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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. M. Herbert   21 November 1872

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Nov 21. 1872

My dear Herbert

I have just published a book on Expression, & I have told my publisher to send you a copy, as I have thought that you might like to read it.1 Any how I should very much like to recall to you some remembrance of your old friend.

When I think, as I sometimes do with mournful pleasure, of the old jolly days at Barmouth & Cambridge, I feel as if I were some other individual—2

Do you remember giving me anonymously a microscope?3 I can hardly call to mind any event in my life which surprised & gratified me more.

I should very much like to hear a little news about yourself & Mrs Herbert4 & your doings & how your health is.

I am one of those wretched beings who ought to be exterminated, namely a confirmed invalid; but as long as I live a quite uniform life I am able to do some daily work in natural history; & this is all that I am good for in this world.

My wife joins in very kind remembrances to yourself & Mrs Herbert. I beg you to let me hear a little news of yourself & believe me | dear old friend | yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin

Can you tell me any thing about Whitley? I have lately seen S. Butler, the author of that clever book Erewhon, & the son of Tom Butler. The latter, as far as I can gather, has become a very unpleasant old man—5

P.S. My wife commands me to say, & I can say with perfect truth that this letter gives a false impression if it implies that I am not a happy man—


Herbert’s name appears on CD’s presentation list for Expression (Appendix V).
Herbert and CD had been students at Cambridge together and had visited Barmouth, in north Wales, in the summer of 1828 (see Correspondence vol. 1).
Mary Ann Herbert.
Charles Thomas Whitley was a schoolfellow of CD’s and a contemporary of his and Herbert’s at Cambridge. Samuel Butler (1835–1902), who visited Down on 19 May 1872 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)), was the grandson of CD’s headmaster at Shrewsbury School, Samuel Butler (1774–1839). Thomas Butler was also a schoolfellow and Cambridge contemporary of CD’s, and had made the trip to Barmouth with Herbert and CD (n. 2, above; see Correspondence vol. 1). Erewhon: [S. Butler] 1872a.


Burnett, William A. S. 1992. Darwin’s microscopes. Microscopy: the Journal of the Quekett Microscopical Club 36: 604–27.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 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.


Sends Expression.

Remarks on student days and old friends.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Maurice Herbert
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.425)
Physical description
LS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8639,” accessed on 13 September 2023,

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