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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. G. Walker   21 August 1873

66. Blenheim Crescent, | Kensington Park, | London, W.

21 Aug. 1873.

Dear Sir,

I beg you will excuse the liberty I take in addressing you; but, on reading your interesting work on the Expression of the Emotions, it has occurred to me that you might like to be informed of the following passage.

At p. 167 of your book you quote from Sir E. Tennant1 to prove the fact of the Indian Elephants shedding tears under the influence of suffering.

Gordon Cumming gives a similar account of the African elephant. At p. 227 of “The Lion Hunter of S. Africa” (ed. 1856: Murray), he says, describing an encounter with an elephant.2 “I opened fire upon him behind the shoulder, & fired 6 shots with the 2-grooved, which must eventually have proved mortal, but as yet he evinced no visible distress; after this I fired 3 shots at the same part with the Dutch 6-pounder. Large tears now trickled from his eyes, which he slowly shut & opened”, etc.

Believe me to remain | Faithfully yours, | Wm. Gregory Walker

Chas. Darwin Esqr.


James Emerson Tennent.
Walker refers to Roualeyn George Gordon Cumming and Gordon Cumming 1856.


African elephants cry when distressed.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Gregory Walker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Blenheim Crescent, 66
Source of text
DAR 181: 4
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9020,” accessed on 20 October 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21