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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Briton Riviere   19 May [1872]1

Down, Beckenham, Kent

May 19th

Dear Sir

I am most sincerely obliged for your great kindness. The hostile dog does excellently; but the hairs on the neck and shoulders (and not on loins) ought to stand closer (a serried mass) and to be more erect; but I daresay that you intend to explain this to Mr. Cooper. Will you have the kindness to do so, and I will despatch the block tomorrow (Monday morning) telling him not to touch it, till he hears or sees you.2

The other drawing does not appear to me to express affection and joy. I showed it to several of my sons and other members of my family, without any explanation, and they all thought, as I had done, that the expression was that of a humble dog coming to be beaten. I believe that those are right who have said to me that it is impossible to represent a dog wagging his tail, as we associate movement with the expression. I fancy that I can see a few alterations (but whether they are possible I know not) which might improve the expression, but I doubt whether it is worth the trial.

And now I want to beg a little favour of you and to excuse me. I have been trying in vain to think of some book or other trifle which you would like to possess and keep as a mark of my obligation to you. Will you therefore be so good as to procure some trifle for yourself with the enclosed3 and believe me | Yours truly obliged | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Briton Riviere, 16 May 1872.
See letter from Briton Riviere, 16 May 1872 and n. 1. James Davis Cooper engraved woodcuts for Expression (Expression, p. 26). On Riviere’s preference for working on blocks, see the letter from Briton Riviere, 3 April 1872.
In his Account books–cash account (Down House MS), CD noted a payment by cheque of £5 5s. on 20 May 1872 for ‘Riviere Science drawing’, but later crossed it out. Riviere returned the cheque (see letter from Briton Riviere, 20 May 1872).


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


Comments on drawings of hostile dog and affectionate dog.

Sends small gift of money.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Briton Riviere
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 147: 320
Physical description
C 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8339,” accessed on 13 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20