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Darwin Correspondence Project

To L. C. Wedgwood   8 June [1867–72]1


June 8th

My dear Lucy

I hear that your Dog is a barker: please observe for me whether the (upper) lips are at all retracted or everted when he barks & just before he barks. My impression is that if you open a dog’s mouth lips almost hide teeth; but that they are much more exposed, when he barks, which implies some contraction or eversion.

You are so good an observer that I know I can trust your conclusion. The Bark ought not to be a savage one, as that wd give tendency to snarl— a joyful bark or bark of good spirits wd. be best.—2

Think of any fact about expression of any emotion in any of your birds.—3

Yours affect. | C. Darwin

Our Polly4 will not bark except as she rushes away to some supposed enemy in forest.


The date range is established from the fact that the content of the letter relates to CD’s work on expression (see n. 2, below). CD was working on expression with a view to publishing between 1867 and 1872.
CD discussed the movement of the lips in dogs' barking for joy and play biting in Expression, p. 121. Wedgwood sent some information on her dog’s snarling in her letter of [25 April 1870] (Correspondence vol. 18).
Wedgwood sent CD information on turkeys in her letter to 20 November [1871] (Correspondence vol. 19).
Polly was a rough-haired fox terrier (Atkins 1974, p. 78).


Atkins, Hedley J. B. 1974. Down, the home of the Darwins: the story of a house and the people who lived there. London: Royal College of Surgeons.


Asks her to observe whether her dog exposes his teeth when barking and to think of any facts about expression in her birds.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Lucy Caroline Wedgwood/Lucy Caroline Harrison
Sent from
Source of text
CUL (Add 4251: 334)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7223,” accessed on 5 March 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20