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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. W. Reade   30 June [1870]1

Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E. [6 Queen Anne Street, London]

June 30th

My dear Sir

I have to thank you for two letters: one with a specimen of the insect which protects itself with dead ants &c; but I could not detect the protected insects. I suppose that it must be a larva; the larvæ of some beetles are known to protect themselves by cases made of their own hardened excrement.—2 Your second letter, June 4th, is full of curious observations: I shall be surprised if you do not make a very interesting book with an account of your Travels & observations on your return.3

I am very glad to hear confirmed that negros admire very black negros; but I much wish that time & space had permitted you to enter in some little detail on their ideas of beauty.4 I have to touch on this point & I shall go to press in a few weeks time; but as the chapter in question is nearly my last, I do not suppose that I shall come to it in the proofs for 3 or 4 months.5 I have resolved to keep my Essay on Expression in man & animals for subsequent & separate publication.6

Thanks for fact about the hand & mouth & astonishment.7 I wrote some little time begging you to observe about Gorillas & chimpanzee strictly frowning.8

Your case of stone tools is interesting: until lately none had been found in Africa, but quite recently they are reported from S. Africa & Egypt; & now you fill up the intermediate gap.—9

With every good wish, pray believe me | My dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from W. W. Reade, 4 June 1870.
See letter from W. W. Reade, [c. 8 or 9 April 1870].
See letter from W. W. Reade, 4 June 1870. Reade published The African sketch-book in 1873 (Reade 1873).
CD sent the manuscript of Descent to the printers in August 1870 (letter to John Murray, 5 [August 1870]).
Expression was published in November 1872 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (DAR 158)).
See letters from W. W. Reade, [c. 8 or 9 April 1870] and n. 7, and 4 June 1870 and n. 14.
The letter in which CD asked Reade about gorillas and chimpanzees frowning has not been found. CD wrote about frowning in chimpanzees, orang-utans, and gorillas in Expression, pp. 143–4.


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

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

Reade, William Winwood. 1873. The African sketch-book. 2 vols. London: Smith, Elder, and Co.


Thanks WWR for information on the Nehro idea of beauty and other facts relating to expression.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Winwood Reade
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 96: 79–80
Physical description
( L or draft ) S 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7255,” accessed on 15 May 2021,

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