skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From James Crichton-Browne   6 June 1870

West Riding Asylum, | Wakefield.

6. June— 1870.

My dear Sir,

I am ashamed to write to you & infinitely distressed to contemplate all the annoyance & trouble that my negligence may have occasioned you. Enclosure was given to my man-servant to pack up. He did so & placed it in a cupboard where it was again forgotten.1

Today I have myself seen it despatched by rail carriage—pre-paid. Will you kindly let me have one line to say whether it arrives in safety.

Enclosed in Duchenne (at the beginning) you will find a few crude notes on expression.2 I promise more, in a little time, although I fear you will scarcely trust to me after all my carelessness. Bear in mind, in extenuation of my faults that I am one of the hardest worked men in her Majestys Dominions. As a rule I toil daily from 8. a.m. to 11. pm. contending all the while with bad health & great anxiety.

I send you a photograph of a female patient in the Southern Counties Asylum, Dumfries N.B. under the care of Dr. Gilchrist in whom the bristling of the hair was well seen.3 The woman was in a tranquil mood when the portrait was taken. When she was agitated—the ascendant emotion being horror—the hair stood out like wire.

We are beginning to take large photographs here, the size of Duchennes4 & will I think secure some interesting observations. I shall send you some. Is there any point connected with expression that you would particularly wish to have illustrated?

With sincere apologies & profound esteem, | I am, | Yours most faithfully | J. Crichton-Browne

Charles Darwin Esq &c &c



Crichton-Browne refers to the ‘Atlas’ to Duchenne 1862 (see letter to James Crichton-Browne, 2 April [1870]). The man-servant has not been identified.
See memorandum from James Crichton-Browne, [6 June 1870].
The photograph is probably that in DAR 53.1: C68, reproduced in Expression, p. 296. See plate in Correspondence vol. 18. For an earlier photograph of a woman with bristling hair sent by Crichton-Browne, see Correspondence vol. 17, enclosure to letter from Henry Maudsley, 20 May 1869. James Gilchrist had succeeded Crichton-Browne’s father, William Alexander Francis Browne, as medical superintendent of the Crichton Royal Institution in 1857; the Southern Counties Asylum was part of the institution. N.B.: North Britain.
Crichton-Browne refers to the large photographs in Guillaume Benjamin Amand Duchenne’s ‘Atlas’ to his work on expression (Duchenne 1862).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Duchenne, Guillaume Benjamin Amand. 1862. Mécanisme de la physionomie humaine, ou analyse électro-physiologique de l’expression des passions. 1 vol. and ‘Atlas’ of plates. Paris: Ve Jules Renouard, Libraire.

Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.


Returns copy of Duchenne (found in cupboard) with notes [see 7221].

Sends photograph of woman patient with hair standing on end.

Letter details

Letter no.
James Crichton-Browne
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
West Riding Asylum, Wakefield
Source of text
DAR 53.1: C68; DAR 161: 311
Physical description
ALS 7pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7220,” accessed on 21 June 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18