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Darwin Correspondence Project

From H. E. Darwin to Emma Darwin   [March 1871]1

At home— I must put off Tenby2 till the Autumn— If I go to Tenby I shall never be at home at all. I’ll remember abt the shame & send to C. Place—3 Does Father mean shame in such a sense as Godiva wd. have felt it4—or only shame at some crime of your own—not at a shameful situation brought abt thro’ no fault of your own— Of course you’ve lookt at Paradise lost Book IX for I felt as if Eve had covered her face—5 The idea of hiding from the sense of guilt is brought forward but it doesn’t say “face”— I’ve never come yet upon eye brightening with joy6

I’ve thought upon several things that may contain covering of face— Surely in the Bible they cover their faces— Doesn’t David cover his face?7 When they act Hamlet the Queen covers her face when she sees her black ingrained tinct thro’ Hamlet’s scolding, but I don’t remember any words.8 Guinevere hides her face by falling prone before him—9 I spose there is no hurry cos I’ve no books here to look out what I can think of— Lena knows Byron pretty well & doesn’t know any thing—10

What a lot of people you are going to have. Isn’t Geo going to sacrifice himself on Lawrences altar.11

yours | HED

remember abt the pouting.12

Mrs. Darwin


The date is established by the reference to Henrietta’s stay in Bournemouth (see n. 10, below).
Emma’s aunt, Frances Allen, lived at Tenby in South Wales.
Cumberland Place, Regent’s Park, London was the home of Hensleigh and Frances Emma Elizabeth Wedgwood and their daughter, Frances Julia Wedgwood (Snow). Snow provided CD with information on the expression of shame in literature (see Correspondence vol. 20, Expression supplement). CD also corresponded with Hensleigh Wedgwood about the evolution of shame (see Correspondence vol. 19, letters to Hensleigh Wedgwood, 3 March [1871] and 9 March 1871, and letters from Hensleigh Wedgwood, [before 3 March 1871] and [after 9 March 1871]). CD discussed the movements and gestures associated with shame in Expression, pp. 321–23.
Lady Godiva was an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who, according to legend, rode naked through the streets of Coventry to free the people from a tax levied by her husband (ODNB).
The description of Adam and Eve is in Paradise lost, book 10 (Milton 1667). The passage is mentioned in the third letter from F. J. Wedgwood to H. E. Darwin, [1867–72] (Correspondence vol. 20, Expression supplement).
In Expression, p. 206, CD discussed the brightening of the eyes that accompanied smiling and laughing.
Henrietta refers to the description of David after the death of Absalom (2 Samuel: 19): ‘But the king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!’ In Expression, pp. 322–3, CD used an example from the book of Isaiah of the face being hid in shame.
In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, 3: 4, Gertrude says: ‘O Hamlet, speak no more | Thou turn’st mine eyes into my very soul; | And there I see such black and grained spots | As will not leave their tinct.’
Alfred Tennyson’s Idylls of the king describes Guinevere when Arthur finds her: ‘prone off her seat she fell | And grovelled with her face ag⁠⟨⁠ai⁠⟩⁠nst the floor: | There with her milk white arms and shadowy hair | She made her face a darkness from the King’ (Tennyson 1859, p. 387).
Lena: Emily Caroline Langton. Henrietta visited the Langtons in Bournemouth in early March, staying most of the month (Correspondence vol. 24, Supplement, letter from H. E. Darwin, 21 March [1871] and Correspondence vol. 19, Appendix VI). George Gordon Noel Byron, sixth Baron Byron.
For CD’s interest in pouting, see Correspondence vol. 19, letter to W. E. Darwin, 11 February [1871], and Expression, chapter 6.


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

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1978. Charles Darwin: a companion. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

Milton, John. 1667. Paradise lost. A poem written in ten books. London: Peter Parker, Robert Boulter, and Matthias Walker.

Tennyson, Alfred. 1859. Idylls of the king. London: E. Moxon.


Possible quotations about shame for CD.

Letter details

Letter no.
Henrietta Emma Darwin/Henrietta Emma Litchfield
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
Source of text
Cornford Family Papers (DAR 275: 22)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7605G,” accessed on 13 July 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24 (Supplement)