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Darwin Correspondence Project

To A. D. Bartlett   19 December [1871]1

6. Queen Anne St. W.

Dec. 19th

My dear Sir

I was with Mr. Wood this morning, & he expressed himself strongly about your & your daughter’s kindness in aiding him.—2 He much wants assistance on another point; & if you could aid him, you would greatly oblige me.—

You know well the appearance of a dog, when approaching another dog with hostile intentions, before they come close together. The dog walks very stiffly, with tail rigid & upright, hair on back erected, ears pointed & eyes directed forwards. When the dog attacks the other, down go the ears & the canines are uncovered. Now could you anyhow arrange so that one of your dogs could see a strange dog from a little distance, so that Mr Wood could sketch the former attitude, viz. of the stiff gesture with erected hair & erected ears.— And then he could afterwards sketch the same dog, when fondled by his master & wagging his tail with drooping ears. These two sketches I want much, & it would be a great favour to Mr Wood & myself, if you could aid him.3

My dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin

P.S When a horse is turned out into a field he trots with high elastic steps and carries his tail aloft. Even when a cow frisks about she throws up her tail. I have seen a drawing of an elephant, apparently trotting with high steps, & with the tail erect. When the elephants in the Garden are turned out and are excited so as to move quickly, do they carry their tails aloft? How is this with the rhinoceros? Do not trouble yourself to answer this, but I shall be in London in a couple of months & then perhaps you will be able to answer this trifling question.4 Or if you write about wolves & jackals turning round, you can tell me about the tails of elephants or of any other animals.—

C. Darwin


The year is established by the address. CD was at 6 Queen Anne Street, London, from 14 to 22 December 1871 (see ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
Thomas W. Wood was making illustrations for Expression. Bartlett had four daughters, but only the youngest, Ellen Bartlett, was living at home in 1871 (Census returns of England and Wales 1871 (The National Archives: Public Record Office RG10/177/91)).
Wood evidently did not make the drawings as he was not familiar with dogs (see Correspondence vol. 20, letter to Briton Riviere, 1 April 1872). Drawings showing the expressions CD described appeared in Expression, but these were made by Arthur Dampier May (Ekman 1998, p. 418).
CD stayed in London from 16 February to 21 March 1872 (see Correspondence vol. 20, ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).


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

Ekman, Paul. 1998. Introduction, afterword, and commentary to the third edition of The expression of the emotions in man and animals, by Charles Darwin. London: HarperCollins Publishers.

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


Can ADB allow T. W. Wood to sketch one of his dogs in hostile and friendly positions?

Do elephants in the Zoological Gardens carry tails aloft when excited?

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Abraham Dee Bartlett
Sent from
London, Queen Anne St, 6
Source of text
Archives of the New York Botanical Garden
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8111,” accessed on 22 October 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19