skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Albert Günther   23 March [1870]1

Down, Beckenham | Kent

March 23

Dear Günther

As I do not know Mr. Ford’s address, will you hand him this note, which is written solely to express my unbounded admiration of the woodcuts. I fairly gloat over them. The only evil is that they will make all the other woodcuts look very poor!

They are all excellent, & for the feathers I declare I think it the most wonderful woodcut I ever saw: I cannot help touching it to make sure that it is smooth. How I wish to see the two other & even more important ones of the feathers & the four other Reptiles &c.— Once again accept my very sincere thanks for all your kindness. I am greatly indebted to Mr Ford. Engravings have always hitherto been my greatest misery & now they are a real pleasure to me.—

Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin.

I thought I shd have been in press by this time, but my subject has branched off into sub-branches, which have cost me infinite time, & Heaven knows when I shall have all my M.S ready, but I am never idle.—2

P.S. Please ask Mr Ford to keep my rough sketches of feathers & my notes, as I am much puzzled what to do about the letters of reference to the different marks & dots.—3


The year is established by the reference to George Henry Ford’s woodcuts for Descent. Ford seems to have started work on the woodcuts of feathers in September 1869 (see Correspondence vol. 17, letter to Albert Günther, 27 September [1869]). Descent was published early in 1871 (R. B. Freeman 1977).
CD had originally planned a ‘chapter on man’ as part of Variation: it eventually grew into two works, Descent and Expression (see Correspondence vol. 15, letter to J. D. Hooker, 8 February [1867]).
The illustration that CD refers to is presumably Descent 2: 146, fig. 58.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 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: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

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


Expresses his "unbounded admiration" for Mr Ford’s woodcuts [for Descent]. Thanks AG for his kindness.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Albrecht Carl Ludwig Gotthilf (Albert) Günther
Sent from
Source of text
Shrewsbury School, Taylor Library
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7146,” accessed on 28 February 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18