From James Crichton-Browne [6 June 1870]1
With reference to figures 7, 8, 9, 10 & 11.2 I would venture with great deference to submit that my observations lead me to believe, that awakened attention, especially if accompanied by surprise or wonder is expressed is expressed by the action of the occipito-frontalis, elevation of the eyebrows &c, but that strong, sustained concentrated attention is accompanied by contraction of the corrugators of the eyebrows.
Figures 34 & 23.3 An exceedingly tragic expression, apparently produced by the powerful contraction of the muscles of the eyebrows, with some elevation of the skin of the forehead & transverse folds. This expression if perfect would produce the so-called ‘horse-shoe’ on the forehead about which Sir Walter Scott speaks in ‘Redgauntlet’.4 Mrs. Scott Siddons the actress5 has the power of producing these lines on the forehead with singular precision. She tells me that all her family have been remarkable for this power. The lines referred are if I remember rightly well seen in Sir Joshua Reynolds portrait of the great Mrs. Siddons as the Tragic Muse.6 My brother Mr. Balfour Browne informs me that the last descendent of the Griersons of Largg (the Redgauntlets of Sir Walter Scott) prides herself on possessing the family peculiarity, the power of producing in a striking manner, the horse-shoe on the forehead.7
Figures 16. 17. 18.8 The action of the pyramidalis nasi does not convey to my mind any idea of an expressive expression. It suggests rather painful attention. In cases of profound melancholia I have frequently seen it combined in persistent action with the corrugatores superciliorum, notwithstanding Duchennes statement that they are antagonistic.9
Figures 19. & 20. The muscles of the eyebrows are constantly seen in energetic action in cases of melancholia. The lines due to the habitual contraction of this muscle are most characteristic of the physiognomy of melancholia, especially hypochondriacal-melancholia, in which grief & anxiety are felt respecting bodily health & conditions.10 Along with the contraction of the eyebrows in such cases there is a peculiar acute arching of the upper eylid which I am at a loss to understand.
Figures 30. 31. 32. & 33.11 The action of the muscles included in this group is singularly well illustrated in a form of mental disease, well known as the General Paralysis of the insane. “In this malady there is almost invariably optimism, delusions, as to wealth, rank, grandeur &c,— insane joyousness, benevolence & profusion, while its very earliest physical symptom is trembling at the corners of the mouth & outter corners of the eyes. This is a well recognised fact. Constant tremulous agitation of the inferior palpebral & great zygomatic muscles is pathognomic of the earlier stages of general paralysis. The countenance has a pleased, self-complacent & benevolent expression: As the disease advances other muscles become involved but until complete fatuity is reached, the prevailing expression is that of feeble benevolence.”12
Figure 34. To my thinking this is not a grimace but a genuine expression—mirth suppressed by voluntary effort—as when chiding a child for a ludicrous offence.13
Figure 38. Presents not the faintest trace of any lascivious feeling but rather contempt disgust, meanness.14
Figure 43.15 The action of the triangularis ori is well seen in young children in whom the angles of the the mouth are constantly depressed, as the preliminary of tears. Along with the pulling down of the angles of the mouth, there is some pouting of the lower lip.
Why does not Duchenne deal with other muscles, very influential in the expression of the emotions—such as those regulating the movements of the eyeballs, the buccinator16 (precisely analogous to the other facial muscles, in that it is attached to the lips &c.) used in laughter, & the masseter;17 which occasions the grinding & gnashing of the teeth, in extreme rage & despair.
Comments on various figures [in Duchenne’s Mécanisme].
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7221,” accessed on 9 December 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-7221