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The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex by Charles Darwin

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selection, though transmitted equally, or almost equally, to both sexes.
With many of the Quadrumana, we have additional evidence of the action of
sexual selection in the greater size and strength of the males, and in the
greater development of their canine teeth, in comparison with the females.

[Fig. 77. Cercopithecus petaurista (from Brehm).]

A few instances will suffice of the strange manner in which both sexes of
some species are coloured, and of the beauty of others. The face of the
Cercopithecus petaurista (Fig. 77) is black, the whiskers and beard being
white, with a defined, round, white spot on the nose, covered with short
white hair, which gives to the animal an almost ludicrous aspect. The
Semnopithecus frontatus likewise has a blackish face with a long black
beard, and a large naked spot on the forehead of a bluish-white colour.
The face of Macacus lasiotus is dirty flesh-coloured, with a defined red
spot on each cheek. The appearance of Cercocebus aethiops is grotesque,
with its black face, white whiskers and collar, chestnut head, and a large
naked white spot over each eyelid. In very many species, the beard,
whiskers, and crests of hair round the face are of a different colour from
the rest of the head, and when different, are always of a lighter tint (45.
I observed this fact in the Zoological Gardens; and many cases may be seen
in the coloured plates in Geoffroy St.-Hilaire and F. Cuvier, 'Histoire
Nat. des Mammiferes,' tom. i. 1824.), being often pure white, sometimes
bright yellow, or reddish. The whole face of the South American Brachyurus
calvus is of a "glowing scarlet hue"; but this colour does not appear until
the animal is nearly mature. (46. Bates, 'The Naturalist on the Amazons,'
1863, vol. ii. p. 310.) The naked skin of the face differs wonderfully in
colour in the various species. It is often brown or flesh-colour, with
parts perfectly white, and often as black as that of the most sooty negro.
In the Brachyurus the scarlet tint is brighter than that of the most
blushing Caucasian damsel. It is sometimes more distinctly orange than in
any Mongolian, and in several species it is blue, passing into violet or
grey. In all the species known to Mr. Bartlett, in which the adults of
both sexes have strongly-coloured faces, the colours are dull or absent
during early youth. This likewise holds good with the mandrill and Rhesus,
in which the face and the posterior parts of the body are brilliantly
coloured in one sex alone. In these latter cases we have reason to believe
that the colours were acquired through sexual selection; and we are
naturally led to extend the same view to the foregoing species, though both
sexes when adult have their faces coloured in the same manner.

[Fig. 78. Cercopithecus diana (from Brehm).]

Although many kinds of monkeys are far from beautiful according to our
taste, other species are universally admired for their elegant appearance
and bright colours. The Semnopithecus nemaeus, though peculiarly coloured,
is described as extremely pretty; the orange-tinted face is surrounded by
long whiskers of glossy whiteness, with a line of chestnut-red over the
eyebrows; the fur on the back is of a delicate grey, with a square patch on
the loins, the tail and the fore-arms being of a pure white; a gorget of
chestnut surmounts the chest; the thighs are black, with the legs chestnut-
red. I will mention only two other monkeys for their beauty; and I have
selected these as presenting slight sexual differences in colour, which
renders it in some degree probable that both sexes owe their elegant
appearance to sexual selection. In the moustache-monkey (Cercopithecus
cephus) the general colour of the fur is mottled-greenish with the throat
white; in the male the end of the tail is chestnut, but the face is the
most ornamented part, the skin being chiefly bluish-grey, shading into a
blackish tint beneath the eyes, with the upper lip of a delicate blue,
clothed on the lower edge with a thin black moustache; the whiskers are
orange-coloured, with the upper part black, forming a band which extends
backwards to the ears, the latter being clothed with whitish hairs. In the
Zoological Society's Gardens I have often overheard visitors admiring the
beauty of another monkey, deservedly called Cercopithecus diana (Fig. 78);
the general colour of the fur is grey; the chest and inner surface of the
forelegs are white; a large triangular defined space on the hinder part of
the back is rich chestnut; in the male the inner sides of the thighs and
the abdomen are delicate fawn-coloured, and the top of the head is black;
the face and ears are intensely black, contrasting finely with a white
transverse crest over the eyebrows and a long white peaked beard, of which
the basal portion is black. (47. I have seen most of the above monkeys in
the Zoological Society's Gardens. The description of the Semnopithecus
nemaeus is taken from Mr. W.C. Martin's 'Natural History of Mammalia,'
1841, p. 460; see also pp. 475, 523.)

In these and many other monkeys, the beauty and singular arrangement of
their colours, and still more the diversified and elegant arrangement of
the crests and tufts of hair on their heads, force the conviction on my
mind that these characters have been acquired through sexual selection
exclusively as ornaments.


The law of battle for the possession of the female appears to prevail
throughout the whole great class of mammals. Most naturalists will admit
that the greater size, strength, courage, and pugnacity of the male, his
special weapons of offence, as well as his special means of defence, have
been acquired or modified through that form of selection which I have
called sexual. This does not depend on any superiority in the general
struggle for life, but on certain individuals of one sex, generally the
male, being successful in conquering other males, and leaving a larger
number of offspring to inherit their superiority than do the less
successful males.

There is another and more peaceful kind of contest, in which the males
endeavour to excite or allure the females by various charms. This is
probably carried on in some cases by the powerful odours emitted by the
males during the breeding-season; the odoriferous glands having been
acquired through sexual selection. Whether the same view can be extended
to the voice is doubtful, for the vocal organs of the males must have been
strengthened by use during maturity, under the powerful excitements of
love, jealousy or rage, and will consequently have been transmitted to the
same sex. Various crests, tufts, and mantles of hair, which are either
confined to the male, or are more developed in this sex than in the female,
seem in most cases to be merely ornamental, though they sometimes serve as
a defence against rival males. There is even reason to suspect that the
branching horns of stags, and the elegant horns of certain antelopes,
though properly serving as weapons of offence or defence, have been partly
modified for ornament.

When the male differs in colour from the female, he generally exhibits
darker and more strongly-contrasted tints. We do not in this class meet
with the splendid red, blue, yellow, and green tints, so common with male
birds and many other animals. The naked parts, however, of certain
Quadrumana must be excepted; for such parts, often oddly situated, are
brilliantly coloured in some species. The colours of the male in other
cases may be due to simple variation, without the aid of selection. But
when the colours are diversified and strongly pronounced, when they are not
developed until near maturity, and when they are lost after emasculation,
we can hardly avoid the conclusion that they have been acquired through
sexual selection for the sake of ornament, and have been transmitted
exclusively, or almost exclusively, to the same sex. When both sexes are
coloured in the same manner, and the colours are conspicuous or curiously
arranged, without being of the least apparent use as a protection, and
especially when they are associated with various other ornamental
appendages, we are led by analogy to the same conclusion, namely, that they
have been acquired through sexual selection, although transmitted to both
sexes. That conspicuous and diversified colours, whether confined to the
males or common to both sexes, are as a general rule associated in the same
groups and sub-groups with other secondary sexual characters serving for
war or for ornament, will be found to hold good, if we look back to the
various cases given in this and the last chapter.

The law of the equal transmission of characters to both sexes, as far as
colour and other ornaments are concerned, has prevailed far more
extensively with mammals than with birds; but weapons, such as horns and
tusks, have often been transmitted either exclusively or much more
perfectly to the males than to the females. This is surprising, for, as
the males generally use their weapons for defence against enemies of all
kinds, their weapons would have been of service to the females. As far as
we can see, their absence in this sex can be accounted for only by the form
of inheritance which has prevailed. Finally, with quadrupeds the contest
between the individuals of the same sex, whether peaceful or bloody, has,
with the rarest exceptions, been confined to the males; so that the latter
have been modified through sexual selection, far more commonly than the
females, either for fighting with each other or for alluring the opposite





Differences between man and woman--Causes of such differences and of
certain characters common to both sexes--Law of battle--Differences in
mental powers, and voice--On the influence of beauty in determining the
marriages of mankind--Attention paid by savages to ornaments--Their ideas
of beauty in woman--The tendency to exaggerate each natural peculiarity.

With mankind the differences between the sexes are greater than in most of
the Quadrumana, but not so great as in some, for instance, the mandrill.
Man on an average is considerably taller, heavier, and stronger than woman,
with squarer shoulders and more plainly-pronounced muscles. Owing to the
relation which exists between muscular development and the projection of
the brows (1. Schaaffhausen, translation in 'Anthropological Review,' Oct.
1868, pp. 419, 420, 427.), the superciliary ridge is generally more marked
in man than in woman. His body, and especially his face, is more hairy,
and his voice has a different and more powerful tone. In certain races the
women are said to differ slightly in tint from the men. For instance,
Schweinfurth, in speaking of a negress belonging to the Monbuttoos, who
inhabit the interior of Africa a few degrees north of the equator, says,
"Like all her race, she had a skin several shades lighter than her
husband's, being something of the colour of half-roasted coffee." (2. 'The
Heart of Africa,' English transl. 1873, vol i. p. 544.) As the women
labour in the fields and are quite unclothed, it is not likely that they
differ in colour from the men owing to less exposure to the weather.
European women are perhaps the brighter coloured of the two sexes, as may
be seen when both have been equally exposed.

Man is more courageous, pugnacious and energetic than woman, and has a more
inventive genius. His brain is absolutely larger, but whether or not
proportionately to his larger body, has not, I believe, been fully
ascertained. In woman the face is rounder; the jaws and the base of the
skull smaller; the outlines of the body rounder, in parts more prominent;
and her pelvis is broader than in man (3. Ecker, translation, in
'Anthropological Review,' Oct. 1868, pp. 351-356. The comparison of the
form of the skull in men and women has been followed out with much care by
Welcker.); but this latter character may perhaps be considered rather as a
primary than a secondary sexual character. She comes to maturity at an
earlier age than man.

As with animals of all classes, so with man, the distinctive characters of
the male sex are not fully developed until he is nearly mature; and if
emasculated they never appear. The beard, for instance, is a secondary
sexual character, and male children are beardless, though at an early age
they have abundant hair on the head. It is probably due to the rather late
appearance in life of the successive variations whereby man has acquired
his masculine characters, that they are transmitted to the male sex alone.
Male and female children resemble each other closely, like the young of so
many other animals in which the adult sexes differ widely; they likewise
resemble the mature female much more closely than the mature male. The
female, however, ultimately assumes certain distinctive characters, and in
the formation of her skull, is said to be intermediate between the child
and the man. (4. Ecker and Welcker, ibid. pp. 352, 355; Vogt, 'Lectures
on Man,' Eng. translat. p. 81.) Again, as the young of closely allied
though distinct species do not differ nearly so much from each other as do
the adults, so it is with the children of the different races of man. Some
have even maintained that race-differences cannot be detected in the
infantile skull. (5. Schaaffhausen, 'Anthropolog. Review,' ibid. p. 429.)
In regard to colour, the new-born negro child is reddish nut-brown, which
soon becomes slaty-grey; the black colour being fully developed within a
year in the Soudan, but not until three years in Egypt. The eyes of the
negro are at first blue, and the hair chestnut-brown rather than black,
being curled only at the ends. The children of the Australians immediately
after birth are yellowish-brown, and become dark at a later age. Those of
the Guaranys of Paraguay are whitish-yellow, but they acquire in the course
of a few weeks the yellowish-brown tint of their parents. Similar
observations have been made in other parts of America. (6. Pruner-Bey, on
negro infants as quoted by Vogt, 'Lectures on Man,' Eng. translat. 1864, p.
189: for further facts on negro infants, as quoted from Winterbottom and
Camper, see Lawrence, 'Lectures on Physiology,' etc. 1822, p. 451. For the
infants of the Guaranys, see Rengger, 'Saugethiere,' etc. s. 3. See also
Godron, 'De l'Espece,' tom. ii. 1859, p. 253. For the Australians, Waitz,
'Introduction to Anthropology,' Eng. translat. 1863, p. 99.)

I have specified the foregoing differences between the male and female sex
in mankind, because they are curiously like those of the Quadrumana. With
these animals the female is mature at an earlier age than the male; at
least this is certainly the case in Cebus azarae. (7. Rengger,
'Saugethiere,' etc., 1830, s. 49.) The males of most species are larger
and stronger than the females, of which fact the gorilla affords a well-
known instance. Even in so trifling a character as the greater prominence
of the superciliary ridge, the males of certain monkeys differ from the
females (8. As in Macacus cynomolgus (Desmarest, 'Mammalogie,' p. 65), and
in Hylobates agilis (Geoffroy St.-Hilaire and F. Cuvier, 'Histoire Nat. des
Mammiferes,' 1824, tom. i. p. 2).), and agree in this respect with mankind.
In the gorilla and certain other monkeys, the cranium of the adult male
presents a strongly-marked sagittal crest, which is absent in the female;
and Ecker found a trace of a similar difference between the two sexes in
the Australians. (9. 'Anthropological Review,' Oct. 1868, p. 353.) With
monkeys when there is any difference in the voice, that of the male is the
more powerful. We have seen that certain male monkeys have a well-
developed beard, which is quite deficient, or much less developed in the
female. No instance is known of the beard, whiskers, or moustache being
larger in the female than in the male monkey. Even in the colour of the
beard there is a curious parallelism between man and the Quadrumana, for
with man when the beard differs in colour from the hair of the head, as is
commonly the case, it is, I believe, almost always of a lighter tint, being
often reddish. I have repeatedly observed this fact in England; but two
gentlemen have lately written to me, saying that they form an exception to
the rule. One of these gentlemen accounts for the fact by the wide
difference in colour of the hair on the paternal and maternal sides of his
family. Both had been long aware of this peculiarity (one of them having
often been accused of dyeing his beard), and had been thus led to observe
other men, and were convinced that the exceptions were very rare. Dr.
Hooker attended to this little point for me in Russia, and found no
exception to the rule. In Calcutta, Mr. J. Scott, of the Botanic Gardens,
was so kind as to observe the many races of men to be seen there, as well
as in some other parts of India, namely, two races of Sikhim, the Bhoteas,
Hindoos, Burmese, and Chinese, most of which races have very little hair on
the face; and he always found that when there was any difference in colour
between the hair of the head and the beard, the latter was invariably
lighter. Now with monkeys, as has already been stated, the beard
frequently differs strikingly in colour from the hair of the head, and in
such cases it is always of a lighter hue, being often pure white, sometimes
yellow or reddish. (10. Mr. Blyth informs me that he has only seen one
instance of the beard, whiskers, etc., in a monkey becoming white with old
age, as is so commonly the case with us. This, however, occurred in an
aged Macacus cynomolgus, kept in confinement whose moustaches were
"remarkably long and human-like." Altogether this old monkey presented a
ludicrous resemblance to one of the reigning monarchs of Europe, after whom
he was universally nick-named. In certain races of man the hair on the
head hardly ever becomes grey; thus Mr. D. Forbes has never, as he informs
me, seen an instance with the Aymaras and Quichuas of South America.)

In regard to the general hairiness of the body, the women in all races are
less hairy than the men; and in some few Quadrumana the under side of the
body of the female is less hairy than that of the male. (11. This is the
case with the females of several species of Hylobates; see Geoffroy St.-
Hilaire and F. Cuvier, 'Hist. Nat. des Mamm.' tom. i. See also, on H. lar,
'Penny Cyclopedia,' vol. ii. pp. 149, 150.) Lastly, male monkeys, like
men, are bolder and fiercer than the females. They lead the troop, and
when there is danger, come to the front. We thus see how close is the
parallelism between the sexual differences of man and the Quadrumana. With
some few species, however, as with certain baboons, the orang and the
gorilla, there is a considerably greater difference between the sexes, as
in the size of the canine teeth, in the development and colour of the hair,
and especially in the colour of the naked parts of the skin, than in

All the secondary sexual characters of man are highly variable, even within
the limits of the same race; and they differ much in the several races.
These two rules hold good generally throughout the animal kingdom. In the
excellent observations made on board the Novara (12. The results were
deduced by Dr. Weisbach from the measurements made by Drs. K. Scherzer and
Schwarz, see 'Reise der Novara: Anthropolog. Theil,' 1867, ss. 216, 231,
234, 236, 239, 269.), the male Australians were found to exceed the females
by only 65 millim. in height, whilst with the Javans the average excess was
218 millim.; so that in this latter race the difference in height between
the sexes is more than thrice as great as with the Australians. Numerous
measurements were carefully made of the stature, the circumference of the
neck and chest, the length of the back-bone and of the arms, in various
races; and nearly all these measurements shew that the males differ much
more from one another than do the females. This fact indicates that, as
far as these characters are concerned, it is the male which has been
chiefly modified, since the several races diverged from their common stock.

The development of the beard and the hairiness of the body differ
remarkably in the men of distinct races, and even in different tribes or
families of the same race. We Europeans see this amongst ourselves. In
the Island of St. Kilda, according to Martin (13. 'Voyage to St. Kilda'
(3rd ed. 1753), p. 37.), the men do not acquire beards until the age of
thirty or upwards, and even then the beards are very thin. On the
Europaeo-Asiatic continent, beards prevail until we pass beyond India;
though with the natives of Ceylon they are often absent, as was noticed in
ancient times by Diodorus. (14. Sir J.E. Tennent, 'Ceylon,' vol. ii.
1859, p. 107.) Eastward of India beards disappear, as with the Siamese,
Malays, Kalmucks, Chinese, and Japanese; nevertheless, the Ainos (15.
Quatrefages, 'Revue des Cours Scientifiques,' Aug. 29, 1868, p. 630; Vogt,
'Lectures on Man,' Eng. trans. p. 127.), who inhabit the northernmost
islands of the Japan Archipelago, are the hairiest men in the world. With
negroes the beard is scanty or wanting, and they rarely have whiskers; in
both sexes the body is frequently almost destitute of fine down. (16. On
the beards of negroes, Vogt, 'Lectures,' etc. p. 127; Waitz, 'Introduct. to
Anthropology,' Engl. translat. 1863, vol. i. p. 96. It is remarkable that
in the United States ('Investigations in Military and Anthropological
Statistics of American Soldiers,' 1869, p. 569) the pure negroes and their
crossed offspring seem to have bodies almost as hairy as Europeans.) On
the other hand, the Papuans of the Malay Archipelago, who are nearly as
black as negroes, possess well-developed beards. (17. Wallace, 'The Malay
Arch.' vol. ii. 1869, p. 178.) In the Pacific Ocean the inhabitants of the
Fiji Archipelago have large bushy beards, whilst those of the not distant
archipelagoes of Tonga and Samoa are beardless; but these men belong to
distinct races. In the Ellice group all the inhabitants belong to the same
race; yet on one island alone, namely Nunemaya, "the men have splendid
beards"; whilst on the other islands "they have, as a rule, a dozen
straggling hairs for a beard." (18. Dr. J. Barnard Davis on Oceanic
Races, in 'Anthropological Review,' April 1870, pp. 185, 191.)

Throughout the great American continent the men may be said to be
beardless; but in almost all the tribes a few short hairs are apt to appear
on the face, especially in old age. With the tribes of North America,
Catlin estimates that eighteen out of twenty men are completely destitute
by nature of a beard; but occasionally there may be seen a man, who has
neglected to pluck out the hairs at puberty, with a soft beard an inch or
two in length. The Guaranys of Paraguay differ from all the surrounding
tribes in having a small beard, and even some hair on the body, but no
whiskers. (19. Catlin, 'North American Indians,' 3rd. ed. 1842, vol. ii.
p. 227. On the Guaranys, see Azara, 'Voyages dans l'Amerique Merid.' tom.
ii. 1809, p. 85; also Rengger, 'Saugethiere von Paraguay,' s. 3.) I am
informed by Mr. D. Forbes, who particularly attended to this point, that
the Aymaras and Quichuas of the Cordillera are remarkably hairless, yet in
old age a few straggling hairs occasionally appear on the chin. The men of
these two tribes have very little hair on the various parts of the body
where hair grows abundantly in Europeans, and the women have none on the
corresponding parts. The hair on the head, however, attains an
extraordinary length in both sexes, often reaching almost to the ground;
and this is likewise the case with some of the N. American tribes. In the
amount of hair, and in the general shape of the body, the sexes of the
American aborigines do not differ so much from each other, as in most other
races. (20. Prof. and Mrs. Agassiz ('Journey in Brazil,' p. 530) remark
that the sexes of the American Indians differ less than those of the
negroes and of the higher races. See also Rengger, ibid. p. 3, on the
Guaranys.) This fact is analogous with what occurs with some closely
allied monkeys; thus the sexes of the chimpanzee are not as different as
those of the orang or gorilla. (21. Rutimeyer, 'Die Grenzen der
Thierwelt; eine Betrachtung zu Darwin's Lehre,' 1868, s. 54.)

In the previous chapters we have seen that with mammals, birds, fishes,
insects, etc., many characters, which there is every reason to believe were
primarily gained through sexual selection by one sex, have been transferred
to the other. As this same form of transmission has apparently prevailed
much with mankind, it will save useless repetition if we discuss the origin
of characters peculiar to the male sex together with certain other
characters common to both sexes.


With savages, for instance, the Australians, the women are the constant
cause of war both between members of the same tribe and between distinct
tribes. So no doubt it was in ancient times; "nam fuit ante Helenam mulier
teterrima belli causa." With some of the North American Indians, the
contest is reduced to a system. That excellent observer, Hearne (22. 'A
Journey from Prince of Wales Fort,' 8vo. ed. Dublin, 1796, p. 104. Sir J.
Lubbock ('Origin of Civilisation,' 1870, p. 69) gives other and similar
cases in North America. For the Guanas of South America see Azara,
'Voyages,' etc. tom. ii. p. 94.), says:--"It has ever been the custom among
these people for the men to wrestle for any woman to whom they are
attached; and, of course, the strongest party always carries off the prize.
A weak man, unless he be a good hunter, and well-beloved, is seldom
permitted to keep a wife that a stronger man thinks worth his notice. This
custom prevails throughout all the tribes, and causes a great spirit of
emulation among their youth, who are upon all occasions, from their
childhood, trying their strength and skill in wrestling." With the Guanas
of South America, Azara states that the men rarely marry till twenty years
old or more, as before that age they cannot conquer their rivals.

Other similar facts could be given; but even if we had no evidence on this
head, we might feel almost sure, from the analogy of the higher Quadrumana
(23. On the fighting of the male gorillas, see Dr. Savage, in 'Boston
Journal of Natural History,' vol. v. 1847, p. 423. On Presbytis entellus,
see the 'Indian Field,' 1859, p. 146.), that the law of battle had
prevailed with man during the early stages of his development. The
occasional appearance at the present day of canine teeth which project
above the others, with traces of a diastema or open space for the reception
of the opposite canines, is in all probability a case of reversion to a
former state, when the progenitors of man were provided with these weapons,
like so many existing male Quadrumana. It was remarked in a former chapter
that as man gradually became erect, and continually used his hands and arms
for fighting with sticks and stones, as well as for the other purposes of
life, he would have used his jaws and teeth less and less. The jaws,
together with their muscles, would then have been reduced through disuse,
as would the teeth through the not well understood principles of
correlation and economy of growth; for we everywhere see that parts, which
are no longer of service, are reduced in size. By such steps the original
inequality between the jaws and teeth in the two sexes of mankind would
ultimately have been obliterated. The case is almost parallel with that of
many male Ruminants, in which the canine teeth have been reduced to mere
rudiments, or have disappeared, apparently in consequence of the
development of horns. As the prodigious difference between the skulls of
the two sexes in the orang and gorilla stands in close relation with the
development of the immense canine teeth in the males, we may infer that the
reduction of the jaws and teeth in the early male progenitors of man must
have led to a most striking and favourable change in his appearance.

There can be little doubt that the greater size and strength of man, in
comparison with woman, together with his broader shoulders, more developed
muscles, rugged outline of body, his greater courage and pugnacity, are all
due in chief part to inheritance from his half-human male ancestors. These
characters would, however, have been preserved or even augmented during the
long ages of man's savagery, by the success of the strongest and boldest
men, both in the general struggle for life and in their contests for wives;
a success which would have ensured their leaving a more numerous progeny
than their less favoured brethren. It is not probable that the greater
strength of man was primarily acquired through the inherited effects of his
having worked harder than woman for his own subsistence and that of his
family; for the women in all barbarous nations are compelled to work at
least as hard as the men. With civilised people the arbitrament of battle
for the possession of the women has long ceased; on the other hand, the
men, as a general rule, have to work harder than the women for their joint
subsistence, and thus their greater strength will have been kept up.


With respect to differences of this nature between man and woman, it is
probable that sexual selection has played a highly important part. I am
aware that some writers doubt whether there is any such inherent
difference; but this is at least probable from the analogy of the lower
animals which present other secondary sexual characters. No one disputes
that the bull differs in disposition from the cow, the wild-boar from the
sow, the stallion from the mare, and, as is well known to the keepers of
menageries, the males of the larger apes from the females. Woman seems to
differ from man in mental disposition, chiefly in her greater tenderness
and less selfishness; and this holds good even with savages, as shewn by a
well-known passage in Mungo Park's Travels, and by statements made by many
other travellers. Woman, owing to her maternal instincts, displays these
qualities towards her infants in an eminent degree; therefore it is likely
that she would often extend them towards her fellow-creatures. Man is the
rival of other men; he delights in competition, and this leads to ambition
which passes too easily into selfishness. These latter qualities seem to
be his natural and unfortunate birthright. It is generally admitted that
with woman the powers of intuition, of rapid perception, and perhaps of
imitation, are more strongly marked than in man; but some, at least, of
these faculties are characteristic of the lower races, and therefore of a
past and lower state of civilisation.

The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shewn
by man's attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can
woman--whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely
the use of the senses and hands. If two lists were made of the most
eminent men and women in poetry, painting, sculpture, music (inclusive both
of composition and performance), history, science, and philosophy, with
half-a-dozen names under each subject, the two lists would not bear
comparison. We may also infer, from the law of the deviation from
averages, so well illustrated by Mr. Galton, in his work on 'Hereditary
Genius,' that if men are capable of a decided pre-eminence over women in
many subjects, the average of mental power in man must be above that of

Amongst the half-human progenitors of man, and amongst savages, there have
been struggles between the males during many generations for the possession
of the females. But mere bodily strength and size would do little for
victory, unless associated with courage, perseverance, and determined
energy. With social animals, the young males have to pass through many a
contest before they win a female, and the older males have to retain their
females by renewed battles. They have, also, in the case of mankind, to
defend their females, as well as their young, from enemies of all kinds,
and to hunt for their joint subsistence. But to avoid enemies or to attack
them with success, to capture wild animals, and to fashion weapons,
requires the aid of the higher mental faculties, namely, observation,
reason, invention, or imagination. These various faculties will thus have
been continually put to the test and selected during manhood; they will,
moreover, have been strengthened by use during this same period of life.
Consequently in accordance with the principle often alluded to, we might
expect that they would at least tend to be transmitted chiefly to the male
offspring at the corresponding period of manhood.

Now, when two men are put into competition, or a man with a woman, both
possessed of every mental quality in equal perfection, save that one has
higher energy, perseverance, and courage, the latter will generally become
more eminent in every pursuit, and will gain the ascendancy. (24. J.
Stuart Mill remarks ('The Subjection of Women,' 1869, p. 122), "The things
in which man most excels woman are those which require most plodding, and
long hammering at single thoughts." What is this but energy and
perseverance?) He may be said to possess genius--for genius has been
declared by a great authority to be patience; and patience, in this sense,
means unflinching, undaunted perseverance. But this view of genius is
perhaps deficient; for without the higher powers of the imagination and
reason, no eminent success can be gained in many subjects. These latter
faculties, as well as the former, will have been developed in man, partly
through sexual selection,--that is, through the contest of rival males, and
partly through natural selection, that is, from success in the general
struggle for life; and as in both cases the struggle will have been during
maturity, the characters gained will have been transmitted more fully to
the male than to the female offspring. It accords in a striking manner
with this view of the modification and re-inforcement of many of our mental
faculties by sexual selection, that, firstly, they notoriously undergo a
considerable change at puberty (25. Maudsley, 'Mind and Body,' p. 31.),
and, secondly, that eunuchs remain throughout life inferior in these same
qualities. Thus, man has ultimately become superior to woman. It is,
indeed, fortunate that the law of the equal transmission of characters to
both sexes prevails with mammals; otherwise, it is probable that man would
have become as superior in mental endowment to woman, as the peacock is in
ornamental plumage to the peahen.

It must be borne in mind that the tendency in characters acquired by either
sex late in life, to be transmitted to the same sex at the same age, and of
early acquired characters to be transmitted to both sexes, are rules which,
though general, do not always hold. If they always held good, we might
conclude (but I here exceed my proper bounds) that the inherited effects of
the early education of boys and girls would be transmitted equally to both
sexes; so that the present inequality in mental power between the sexes
would not be effaced by a similar course of early training; nor can it have
been caused by their dissimilar early training. In order that woman should
reach the same standard as man, she ought, when nearly adult, to be trained
to energy and perseverance, and to have her reason and imagination
exercised to the highest point; and then she would probably transmit these
qualities chiefly to her adult daughters. All women, however, could not be
thus raised, unless during many generations those who excelled in the above
robust virtues were married, and produced offspring in larger numbers than
other women. As before remarked of bodily strength, although men do not
now fight for their wives, and this form of selection has passed away, yet
during manhood, they generally undergo a severe struggle in order to
maintain themselves and their families; and this will tend to keep up or
even increase their mental powers, and, as a consequence, the present
inequality between the sexes. (26. An observation by Vogt bears on this
subject: he says, "It is a remarkable circumstance, that the difference
between the sexes, as regards the cranial cavity, increases with the
development of the race, so that the male European excels much more the
female, than the negro the negress. Welcker confirms this statement of
Huschke from his measurements of negro and German skulls." But Vogt admits
('Lectures on Man,' Eng. translat. 1864, p. 81) that more observations are
requisite on this point.


In some species of Quadrumana there is a great difference between the adult
sexes, in the power of their voices and in the development of the vocal
organs; and man appears to have inherited this difference from his early
progenitors. His vocal cords are about one-third longer than in woman, or
than in boys; and emasculation produces the same effect on him as on the
lower animals, for it "arrests that prominent growth of the thyroid, etc.,
which accompanies the elongation of the cords." (27. Owen, 'Anatomy of
Vertebrates,' vol. iii. p. 603.) With respect to the cause of this
difference between the sexes, I have nothing to add to the remarks in the
last chapter on the probable effects of the long-continued use of the vocal
organs by the male under the excitement of love, rage and jealousy.
According to Sir Duncan Gibb (28. 'Journal of the Anthropological
Society,' April 1869, p. lvii. and lxvi.), the voice and the form of the
larynx differ in the different races of mankind; but with the Tartars,
Chinese, etc., the voice of the male is said not to differ so much from
that of the female, as in most other races.

The capacity and love for singing or music, though not a sexual character
in man, must not here be passed over. Although the sounds emitted by
animals of all kinds serve many purposes, a strong case can be made out,
that the vocal organs were primarily used and perfected in relation to the
propagation of the species. Insects and some few spiders are the lowest
animals which voluntarily produce any sound; and this is generally effected
by the aid of beautifully constructed stridulating organs, which are often
confined to the males. The sounds thus produced consist, I believe in all
cases, of the same note, repeated rhythmically (29. Dr. Scudder, 'Notes on
Stridulation,' in 'Proc. Boston Soc. of Nat. Hist.' vol. xi. April 1868.);
and this is sometimes pleasing even to the ears of man. The chief and, in
some cases, exclusive purpose appears to be either to call or charm the
opposite sex.

The sounds produced by fishes are said in some cases to be made only by the
males during the breeding-season. All the air-breathing Vertebrata
necessarily possess an apparatus for inhaling and expelling air, with a
pipe capable of being closed at one end. Hence when the primeval members
of this class were strongly excited and their muscles violently contracted,
purposeless sounds would almost certainly have been produced; and these, if
they proved in any way serviceable, might readily have been modified or
intensified by the preservation of properly adapted variations. The lowest
Vertebrates which breathe air are Amphibians; and of these, frogs and toads
possess vocal organs, which are incessantly used during the breeding-
season, and which are often more highly developed in the male than in the
female. The male alone of the tortoise utters a noise, and this only
during the season of love. Male alligators roar or bellow during the same
season. Every one knows how much birds use their vocal organs as a means
of courtship; and some species likewise perform what may be called
instrumental music.

In the class of Mammals, with which we are here more particularly
concerned, the males of almost all the species use their voices during the
breeding-season much more than at any other time; and some are absolutely
mute excepting at this season. With other species both sexes, or only the
females, use their voices as a love-call. Considering these facts, and
that the vocal organs of some quadrupeds are much more largely developed in
the male than in the female, either permanently or temporarily during the
breeding-season; and considering that in most of the lower classes the
sounds produced by the males, serve not only to call but to excite or
allure the female, it is a surprising fact that we have not as yet any good
evidence that these organs are used by male mammals to charm the females.
The American Mycetes caraya perhaps forms an exception, as does the
Hylobates agilis, an ape allied to man. This gibbon has an extremely loud
but musical voice. Mr. Waterhouse states (30. Given in W.C.L. Martin's
'General Introduction to Natural History of Mamm. Animals,' 1841, p. 432;
Owen, 'Anatomy of Vertebrates,' vol. iii, p. 600.), "It appeared to me that
in ascending and descending the scale, the intervals were always exactly
half-tones; and I am sure that the highest note was the exact octave to the
lowest. The quality of the notes is very musical; and I do not doubt that
a good violinist would be able to give a correct idea of the gibbon's
composition, excepting as regards its loudness." Mr. Waterhouse then gives
the notes. Professor Owen, who is a musician, confirms the foregoing
statement, and remarks, though erroneously, that this gibbon "alone of
brute mammals may be said to sing." It appears to be much excited after
its performance. Unfortunately, its habits have never been closely
observed in a state of nature; but from the analogy of other animals, it is
probable that it uses its musical powers more especially during the season
of courtship.

This gibbon is not the only species in the genus which sings, for my son,
Francis Darwin, attentively listened in the Zoological Gardens to H.
leuciscus whilst singing a cadence of three notes, in true musical
intervals and with a clear musical tone. It is a more surprising fact that
certain rodents utter musical sounds. Singing mice have often been
mentioned and exhibited, but imposture has commonly been suspected. We
have, however, at last a clear account by a well-known observer, the Rev.
S. Lockwood (31. The 'American Naturalist,' 1871, p. 761.), of the musical
powers of an American species, the Hesperomys cognatus, belonging to a
genus distinct from that of the English mouse. This little animal was kept
in confinement, and the performance was repeatedly heard. In one of the
two chief songs, "the last bar would frequently be prolonged to two or
three; and she would sometimes change from C sharp and D, to C natural and
D, then warble on these two notes awhile, and wind up with a quick chirp on
C sharp and D. The distinctness between the semitones was very marked, and
easily appreciable to a good ear." Mr. Lockwood gives both songs in
musical notation; and adds that though this little mouse "had no ear for
time, yet she would keep to the key of B (two flats) and strictly in a
major key."..."Her soft clear voice falls an octave with all the precision
possible; then at the wind up, it rises again into a very quick trill on C
sharp and D."

A critic has asked how the ears of man, and he ought to have added of other
animals, could have been adapted by selection so as to distinguish musical
notes. But this question shews some confusion on the subject; a noise is
the sensation resulting from the co-existence of several aerial "simple
vibrations" of various periods, each of which intermits so frequently that
its separate existence cannot be perceived. It is only in the want of
continuity of such vibrations, and in their want of harmony inter se, that
a noise differs from a musical note. Thus an ear to be capable of
discriminating noises--and the high importance of this power to all animals
is admitted by every one--must be sensitive to musical notes. We have
evidence of this capacity even low down in the animal scale: thus
Crustaceans are provided with auditory hairs of different lengths, which
have been seen to vibrate when the proper musical notes are struck. (32.
Helmholtz, 'Theorie Phys. de la Musique,' 1868, p. 187.) As stated in a
previous chapter, similar observations have been made on the hairs of the
antennae of gnats. It has been positively asserted by good observers that
spiders are attracted by music. It is also well known that some dogs howl
when hearing particular tones. (33. Several accounts have been published
to this effect. Mr. Peach writes to me that an old dog of his howls when B
flat is sounded on the flute, and to no other note. I may add another
instance of a dog always whining, when one note on a concertina, which was
out of tune, was played.) Seals apparently appreciate music, and their
fondness for it "was well known to the ancients, and is often taken
advantage of by the hunters at the present day." (34. Mr. R. Brown, in
'Proc. Zool. Soc.' 1868, p. 410.)

Therefore, as far as the mere perception of musical notes is concerned,
there seems no special difficulty in the case of man or of any other
animal. Helmholtz has explained on physiological principles why concords
are agreeable, and discords disagreeable to the human ear; but we are
little concerned with these, as music in harmony is a late invention. We
are more concerned with melody, and here again, according to Helmholtz, it
is intelligible why the notes of our musical scale are used. The ear
analyses all sounds into their component "simple vibrations," although we
are not conscious of this analysis. In a musical note the lowest in pitch
of these is generally predominant, and the others which are less marked are
the octave, the twelfth, the second octave, etc., all harmonies of the
fundamental predominant note; any two notes of our scale have many of these
harmonic over-tones in common. It seems pretty clear then, that if an
animal always wished to sing precisely the same song, he would guide
himself by sounding those notes in succession, which possess many over-
tones in common--that is, he would choose for his song, notes which belong
to our musical scale.

But if it be further asked why musical tones in a certain order and rhythm
give man and other animals pleasure, we can no more give the reason than
for the pleasantness of certain tastes and smells. That they do give
pleasure of some kind to animals, we may infer from their being produced
during the season of courtship by many insects, spiders, fishes,
amphibians, and birds; for unless the females were able to appreciate such
sounds and were excited or charmed by them, the persevering efforts of the
males, and the complex structures often possessed by them alone, would be
useless; and this it is impossible to believe.

Human song is generally admitted to be the basis or origin of instrumental
music. As neither the enjoyment nor the capacity of producing musical
notes are faculties of the least use to man in reference to his daily
habits of life, they must be ranked amongst the most mysterious with which
he is endowed. They are present, though in a very rude condition, in men
of all races, even the most savage; but so different is the taste of the
several races, that our music gives no pleasure to savages, and their music
is to us in most cases hideous and unmeaning. Dr. Seemann, in some
interesting remarks on this subject (35. 'Journal of Anthropological
Society,' Oct. 1870, p. clv. See also the several later chapters in Sir
John Lubbock's 'Prehistoric Times,' 2nd ed. 1869, which contain an
admirable account of the habits of savages.), "doubts whether even amongst
the nations of Western Europe, intimately connected as they are by close
and frequent intercourse, the music of the one is interpreted in the same
sense by the others. By travelling eastwards we find that there is
certainly a different language of music. Songs of joy and dance-
accompaniments are no longer, as with us, in the major keys, but always in
the minor." Whether or not the half-human progenitors of man possessed,
like the singing gibbons, the capacity of producing, and therefore no doubt
of appreciating, musical notes, we know that man possessed these faculties
at a very remote period. M. Lartet has described two flutes made out of
the bones and horns of the reindeer, found in caves together with flint
tools and the remains of extinct animals. The arts of singing and of
dancing are also very ancient, and are now practised by all or nearly all
the lowest races of man. Poetry, which may be considered as the offspring
of song, is likewise so ancient, that many persons have felt astonished
that it should have arisen during the earliest ages of which we have any

We see that the musical faculties, which are not wholly deficient in any
race, are capable of prompt and high development, for Hottentots and
Negroes have become excellent musicians, although in their native countries
they rarely practise anything that we should consider music. Schweinfurth,
however, was pleased with some of the simple melodies which he heard in the
interior of Africa. But there is nothing anomalous in the musical
faculties lying dormant in man: some species of birds which never
naturally sing, can without much difficulty be taught to do so; thus a
house-sparrow has learnt the song of a linnet. As these two species are
closely allied, and belong to the order of Insessores, which includes
nearly all the singing-birds in the world, it is possible that a progenitor
of the sparrow may have been a songster. It is more remarkable that
parrots, belonging to a group distinct from the Insessores, and having
differently constructed vocal organs, can be taught not only to speak, but
to pipe or whistle tunes invented by man, so that they must have some
musical capacity. Nevertheless it would be very rash to assume that
parrots are descended from some ancient form which was a songster. Many
cases could be advanced of organs and instincts originally adapted for one
purpose, having been utilised for some distinct purpose. (36. Since this
chapter was printed, I have seen a valuable article by Mr. Chauncey Wright
('North American Review,' Oct. 1870, page 293), who, in discussing the
above subject, remarks, "There are many consequences of the ultimate laws
or uniformities of nature, through which the acquisition of one useful
power will bring with it many resulting advantages as well as limiting
disadvantages, actual or possible, which the principle of utility may not
have comprehended in its action." As I have attempted to shew in an early
chapter of this work, this principle has an important bearing on the
acquisition by man of some of his mental characteristics.) Hence the
capacity for high musical development which the savage races of man
possess, may be due either to the practice by our semi-human progenitors of
some rude form of music, or simply to their having acquired the proper
vocal organs for a different purpose. But in this latter case we must
assume, as in the above instance of parrots, and as seems to occur with
many animals, that they already possessed some sense of melody.

Music arouses in us various emotions, but not the more terrible ones of
horror, fear, rage, etc. It awakens the gentler feelings of tenderness and
love, which readily pass into devotion. In the Chinese annals it is said,
"Music hath the power of making heaven descend upon earth." It likewise
stirs up in us the sense of triumph and the glorious ardour for war. These
powerful and mingled feelings may well give rise to the sense of sublimity.
We can concentrate, as Dr. Seemann observes, greater intensity of feeling
in a single musical note than in pages of writing. It is probable that
nearly the same emotions, but much weaker and far less complex, are felt by
birds when the male pours forth his full volume of song, in rivalry with
other males, to captivate the female. Love is still the commonest theme of
our songs. As Herbert Spencer remarks, "music arouses dormant sentiments
of which we had not conceived the possibility, and do not know the meaning;
or, as Richter says, tells us of things we have not seen and shall not
see." Conversely, when vivid emotions are felt and expressed by the
orator, or even in common speech, musical cadences and rhythm are
instinctively used. The negro in Africa when excited often bursts forth in
song; "another will reply in song, whilst the company, as if touched by a
musical wave, murmur a chorus in perfect unison." (37. Winwood Reade,
'The Martyrdom of Man,' 1872, p. 441, and 'African Sketch Book,' 1873, vol.
ii. p. 313.) Even monkeys express strong feelings in different tones--
anger and impatience by low,--fear and pain by high notes. (38. Rengger,
'Saugethiere von Paraguay,' s. 49.) The sensations and ideas thus excited
in us by music, or expressed by the cadences of oratory, appear from their
vagueness, yet depth, like mental reversions to the emotions and thoughts
of a long-past age.

All these facts with respect to music and impassioned speech become
intelligible to a certain extent, if we may assume that musical tones and
rhythm were used by our half-human ancestors, during the season of
courtship, when animals of all kinds are excited not only by love, but by
the strong passions of jealousy, rivalry, and triumph. From the deeply-
laid principle of inherited associations, musical tones in this case would
be likely to call up vaguely and indefinitely the strong emotions of a
long-past age. As we have every reason to suppose that articulate speech
is one of the latest, as it certainly is the highest, of the arts acquired
by man, and as the instinctive power of producing musical notes and rhythms
is developed low down in the animal series, it would be altogether opposed
to the principle of evolution, if we were to admit that man's musical
capacity has been developed from the tones used in impassioned speech. We
must suppose that the rhythms and cadences of oratory are derived from
previously developed musical powers. (39. See the very interesting
discussion on the 'Origin and Function of Music,' by Mr. Herbert Spencer,
in his collected 'Essays,' 1858, p. 359. Mr. Spencer comes to an exactly
opposite conclusion to that at which I have arrived. He concludes, as did
Diderot formerly, that the cadences used in emotional speech afford the
foundation from which music has been developed; whilst I conclude that
musical notes and rhythm were first acquired by the male or female
progenitors of mankind for the sake of charming the opposite sex. Thus
musical tones became firmly associated with some of the strongest passions
an animal is capable of feeling, and are consequently used instinctively,
or through association when strong emotions are expressed in speech. Mr.
Spencer does not offer any satisfactory explanation, nor can I, why high or
deep notes should be expressive, both with man and the lower animals, of
certain emotions. Mr. Spencer gives also an interesting discussion on the
relations between poetry, recitative and song.) We can thus understand how
it is that music, dancing, song, and poetry are such very ancient arts. We
may go even further than this, and, as remarked in a former chapter,
believe that musical sounds afforded one of the bases for the development
of language. (40. I find in Lord Monboddo's 'Origin of Language,' vol. i.
1774, p. 469, that Dr. Blacklock likewise thought "that the first language
among men was music, and that before our ideas were expressed by articulate
sounds, they were communicated by tones varied according to different
degrees of gravity and acuteness.")

As the males of several quadrumanous animals have their vocal organs much
more developed than in the females, and as a gibbon, one of the
anthropomorphous apes, pours forth a whole octave of musical notes and may
be said to sing, it appears probable that the progenitors of man, either
the males or females or both sexes, before acquiring the power of
expressing their mutual love in articulate language, endeavoured to charm
each other with musical notes and rhythm. So little is known about the use
of the voice by the Quadrumana during the season of love, that we have no
means of judging whether the habit of singing was first acquired by our
male or female ancestors. Women are generally thought to possess sweeter
voices than men, and as far as this serves as any guide, we may infer that
they first acquired musical powers in order to attract the other sex. (41.
See an interesting discussion on this subject by Haeckel, 'Generelle
Morphologie,' B. ii. 1866, s. 246.) But if so, this must have occurred
long ago, before our ancestors had become sufficiently human to treat and
value their women merely as useful slaves. The impassioned orator, bard,
or musician, when with his varied tones and cadences he excites the
strongest emotions in his hearers, little suspects that he uses the same
means by which his half-human ancestors long ago aroused each other's
ardent passions, during their courtship and rivalry.


In civilised life man is largely, but by no means exclusively, influenced
in the choice of his wife by external appearance; but we are chiefly
concerned with primeval times, and our only means of forming a judgment on
this subject is to study the habits of existing semi-civilised and savage
nations. If it can be shewn that the men of different races prefer women
having various characteristics, or conversely with the women, we have then
to enquire whether such choice, continued during many generations, would
produce any sensible effect on the race, either on one sex or both
according to the form of inheritance which has prevailed.

It will be well first to shew in some detail that savages pay the greatest
attention to their personal appearance. (42. A full and excellent account
of the manner in which savages in all parts of the world ornament
themselves, is given by the Italian traveller, Professor Mantegazza, 'Rio
de la Plata, Viaggi e Studi,' 1867, pp. 525-545; all the following
statements, when other references are not given, are taken from this work.
See, also, Waitz, 'Introduction to Anthropology,' Eng. translat. vol. i.
1863, p. 275, et passim. Lawrence also gives very full details in his
'Lectures on Physiology,' 1822. Since this chapter was written Sir J.
Lubbock has published his 'Origin of Civilisation,' 1870, in which there is
an interesting chapter on the present subject, and from which (pp. 42, 48)
I have taken some facts about savages dyeing their teeth and hair, and
piercing their teeth.) That they have a passion for ornament is notorious;
and an English philosopher goes so far as to maintain, that clothes were
first made for ornament and not for warmth. As Professor Waitz remarks,
"however poor and miserable man is, he finds a pleasure in adorning
himself." The extravagance of the naked Indians of South America in
decorating themselves is shewn "by a man of large stature gaining with
difficulty enough by the labour of a fortnight to procure in exchange the
chica necessary to paint himself red." (43. Humboldt, 'Personal
Narrative,' Eng. translat. vol. iv. p. 515; on the imagination shewn in
painting the body, p. 522; on modifying the form of the calf of the leg, p.
466.) The ancient barbarians of Europe during the Reindeer period brought
to their caves any brilliant or singular objects which they happened to
find. Savages at the present day everywhere deck themselves with plumes,
necklaces, armlets, ear-rings, etc. They paint themselves in the most
diversified manner. "If painted nations," as Humboldt observes, "had been
examined with the same attention as clothed nations, it would have been
perceived that the most fertile imagination and the most mutable caprice
have created the fashions of painting, as well as those of garments."

In one part of Africa the eyelids are coloured black; in another the nails
are coloured yellow or purple. In many places the hair is dyed of various
tints. In different countries the teeth are stained black, red, blue,
etc., and in the Malay Archipelago it is thought shameful to have white
teeth "like those of a dog." Not one great country can be named, from the
polar regions in the north to New Zealand in the south, in which the
aborigines do not tattoo themselves. This practice was followed by the
Jews of old, and by the ancient Britons. In Africa some of the natives
tattoo themselves, but it is a much more common practice to raise
protuberances by rubbing salt into incisions made in various parts of the
body; and these are considered by the inhabitants of Kordofan and Darfur
"to be great personal attractions." In the Arab countries no beauty can be
perfect until the cheeks "or temples have been gashed." (44. 'The Nile
Tributaries,' 1867; 'The Albert N'yanza,' 1866, vol. i. p. 218.) In South
America, as Humboldt remarks, "a mother would be accused of culpable
indifference towards her children, if she did not employ artificial means
to shape the calf of the leg after the fashion of the country." In the Old
and New Worlds the shape of the skull was formerly modified during infancy
in the most extraordinary manner, as is still the case in many places, and
such deformities are considered ornamental. For instance, the savages of
Colombia (45. Quoted by Prichard, 'Physical History of Mankind,' 4th ed.
vol. i. 1851, p. 321.) deem a much flattened head "an essential point of

The hair is treated with especial care in various countries; it is allowed
to grow to full length, so as to reach to the ground, or is combed into "a
compact frizzled mop, which is the Papuan's pride and glory." (46. On the
Papuans, Wallace, 'The Malay Archipelago,' vol. ii. p. 445. On the
coiffure of the Africans, Sir S. Baker, 'The Albert N'yanza,' vol. i. p.
210.) In northern Africa "a man requires a period of from eight to ten
years to perfect his coiffure." With other nations the head is shaved, and
in parts of South America and Africa even the eyebrows and eyelashes are
eradicated. The natives of the Upper Nile knock out the four front teeth,
saying that they do not wish to resemble brutes. Further south, the
Batokas knock out only the two upper incisors, which, as Livingstone (47.
'Travels,' p. 533.) remarks, gives the face a hideous appearance, owing to
the prominence of the lower jaw; but these people think the presence of the
incisors most unsightly, and on beholding some Europeans, cried out, "Look
at the great teeth!" The chief Sebituani tried in vain to alter this
fashion. In various parts of Africa and in the Malay Archipelago the
natives file the incisors into points like those of a saw, or pierce them
with holes, into which they insert studs.

As the face with us is chiefly admired for its beauty, so with savages it
is the chief seat of mutilation. In all quarters of the world the septum,
and more rarely the wings of the nose are pierced; rings, sticks, feathers,
and other ornaments being inserted into the holes. The ears are everywhere
pierced and similarly ornamented, and with the Botocudos and Lenguas of
South America the hole is gradually so much enlarged that the lower edge
touches the shoulder. In North and South America and in Africa either the
upper or lower lip is pierced; and with the Botocudos the hole in the lower
lip is so large that a disc of wood, four inches in diameter, is placed in
it. Mantegazza gives a curious account of the shame felt by a South
American native, and of the ridicule which he excited, when he sold his
tembeta,--the large coloured piece of wood which is passed through the
hole. In Central Africa the women perforate the lower lip and wear a
crystal, which, from the movement of the tongue, has "a wriggling motion,
indescribably ludicrous during conversation." The wife of the chief of
Latooka told Sir S. Baker (49. 'The Albert N'yanza,' 1866, vol. i. p.
217.) that Lady Baker "would be much improved if she would extract her four
front teeth from the lower jaw, and wear the long pointed polished crystal
in her under lip." Further south with the Makalolo, the upper lip is
perforated, and a large metal and bamboo ring, called a pelele, is worn in
the hole. "This caused the lip in one case to project two inches beyond
the tip of the nose; and when the lady smiled, the contraction of the
muscles elevated it over the eyes. 'Why do the women wear these things?'
the venerable chief, Chinsurdi, was asked. Evidently surprised at such a
stupid question, he replied, 'For beauty! They are the only beautiful
things women have; men have beards, women have none. What kind of a person
would she be without the pelele? She would not be a woman at all with a
mouth like a man, but no beard.'" (49. Livingstone, 'British
Association,' 1860; report given in the 'Athenaeum,' July 7, 1860, p. 29.)

Hardly any part of the body, which can be unnaturally modified, has
escaped. The amount of suffering thus caused must have been extreme, for
many of the operations require several years for their completion, so that
the idea of their necessity must be imperative. The motives are various;
the men paint their bodies to make themselves appear terrible in battle;
certain mutilations are connected with religious rites, or they mark the
age of puberty, or the rank of the man, or they serve to distinguish the
tribes. Amongst savages the same fashions prevail for long periods (50.
Sir S. Baker (ibid. vol. i. p. 210) speaking of the natives of Central
Africa says, "every tribe has a distinct and unchanging fashion for
dressing the hair." See Agassiz ('Journey in Brazil,' 1868, p. 318) on
invariability of the tattooing of Amazonian Indians.), and thus
mutilations, from whatever cause first made, soon come to be valued as
distinctive marks. But self-adornment, vanity, and the admiration of
others, seem to be the commonest motives. In regard to tattooing, I was
told by the missionaries in New Zealand that when they tried to persuade
some girls to give up the practice, they answered, "We must just have a few
lines on our lips; else when we grow old we shall be so very ugly." With
the men of New Zealand, a most capable judge (51. Rev. R. Taylor, 'New
Zealand and its Inhabitants,' 1855, p. 152.) says, "to have fine tattooed
faces was the great ambition of the young, both to render themselves
attractive to the ladies, and conspicuous in war." A star tattooed on the
forehead and a spot on the chin are thought by the women in one part of
Africa to be irresistible attractions. (52. Mantegazza, 'Viaggi e Studi,'
p. 542.) In most, but not all parts of the world, the men are more
ornamented than the women, and often in a different manner; sometimes,
though rarely, the women are hardly at all ornamented. As the women are
made by savages to perform the greatest share of the work, and as they are
not allowed to eat the best kinds of food, so it accords with the
characteristic selfishness of man that they should not be allowed to
obtain, or use the finest ornaments. Lastly, it is a remarkable fact, as
proved by the foregoing quotations, that the same fashions in modifying the
shape of the head, in ornamenting the hair, in painting, tattooing, in
perforating the nose, lips, or ears, in removing or filing the teeth, etc.,
now prevail, and have long prevailed, in the most distant quarters of the
world. It is extremely improbable that these practices, followed by so
many distinct nations, should be due to tradition from any common source.
They indicate the close similarity of the mind of man, to whatever race he
may belong, just as do the almost universal habits of dancing,
masquerading, and making rude pictures.

Having made these preliminary remarks on the admiration felt by savages for
various ornaments, and for deformities most unsightly in our eyes, let us
see how far the men are attracted by the appearance of their women, and
what are their ideas of beauty. I have heard it maintained that savages
are quite indifferent about the beauty of their women, valuing them solely
as slaves; it may therefore be well to observe that this conclusion does
not at all agree with the care which the women take in ornamenting
themselves, or with their vanity. Burchell (53. 'Travels in South
Africa,' 1824, vol. i. p. 414.) gives an amusing account of a Bush-woman
who used as much grease, red ochre, and shining powder "as would have
ruined any but a very rich husband." She displayed also "much vanity and
too evident a consciousness of her superiority." Mr. Winwood Reade informs
me that the negroes of the West Coast often discuss the beauty of their
women. Some competent observers have attributed the fearfully common
practice of infanticide partly to the desire felt by the women to retain
their good looks. (54. See, for references, Gerland, 'Ueber das
Aussterben der Naturvolker,' 1868, ss. 51, 53, 55; also Azara, 'Voyages,'
etc., tom. ii. p. 116.) In several regions the women wear charms and use
love-philters to gain the affections of the men; and Mr. Brown enumerates
four plants used for this purpose by the women of North-Western America.
(55. On the vegetable productions used by the North-Western American
Indians, see 'Pharmaceutical Journal,' vol. x.)

Hearne (56. 'A Journey from Prince of Wales Fort,' 8vo. ed. 1796, p. 89.),
an excellent observer, who lived many years with the American Indians,
says, in speaking of the women, "Ask a Northern Indian what is beauty, and
he will answer, a broad flat face, small eyes, high cheek-bones, three or
four broad black lines across each cheek, a low forehead, a large broad
chin, a clumsy hook nose, a tawny hide, and breasts hanging down to the
belt." Pallas, who visited the northern parts of the Chinese empire, says,
"those women are preferred who have the Mandschu form; that is to say, a
broad face, high cheek-bones, very broad noses, and enormous ears"(57.
Quoted by Prichard, 'Physical History of Mankind,' 3rd ed. vol. iv. 1844,
p. 519; Vogt, 'Lectures on Man,' Eng. translat. p. 129. On the opinion of
the Chinese on the Cingalese, E. Tennent, 'Ceylon,' 1859, vol. ii. p.
107.); and Vogt remarks that the obliquity of the eye, which is proper to
the Chinese and Japanese, is exaggerated in their pictures for the purpose,
as it "seems, of exhibiting its beauty, as contrasted with the eye of the
red-haired barbarians." It is well known, as Huc repeatedly remarks, that
the Chinese of the interior think Europeans hideous, with their white skins
and prominent noses. The nose is far from being too prominent, according
to our ideas, in the natives of Ceylon; yet "the Chinese in the seventh
century, accustomed to the flat features of the Mongol races, were
surprised at the prominent noses of the Cingalese; and Thsang described
them as having 'the beak of a bird, with the body of a man.'"

Finlayson, after minutely describing the people of Cochin China, says that
their rounded heads and faces are their chief characteristics; and, he
adds, "the roundness of the whole countenance is more striking in the
women, who are reckoned beautiful in proportion as they display this form
of face." The Siamese have small noses with divergent nostrils, a wide
mouth, rather thick lips, a remarkably large face, with very high and broad
cheek-bones. It is, therefore, not wonderful that "beauty, according to
our notion, is a stranger to them. Yet they consider their own females to
be much more beautiful than those of Europe." (58. Prichard, as taken
from Crawfurd and Finlayson, 'Phys. Hist. of Mankind,' vol. iv. pp. 534,

It is well known that with many Hottentot women the posterior part of the
body projects in a wonderful manner; they are steatopygous; and Sir Andrew
Smith is certain that this peculiarity is greatly admired by the men. (59.
Idem illustrissimus viator dixit mihi praecinctorium vel tabulam foeminae,
quod nobis teterrimum est, quondam permagno aestimari ab hominibus in hac
gente. Nunc res mutata est, et censent talem conformationem minime
optandam esse.) He once saw a woman who was considered a beauty, and she
was so immensely developed behind, that when seated on level ground she
could not rise, and had to push herself along until she came to a slope.
Some of the women in various negro tribes have the same peculiarity; and,
according to Burton, the Somal men are said to choose their wives by
ranging them in a line, and by picking her out who projects farthest a
tergo. Nothing can be more hateful to a negro than the opposite form."
(60. The 'Anthropological Review,' November 1864, p. 237. For additional
references, see Waitz, 'Introduction to Anthropology,' Eng. translat.,
1863, vol. i. p. 105.)

With respect to colour, the negroes rallied Mungo Park on the whiteness of
his skin and the prominence of his nose, both of which they considered as
"unsightly and unnatural conformations." He in return praised the glossy
jet of their skins and the lovely depression of their noses; this they said
was "honeymouth," nevertheless they gave him food. The African Moors,
also, "knitted their brows and seemed to shudder" at the whiteness of his
skin. On the eastern coast, the negro boys when they saw Burton, cried
out, "Look at the white man; does he not look like a white ape?" On the
western coast, as Mr. Winwood Reade informs me, the negroes admire a very
black skin more than one of a lighter tint. But their horror of whiteness
may be attributed, according to this same traveller, partly to the belief
held by most negroes that demons and spirits are white, and partly to their
thinking it a sign of ill-health.

The Banyai of the more southern part of the continent are negroes, but "a
great many of them are of a light coffee-and-milk colour, and, indeed, this
colour is considered handsome throughout the whole country"; so that here
we have a different standard of taste. With the Kaffirs, who differ much
from negroes, "the skin, except among the tribes near Delagoa Bay, is not
usually black, the prevailing colour being a mixture of black and red, the
most common shade being chocolate. Dark complexions, as being most common,
are naturally held in the highest esteem. To be told that he is light-
coloured, or like a white man, would be deemed a very poor compliment by a
Kaffir. I have heard of one unfortunate man who was so very fair that no
girl would marry him." One of the titles of the Zulu king is, "You who are
black." (61. Mungo Park's 'Travels in Africa,' 4to. 1816, pp. 53, 131.
Burton's statement is quoted by Schaaffhausen, 'Archiv. fur Anthropologie,'
1866, s. 163. On the Banyai, Livingstone, 'Travels,' p. 64. On the
Kaffirs, the Rev. J. Shooter, 'The Kafirs of Natal and the Zulu Country,'
1857, p. 1.) Mr. Galton, in speaking to me about the natives of S. Africa,
remarked that their ideas of beauty seem very different from ours; for in
one tribe two slim, slight, and pretty girls were not admired by the

Turning to other quarters of the world; in Java, a yellow, not a white
girl, is considered, according to Madame Pfeiffer, a beauty. A man of
Cochin China "spoke with contempt of the wife of the English Ambassador,
that she had white teeth like a dog, and a rosy colour like that of potato-
flowers." We have seen that the Chinese dislike our white skin, and that
the N. Americans admire "a tawny hide." In S. America, the Yuracaras, who
inhabit the wooded, damp slopes of the eastern Cordillera, are remarkably
pale-coloured, as their name in their own language expresses; nevertheless
they consider European women as very inferior to their own. (62. For the
Javans and Cochin-Chinese, see Waitz, 'Introduct. to Anthropology,' Eng.
translat. vol. i. p. 305. On the Yuracaras, A. d'Orbigny, as quoted in
Prichard, 'Physical History of Mankind,' vol. v. 3rd ed. p. 476.)

In several of the tribes of North America the hair on the head grows to a
wonderful length; and Catlin gives a curious proof how much this is
esteemed, for the chief of the Crows was elected to this office from having
the longest hair of any man in the tribe, namely ten feet and seven inches.
The Aymaras and Quichuas of S. America, likewise have very long hair; and
this, as Mr. D. Forbes informs me, is so much valued as a beauty, that
cutting it off was the severest punishment which he could inflict on them.
In both the Northern and Southern halves of the continent the natives
sometimes increase the apparent length of their hair by weaving into it
fibrous substances. Although the hair on the head is thus cherished, that
on the face is considered by the North American Indians "as very vulgar,"
and every hair is carefully eradicated. This practice prevails throughout
the American continent from Vancouver's Island in the north to Tierra del
Fuego in the south. When York Minster, a Fuegian on board the "Beagle,"
was taken back to his country, the natives told him be ought to pull out
the few short hairs on his face. They also threatened a young missionary,
who was left for a time with them, to strip him naked, and pluck the hair
from his face and body, yet he was far from being a hairy man. This
fashion is carried so far that the Indians of Paraguay eradicate their
eyebrows and eyelashes, saying that they do not wish to be like horses.
(63. 'North American Indians,' by G. Catlin, 3rd ed., 1842, vol. i. p. 49;
vol. ii, p. 227. On the natives of Vancouver's Island, see Sproat, 'Scenes
and Studies of Savage Life,' 1868, p. 25. On the Indians of Paraguay,
Azara, 'Voyages,' tom. ii. p. 105.)

It is remarkable that throughout the world the races which are almost
completely destitute of a beard dislike hairs on the face and body, and
take pains to eradicate them. The Kalmucks are beardless, and they are
well known, like the Americans, to pluck out all straggling hairs; and so
it is with the Polynesians, some of the Malays, and the Siamese. Mr.
Veitch states that the Japanese ladies "all objected to our whiskers,
considering them very ugly, and told us to cut them off, and be like
Japanese men." The New Zealanders have short, curled beards; yet they
formerly plucked out the hairs on the face. They had a saying that "there
is no woman for a hairy man;" but it would appear that the fashion has
changed in New Zealand, perhaps owing to the presence of Europeans, and I
am assured that beards are now admired by the Maories. (64. On the
Siamese, Prichard, ibid. vol. iv. p. 533. On the Japanese, Veitch in
'Gardeners' Chronicle,' 1860, p. 1104. On the New Zealanders, Mantegazza,
'Viaggi e Studi,' 1867, p. 526. For the other nations mentioned, see
references in Lawrence, 'Lectures on Physiology,' etc., 1822, p. 272.)

On the other hand, bearded races admire and greatly value their beards;
among the Anglo-Saxons every part of the body had a recognised value; "the
loss of the beard being estimated at twenty shillings, while the breaking
of a thigh was fixed at only twelve." (65. Lubbock, 'Origin of
Civilisation,' 1870, p. 321.) In the East men swear solemnly by their
beards. We have seen that Chinsurdi, the chief of the Makalolo in Africa,
thought that beards were a great ornament. In the Pacific the Fijian's
beard is "profuse and bushy, and is his greatest pride"; whilst the
inhabitants of the adjacent archipelagoes of Tonga and Samoa are
"beardless, and abhor a rough chin." In one island alone of the Ellice
group "the men are heavily bearded, and not a little proud thereof." (66.
Dr. Barnard Davis quotes Mr. Prichard and others for these facts in regard
to the Polynesians, in 'Anthropolog. Review,' April 1870, pp. 185, 191.)

We thus see how widely the different races of man differ in their taste for
the beautiful. In every nation sufficiently advanced to have made effigies
of their gods or of their deified rulers, the sculptors no doubt have
endeavoured to express their highest ideal of beauty and grandeur. (67.
Ch. Comte has remarks to this effect in his 'Traite de Legislation,' 3rd
ed. 1837, p. 136.) Under this point of view it is well to compare in our
mind the Jupiter or Apollo of the Greeks with the Egyptian or Assyrian
statues; and these with the hideous bas-reliefs on the ruined buildings of
Central America.

I have met with very few statements opposed to this conclusion. Mr.
Winwood Reade, however, who has had ample opportunities for observation,
not only with the negroes of the West Coast of Africa, but with those of
the interior who have never associated with Europeans, is convinced that
their ideas of beauty are ON THE WHOLE the same as ours; and Dr. Rohlfs
writes to me to the same effect with respect to Bornu and the countries
inhabited by the Pullo tribes. Mr. Reade found that he agreed with the
negroes in their estimation of the beauty of the native girls; and that
their appreciation of the beauty of European women corresponded with ours.
They admire long hair, and use artificial means to make it appear abundant;
they admire also a beard, though themselves very scantily provided. Mr.
Reade feels doubtful what kind of nose is most appreciated; a girl has been
heard to say, "I do not want to marry him, he has got no nose"; and this
shews that a very flat nose is not admired. We should, however, bear in
mind that the depressed, broad noses and projecting jaws of the negroes of
the West Coast are exceptional types with the inhabitants of Africa.
Notwithstanding the foregoing statements, Mr. Reade admits that negroes "do
not like the colour of our skin; they look on blue eyes with aversion, and
they think our noses too long and our lips too thin." He does not think it
probable that negroes would ever prefer the most beautiful European woman,
on the mere grounds of physical admiration, to a good-looking negress.
(68. The 'African Sketch Book,' vol. ii. 1873, pp. 253, 394, 521. The
Fuegians, as I have been informed by a missionary who long resided with
them, consider European women as extremely beautiful; but from what we have
seen of the judgment of the other aborigines of America, I cannot but think
that this must be a mistake, unless indeed the statement refers to the few
Fuegians who have lived for some time with Europeans, and who must consider
us as superior beings. I should add that a most experienced observer,
Capt. Burton, believes that a woman whom we consider beautiful is admired
throughout the world. 'Anthropological Review,' March, 1864, p. 245.)

The general truth of the principle, long ago insisted on by Humboldt (69.
'Personal Narrative,' Eng. translat. vol. iv. p. 518, and elsewhere.
Mantegazza, in his 'Viaggi e Studi,' strongly insists on this same
principle.), that man admires and often tries to exaggerate whatever
characters nature may have given him, is shewn in many ways. The practice
of beardless races extirpating every trace of a beard, and often all the
hairs on the body affords one illustration. The skull has been greatly
modified during ancient and modern times by many nations; and there can be
little doubt that this has been practised, especially in N. and S. America,
in order to exaggerate some natural and admired peculiarity. Many American
Indians are known to admire a head so extremely flattened as to appear to
us idiotic. The natives on the north-western coast compress the head into
a pointed cone; and it is their constant practice to gather the hair into a
knot on the top of the head, for the sake, as Dr. Wilson remarks, "of
increasing the apparent elevation of the favourite conoid form." The
inhabitants of Arakhan admire a broad, smooth forehead, and in order to
produce it, they fasten a plate of lead on the heads of the new-born
children. On the other hand, "a broad, well-rounded occiput is considered
a great beauty" by the natives of the Fiji Islands. (70. On the skulls of
the American tribes, see Nott and Gliddon, 'Types of Mankind,' 1854, p.
440; Prichard, 'Physical History of Mankind,' vol. i. 3rd ed. p. 321; on
the natives of Arakhan, ibid. vol. iv. p. 537. Wilson, 'Physical
Ethnology,' Smithsonian Institution, 1863, p. 288; on the Fijians, p. 290.
Sir J. Lubbock ('Prehistoric Times,' 2nd ed. 1869, p. 506) gives an
excellent resume on this subject.)

As with the skull, so with the nose; the ancient Huns during the age of
Attila were accustomed to flatten the noses of their infants with bandages,
"for the sake of exaggerating a natural conformation." With the Tahitians,
to be called LONG-NOSE is considered as an insult, and they compress the
noses and foreheads of their children for the sake of beauty. The same
holds with the Malays of Sumatra, the Hottentots, certain Negroes, and the
natives of Brazil. (71. On the Huns, Godron, 'De l'Espece,' tom. ii.
1859, p. 300. On the Tahitians, Waitz, 'Anthropology,' Eng. translat. vol.
i. p. 305. Marsden, quoted by Prichard, 'Phys. Hist. of Mankind,' 3rd
edit. vol. v. p. 67. Lawrence, 'Lectures on Physiology,' p. 337.) The
Chinese have by nature unusually small feet (72. This fact was ascertained
in the 'Reise der Novara: Anthropolog. Theil.' Dr. Weisbach, 1867, s.
265.); and it is well known that the women of the upper classes distort
their feet to make them still smaller. Lastly, Humboldt thinks that the
American Indians prefer colouring their bodies with red paint in order to
exaggerate their natural tint; and until recently European women added to
their naturally bright colours by rouge and white cosmetics; but it may be
doubted whether barbarous nations have generally had any such intention in
painting themselves.

In the fashions of our own dress we see exactly the same principle and the
same desire to carry every point to an extreme; we exhibit, also, the same
spirit of emulation. But the fashions of savages are far more permanent
than ours; and whenever their bodies are artificially modified, this is
necessarily the case. The Arab women of the Upper Nile occupy about three
days in dressing their hair; they never imitate other tribes, "but simply
vie with each other in the superlativeness of their own style." Dr.
Wilson, in speaking of the compressed skulls of various American races,
adds, "such usages are among the least eradicable, and long survive the
shock of revolutions that change dynasties and efface more important
national peculiarities." (73. 'Smithsonian Institution,' 1863, p. 289.
On the fashions of Arab women, Sir S. Baker, 'The Nile Tributaries,' 1867,
p. 121.) The same principle comes into play in the art of breeding; and we
can thus understand, as I have elsewhere explained (74. The 'Variation of
Animals and Plants under Domestication,' vol. i. p. 214; vol. ii. p. 240.),
the wonderful development of the many races of animals and plants, which
have been kept merely for ornament. Fanciers always wish each character to
be somewhat increased; they do not admire a medium standard; they certainly
do not desire any great and abrupt change in the character of their breeds;
they admire solely what they are accustomed to, but they ardently desire to
see each characteristic feature a little more developed.

The senses of man and of the lower animals seem to be so constituted that
brilliant colours and certain forms, as well as harmonious and rhythmical
sounds, give pleasure and are called beautiful; but why this should be so
we know not. It is certainly not true that there is in the mind of man any
universal standard of beauty with respect to the human body. It is,
however, possible that certain tastes may in the course of time become
inherited, though there is no evidence in favour of this belief: and if
so, each race would possess its own innate ideal standard of beauty. It
has been argued (75. Schaaffhausen, 'Archiv. fur Anthropologie,' 1866, s.
164.) that ugliness consists in an approach to the structure of the lower
animals, and no doubt this is partly true with the more civilised nations,
in which intellect is highly appreciated; but this explanation will hardly
apply to all forms of ugliness. The men of each race prefer what they are
accustomed to; they cannot endure any great change; but they like variety,
and admire each characteristic carried to a moderate extreme. (76. Mr.
Bain has collected ('Mental and Moral Science,' 1868, pp. 304-314) about a
dozen more or less different theories of the idea of beauty; but none is
quite the same as that here given.) Men accustomed to a nearly oval face,
to straight and regular features, and to bright colours, admire, as we
Europeans know, these points when strongly developed. On the other hand,
men accustomed to a broad face, with high cheek-bones, a depressed nose,
and a black skin, admire these peculiarities when strongly marked. No
doubt characters of all kinds may be too much developed for beauty. Hence
a perfect beauty, which implies many characters modified in a particular
manner, will be in every race a prodigy. As the great anatomist Bichat
long ago said, if every one were cast in the same mould, there would be no
such thing as beauty. If all our women were to become as beautiful as the
Venus de' Medici, we should for a time be charmed; but we should soon wish
for variety; and as soon as we had obtained variety, we should wish to see
certain characters a little exaggerated beyond the then existing common



On the effects of the continued selection of women according to a different
standard of beauty in each race--On the causes which interfere with sexual
selection in civilised and savage nations--Conditions favourable to sexual
selection during primeval times--On the manner of action of sexual
selection with mankind--On the women in savage tribes having some power to
choose their husbands--Absence of hair on the body, and development of the
beard--Colour of the skin--Summary.

We have seen in the last chapter that with all barbarous races ornaments,
dress, and external appearance are highly valued; and that the men judge of
the beauty of their women by widely different standards. We must next
inquire whether this preference and the consequent selection during many
generations of those women, which appear to the men of each race the most
attractive, has altered the character either of the females alone, or of
both sexes. With mammals the general rule appears to be that characters of
all kinds are inherited equally by the males and females; we might
therefore expect that with mankind any characters gained by the females or
by the males through sexual selection would commonly be transferred to the
offspring of both sexes. If any change has thus been effected, it is
almost certain that the different races would be differently modified, as
each has its own standard of beauty.

With mankind, especially with savages, many causes interfere with the
action of sexual selection as far as the bodily frame is concerned.
Civilised men are largely attracted by the mental charms of women, by their
wealth, and especially by their social position; for men rarely marry into
a much lower rank. The men who succeed in obtaining the more beautiful
women will not have a better chance of leaving a long line of descendants
than other men with plainer wives, save the few who bequeath their fortunes
according to primogeniture. With respect to the opposite form of
selection, namely, of the more attractive men by the women, although in
civilised nations women have free or almost free choice, which is not the
case with barbarous races, yet their choice is largely influenced by the
social position and wealth of the men; and the success of the latter in
life depends much on their intellectual powers and energy, or on the fruits
of these same powers in their forefathers. No excuse is needed for
treating this subject in some detail; for, as the German philosopher
Schopenhauer remarks, "the final aim of all love intrigues, be they comic
or tragic, is really of more importance than all other ends in human life.
What it all turns upon is nothing less than the composition of the next
generation...It is not the weal or woe of any one individual, but that of
the human race to come, which is here at stake." (1. 'Schopenhauer and
Darwinism,' in 'Journal of Anthropology,' Jan. 1871, p. 323.

There is, however, reason to believe that in certain civilised and semi-
civilised nations sexual selection has effected something in modifying the
bodily frame of some of the members. Many persons are convinced, as it
appears to me with justice, that our aristocracy, including under this term
all wealthy families in which primogeniture has long prevailed, from having
chosen during many generations from all classes the more beautiful women as
their wives, have become handsomer, according to the European standard,
than the middle classes; yet the middle classes are placed under equally
favourable conditions of life for the perfect development of the body.
Cook remarks that the superiority in personal appearance "which is
observable in the erees or nobles in all the other islands (of the Pacific)
is found in the Sandwich Islands"; but this may be chiefly due to their
better food and manner of life.

The old traveller Chardin, in describing the Persians, says their "blood is
now highly refined by frequent intermixtures with the Georgians and
Circassians, two nations which surpass all the world in personal beauty.
There is hardly a man of rank in Persia who is not born of a Georgian or
Circassian mother." He adds that they inherit their beauty, "not from
their ancestors, for without the above mixture, the men of rank in Persia,
who are descendants of the Tartars, would be extremely ugly." (2. These
quotations are taken from Lawrence ('Lectures on Physiology,' etc., 1822,
p. 393), who attributes the beauty of the upper classes in England to the
men having long selected the more beautiful women.) Here is a more curious
case; the priestesses who attended the temple of Venus Erycina at San-
Giuliano in Sicily, were selected for their beauty out of the whole of
Greece; they were not vestal virgins, and Quatrefages (3. 'Anthropologie,'
'Revue des Cours Scientifiques,' Oct. 1868, p. 721.), who states the
foregoing fact, says that the women of San-Giuliano are now famous as the
most beautiful in the island, and are sought by artists as models. But it
is obvious that the evidence in all the above cases is doubtful.

The following case, though relating to savages, is well worth giving for
its curiosity. Mr. Winwood Reade informs me that the Jollofs, a tribe of
negroes on the west coast of Africa, "are remarkable for their uniformly
fine appearance." A friend of his asked one of these men, "How is it that
every one whom I meet is so fine looking, not only your men but your
women?" The Jollof answered, "It is very easily explained: it has always
been our custom to pick out our worst-looking slaves and to sell them." It
need hardly be added that with all savages, female slaves serve as
concubines. That this negro should have attributed, whether rightly or
wrongly, the fine appearance of his tribe to the long-continued elimination
of the ugly women is not so surprising as it may at first appear; for I
have elsewhere shewn (4. 'Variation of Animals and Plants under
Domestication,' vol. i. p. 207.) that negroes fully appreciate the
importance of selection in the breeding of their domestic animals, and I
could give from Mr. Reade additional evidence on this head.


The chief causes are, first, so-called communal marriages or promiscuous
intercourse; secondly, the consequences of female infanticide; thirdly,
early betrothals; and lastly, the low estimation in which women are held,
as mere slaves. These four points must be considered in some detail.

It is obvious that as long as the pairing of man, or of any other animal,
is left to mere chance, with no choice exerted by either sex, there can be
no sexual selection; and no effect will be produced on the offspring by
certain individuals having had an advantage over others in their courtship.
Now it is asserted that there exist at the present day tribes which
practise what Sir J. Lubbock by courtesy calls communal marriages; that is,
all the men and women in the tribe are husbands and wives to one another.
The licentiousness of many savages is no doubt astonishing, but it seems to
me that more evidence is requisite, before we fully admit that their
intercourse is in any case promiscuous. Nevertheless all those who have
most closely studied the subject (5. Sir J. Lubbock, 'The Origin of
Civilisation,' 1870, chap. iii. especially pp. 60-67. Mr. M'Lennan, in his
extremely valuable work on 'Primitive Marriage,' 1865, p. 163, speaks of
the union of the sexes "in the earliest times as loose, transitory, and in
some degree promiscuous." Mr. M'Lennan and Sir J. Lubbock have collected
much evidence on the extreme licentiousness of savages at the present time.
Mr. L.H. Morgan, in his interesting memoir of the classificatory system of
relationship. ('Proceedings of the American Academy of Sciences,' vol.
vii. Feb. 1868, p. 475), concludes that polygamy and all forms of marriage
during primeval times were essentially unknown. It appears also, from Sir
J. Lubbock's work, that Bachofen likewise believes that communal
intercourse originally prevailed.), and whose judgment is worth much more
than mine, believe that communal marriage (this expression being variously
guarded) was the original and universal form throughout the world,
including therein the intermarriage of brothers and sisters. The late Sir
A. Smith, who had travelled widely in S. Africa, and knew much about the
habits of savages there and elsewhere, expressed to me the strongest
opinion that no race exists in which woman is considered as the property of
the community. I believe that his judgment was largely determined by what
is implied by the term marriage. Throughout the following discussion I use
the term in the same sense as when naturalists speak of animals as
monogamous, meaning thereby that the male is accepted by or chooses a
single female, and lives with her either during the breeding-season or for
the whole year, keeping possession of her by the law of might; or, as when
they speak of a polygamous species, meaning that the male lives with
several females. This kind of marriage is all that concerns us here, as it
suffices for the work of sexual selection. But I know that some of the
writers above referred to imply by the term marriage a recognised right
protected by the tribe.

The indirect evidence in favour of the belief of the former prevalence of
communal marriages is strong, and rests chiefly on the terms of
relationship which are employed between the members of the same tribe,
implying a connection with the tribe, and not with either parent. But the
subject is too large and complex for even an abstract to be here given, and
I will confine myself to a few remarks. It is evident in the case of such
marriages, or where the marriage tie is very loose, that the relationship
of the child to its father cannot be known. But it seems almost incredible
that the relationship of the child to its mother should ever be completely
ignored, especially as the women in most savage tribes nurse their infants
for a long time. Accordingly, in many cases the lines of descent are
traced through the mother alone, to the exclusion of the father. But in
other cases the terms employed express a connection with the tribe alone,
to the exclusion even of the mother. It seems possible that the connection
between the related members of the same barbarous tribe, exposed to all
sorts of danger, might be so much more important, owing to the need of
mutual protection and aid, than that between the mother and her child, as
to lead to the sole use of terms expressive of the former relationships;
but Mr. Morgan is convinced that this view is by no means sufficient.

The terms of relationship used in different parts of the world may be
divided, according to the author just quoted, into two great classes, the
classificatory and descriptive, the latter being employed by us. It is the
classificatory system which so strongly leads to the belief that communal
and other extremely loose forms of marriage were originally universal. But
as far as I can see, there is no necessity on this ground for believing in
absolutely promiscuous intercourse; and I am glad to find that this is Sir
J. Lubbock's view. Men and women, like many of the lower animals, might
formerly have entered into strict though temporary unions for each birth,
and in this case nearly as much confusion would have arisen in the terms of
relationship as in the case of promiscuous intercourse. As far as sexual
selection is concerned, all that is required is that choice should be
exerted before the parents unite, and it signifies little whether the
unions last for life or only for a season.

Besides the evidence derived from the terms of relationship, other lines of
reasoning indicate the former wide prevalence of communal marriage. Sir J.
Lubbock accounts for the strange and widely-extended habit of exogamy--that
is, the men of one tribe taking wives from a distinct tribe,--by communism
having been the original form of intercourse; so that a man never obtained
a wife for himself unless he captured her from a neighbouring and hostile
tribe, and then she would naturally have become his sole and valuable
property. Thus the practice of capturing wives might have arisen; and from
the honour so gained it might ultimately have become the universal habit.
According to Sir J. Lubbock (6. 'Address to British Association On the
Social and Religious Condition of the Lower Races of Man,' 1870, p. 20.),
we can also thus understand "the necessity of expiation for marriage as an
infringement of tribal rites, since according to old ideas, a man had no
right to appropriate to himself that which belonged to the whole tribe."
Sir J. Lubbock further gives a curious body of facts shewing that in old
times high honour was bestowed on women who were utterly licentious; and
this, as he explains, is intelligible, if we admit that promiscuous
intercourse was the aboriginal, and therefore long revered custom of the
tribe. (7. 'Origin of Civilisation,' 1870, p. 86. In the several works
above quoted, there will be found copious evidence on relationship through
the females alone, or with the tribe alone.)

Although the manner of development of the marriage tie is an obscure
subject, as we may infer from the divergent opinions on several points
between the three authors who have studied it most closely, namely, Mr.
Morgan, Mr. M'Lennan, and Sir J. Lubbock, yet from the foregoing and
several other lines of evidence it seems probable (8. Mr. C. Staniland
Wake argues strongly ('Anthropologia,' March, 1874, p. 197) against the
views held by these three writers on the former prevalence of almost
promiscuous intercourse; and he thinks that the classificatory system of
relationship can be otherwise explained.) that the habit of marriage, in
any strict sense of the word, has been gradually developed; and that almost
promiscuous or very loose intercourse was once extremely common throughout
the world. Nevertheless, from the strength of the feeling of jealousy all
through the animal kingdom, as well as from the analogy of the lower
animals, more particularly of those which come nearest to man, I cannot
believe that absolutely promiscuous intercourse prevailed in times past,
shortly before man attained to his present rank in the zoological scale.
Man, as I have attempted to shew, is certainly descended from some ape-like
creature. With the existing Quadrumana, as far as their habits are known,
the males of some species are monogamous, but live during only a part of
the year with the females: of this the orang seems to afford an instance.
Several kinds, for example some of the Indian and American monkeys, are
strictly monogamous, and associate all the year round with their wives.
Others are polygamous, for example the gorilla and several American
species, and each family lives separate. Even when this occurs, the
families inhabiting the same district are probably somewhat social; the
chimpanzee, for instance, is occasionally met with in large bands. Again,
other species are polygamous, but several males, each with his own females,
live associated in a body, as with several species of baboons. (9. Brehm
('Thierleben,' B. i. p. 77) says Cynocephalus hamadryas lives in great
troops containing twice as many adult females as adult males. See Rengger
on American polygamous species, and Owen ('Anatomy of Vertebrates,' vol.
iii. p. 746) on American monogamous species. Other references might be
added.) We may indeed conclude from what we know of the jealousy of all
male quadrupeds, armed, as many of them are, with special weapons for
battling with their rivals, that promiscuous intercourse in a state of
nature is extremely improbable. The pairing may not last for life, but
only for each birth; yet if the males which are the strongest and best able
to defend or otherwise assist their females and young, were to select the
more attractive females, this would suffice for sexual selection.

Therefore, looking far enough back in the stream of time, and judging from
the social habits of man as he now exists, the most probable view is that
he aboriginally lived in small communities, each with a single wife, or if
powerful with several, whom he jealously guarded against all other men. Or
he may not have been a social animal, and yet have lived with several
wives, like the gorilla; for all the natives "agree that but one adult male
is seen in a band; when the young male grows up, a contest takes place for
mastery, and the strongest, by killing and driving out the others,
establishes himself as the head of the community." (10. Dr. Savage, in
'Boston Journal of Natural History,' vol. v. 1845-47, p. 423.) The younger
males, being thus expelled and wandering about, would, when at last
successful in finding a partner, prevent too close interbreeding within the
limits of the same family.

Although savages are now extremely licentious, and although communal
marriages may formerly have largely prevailed, yet many tribes practise
some form of marriage, but of a far more lax nature than that of civilised
nations. Polygamy, as just stated, is almost universally followed by the
leading men in every tribe. Nevertheless there are tribes, standing almost
at the bottom of the scale, which are strictly monogamous. This is the
case with the Veddahs of Ceylon: they have a saying, according to Sir J.
Lubbock (11. 'Prehistoric Times,' 1869, p. 424.), "that death alone can
separate husband and wife." An intelligent Kandyan chief, of course a
polygamist, "was perfectly scandalised at the utter barbarism of living
with only one wife, and never parting until separated by death." It was,
he said, "just like the Wanderoo monkeys." Whether savages who now enter
into some form of marriage, either polygamous or monogamous, have retained
this habit from primeval times, or whether they have returned to some form
of marriage, after passing through a stage of promiscuous intercourse, I
will not pretend to conjecture.


This practice is now very common throughout the world, and there is reason
to believe that it prevailed much more extensively during former times.
(12. Mr. M'Lennan, 'Primitive Marriage,' 1865. See especially on exogamy
and infanticide, pp. 130, 138, 165.) Barbarians find it difficult to
support themselves and their children, and it is a simple plan to kill
their infants. In South America some tribes, according to Azara, formerly
destroyed so many infants of both sexes that they were on the point of
extinction. In the Polynesian Islands women have been known to kill from
four or five, to even ten of their children; and Ellis could not find a
single woman who had not killed at least one. In a village on the eastern
frontier of India Colonel MacCulloch found not a single female child.
Wherever infanticide (13. Dr. Gerland ('Ueber das Aussterben der
Naturvolker,' 1868) has collected much information on infanticide, see
especially ss. 27, 51, 54. Azara ('Voyages,' etc., tom. ii. pp. 94, 116)
enters in detail on the motives. See also M'Lennan (ibid. p. 139) for
cases in India. In the former reprints of the 2nd edition of this book an
incorrect quotation from Sir G. Grey was unfortunately given in the above
passage and has now been removed from the text.) prevails the struggle for
existence will be in so far less severe, and all the members of the tribe
will have an almost equally good chance of rearing their few surviving
children. In most cases a larger number of female than of male infants are
destroyed, for it is obvious that the latter are of more value to the
tribe, as they will, when grown up, aid in defending it, and can support
themselves. But the trouble experienced by the women in rearing children,
their consequent loss of beauty, the higher estimation set on them when
few, and their happier fate, are assigned by the women themselves, and by
various observers, as additional motives for infanticide.

When, owing to female infanticide, the women of a tribe were few, the habit
of capturing wives from neighbouring tribes would naturally arise. Sir J.
Lubbock, however, as we have seen, attributes the practice in chief part to
the former existence of communal marriage, and to the men having
consequently captured women from other tribes to hold as their sole
property. Additional causes might be assigned, such as the communities
being very small, in which case, marriageable women would often be
deficient. That the habit was most extensively practised during former
times, even by the ancestors of civilised nations, is clearly shewn by the
preservation of many curious customs and ceremonies, of which Mr. M'Lennan
has given an interesting account. In our own marriages the "best man"
seems originally to have been the chief abettor of the bridegroom in the
act of capture. Now as long as men habitually procured their wives through
violence and craft, they would have been glad to seize on any woman, and
would not have selected the more attractive ones. But as soon as the
practice of procuring wives from a distinct tribe was effected through
barter, as now occurs in many places, the more attractive women would
generally have been purchased. The incessant crossing, however, between
tribe and tribe, which necessarily follows from any form of this habit,
would tend to keep all the people inhabiting the same country nearly
uniform in character; and this would interfere with the power of sexual
selection in differentiating the tribes.

The scarcity of women, consequent on female infanticide, leads, also, to
another practice, that of polyandry, still common in several parts of the
world, and which formerly, as Mr. M'Lennan believes, prevailed almost
universally: but this latter conclusion is doubted by Mr. Morgan and Sir
J. Lubbock. (14. 'Primitive Marriage,' p. 208; Sir J. Lubbock, 'Origin of
Civilisation,' p. 100. See also Mr. Morgan, loc. cit., on the former
prevalence of polyandry.) Whenever two or more men are compelled to marry
one woman, it is certain that all the women of the tribe will get married,
and there will be no selection by the men of the more attractive women.
But under these circumstances the women no doubt will have the power of
choice, and will prefer the more attractive men. Azara, for instance,
describes how carefully a Guana woman bargains for all sorts of privileges,
before accepting some one or more husbands; and the men in consequence take
unusual care of their personal appearance. So amongst the Todas of India,
who practise polyandry, the girls can accept or refuse any man. (15.
Azara, 'Voyages,' etc., tom. ii. pp. 92-95; Colonel Marshall, 'Amongst the
Todas,' p. 212.) A very ugly man in these cases would perhaps altogether
fail in getting a wife, or get one later in life; but the handsomer men,
although more successful in obtaining wives, would not, as far as we can
see, leave more offspring to inherit their beauty than the less handsome
husbands of the same women.


With many savages it is the custom to betroth the females whilst mere
infants; and this would effectually prevent preference being exerted on
either side according to personal appearance. But it would not prevent the
more attractive women from being afterwards stolen or taken by force from
their husbands by the more powerful men; and this often happens in
Australia, America, and elsewhere. The same consequences with reference to
sexual selection would to a certain extent follow, when women are valued
almost solely as slaves or beasts of burden, as is the case with many
savages. The men, however, at all times would prefer the handsomest slaves
according to their standard of beauty.

We thus see that several customs prevail with savages which must greatly
interfere with, or completely stop, the action of sexual selection. On the
other hand, the conditions of life to which savages are exposed, and some
of their habits, are favourable to natural selection; and this comes into
play at the same time with sexual selection. Savages are known to suffer
severely from recurrent famines; they do not increase their food by
artificial means; they rarely refrain from marriage (16. Burchell says
('Travels in S. Africa,' vol. ii. 1824, p. 58), that among the wild nations
of Southern Africa, neither men nor women ever pass their lives in a state
of celibacy. Azara ('Voyages dans l'Amerique Merid.' tom. ii. 1809, p. 21)
makes precisely the same remark in regard to the wild Indians of South
America.), and generally marry whilst young. Consequently they must be
subjected to occasional hard struggles for existence, and the favoured
individuals will alone survive.

At a very early period, before man attained to his present rank in the
scale, many of his conditions would be different from what now obtains
amongst savages. Judging from the analogy of the lower animals, he would
then either live with a single female, or be a polygamist. The most
powerful and able males would succeed best in obtaining attractive females.
They would also succeed best in the general struggle for life, and in
defending their females, as well as their offspring, from enemies of all
kinds. At this early period the ancestors of man would not be sufficiently
advanced in intellect to look forward to distant contingencies; they would
not foresee that the rearing of all their children, especially their female
children, would make the struggle for life severer for the tribe. They
would be governed more by their instincts and less by their reason than are
savages at the present day. They would not at that period have partially
lost one of the strongest of all instincts, common to all the lower
animals, namely the love of their young offspring; and consequently they
would not have practised female infanticide. Women would not have been
thus rendered scarce, and polyandry would not have been practised; for
hardly any other cause, except the scarcity of women seems sufficient to
break down the natural and widely prevalent feeling of jealousy, and the
desire of each male to possess a female for himself. Polyandry would be a
natural stepping-stone to communal marriages or almost promiscuous
intercourse; though the best authorities believe that this latter habit
preceded polyandry. During primordial times there would be no early
betrothals, for this implies foresight. Nor would women be valued merely
as useful slaves or beasts of burthen. Both sexes, if the females as well
as the males were permitted to exert any choice, would choose their
partners not for mental charms, or property, or social position, but almost
solely from external appearance. All the adults would marry or pair, and
all the offspring, as far as that was possible, would be reared; so that
the struggle for existence would be periodically excessively severe. Thus
during these times all the conditions for sexual selection would have been
more favourable than at a later period, when man had advanced in his
intellectual powers but had retrograded in his instincts. Therefore,
whatever influence sexual selection may have had in producing the
differences between the races of man, and between man and the higher
Quadrumana, this influence would have been more powerful at a remote period
than at the present day, though probably not yet wholly lost.


With primeval man under the favourable conditions just stated, and with
those savages who at the present time enter into any marriage tie, sexual
selection has probably acted in the following manner, subject to greater or
less interference from female infanticide, early betrothals, etc. The
strongest and most vigorous men--those who could best defend and hunt for
their families, who were provided with the best weapons and possessed the
most property, such as a large number of dogs or other animals,--would
succeed in rearing a greater average number of offspring than the weaker
and poorer members of the same tribes. There can, also, be no doubt that
such men would generally be able to select the more attractive women. At
present the chiefs of nearly every tribe throughout the world succeed in
obtaining more than one wife. I hear from Mr. Mantell that, until
recently, almost every girl in New Zealand who was pretty, or promised to
be pretty, was tapu to some chief. With the Kafirs, as Mr. C. Hamilton
states (17. 'Anthropological Review,' Jan. 1870, p. xvi.), "the chiefs
generally have the pick of the women for many miles round, and are most
persevering in establishing or confirming their privilege." We have seen
that each race has its own style of beauty, and we know that it is natural
to man to admire each characteristic point in his domestic animals, dress,
ornaments, and personal appearance, when carried a little beyond the
average. If then the several foregoing propositions be admitted, and I
cannot see that they are doubtful, it would be an inexplicable circumstance
if the selection of the more attractive women by the more powerful men of
each tribe, who would rear on an average a greater number of children, did
not after the lapse of many generations somewhat modify the character of
the tribe.

When a foreign breed of our domestic animals is introduced into a new
country, or when a native breed is long and carefully attended to, either
for use or ornament, it is found after several generations to have
undergone a greater or less amount of change whenever the means of
comparison exist. This follows from unconscious selection during a long
series of generations--that is, the preservation of the most approved
individuals--without any wish or expectation of such a result on the part
of the breeder. So again, if during many years two careful breeders rear
animals of the same family, and do not compare them together or with a
common standard, the animals are found to have become, to the surprise of
their owners, slightly different. (18. The 'Variation of Animals and
Plants under Domestication,' vol. ii. pp. 210-217.) Each breeder has
impressed, as von Nathusius well expresses it, the character of his own
mind--his own taste and judgment--on his animals. What reason, then, can
be assigned why similar results should not follow from the long-continued
selection of the most admired women by those men of each tribe who were
able to rear the greatest number of children? This would be unconscious
selection, for an effect would be produced, independently of any wish or
expectation on the part of the men who preferred certain women to others.

Let us suppose the members of a tribe, practising some form of marriage, to
spread over an unoccupied continent, they would soon split up into distinct
hordes, separated from each other by various barriers, and still more
effectually by the incessant wars between all barbarous nations. The
hordes would thus be exposed to slightly different conditions and habits of
life, and would sooner or later come to differ in some small degree. As
soon as this occurred, each isolated tribe would form for itself a slightly
different standard of beauty (19. An ingenious writer argues, from a
comparison of the pictures of Raphael, Rubens, and modern French artists,
that the idea of beauty is not absolutely the same even throughout Europe:
see the 'Lives of Haydn and Mozart,' by Bombet (otherwise M. Beyle),
English translation, p. 278.); and then unconscious selection would come
into action through the more powerful and leading men preferring certain
women to others. Thus the differences between the tribes, at first very
slight, would gradually and inevitably be more or less increased.

With animals in a state of nature, many characters proper to the males,
such as size, strength, special weapons, courage and pugnacity, have been
acquired through the law of battle. The semi-human progenitors of man,
like their allies the Quadrumana, will almost certainly have been thus
modified; and, as savages still fight for the possession of their women, a
similar process of selection has probably gone on in a greater or less
degree to the present day. Other characters proper to the males of the
lower animals, such as bright colours and various ornaments, have been
acquired by the more attractive males having been preferred by the females.
There are, however, exceptional cases in which the males are the selectors,
instead of having been the selected. We recognise such cases by the
females being more highly ornamented than the males,--their ornamental
characters having been transmitted exclusively or chiefly to their female
offspring. One such case has been described in the order to which man
belongs, that of the Rhesus monkey.

Man is more powerful in body and mind than woman, and in the savage state
he keeps her in a far more abject state of bondage than does the male of
any other animal; therefore it is not surprising that he should have gained
the power of selection. Women are everywhere conscious of the value of
their own beauty; and when they have the means, they take more delight in
decorating themselves with all sorts of ornaments than do men. They borrow
the plumes of male birds, with which nature has decked this sex, in order
to charm the females. As women have long been selected for beauty, it is
not surprising that some of their successive variations should have been
transmitted exclusively to the same sex; consequently that they should have
transmitted beauty in a somewhat higher degree to their female than to
their male offspring, and thus have become more beautiful, according to
general opinion, than men. Women, however, certainly transmit most of
their characters, including some beauty, to their offspring of both sexes;
so that the continued preference by the men of each race for the more
attractive women, according to their standard of taste, will have tended to
modify in the same manner all the individuals of both sexes belonging to
the race.

With respect to the other form of sexual selection (which with the lower
animals is much the more common), namely, when the females are the
selectors, and accept only those males which excite or charm them most, we
have reason to believe that it formerly acted on our progenitors. Man in
all probability owes his beard, and perhaps some other characters, to
inheritance from an ancient progenitor who thus gained his ornaments. But
this form of selection may have occasionally acted during later times; for
in utterly barbarous tribes the women have more power in choosing,
rejecting, and tempting their lovers, or of afterwards changing their
husbands, than might have been expected. As this is a point of some
importance, I will give in detail such evidence as I have been able to

Hearne describes how a woman in one of the tribes of Arctic America
repeatedly ran away from her husband and joined her lover; and with the
Charruas of S. America, according to Azara, divorce is quite optional.
Amongst the Abipones, a man on choosing a wife bargains with the parents
about the price. But "it frequently happens that the girl rescinds what
has been agreed upon between the parents and the bridegroom, obstinately
rejecting the very mention of marriage." She often runs away, hides
herself, and thus eludes the bridegroom. Captain Musters who lived with
the Patagonians, says that their marriages are always settled by
inclination; "if the parents make a match contrary to the daughter's will,
she refuses and is never compelled to comply." In Tierra del Fuego a young
man first obtains the consent of the parents by doing them some service,
and then he attempts to carry off the girl; "but if she is unwilling, she
hides herself in the woods until her admirer is heartily tired of looking
for her, and gives up the pursuit; but this seldom happens." In the Fiji
Islands the man seizes on the woman whom he wishes for his wife by actual
or pretended force; but "on reaching the home of her abductor, should she
not approve of the match, she runs to some one who can protect her; if,
however, she is satisfied, the matter is settled forthwith." With the
Kalmucks there is a regular race between the bride and bridegroom, the
former having a fair start; and Clarke "was assured that no instance occurs
of a girl being caught, unless she has a partiality to the pursuer."
Amongst the wild tribes of the Malay Archipelago there is also a racing
match; and it appears from M. Bourien's account, as Sir J. Lubbock remarks,
that "the race, 'is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong,' but to
the young man who has the good fortune to please his intended bride." A
similar custom, with the same result, prevails with the Koraks of North-
Eastern Asia.

Turning to Africa: the Kafirs buy their wives, and girls are severely
beaten by their fathers if they will not accept a chosen husband; but it is
manifest from many facts given by the Rev. Mr. Shooter, that they have
considerable power of choice. Thus very ugly, though rich men, have been
known to fail in getting wives. The girls, before consenting to be
betrothed, compel the men to shew themselves off first in front and then
behind, and "exhibit their paces." They have been known to propose to a
man, and they not rarely run away with a favoured lover. So again, Mr.
Leslie, who was intimately acquainted with the Kafirs, says, "it is a
mistake to imagine that a girl is sold by her father in the same manner,
and with the same authority, with which he would dispose of a cow."
Amongst the degraded Bushmen of S. Africa, "when a girl has grown up to
womanhood without having been betrothed, which, however, does not often
happen, her lover must gain her approbation, as well as that of the
parents." (20. Azara, 'Voyages,' etc., tom. ii. p. 23. Dobrizhoffer, 'An
Account of the Abipones,' vol. ii. 1822, p. 207. Capt. Musters, in 'Proc.
R. Geograph. Soc.' vol. xv. p. 47. Williams on the Fiji Islanders, as
quoted by Lubbock, 'Origin of Civilisation,' 1870, p. 79. On the Fuegians,
King and Fitzroy, 'Voyages of the "Adventure" and "Beagle,"' vol. ii. 1839,
p. 182. On the Kalmucks, quoted by M'Lennan, 'Primitive Marriage,' 1865,
p. 32. On the Malays, Lubbock, ibid. p. 76. The Rev. J. Shooter, 'On the
Kafirs of Natal,' 1857, pp. 52-60. Mr. D. Leslie, 'Kafir Character and
Customs,' 1871, p. 4. On the Bush-men, Burchell, 'Travels in S. Africa,'
ii. 1824, p. 59. On the Koraks by McKennan, as quoted by Mr. Wake, in
'Anthropologia,' Oct. 1873, p. 75.) Mr. Winwood Reade made inquiries for
me with respect to the negroes of Western Africa, and he informs me that
"the women, at least among the more intelligent Pagan tribes, have no
difficulty in getting the husbands whom they may desire, although it is
considered unwomanly to ask a man to marry them. They are quite capable of
falling in love, and of forming tender, passionate, and faithful
attachments." Additional cases could be given.

We thus see that with savages the women are not in quite so abject a state
in relation to marriage as has often been supposed. They can tempt the men
whom they prefer, and can sometimes reject those whom they dislike, either
before or after marriage. Preference on the part of the women, steadily
acting in any one direction, would ultimately affect the character of the
tribe; for the women would generally choose not merely the handsomest men,
according to their standard of taste, but those who were at the same time
best able to defend and support them. Such well-endowed pairs would
commonly rear a larger number of offspring than the less favoured. The
same result would obviously follow in a still more marked manner if there
was selection on both sides; that is, if the more attractive, and at the
same time more powerful men were to prefer, and were preferred by, the more
attractive women. And this double form of selection seems actually to have
occurred, especially during the earlier periods of our long history.

We will now examine a little more closely some of the characters which
distinguish the several races of man from one another and from the lower
animals, namely, the greater or less deficiency of hair on the body, and
the colour of the skin. We need say nothing about the great diversity in
the shape of the features and of the skull between the different races, as
we have seen in the last chapter how different is the standard of beauty in
these respects. These characters will therefore probably have been acted
on through sexual selection; but we have no means of judging whether they
have been acted on chiefly from the male or female side. The musical
faculties of man have likewise been already discussed.


From the presence of the woolly hair or lanugo on the human foetus, and of
rudimentary hairs scattered over the body during maturity, we may infer
that man is descended from some animal which was born hairy and remained so
during life. The loss of hair is an inconvenience and probably an injury
to man, even in a hot climate, for he is thus exposed to the scorching of
the sun, and to sudden chills, especially during wet weather. As Mr.
Wallace remarks, the natives in all countries are glad to protect their
naked backs and shoulders with some slight covering. No one supposes that
the nakedness of the skin is any direct advantage to man; his body
therefore cannot have been divested of hair through natural selection.
(21. 'Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection,' 1870, p. 346.
Mr. Wallace believes (p. 350) "that some intelligent power has guided or
determined the development of man"; and he considers the hairless condition
of the skin as coming under this head. The Rev. T.R. Stebbing, in
commenting on this view ('Transactions of Devonshire Association for
Science,' 1870) remarks, that had Mr. Wallace "employed his usual ingenuity
on the question of man's hairless skin, he might have seen the possibility
of its selection through its superior beauty or the health attaching to
superior cleanliness.") Nor, as shewn in a former chapter, have we any
evidence that this can be due to the direct action of climate, or that it
is the result of correlated development.

The absence of hair on the body is to a certain extent a secondary sexual
character; for in all parts of the world women are less hairy than men.
Therefore we may reasonably suspect that this character has been gained
through sexual selection. We know that the faces of several species of
monkeys, and large surfaces at the posterior end of the body of other
species, have been denuded of hair; and this we may safely attribute to
sexual selection, for these surfaces are not only vividly coloured, but
sometimes, as with the male mandrill and female rhesus, much more vividly
in the one sex than in the other, especially during the breeding-season. I
am informed by Mr. Bartlett that, as these animals gradually reach
maturity, the naked surfaces grow larger compared with the size of their
bodies. The hair, however, appears to have been removed, not for the sake
of nudity, but that the colour of the skin may be more fully displayed. So
again with many birds, it appears as if the head and neck had been divested
of feathers through sexual selection, to exhibit the brightly-coloured

As the body in woman is less hairy than in man, and as this character is
common to all races, we may conclude that it was our female semi-human
ancestors who were first divested of hair, and that this occurred at an
extremely remote period before the several races had diverged from a common
stock. Whilst our female ancestors were gradually acquiring this new

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