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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. E. Darwin   [after 25 March 1868]1

I was at Worcester yesterday, & went to the blind school, which I found very interesting; the Master Mr Blair seemed a sensible man. he said positively that he had two boys in the school born blind who blushed when corrected &c (he only has 7 or 8) & his wife said he had observed the boy I came to see (who was born blind) blush the day before on coming into the room where a lady was waiting to see him (the boy is 9 or 10), I afterwards asked him if he knew what blushing was, & he seemed to know perfectly & said he had often felt his face tingle with it.2 Mr Blair is going to ask the Master of a large blind school at Worcester, & is going to write me a line.3

I am sure any other questions you might put to him, he would be very glad to answer; he said he was reading some German book on the blind, & if he came across anything he would let me know.

The way they do arithmetic algebra trigonometry is wonderful. he has one boy now staying with him on vacation from Dublin University, & he hopes he will take a very high degree & become professor of something or other.

Please tell Hen. I went to the Worcester porcelain works, & was smit with a small triplet flower-vase, & as a chip had take the edge off the price, I yielded after a struggle, & she will receive it in a day or so4

It is splendid your getting a new edition out in America so soon.5

I hope you are all brisk.

I am better, & only have one bath a day.6

Your affect son | W E Darwin

Mr Blair said that tho’ the blind are born unconscious of being observed, that to teach them they are so is a great part of their education.7

CD annotations

1.1 I was at Worcester] ‘Expression’ added above pencil
2.1 I am sure … day. 7.1] crossed pencil
2.1 I am sure] ‘The Revd R. H. Blair | Principal *of the [interl] Worcester College for the Blind—’ added above, enclosed in square brackets


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to W. E. Darwin, 25 March [1868].
In Expression pp. 311–12, CD reported the observation of Robert Hugh Blair, principal of Worcester College for the Blind Sons of Gentlemen, that three children born blind were ‘great blushers’. CD also referred to Blair’s remarks on the blind in the concluding chapter of Expression, p. 352, as explicable on the understanding that most expressive actions were inherited, rather than learned.
Presumably William wrote ‘Worcester’ in mistake for another town; the other master has not been identified.
William refers to Henrietta Emma Darwin. The Royal Porcelain Company had premises at Diglis Street, Worcester (Post Office directory of Birmingham 1868).
William was undergoing the water cure at Great Malvern (see letter from Henrietta Emma Darwin to George Howard Darwin, [March 1868], DAR 245: 281).
CD included this information from Blair in Expression, p. 312.


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

Post Office directory of Birmingham: Post Office directory of Birmingham, Warwickshire, and part of Staffordshire. Kelly’s directory of Birmingham, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire. London: W. Kelly; Kelly & Co. 1845–1928.

Variation US ed.: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. New York: Orange Judd & Co. [1868.]


Blushing in boys blind from birth. Has got information from R. H. Blair, the principal of a college for the blind.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Erasmus Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 162: 82
Physical description
ALS 6pp inc †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6069,” accessed on 24 May 2024,

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