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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. 26 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
British Library Board (Add MS 58373 ff. 1–2)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7124,” accessed on 27 January 2020,

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