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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. R. Grove   9 July [1871]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

July 9th

Dear Grove

I am much obliged for your interesting letter. I doubt whether your theory will hold: look at the the upper parts of the palm of the hand.— I believe that the sudorific pores run along the little ridges; but what bearing this may have, I know not, on their course.—2

I believe I had heard, but had utterly forgotten, about the secretion of milk from the glands of Boys at puberty: my wife doubts whether this holds good with girls, & if so the fact is very perplexing.3

I have given evidence of protection from the mane in the Lion & about Horses; but from enquiries made I doubt whether the beard protects the throats of monkeys & a fortiori not of goats.4

I am particularly glad to hear your case of the setter; for I have seen exactly the same fact, including backing (which seems the most marvellous point) in a puppy pointer when first taken out.—

The wildest birds learn with surprising quickness that a Rail-way Train at full speed is not dangerous.—

Yours sincerely & obliged | Ch Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from W. R. Grove to Charles Lyell, 2 July 1871.
See letter from W. R. Grove, [5–8 July 1871]. Grove had put forward a theory about the origin of fingerprints.


Does not think WRG’s theory [about ridges of skin on palm and finger-ends?] will hold.

Does not believe the beard in monkeys and goats could be protective like the lion’s mane.

Thanks him for fact about setters.

Is perplexed about the reported milk secretion in pubescent boys.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Robert Grove
Sent from
Source of text
Royal Institution of Great Britain (Grove)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7856,” accessed on 24 September 2021,

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