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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Charles and Emma Darwin to F. J. Wedgwood   [March 1871?]1

Ch. tells me to say that he has been much pleased with your notice of his views & he thinks you have given it very correctly as far as a few words could do so. As far as he remembers you are the sole person, except pure naturalists, who have noticed this part with any approbation. He has lately been going over the chapter with much care, after rereading all the many hostile criticisms, & has slightly modified parts, giving somewhat more force to the influence of the approbation or disapprobation of others; but he still remains convinced about his fundamental notion2

As you are great at decyphering dear Snow I have sent it as it is— wh will shock Ch.3


The month and year are conjectured from the fact that this letter seems to mention a brief notice of Descent, which was published in February 1871 (Freeman 1977). Most such notices appeared in March 1871.
The review has not been identified, but must have concerned Descent. CD did not, in fact, modify his remarks about approbation and disapprobation in Descent 1: 86 in later printings of Descent or in the second edition.
The first part of this letter is in CD’s hand and was intended for Emma Darwin to copy in a letter to Wedgwood, whose nickname was Snow. However, as the second part of the letter, in Emma’s hand, reveals, Emma decided not to do so.


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

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.


A draft letter [but sent in the original state by Emma Darwin]. Approves of FJW’s notice of his views.

CD has slightly revised parts in view of both approving and disapproving critics, but still remains convinced about his fundamental notions.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin; Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
Frances Julia (Snow) Wedgwood
Sent from
Source of text
V&A / Wedgwood Collection (MS W/M 57–31570)
Physical description
AL 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8127,” accessed on 26 January 2020,

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