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Darwin Correspondence Project

To H. E. Litchfield   [before 2 December 1871]1

My dear H.

Pray thank L.— Keep H. Spencer as long as you like.—2 I wish with all my heart I cd. avoid saying a word on the Voice as a means of Expression, but I hardly can.— What I have said I do not all like—it is wretched— It consist of 12 pages in Mother’s handwriting, & so will take only a few minutes to read.— I wish you wd read it, & see whether you think it as poor as I do; & if L. will read it, he will better understand what I shd. like to be able to say.—3 Yours affect. | C.D.

You will see allusions to what has gone before on screaming fm pain &c—& on Antithesis.—4


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to H. E. Litchfield, 2 December [1871].
Henrietta Litchfield’s husband, Richard Buckley Litchfield, had borrowed the first volume of Herbert Spencer’s Essays: scientific, political, and speculative, which contained the article ‘The origin and function of music’ (Spencer 1858–74, 1: 359–84; see memorandum from R. B. Litchfield, [before 2 December 1871]).
The draft in Emma Darwin’s hand has not been found. CD discussed vocal expression and forms of music in animals and humans in Expression, pp. 83–94, 219. He commented on Spencer’s article on pp. 86–7. He also cited remarks by Richard Litchfield on music as a form of emotional expression (ibid., pp. 89–90; see memorandum from R. B. Litchfield, [before 2 December 1871], and letter to H. E. Litchfield, 2 December [1871] and n. 6). Litchfield taught music at the Working Men’s College from 1860 (R. B. Litchfield, Record, personal and domestic, vol. 1 (DAR 248/1), under the year 1854).
CD suggested that some emotions were expressed through particular movements and sounds solely because they were the antithesis of the movements and sounds that naturally expressed the contrary emotions (see Expression, pp. 50–65, 69).


Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.

Spencer, Herbert. 1858–74. Essays: scientific, political, and speculative. 3 vols. London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts; Williams & Norgate.


Sends MS of section on voice as a means of expression [Expression, pp. 86–93]. CD is dissatisfied with it – wishes he could avoid the subject.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Henrietta Emma Darwin/Henrietta Emma Litchfield
Sent from
Source of text
British Library (Add 58373)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8134,” accessed on 23 October 2019,

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