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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   11 November 1872

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Nov 11. 1872

My dear Sir

I am quite delighted & more astonished than you can be at the sale of the Expression book.1

I am also well contented at the sale of my other books, excepting of that of the Descent of Man. I fear that a new ed. of it will never be required, & I shd have liked to have brought out one thoroughly revised.2 I imagine that you will soon have to print some more copies of the origin, of which I believe 3000 were printed.3 By the way; I have never yet heard what is the price of the “Expression”, & at your leisure I shd like to hear.4

I am much obliged for yr two very kind & pleasant notes. That is a curious fact about the toes of the Hindoos, given on such high authority, & it is a good joke about the commotion in d’Israeli’s boots, when Gladstone speaks.5 I am particularly obliged for the 3 newspapers sent, & shd be grateful for any others, if not giving you too much trouble. I suppose the Athen., as usual will, pitch into me.6

Mr Appleton has written to ask for a copy of the Expression Book for the Academy; & if you object to sending one, as publisher; be so kind as to send a copy at once to the Academy “From the author”. The Academy has always treated me very well, & sometimes publishes reviews of real value to an author, but I suppose its circulation is very small.7

Believe me | my dear Mr Murray | yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin

P.S. I have got into some confusion with 2 men who want to bring out an Italian Translation: if you have heard from either, please inform me at once: if I do not hear I shall understand that you have not heard, & I do not suppose that they have written to you.—8


Seven thousand copies of Descent had been printed in 1871; a second edition was published in 1874. Murray may have given CD exact sale figures in a missing enclosure to his letter of 9 November 1872.
The notes have not been found, but see Expression 2d ed., p. 275 n. 17: ‘According to Sir Henry Maine, the natives of India when giving evidence are able to control the expression of their faces so that no indication is given as to whether they are speaking the truth or not; but they cannot control the toes, the contortions of which often reveal the fact that the witness is lying.’ The reference is to Henry James Sumner Maine. Benjamin Disraeli and William Ewart Gladstone were political rivals.
The newspapers have not been identified. The Athenæum reviewed Expression on 9 November 1872, p. 591, and 16 November 1872, pp. 631–2. The Athenæum had given bad reviews of Variation (see Correspondence vol. 16, letter from J. E. Gray, 15 February 1868), and Descent (see Correspondence vol. 19, letter to John Murray, 8 March [1871]); CD thought it was generally hostile to his views (Correspondence vol. 17, letter to Fritz Müller, 18 July [1869]).
Charles Edward Cutts Birchall Appleton founded the Academy in 1869; it was published by Murray, and CD thought of it as a rival to the Athenæum (see Correspondence vol. 17, letter to John Murray, [after 18 September 1869]). Alfred Russel Wallace had reviewed Descent for the Academy (see Correspondence vol. 19, letter to H. E. Darwin, 20 March 1871 and n. 3). Anton Dohrn reviewed Expression in Academy, 2 June 1873, pp. 209–12.
Expression was translated into Italian by Giovanni Canestrini and Francesco Bassani (Canestrini and Bassani trans. 1878); no correspondence with them before this date has been found. See also letter from C. I. F. Major, 18 October 1872.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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

Expression 2d ed.: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. Edited by Francis Darwin. London: John Murray. 1890.

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

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


CD is delighted and astonished at sale of Expression,

and pleased with sale of others, except Descent. He fears a new edition of that work may never be required. Would have liked to bring out a thoroughly revised one.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms. 42152 ff. 276–7)
Physical description
LS(A) 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8620,” accessed on 30 March 2023,

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