocratie est celle de la beauté et le pouvoir appartent à ceux que la nature a favorisés sous ce rapport. Lorsque le hasard des naufrages jette sur la côte Goajire quelques matelots étrangers les Indiens, qui n’ignorent pas l’importance callipédique de croisements bien entendus, retiennent les hommes grands et vigoureux, et leur font payer par quelques années de mariage forcé avec deux ou trois belles Goajires l’hospitalité, qu’ils leur accordent. Quand aux infortunés matelots affligés par le destin d’une apparence chértive, ils sont dépouillés de leurs vêtements et renvoyés de tribu en tribu jusqu’à Rio Hacha, poursuivis par les huées et les rires.”15

Here you have a nice exemple of a people, who controlls his own breeding through methodical selection and picks out and matches intentionally certain male and female individuals; and in this case man obeyed, as in the case of Prussian grenadiers to the law of methodical selection.—16

I now believe, after reading Vol. II of your work, that in the case of the difficult partus of woman Sexual selection has been of much influence, men not selecting women, who produced children without difficulty, but women, who were beautiful as they thought, who had for instance small middles or in a very early period, who were the most agreeable in “coitu” and had for instance a very small “vagina”.— In my article in the Geneesk. Courant I also remarked, that the increased size of the brain must have reacted on the difficulty of the partus.

At a place in your book (Vol II, I don’t remember the page) you have still an erratum   larnyx must be larynx.17 In the note, p. 203 Vol I you say: the phylum or lines of descent of the Vertebrata. Would it not be more correct to say: the lines of descent of the phylum of Vertebrata. Is not phylum (Stamm) = typus or sub-kingdom? In chapt. VI you always say: kingdom of Vertebr. kingdom of Mollusca. Would it not be better to say: subkingdom?18 Vol. 1 p. 321 you say classes Protozoa, Coelenterata, Echinodermata. Would not subkingdoms be better?19 I beg you pardon for these remarks, I make them only for giving you the occasion of correcting them, when you find them just, as I don’t doubt.

(1) This Rareness evidently follows from methodical selection being exerted during many generations

CD annotations

1.1 p. 321 … obstetrics. 14.4] crossed pencil
4.1 Regulus cristatus?] ‘Sylvia regular Form’ pencil
5.1 arquata?] ‘Yes’ pencil
6.1 garrula?] ‘Yes’ pencil
8.1 Antiopa?] del pencil, ‘atalanta’ pencil
9.1 Iö] ‘yes’ pencil
10.1 painted lady] ‘Cynthia cardui’ pencil
13.1 Sphinx Convolvuli] ‘Macroglossa stellarum’20 pencil
14.1 In the … book). 14.6] ‘It would be worth while to ask Quatrefages21 whether Trustworthy’ ink
14.3 The Engl.] del pencil
14.3 being … obstetrics 14.4] del pencil
14.4 In this] after opening square bracket, pencil
17.1 I now … partus. 17.7] crossed pencil
18.2 larynx.] underl pencil
18.2 phylum or lines] ‘phylum’ underl pencil


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to Hermanus Hartogh Heijs van Zouteveen, 21 February 1871.
Hartogh Heijs van Zouteveen’s queries concern Descent; he was preparing a Dutch translation (Hartogh Heijs van Zouteveen trans. 1871–2). Scolecida was a higher taxon suggested by Thomas Henry Huxley in T. H. Huxley 1864; it included tapeworms (class Cestoda) as well as other groups, such as nematodes.
See Descent 1: 124. Hartogh Heijs van Zouteveen’s identification is correct.
Joshua Trimmer had named what he thought was an upper alluvial deposit of surface soil in part of Norfolk ‘Warp of the drift, or erratic Warp’, since it appeared to fill cavities in the glacial drift (see Trimmer 1850, p. 23). Glacial drift is the rock material, ranging from clay to massive boulders, left behind by glaciers (Collins dictionary of geology).
Motacilla regulus and Regulus cristatus are synonyms of R. regulus.
Numenius arquata is the Eurasian curlew.
Coracias garrulus is the accepted name of the European roller.
Vanessa antiopa (now Nymphalis antiopa) is the Camberwell beauty or mourning cloak butterfly. The admiral or red admiral butterfly is Vanessa atalanta.
The peacock butterfly, formerly Vanessa io, is now Inachis io.
The painted lady is Vanessa (Cynthia) cardui; V. polychloros (now Nymphalis polychloros) is the large tortoiseshell.
‘Quadrifid’ refers to the number of veins from the lower part of the hindwing midcell in some noctuid moths.
The hummingbird sphinx moth is Macroglossa stellatarum. Sphinx convolvuli (now Agrius convolvuli) is the convolvulus hawkmoth.
Hartogh Heijs van Zouteveen 1870a. Partus: parturition, giving birth.
The reference is to Reclus 1859–60; the quotation is from pp. 437–8. In Descent 1: 112, CD argued that humans could not be considered highly domesticated since their breeding had not been controlled through methodical or unconscious selection.
‘The Goajires are wonderfully handsome and I don’t believe that in the whole of America one could find natives with a prouder aspect, a more stately gait, or more statuesque figures.... They are strong and graceful, very skilful at all bodily exercises. Their complexion in youth is a brick red much clearer than that of the Indians of San-Blas and the coasts of Central America; but they darken with age, and in old age they resemble the beautiful colour of mahogany— — —. The women without exception and even in the most advanced old age have figures of wonderful tautness and of great perfection of contour; their gait is truly that of the goddess— — — Their features resemble those of the beautiful women of Ireland.— — — —. This contract’ (p. 438) (marriage) ‘does not take place, unless the man and the woman are suited in age and are equally strong and well made; the undersized and the sick, in any case very rare (1) are mercilessly condemned to celibacy;— — — — if a suitor makes himself noteworthy among his companions by his strength, his height and his charm, they (the parents) freely grant him one or more women; sometimes they even make him a present of cattle, horses, pearls, and guns, to thank him for the remarkable honour he has done them by entering their family. For these people, true aristocracy is that of beauty and the power pertaining to those whom nature has favoured in this respect. When by chance shipwrecks strand foreign sailors on the Goajire coast, the Indians, who are not unaware of the eugenic importance of good crossings, detain the large and healthy men, and make them pay with some years of forced marriage to two or three beautiful Goajires for the hospitality that they give them. As for unlucky sailors afflicted by fate with a sickly appearance, they are stripped of their clothes and sent from tribe to tribe as far as Rio Hacha, pursued by jeering and laughter.’ The Goajira peninsula is on the Colombia–Venezuela border; it is inhabited by the Wayuu people.
See Descent 1: 112. King Frederick William I of Prussia obliged tall women that he met to marry men from his specially picked regiment of tall men (see Frederick II 1757, pp. 15–16).
Descent 2: 274. This was not corrected until the second edition of Descent.
See Descent 1: 205, 212. CD did not make these changes in the second edition of Descent.
In the second printing of Descent, CD changed this text to read ‘classes or sub-kingdoms’.
Macroglossa stellatarum is the hummingbird sphinx moth.
Armand de Quatrefages.


Collins dictionary of geology. By Dorothy Farris Lapidus. London and Glasgow: HarperCollins. 1990.

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

Frederick II, king of Prussia. 1757. Memoirs of Frederick III [sic], king of Prussia. London: J. Hinton.

Reclus, Elisée. 1859–60. La Nouvelle-Grenade: paysages de la nature tropicale. I. Les côtes Néo-Grenadines. II. Sainte-Marthe et la Horqueta. III. Rio-Hacha, les indiens Goajires et la Sierra-Negra. IV. Les Aruaques et la Sierra Nevada. Revue des Deux Mondes 24: 624–61, 25: 609–35, 26: 419–52, 27: 50–83.

Trimmer, Joshua. 1850. Generalizations respecting the erratic tertiaries or northern drift, founded on the mapping of the superficial deposits of a large portion of Norfolk. With a description of the freshwater deposits of the Gayton-Thorpe Valley; and a note on the contorted strata of Cromer cliffs. [Read 20 November 1850.] Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London 7 (1851): 19–31.


Notes on Variation and Descent.

Letter details

Letter no.
Hermanus Hartogh Heijs van Zouteveen
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 90: 26–7
Physical description
Amem 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7529,” accessed on 13 June 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19