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Letter 7224

Darwin, C. R. to Crichton-Browne, James

8 June [1870]

Summary

Duchenne [Mécanisme] has arrived. Has been testing the photographs with 20 or 30 persons; when all or nearly all agree with Duchenne, CD trusts him. Not one understood the “contracted pyramidal of the nose”. CD does not think the so-called muscle of lasciviousness worth exhibiting.

His MS [of Descent] is so large he may print only what he has, and make a second volume of what he is now writing on expression.

Discusses photographs he would like to have: baby screaming, person in paroxysm of fear.

Transcription

Down,

June 8

My dear Sir

Duchenne arrived this morning all safe.f2 The loss of the bookwas beginning to cause me trouble, but I assure you I felt moreannoyment at troubling you so much and so often than at the wantof the book. Considering how hard you are worked and that you havecauses of anxiety, I have more reason to apologise to you, thanyou to me for the accidental hiding of the book and forgetfulnessof your servant. I have just been reading your remarks with verygreat interest: you always tell me exactly the things which I amanxious to hear. I agree with all that you say, and am particularlypleased at your remarks on the pyramidal of the nose and the so-calledmuscle of lasciviousness. I believe it to be all fancy.f3 In order totest Duchenne’s plates I have shown the most characteristic (hidingany indication of what they were meant to express) to between 20 and30 persons of all kinds, and have recorded their answers: when allor nearly all agree in their answer, I trust him.f4 Now, I believe,not one person understood the supposed meaning of the contractedpyramidal! As for the lascivious muscle, I did not think it worthexhibiting. I have been very glad to see the photograph of the womanwith bristling hair: I suppose I might, if I wished, have a wood-cutfrom it: she looks like a Papuan.f5 You propose to send me a photographof a case of “general paralysis of the insane”, and I should bevery glad to see it: I have been trying to get a London Photographerto make me one of a young baby screaming or crying badly; but I fearhe will not succeed.f6 I much want a woodcut of a baby in this state.I presume it will be hopeless, from constant movement, to get an insaneperson photographed, whilst crying bitterly. Should you ever have timeto send me any more notes, I can assure you that they are fullyappreciated by me. My present book has grown so large, that I am goingto take the MS. to London to see how big a book it will make; andperhaps I shall print this first, and retain what I am now writingon expression for a separate essay, which I will print as soon asI have got the rest of my MS. printed off.f7 To return to the Photographs;if ever you get one of a person in a paroxysm of fear or horror, I shouldmuch like to see it. Have you ever noticed whether the alæ of thenostrils are then raised or distended? With the most sincere thanksfor all your assistance, I remain

My dear Sir | yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin

Heaven only knows whether my essay will be worth the trouble whichI have caused to many of my kind friends.

DAR 143: 332

true

Footnotes

f1
The year is established by the relationship between this letter andthe letter from James Crichton-Browne, 6 June 1870.
f2
CD refers to the ‘Atlas’ to Duchenne 1862; see letter from JamesCrichton-Browne, 6 June 1870.
f3
See memorandum from James Crichton-Browne, [6 June 1870] and nn. 8and 14.
f4
In Expression, p. 14, CD explained that he showed some of GuillaumeBenjamin Amand Duchenne’s photographs of an old man whose expressionshad been produced by galvanic apparatus to ‘above twenty educatedpersons of various ages and both sexes’.
f5
See plate on p. QQQQ. CD reproduced the photograph in Expression,p. 296.
f6
See memorandum from James Crichton-Browne, [6 June 1870],annotations to paragraph 5. CD eventually had photographs of babies and young children cryingtaken by Oscar Gustaf Rejlander of London and Adolph DiedrichKindermann of Hamburg (see Expression, plate 1 (facingp. 148)). However, CD seems not to have made contact with Rejlanderuntil 1871 (see Correspondence vol. 19, letter to JamesCrichton-Browne, 7 April [1871]).
f7
CD had initially intended his work on expression to form part ofDescent; it was eventually published as a separate book(Expression). CD visited London from 24 June to 1 July 1870 (CD’s‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
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