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Letter 8427

Darwin, C. R. to Litchfield, H. E. (Darwin, H. E.)

25 July 1872


Thanks for her pains over corrections [for Expression].



July 25th 1872

My dearest H.

What a deal of pains you have taken over the chapt.— I amquite sorry that you shd. have had the trouble of writing outcleanly your corrections, though you thus saved me much trouble. Itwas, however, a tough job considering all your alterations, almosteveryone of which has been accepted & all are good.— I struck outthe long par. about which I asked you; though I did so at last withsome regret.— When in doubt do not take your trick is a goldenrule, I believe, in writing.— I agree to what you say about latterpars. in Chapt. & I have partly accepted your alterations. In the lastPar. I cut the Gordion Knot by leaving out all about the philosophy oflanguage. It ends rather flat, & flat it must remain.f1

If you have nothing to say, say it, is not a golden rule in writing.

Very many thanks, I hope I have not killed you. I know that I am half-killedmyself.—

Yours affect., | C. Darwin

F. says the Tennyson passage will do just as well afterwards.f2

I have written to Uncle Ras. & I hope he will come at once.—f3

We had a nice little sight of Ravens. [yesterday].f4 Albert is really fatterI am convinced.f5 We shall be delighted to see Hope & E.   Camilla comesMonday so I hope we shall have them first.f6

I hope u will turn up Sat. I am feeling so utterly dead w. the heatf7I can hardly bear to think of the W.M.C. for Sat.f8

John Wilson (dealer)



Litchfield was probably reading the proofs of a chapterof Expression, possibly chapter eight, at the end of which CD gave abrief reference to Hensleigh Wedgwood’s On the origin of language(Wedgwood 1866) in his discussion of devotion. The phrase ‘do not takeyour trick’ may allude to card games such as whist in which it issometimes necessary to lose a trick in order to strengthen yourhand (see H. Jones 1868, p. 72).
The postscript is in Emma Darwin’s hand. F.: father. InExpression, p. 240, CD misquoted Alfred Tennyson’s linessharp breaths of anger puffed Her fairy nostril out from ‘Merlin and Vivien’, the sixth poem in Idylls of the king(Tennyson 1859). CD may have copied these lines from HensleighWedgwood’s A dictionary of English etymology (Wedgwood 1872,p. xlvi), where they are also misquoted (‘nostrils’ for‘nostril’). Wedgwood 1872 was published in April 1872 (Publishers’Circular, 16 April 1872, p. 247). There is an annotated copy ofWedgwood 1872 in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 853).
There is no evidence that Erasmus Alvey Darwin visited Down atthis time.
Ravensbourne in Keston, Kent, was the home of the Bonham-Carterfamily. (Post Office directory of the six home counties 1872). Emma Darwinuses a symbol for yesterday: a circle with a tail pointing to the left.
Albert: probably Albert Venn Dicey, who married Elinor MaryBonham-Carter in 1872. He suffered from muscular weakness due to aninjury at birth (ODNB).
According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), Frances Emma ElizabethWedgwood and ‘H’, possibly Hope Elizabeth Wedgwood, Frances’sdaughter, stayed at Down from 29 to 31 July 1872; Camilla, probablyCamilla Ludwig, also arrived on Monday 29 July and stayed until 10 August; and ‘Eupha’, Katherine Euphemia Wedgwood, was at Down on 2 August 1872.
Emma Darwin recorded in her diary (DAR 242) that the temperature on25 July 1872 was 82 degrees Fahrenheit, and that Henrietta and Richard BuckleyLitchfield visited Down on Saturday 3 August 1872.
W.M.C.: Working Men’s College, sixty or seventy membersof which used to take country rambles in the summer. Litchfield wrote that CD and Emma invited the group to tea at DownHouse from 1873 onwards (Emma Darwin (1904) 2: 262). Emma Darwin’sdiary (DAR 242) for 30 June 1872 notes ‘W.M.C. party went’; thereis no further mention of the WMC in that year.
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