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Darwin Correspondence Project

To H. E. Litchfield   13 May 1872

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

May 13 1872

My dear Etty

Litchfield’s remarks strike me, (ignorant as I am), as very good; & I shd. much like to insert them. But I cannot possibly give them as my own.—1 I used at school to be a great hand at cribbing old verses, & I remember with fearful distinctness, Dr Butler’s prolonged hum, as he stared at me, & which said a host of unpleasant things, with as much meaning & clearness as Herbert Spencer could devise.2 Now if I publish L.s remarks as my own, I shall always fancy that the public are humming at me. Would L. object to my beginning with some such sentence as follows. “Mr Litchfield, who has long studied music has given me the following remarks”;—& then give these remarks in inverted commas.—3

L. was quite right, about there being a good deal of repetition, & 2 or 3 pages can be condensed into one.— The discussion does not read so atrociously bad, or innanely poor as I had fancied; but that is the highest praise which can be bestowed on my part—

Yours affectionately | C. Darwin

Send me a line in answer.— I am dead tired.— Woolners come on Sunday.— I believe we shall ask S. Butler, author of “Erewhon”, & grandson of Dr. Butler, my old Master.4


In December 1871, or earlier, CD had consulted Richard Buckley Litchfield on the expression of emotion through music (see Correspondence vol. 19, letter from R. B. Litchfield, [before 2 December 1871], and letters to H. E. Litchfield, [before 2 December 1871] and 2 December [1871]). Further letters on the subject from R. B. Litchfield have not been found, but CD quoted him at length in Expression, pp. 89–90.
CD refers to his headmaster at Shrewsbury School, Samuel Butler (1774–1839). CD found Spencer’s writings obscure (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter to J. D. Hooker, 23 [June 1863]), and Autobiography, pp. 108–9.
CD used this phrasing in Expression, p. 89, except that he wrote ‘attended to’, not ‘studied’.
According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), Alice Gertrude and Thomas Woolner, and Samuel Butler (1835–1902) visited Down on Sunday 19 May 1872. Erewhon was published in 1872 ([S. Butler] 1872a). See letter from Samuel Butler, 11 May 1872.


Autobiography: The autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809–1882. With original omissions restored. Edited with appendix and notes by Nora Barlow. London: Collins. 1958.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 26 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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


Wishes to insert R. B. Litchfield’s remarks [into Expression] but will not give them as his own.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Henrietta Emma Darwin/Henrietta Emma Litchfield
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 185: 32
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8321,” accessed on 23 October 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20