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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. J. Eyre   12 November 1880

15 Edwards Terrace | Cardiff

Nov 12th/80


Just now I happen to be reading your very observant & entertaining work “The Expression of the Emotions”. Last evening on reading the paragraph on the action of the depressores anguli oris muscles in griff, it directly recalled a painful personal episode.

Some time ago I received a telegram to the effect that my only sister1 to whom I was much attached was dying & that I was to go home at once.

On telling the painful news to some people with whom I was then staying & did not know very intimately I felt very much moved & it was only by the most extreme effort of the will that I controlled myself from giving way altogether. However in spite of that effort I felt the depressores anguli oris act markedly & I found for a few minutes that I could not prevent their acting. I trouble you with this personal experience as I believe it bears out your inferrence that the depressor anguli oris is one of the muscles of the face least under the control of the will.2

I have the honour to be, Sir, | Yours faithfully | John J. Eyre |Physician

Charles Darwin Esq


Mary Teresa Eyre died in 1876 (, accessed 13 November 2019).
In Expression, pp. 193–5, CD had described the contraction of the depressores anguli oris muscles in movements of the mouth, upper lip, and nostrils during grief; on the difficulty of controlling these muscles by the will, see Expression, p. 195.


Reports inability to control depressor anguli oris muscle in grief.

Has read Expression.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Joseph Eyre
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 163: 39
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12810,” accessed on 26 September 2023,