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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Louisa Frances Kempson to Emma Darwin   20 June 1867

Plas Maur | Penmaenmawr | Conway

Thursday | 20 June 67.

My dear Aunt Emma

Will you please to tell Uncle Charles, that I have been making enquiries in my nursery about the tears. but I can only give him hearsay evidence as I cannot see so small a thing as a tear   My nurse says that tears begin to stand in a baby’s eyes when they are a few weeks old, & that they begin to run down the cheeks at about six weeks. my baby is just 4 months & the tears run down her cheeks in a piteous manner when she crys, which I am happy to say is very seldom   of course I need not say that there never was such a baby since the world began!1 but I have never seen such a happy good tempered little soul— the whole house is 〈2? pages missing

My private secretary is gone out boating so Amy fills his place.2

CD annotations

1.1 Will … tears. 1.2] crossed pencil
1.6 of course … is 1.8] crossed pencil
Top of letter: ‘Mrs. Kempson’ pencil


The baby was Jessie Kempson. No letter to Kempson has been found, but CD had evidently been making enquiries about babies’ tears for use in his work on expression (see Expression, pp. 153–4).
The private secretary and Amy have not been identified.


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


Relates some observations for CD on the crying of her infant daughter.

Letter details

Letter no.
Louisa Frances Wedgwood/Louisa Frances Kempson
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 169: 4
Physical description
AL 2pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5572,” accessed on 9 July 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15