I will keep your remarks in mind whenever a new edition of my book is demanded.


(459/1. The following letter refers to two letters to Mr. Darwin, in which Mr. Fraser pointed out that illustrations of the theory of Sexual Selection might be found amongst British butterflies and moths. Mr. Fraser, in explanation of the letters, writes: "As an altogether unknown and far from experienced naturalist, I feared to send my letters for publication without, in the first place, obtaining Mr. Darwin's approval." The information was published in "Nature," Volume III., April 20th, 1871, page 489. The article was referred to in the second edition of the "Descent of Man" (1874), pages 312, 316, 319. Mr. Fraser adds: "This is only another illustration of Mr. Darwin's great conscientiousness in acknowledging suggestions received by him from the most humble sources." (Letter from Mr. Fraser to F. Darwin, March 21, 1888.)

Down, April 14th [1871].

I am very much obliged for your letter and the interesting facts which it contains, and which are new to me. But I am at present so much engaged with other subjects that I cannot fully consider them; and, even if I had time, I do not suppose that I should have anything to say worth printing in a scientific journal. It would obviously be absurd in me to allow a mere note of thanks from me to be printed. Whenever I have to bring out a corrected edition of my book I will well consider your remarks (which I hope that you will send to "Nature"), but the difficulty will be that my friends tell me that I have already introduced too many facts, and that I ought to prune rather than to introduce more.

LETTER 460. TO E.S. MORSE. Down, December 3rd, 1871.

I am much obliged to you for having sent me your two interesting papers, and for the kind writing on the cover. I am very glad to have my error corrected about the protective colouring of shells. (460/1. "On Adaptive Coloration of the Mollusca," "Boston Society of Natural History Proc." Volume XIV., April 5th, 1871. Mr. Morse quotes from the "Descent of Man," I., page 316, a passage to the effect that the colours of the mollusca do not in general appear to be protective. Mr. Morse goes on to give instances of protective coloration.) It is no excuse for my broad statement, but I had in my mind the species which are brightly or beautifully coloured, and I can as yet hardly think that the colouring in such cases is protective.

LETTER 461. TO AUG. WEISMANN. Down, February 29th, 1872.

I am rejoiced to hear that your eyesight is somewhat better; but I fear that work with the microscope is still out of your power. I have often thought with sincere sympathy how much you must have suffered from your grand line of embryological research having been stopped. It was very good of you to use your eyes in writing to me. I have just received your essay (461/1. "Ueber der Einfluss der Isolirung auf die Artbildung": Leipzig, 1872.); but as I am now staying in London for the sake of rest, and as German is at all times very difficult to me, I shall not be able to read your essay for some little time. I am, however, very curious to learn what you have to say on isolation and on periods of variation. I thought much about isolation when I wrote in Chapter IV. on the circumstances favourable to Natural Selection. No doubt there remains an immense deal of work to do on "Artbildung." I have only opened a path for others to enter, and in the course of time to make a broad and clear high-road. I am especially glad that you are turning your attention to sexual selection. I have in this country hardly found any naturalists who agree with me on this subject, even to a moderate extent. They think it absurd that a female bird should be able to appreciate the splendid plumage of the male; but it would take much to persuade me that the peacock does not spread his gorgeous tail in the presence of the female in order to fascinate or excite her. The case, no doubt, is much more difficult with insects.

Charles Darwin

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