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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Sarah Elizabeth Wedgwood to Emma Darwin   [30 March – 12 April 1868]1

good-tempered (though I have not seen it tried) & good-natured & free hearted—& I like her hearty admiration of people & books she likes—2 She is not at all afraid of admiring— I was rather surprised at her extreme delight in Adam Bede3 which we read aloud, & which I should hardly have thought a young person would have seen all the merit of. I am sorry to confess before Charles, that she finds Bates rather ⁠⟨⁠du⁠⟩⁠ll “She hoped it would be so much more about monkeys—”4 She & the nurse are noting about the tears— I saw them myself in the eyes on the 29—(it was born the 7th)5 & Lena saw them 2 days before but she is not sure they ran over.6 The nurse says she will observe the next baby too—7 The Christeng is to be at Easter— Chancllor Massingberd is coming to do it.8 Mr & Mrs M. & Alice9 are coming & I am happy to be out of the way—10 Charlotte Mildred is to be the name— I wish CL. did not hate Mrs Massingberd & L’s maid Young quite so m⁠⟨⁠uch⁠⟩⁠11 [This transcript has been corrected from that published in vol. 16 of the Correspondence of Charles Darwin.]

CD annotations

1.1 good-tempered … would 1.4] crossed blue crayon
1.6 She … too— 1.9] square brackets added, blue crayon
1.9 The Christeng … m⁠⟨⁠uch⁠⟩⁠ 1.12] crossed blue crayon


The date range is established by the reference to Charlotte Mildred Langton’s birth date and first tears on 29 March, and the date of her christening (see nn. 5 and 8, below).
Elizabeth refers to Emily Langton (Lena), who married Edmund Langton in March 1867 (Freeman 1978, Darwin pedigree).
Elizabeth refers to Henry Walter Bates’s The naturalist on the river Amazons (Bates 1862). CD had been very enthusiastic about the book (see Correspondence vols. 10 and 11).
The Langtons’ daughter, Charlotte Mildred, was born on 7 March 1868 (birth certificate, General Register Office). She later married CD’s son, Leonard Darwin (Freeman 1978).
CD was collecting information on the secretion of tears for his research on the expression of emotions. In Expression, pp. 153–4,CD claimed that tears were usually only slightly secreted in very young infants, and began to roll over their eyelids and down their cheeks when they reached about four months of age.
Francis Charles Massingberd was chancellor of Lincoln Cathedral (ODNB). In 1868, Easter Sunday was on 12 April.
Charles Langton Massingberd, his wife Harriett, and his daughter, Alice Louisa Langton Massingberd.
Elizabeth moved from London to Down in 1868 (see Emma Darwin (1904), 2: 218–19).


Bates, Henry Walter. 1862. Contributions to an insect fauna of the Amazon valley. Coleoptera: Longicornes. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 3d ser. 9: 117–24, 396–405, 446–58.

Burke’s landed gentry: A genealogical and heraldic history of the commoners of Great Britain and Ireland enjoying territorial possessions or high official rank but unvisited with heritable honours. Burke’s genealogical and heraldic history of the landed gentry. By John Burke et al. 1st–18th edition. London: Henry Colburn [and others]. 1833–1969.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Darwin pedigree: Pedigree of the family of Darwin. Compiled by H. Farnham Burke. N.p.: privately printed. 1888. [Reprinted in facsimile in Darwin pedigrees, by Richard Broke Freeman. London: printed for the author. 1984.]

Eliot, George. 1859. Adam Bede. 3 vols. Edinburgh: William Blackwood.

Emma Darwin (1904): Emma Darwin, wife of Charles Darwin. A century of family letters. Edited by Henrietta Litchfield. 2 vols. Cambridge: privately printed by Cambridge University Press. 1904.

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

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1978. Charles Darwin: a companion. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.


Observations on the first appearance of tears in a baby.

Letter details

Letter no.
Sarah Elizabeth (Elizabeth) Wedgwood
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 181: 70
Physical description
inc † (by CD)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5830,” accessed on 1 October 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16