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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Theodor Piderit   2 August [1871]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. [Haredene, Albury. Guildford.]

Augt 2d

Dear Sir

I am much obliged for your very kind letter.2 I have a copy & know your work on Mimik &c which I have found very useful & often quote.3 But I am a poor German scholar, & your style, like that of my good friend Fritz Müller, I find very difficult to understand. Accordingly I employed a man to translate for me several passages.4 These I have given in my introduction, in order to shew, as far as is possible by a few sentences, your views.—5 I fear that I may not do you full justice, but assuredly I have tried my best to do so; & anyhow the reader of my book will know of the existence & general nature of yours.

I am much out of health & (so pray excuse brevity) have now left my home for a month’s rest.6 On my return to Down I shall no doubt find the book, which you have so kindly sent me.7

With much respect & my best thanks, I remain Dear Sir | Yours faithfully | Ch. Darwin.


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Theodor Piderit, 28 July 1871.
CD refers to Wissenschaftliches System der Mimik und Physiognomik (Piderit 1867). There is a heavily annotated copy in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 675–7). CD cited it a number of times in Expression, published in 1872.
The translator was William Sweetland Dallas (see Correspondence vol. 16, letters from W. S. Dallas, 14 February 1868, 19 February 1868, and 24 February 1868). Dallas’s manuscript translations are in the Darwin Library–CUL with CD’s copy of Piderit 1867.
See Expression, pp. 7–8.
The Darwins rented Haredene from 28 July to 25 August 1871 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

Piderit, Theodor. 1867. Wissenschaftliches System der Mimik und Physiognomik. Detmold: Klingenberg’sche Buchhandlung.


Comments on TP’s work on mimicry.

Thanks for book he is sending [Wissenschaftliches System der Mimik und Physiognomik (1867)].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Theodor Piderit
Sent from
Haredene Down letterhead
Source of text
Landesarchiv Nordrhein-Westfalen, Abteilung Ostwestfalen-Lippe (D 72 Piderit, Theodor Nr. 8)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7893,” accessed on 15 May 2021,

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