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Darwin Correspondence Project

To James Crichton-Browne   8 June [1870]1


June 8

My dear Sir

Duchenne arrived this morning all safe.2 The loss of the book was beginning to cause me trouble, but I assure you I felt more annoyment at troubling you so much and so often than at the want of the book. Considering how hard you are worked and that you have causes of anxiety, I have more reason to apologise to you, than you to me for the accidental hiding of the book and forgetfulness of your servant. I have just been reading your remarks with very great interest: you always tell me exactly the things which I am anxious to hear. I agree with all that you say, and am particularly pleased at your remarks on the pyramidal of the nose and the so-called muscle of lasciviousness. I believe it to be all fancy.3 In order to test Duchenne’s plates I have shown the most characteristic (hiding any indication of what they were meant to express) to between 20 and 30 persons of all kinds, and have recorded their answers: when all or nearly all agree in their answer, I trust him.4 Now, I believe, not one person understood the supposed meaning of the contracted pyramidal! As for the lascivious muscle, I did not think it worth exhibiting. I have been very glad to see the photograph of the woman with bristling hair: I suppose I might, if I wished, have a wood-cut from it: she looks like a Papuan.5 You propose to send me a photograph of a case of “general paralysis of the insane”, and I should be very glad to see it: I have been trying to get a London Photographer to make me one of a young baby screaming or crying badly; but I fear he will not succeed.6 I much want a woodcut of a baby in this state. I presume it will be hopeless, from constant movement, to get an insane person photographed, whilst crying bitterly. Should you ever have time to send me any more notes, I can assure you that they are fully appreciated by me. My present book has grown so large, that I am going to take the MS. to London to see how big a book it will make; and perhaps I shall print this first, and retain what I am now writing on expression for a separate essay, which I will print as soon as I have got the rest of my MS. printed off.7 To return to the Photographs; if ever you get one of a person in a paroxysm of fear or horror, I should much like to see it. Have you ever noticed whether the alæ of the nostrils are then raised or distended? With the most sincere thanks for all your assistance, I remain

My dear Sir | yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin

Heaven only knows whether my essay will be worth the trouble which I have caused to many of my kind friends.


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from James Crichton-Browne, 6 June 1870.
See memorandum from James Crichton-Browne, [6 June 1870] and nn. 8 and 14.
In Expression, p. 14, CD explained that he showed some of Guillaume Benjamin Amand Duchenne’s photographs of an old man whose expressions had been produced by galvanic apparatus to ‘above twenty educated persons of various ages and both sexes’.
See plate in Correspondence vol. 18. CD reproduced the photograph in Expression, p. 296.
See memorandum from James Crichton-Browne, [6 June 1870], annotations to paragraph 5. CD eventually had photographs of babies and young children crying taken by Oscar Gustaf Rejlander of London and Adolph Diedrich Kindermann of Hamburg (see Expression, plate 1 (facing p. 148)). However, CD seems not to have made contact with Rejlander until 1871 (see Correspondence vol. 19, letter to James Crichton-Browne, 7 April [1871]).
CD had initially intended his work on expression to form part of Descent; it was eventually published as a separate book (Expression). CD visited London from 24 June to 1 July 1870 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).


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

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

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.


Duchenne [Mécanisme] has arrived. Has been testing the photographs with 20 or 30 persons; when all or nearly all agree with Duchenne, CD trusts him. Not one understood the "contracted pyramidal of the nose". CD does not think the so-called muscle of lasciviousness worth exhibiting.

His MS [of Descent] is so large he may print only what he has, and make a second volume of what he is now writing on expression.

Discusses photographs he would like to have: baby screaming, person in paroxysm of fear.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
James Crichton-Browne
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 143: 332
Physical description
C 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7224,” accessed on 16 June 2024,

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