skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Gladstone   25 October [1877]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Oct. 25.

My dear Sir

I send by this post the two numbers. At p. 264, you will find the criticism & at 423 Dr. Magnus’ answer, & at p 376 my few words on infants.2

The subject seems to me an extremely curious one, whatever the explanation may be. A missionary could say whether low savages have names for shades of colour. I shd. expect that they have not, & this wd. be remarkable for the Indians of Chiloe & Tierra del Fuego have names for every slight promontory & hill,—even to a marvellous degree.—

I beg leave to remain with great respect, Yours faithfully Ch. Darwin

Will you please direct your Secretary to return the numbers, when you have quite finished with them.


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from W. E. Gladstone, 23 October 1877.
Gladstone had accepted CD’s offer to send copies of Kosmos containing articles on the vocabulary and perception of colours, including Hugo Magnus’s reply to his critics, and CD’s expanded version of his ‘Biographical sketch of an infant’. See letter to W. E. Gladstone, 2 October 1877, and letter from W. E. Gladstone, 23 October 1877.


‘Biographical sketch of an infant’: A biographical sketch of an infant. By Charles Darwin. Mind 2 (1877): 285–94. [Shorter publications, pp. 409–16.]


Sends WEG the two articles [see 11163] with references.

CD thinks savages do not have names for shades of colours, which is curious since those he has known have names for every slight promontory or hill.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Ewart Gladstone
Sent from
Source of text
The British Library (Add MS 44455: 210)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11207,” accessed on 16 September 2021,