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Letter 7373

Darwin, C. R. to Ogle, William

17 Nov [1870]


Thanks WO for information on platysma, which he did not know could be brought into voluntary action. Is coming to believe it has nothing to do with expression.

On the relation between white colouring and susceptibility to poisonous plants, CD suggests WO send his paper to J. Wyman and propose he investigate whether white as well as black pigs will eat paint-root.


Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.

Nov. 17.

My dear Dr Ogle

I am very much obliged about the platysma; & hope that you will keepthe subject a little before your mind, more especially as I see thatyou are quite au fait about expression. It is new to me that thismuscle can ever be brought into voluntary action.f2 I have been comingto the same conclusion as you have, viz that this muscle has nothingto do with expression.f3 Dr C-Brown tells me that it does not contractwith insane patients under extreme terror.f4 Yet I was unwilling to thinkthat the belief was quite a delusion, owing to Duchenne’s strikingphotographs & some older statements to the same effect.f5 (possibly thesource of whole belief) If Gratiolet’s statement cd be trusted thatthis muscle contracts under dyspnoea, it is conceivable that it mightact under terror from association with panting breath.f6 One of my sonsin sounding certain notes on the flute draws the corners of his mouth muchbackwards & downwards, & then I can see radiating longitudinal furrowson each side of his neck.f7 A clever surgeon, who has attended tothese subjects, tells me that this is produced by another muscle(name forgotten) which is attached below to the clavicles.f8 You willknow all about this, & at some future time I shd be grateful tohear whether there is such a muscle, the contraction of which wd producethe longitudinal furrows.

I cannot yet give up the ghost about white colour & vegetable poisons. Ifyou cd prove that white animals were deficient in the power of smell I shdbe more staggered.f9 I cannot as yet think that so many observers have beendeceived. I wd suggest, (if you are willing, as I hope, to continue thesubject,) that you shd send yr paper to Prof. Wyman of Boston, U. States,with a letter asking him if he cd get it observed in Florida, by somecareful man whether if the paint-root is given to black & white pigs, both willeat it.f10

With many thanks for yr very interesting letter yours very sincerely |Ch. Darwin

I wonder whether white pigs find truffles & pig-nuts as well as black pigs.

DAR 261.5: 4 (English Heritage 88205902)



The year is established by the relationship between this letter andthe letter to William Ogle, 9 November 1870.
CD had enquired about the platysma myoides muscle in his letter of 9 November1870. Some of what Ogle wrote in reply was inthe now missing portion of his letter of [10–17 November 1870].
See Expression, pp. 298–303.
See letter from James Crichton-Browne, 15 March 1870, and letter toJames Crichton-Browne, 18 March 1870.
CD refers to Guillaume Benjamin Amand Duchenne, and photographs inDuchenne 1862. There is an annotated copy of Duchenne 1862 in theDarwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 209–10). See alsoCorrespondence vol. 17, letter to James Crichton-Browne, 22 May1869. CD included a photograph of Duchenne’s illustrating the platysmamyoides in Expression, plate VII, figure 2, as well as a drawingcopied from another photograph (Expression., p. 299).
See letter to William Ogle, 9 November 1870 and n. 5. CD refers toLouis Pierre Gratiolet and Gratiolet [1865], p. 167. There is an annotated copy of Gratiolet [1865] in the DarwinLibrary–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 345–7).
In Expression, p. 302, CD mentioned the action of the musclein ‘a young man’ playing the flute. See also Correspondence vol. 17,letter to JamesCrichton-Browne, 8 June 1869. The flutistwas CD’s son Francis (see Correspondence vol. 19, letter to FrancisDarwin, 25 March [1871]).
The surgeon and muscle have not been identified. CD had earliermentioned the muscle in his letter to James Crichton-Browne, 8 June1869.
See letter from William Ogle, [before 9 November 1870] and n. 4, and letter to William Ogle, 9 November 1870.
CD had given information from Jeffries Wyman about the resistanceof black pigs to a poison in the southern United States in bothOrigin 3d ed., p. 12, and Variation 2: 227 and 336. Wymantravelled to Florida eight times between 1852 and 1874 (ANB).
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