skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From Margaret Susan Vaughan Williams to Henrietta Emma Darwin   [after 14 October 1869]1

Down Ampney | Cricklade

My dear Henrietta

I am afraid you will think I have taken a long time in answering your questions, but we do find it so hard to observe Baby’s expression accurately, & besides I seldom can attend to his eyebrows, when he is crying and I am wanting to comfort him.2 I see my own eyebrow corners go up perfectly, and we are almost sure his do the same in a less degree—when he is going to cry—but the transverse wrinkles on the forehead not straight but waving downwards the lines converging towards the nose. I cannot draw a face in the least.


Baby crys with tears now and certainly has done so for a long while, but when he began I cannot tell.

He is just over 6 months old.3 I wish I could answer Uncle Charles questions better, but if we can observe further more accurately, I will write again— I return the “Young Person”.4

Thank you for your Photo: I like it very much indeed   We have been very busy with our garden since we got home, it seems hard when we work so much, that we produce such very small results.

I am so glad I met you and Bessie at Leith Hill, it is such a long while since we met.5 How did your letter get to me when you had only put Down Ampney & some postmaster added Cricklade!6

With best love to Aunt Emma & Bessie7 | Your affec. | M. Vaughan Williams

CD annotations

3.1 I wish … Bessie 6.1] crossed pencil


The date is established by the age of Williams’s baby (see n. 3, below).
CD had kept notes on the development of his own children and noted that very early crying was not accompanied by tears (see Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix III). As part of his work on expression, CD had asked people with young babies to observe when they began to shed tears when crying (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 15, letter from L. F. Kempson to Emma Darwin, 20 June 1867). CD was also interested in the facial muscles associated with crying. In Expression, p. 164, CD wrote that infants did not weep until the age of ‘from two to three or four months’.
The baby was Hervey Wedgwood Williams, who was born on 14 April 1869 (Birth certificate, General Register Office, Dorking).
The reference to the ‘Young Person’ has not been identified.
According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), Henrietta and Elizabeth Darwin visited Leith Hill Place near Dorking, Surrey, the home of Josiah Wedgwood III, on 7 October 1869.
Down Ampney is south of Cirencester in Gloucestershire; Cricklade is a couple of miles south of Down Ampney and is in Wiltshire.
Emma and Elizabeth Darwin.


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.


Describes expression of her baby when crying.

Letter details

Letter no.
Margaret Susan Wedgwood/Margaret Susan Vaughan Williams
Henrietta Emma Darwin/Henrietta Emma Litchfield
Sent from
Down Ampney, Cricklade
Source of text
DAR 180: 4
Physical description
4pp †(by CD)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6535,” accessed on 21 October 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17