The Descent of Man

by the Classic British Author

Charles Darwin

Free Public Domain Book from the
Classic Literature Library

The Descent of Man Page 01




Works by Charles Darwin, F.R.S.

Life and Letters of Charles Darwin. With an Autobiographical Chapter. Edited by Francis Darwin. Portraits. 3 volumes 36s. Popular Edition. Condensed in 1 volume 7s 6d.

Naturalist's Journal of Researches into the Natural History and Geology of Countries Visited during a Voyage Round the World. With 100 Illustrations by Pritchett. 21s. Popular Edition. Woodcuts. 3s 6d. Cheaper Edition, 2s. 6d. net.

Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection; or, The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. Large Type Edition, 2 volumes 12s. Popular Edition, 6s. Cheaper Edition with Portrait, 2s. 6d.

Various Contrivances by which Orchids are Fertilized by Insects. Woodcuts. 7s. 6d.

Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication. Illustrations. 15s.

Descent of Man, and Selection in relation to Sex. Illustrations. Large Type Edition, 2 volumes 15s. Popular Edition, 7s 6d. Cheaper Edition, 2s. 6d. net.

Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. Illustrations. 12s.

Insectivorous Plants. Illustrations. 9s.

Movements and Habits of Climbing Plants. Woodcuts. 6s.

Cross and Self-Fertilization in the Vegetable Kingdom. Illustrations. 9s.

Different Forms of Flowers on Plants of the Same Species. Illustrations. 7s. 6d.

Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms. Woodcuts. 6s.

The above works are Published by John Murray.

Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs. Smith, Elder, & Co.

Geological Observations on Volcanic Islands and Parts of South America. Smith, Elder, & Co.

Monograph of the Cirripedia. Illustrations. 2 volumes. 8vo. Ray Society.

Monograph of the Fossil Lepadidae, or Pedunculated Cirripedes of Great Britain. Palaeontographical Society.

Monograph of the Fossil Balanidae and Verrucidae of Great Britain. Palaeontographical Society.






Uniform with this Volume

The Origin of Species, by means of Natural Selection; or, The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. Popular Edition, with a Photogravure Portrait. Large Crown 8vo. 2s. 6d. net.

A Naturalist's Voyage. Journal of Researches into the Natural History and Geology of the Countries visited during the Voyage of H.M.S. "Beagle" round the World, under the Command of Capt. Fitz Roy, R.N. Popular Edition, with many Illustrations. Large Crown 8vo. 2s. 6d. net.


During the successive reprints of the first edition of this work, published in 1871, I was able to introduce several important corrections; and now that more time has elapsed, I have endeavoured to profit by the fiery ordeal through which the book has passed, and have taken advantage of all the criticisms which seem to me sound. I am also greatly indebted to a large number of correspondents for the communication of a surprising number of new facts and remarks. These have been so numerous, that I have been able to use only the more important ones; and of these, as well as of the more important corrections, I will append a list. Some new illustrations have been introduced, and four of the old drawings have been replaced by better ones, done from life by Mr. T.W. Wood. I must especially call attention to some observations which I owe to the kindness of Prof. Huxley (given as a supplement at the end of Part I.), on the nature of the differences between the brains of man and the higher apes. I have been particularly glad to give these observations, because during the last few years several memoirs on the subject have appeared on the Continent, and their importance has been, in some cases, greatly exaggerated by popular writers.

I may take this opportunity of remarking that my critics frequently assume that I attribute all changes of corporeal structure and mental power exclusively to the natural selection of such variations as are often called spontaneous; whereas, even in the first edition of the 'Origin of Species,' I distinctly stated that great weight must be attributed to the inherited effects of use and disuse, with respect both to the body and mind. I also attributed some amount of modification to the direct and prolonged action of changed conditions of life. Some allowance, too, must be made for occasional reversions of structure; nor must we forget what I have called "correlated" growth, meaning, thereby, that various parts of the organisation are in some unknown manner so connected, that when one part varies, so do others; and if variations in the one are accumulated by selection, other parts will be modified. Again, it has been said by several critics, that when I found that many details of structure in man could not be explained through natural selection, I invented sexual selection; I gave, however, a tolerably clear sketch of this principle in the first edition of the 'Origin of Species,' and I there stated that it was applicable to man. This subject of sexual selection has been treated at full length in the present work, simply because an opportunity was here first afforded me. I have been struck with the likeness of many of the half-favourable criticisms on sexual selection, with those which appeared at first on natural selection; such as, that it would explain some few details, but certainly was not applicable to the extent to which I have employed it. My conviction of the power of sexual selection remains unshaken; but it is probable, or almost certain, that several of my conclusions will hereafter be found erroneous; this can hardly fail to be the case in the first treatment of a subject. When naturalists have become familiar with the idea of sexual selection, it will, as I believe, be much more largely accepted; and it has already been fully and favourably received by several capable judges.

DOWN, BECKENHAM, KENT, September, 1874.

First Edition February 24, 1871. Second Edition September, 1874.

Charles Darwin

All Pages of This Book
The Autobiography Of Charles Darwin