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Darwin Correspondence Project

From H. M. Butler to Francis Galton   7 November 1873


Nov. 7. 73

At 12.30 last night thumb nail came down on nose with frightful effect— Results this morning interesting to all Savans.1

CD annotations

Bottom of letter: ‘(Galton on Inheritance | Dr Butler 2d case.)’ ink


In his letter of 22 December 1871 (Correspondence vol. 19), Galton had described George Butler’s habit of putting his arm across the top of his head when sleeping in a chair. His arm would eventually drop, hitting his nose and waking him. Galton had noted that Butler’s son, Henry Montagu Butler, and granddaughter, Agnes Isabel Butler, inherited this habit. See also Correspondence vol. 20, letter from Francis Galton, [before 28 March 1872], and Expression, pp. 33–4, n. 8. In a note in DAR 105: A77, CD recorded a correction from Francis Galton to the passage in Expression, replacing ‘striking’ with ‘stroking’ in the account of the granddaughter. The correction was made in Expression 2d ed., and the story here about the thumbnail was also inserted in square brackets by Francis Darwin (Expression 2d ed., p. 34, n. 8).


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

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.


Reports an incident of his "hereditary" habit of dozing, head in hand, such that he scratches his nose.

Letter details

Letter no.
Henry Montagu Butler
Francis Galton
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 94: 1c
Physical description
Apc †(by CD)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9136,” accessed on 9 July 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21