skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To F. C. Donders   17 June 1872

Down. | Beckenham Kent.

June 17.— 1872.—

My dear Professor Donders

In about 10 days from the present date I expect to receive proofs of the first sheets of my book on Expression.

Since receiving your very generous offer of looking over any part which referred to Physiology, I have often reflected on the subject; but I still feel great difficulty in deciding what parts would be thus most benefited, as there are so many references to Physiology.1

I also feel some doubt whether the later chapters would be intelligible to any one who had not read or skimmed over the earlier ones— On the other hand it is out of the question to expect you to look through all the sheets; more especially as the book is certainly not an important one— The Printers calculate that the M.S will cover 370–380 pages of the size & type of my Descent of Man.2 So I must trust to chance in escaping error; but I will consult you if I feel doubts about special points: Yet I fear that a man is most apt to fall into error exactly where from his ignorance he feels no doubts. The chapter which I thought most dangerous, viz that on weeping was read over in M.S. some time ago by Mr Bowman; so I feel pretty safe about this Chapter.3

In yr. last letter you said that you shd. probably come to England in July; & in this case I most sincerely hope that you will come & dine & sleep at Down; I shall then have the real pleasure of thanking you in person for the assistance which you have given me, which has been of the greatest value—

I do not know whether you will stay in London with Mr Bowman; but if so & you can persuade him to accompany you to Down it will give us great pleasure—4

Mrs Darwin begs to be very kindly remembered to you. Believe me | Yours very sincerely & obliged | Charles Darwin—


Both Descent and Expression were published by John Murray, printed by William Clowes and Sons, and were in small or crown octavo format; Expression was 374 pages long without front and backmatter.
See letter to William Bowman, 25 January 1872. Expression, chapter VI, is ‘Special expressions of man: suffering and weeping’; in it, CD thanked Bowman for information and for having introduced him to Donders (Expression, p. 160, n. 14). See also the letter from William Bowman, [before 25 January 1872], providing detailed information on the causes of weeping.
See letter from F. C. Donders, 17 April 1872. There is no evidence of a visit to Down by Bowman and Donders in 1872; see the letter from F. C. Donders, 14 July 1872 and n. 3.


Would be impractical to have FCD check references to physiology in proofs [of Expression]. William Bowman has checked chapter on weeping.

Invites FCD to visit Down when he comes to England in July.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Frans Cornelis (Franciscus Cornelius) Donders
Sent from
Bassett Down letterhead
Source of text
DAR 143: 415
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8391,” accessed on 19 August 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20