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Darwin Correspondence Project

From F. W. Smartt to Willie[?]   3 January 1873

Ballymahon

3 January 1873

〈M〉y dear [Willie],1

We have a man at present in the Workhouse named Patrick Walsh an Idiot, who has the extraordinary power of apparently chewing his cud—2 I have seen him 〈m〉yself on more than one occasion regurgitating food from the stomac〈h〉 into the mouth about fif〈teen〉 minutes after it was take〈n〉 and repeat the process of deglutition & throwing ba〈ck〉 the food five or six times in the space of ten minutes.

The stomach of man in the natural state is a simple pouch, but in peculiar cases I con〈jecture〉 there is a second pouch caused probably by some 〈ir〉regularity in the distribution 〈o〉f the circular & longitudinal muscular fibres of the stomach— If the unfortunate man should die I would make an application for permission to make a post mortem examination 〈fo〉r in no other way could a satisfactory explanation of this wonderful case be given—

with kindest regards to all | Believe me to remain | Very Sincerely yrs. | F. W. Smartt

CD annotations

Top of first page: ‘Man chewg the cud | Idiot’ blue crayon

Footnotes

Willie has not been identified.
Patrick Walsh has not been further identified; his case was cited in Expression 2d ed., p. 271 n. 11, in CD’s discussion of whether the progenitors of modern humans could vomit voluntarily.

Bibliography

Expression 2d ed.: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. Edited by Francis Darwin. London: John Murray. 1890.

Summary

Reports the case of an idiot in his care who apparently chews his cud.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-8721
From
Francis William Smartt
To
Willie
Sent from
Ballymahon
Source of text
DAR 177: 181
Physical description
4pp damaged †(by CD)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8721,” accessed on 22 October 2019, https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/letter/DCP-LETT-8721.xml

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21

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