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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Darwin   [15 March 1868]1

My dear William.

If you to go to the blind establishment at Worcester,2 let me hear soon whether you can find out anything positively about blushing; for I will not write to Bowman3 till I hear from you.—

I can think of no other arbitrator.—

May I talk under sea[l] of secrecy of the affair with your mother—4

Ever your affect | C. D.

Sunday. 4 Chester Pl. N.W. 5

Elephants shed tears copiously, & when they trumpet or scream loudly, I saw today at Z. Gardens, that they invariably & strongly contract “orbicularis palpellatum”.— this is fine case.—6

Attend to your capital observation on yawning & corners of mouth—7


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to W. E. Darwin, 21 March [1868] and by the dates of CD’s stay at 4 Chester Place, London (see n. 5, below). In 1868, the Sunday preceding 21 March was 15 March.
Worcester College for Blind Sons of Gentlemen (Post Office directory of Birmingham 1868).
See letters to W. E. Darwin, 21 March [1868] and 25 March [1868].
CD and Emma stayed at Sarah Elizabeth Wedgwood’s house in London from 11 March to 1 April 1868 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
CD described the elephant at the Zoological Gardens, Regent’s Park, London, in Expression, pp. 167–8. Obicularis palpellatum: a mistake for orbicularis palpebrarum, orbicular muscles of the eyes.
There is a note dated 14 March 1868 in DAR 160: 97 containing William’s observations of the shape and movement of the mouth during a suppressed yawn.


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

Post Office directory of Birmingham: Post Office directory of Birmingham, Warwickshire, and part of Staffordshire. Kelly’s directory of Birmingham, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire. London: W. Kelly; Kelly & Co. 1845–1928.


Asks WED to observe blushing in the blind, and yawning.

Mentions elephants’ crying while trumpeting.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
London, Chester Place, 4
Source of text
DAR 210.6: 127
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6067,” accessed on 14 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16