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Letter 7698

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

18 Apr 1871

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    Comments on notes by JC-B on relation between blushing and mental disturbance. Asks for further information about blushing. "The single pencil line down this MS is my mark that I have used it once."

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    Thanks for "dreadful photo of the imbeciles".

Transcription

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[Enclosure: 1]

(Please return this)

As your sister-in-law speaks about blushing when by herself, will you ask her whether she has ever felt a blush when by herself in the dark.

I have long thought that Shakspear was in error when he makes it appear that Juliet did not blush in the dark. Will you ask your sister whether she agrees to the following statements;—that no one blushes for a fault committed when quite alone, & if not afterwards discovered or suspected by any one.

I believe that if a truthful man had been led to tell an undetected falsehood, he wd bitterly repent of it, but wd not blush. I can, however, well imagine that if the thought suddenly occurred to him, ``had this or that happened, I shd have been detected'', or ``if this or that person were to know of my fault,'' then he wd blush, though at the time in solitude.

When a person blushes at the thought of a past fault, is it not always at one committed in the presence of others, or afterwards known or suspected by others? Little breaches of etiquette, which perhaps cause more intense blushing than even grave faults, imply the presence of others.

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