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Darwin Correspondence Project

To F. C. Donders   19 June 1871

Down. Beckenham. | Kent

June 19 1871.

My dear Professor Donders

I cannot thank you too much for your very kind letter & valuable information.1 The result about the divergence is very curious, and no doubt gives that peculiar appearance to the eyes, when we are lost in thought, which is so readily recognized without our knowing, as in so many other cases, what is the cause. I find your letters especially useful & very different from many others which I receive, because you tell me plainly the points which are not known.

I will give your results in my essay, but when this will be published I can hardly say, for I have now to leave off work for a time, to prepare a new edit. of the Origin, which always requires much correction, owing to the Railroad speed at wch. Nat: Hist: progresses.2 When reading over your several letters, the thought has often crossed my mind how incomparably better an essay on expression you could have written than that which I shall be able to produce. I did receive your kind present of your work & read the parts referred to & some others with interest.3 Indeed I should have liked much to have read all that I could understand, had time permitted.

Whenever you visit England I shall be delighted to see you.4 Again I thank you, not only for yr. valuable assistance, but for the extremely kind manner with which you give it.

believe me with sincere respect | yours very truly | Ch. Darwin


In Expression, p. 229, CD cited Donders for information on divergence of the eyes. According to CD’s ‘Journal’, he worked on the sixth edition of Origin from 18 June to 29 October 1871, but was ill for part of that time (see CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).


Donders, Frans Cornelis. 1864. On the anomalies of accommodation and refraction of the eye: with a preliminary essay on physiological dioptrics. Translated by William Daniel Moore. London: New Sydenham Society.

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

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.


Thanks FCD for information about eyes [for Expression].

Must interrupt work on the subject to prepare new edition of Origin [6th].

Comments on gift of a new work by FCD [possibly "Die Projection der Gesichtserscheinung nach der Richtungslinien", Arch. Opthalmol. 17 (1871) Abt. 2: 1–68].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Frans Cornelis (Franciscus Cornelius) Donders
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7824,” accessed on 1 November 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19