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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Henrietta Emma Darwin   [8 February 1870]1

My dear H.

Please read the Ch. first right through without a pencil in your hand, that you may judge of general scheme; as, also, I particularly wish to know whether parts are extra tedious; but remember that M.S is always much more tedious than print.— The object of Ch. is simply comparison of mind in men & animals: in the next chapt. I discuss progress of morals &c.— Some sentences are at back of Page marked thus @.—2

I do not send foot-notes, as I have no copy & they are almost wholly mere authorities.— After reading once right through, the more time you can give up for deep criticism or corrections of style, the more grateful I shall be.— Please make any long corrections on separate slips of paper, leaving narrow blank edge, & pin them to margin of each sheet, so that I can turn each back, & read whilst still attached to its proper page.— This will save me a world of troubles  Heaven only knows what you will think of the whole, for I cannot conjecture.— You are a very good girl indeed to undertake the job.—

Your affect Father | C. Darwin

(I suspect that here & there style will want a good deal of improvement, though I hope greater part fair.—)

(I fear parts are too like a Sermon: who wd ever have thought that I shd. turn parson?)


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and a letter from Emma Darwin to H. E. Darwin, [8 February 1870] (DAR 219.9: 72), in which Emma says she is enclosing a letter from CD.
Henrietta had been reading parts of the manuscript of Descent at least since she left England in January 1870 (letter from Emma Darwin to H. E. Darwin, [18 January 1870] (DAR 219.9: 69)). With this letter CD had presumably sent the second chapter on the comparison of the mental powers of humans and animals (Descent 1: 70–106). Henrietta was on holiday in France and Italy (see letter to W. D. Fox, 18 February [1870] and n. 10). She had also read the proof-sheets of Variation (see Correspondence vol. 15, letter to H. E. Darwin, 26 July [1867]).


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

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Sends MS [of chs. 3 and 4, "Comparison of the mental powers of man and the lower animals", Descent] to HED for her criticism. CD fears parts are too much like a sermon; "who wd ever have thought I shd turn parson?"

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Henrietta Emma Darwin/Henrietta Emma Litchfield
Sent from
Source of text
The British Library (Add MS 58373: 1–2)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7124,” accessed on 5 March 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18