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Darwin Correspondence Project

To William Ogle   12 March [1871]

Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.

March 12th

My dear Dr. Ogle

I have received both your letters, & they tell me all that I wanted to know in the clearest possible way, as indeed all your letters have ever done.—1 I thank you cordially. I will give case of murderer in my hobby-horse essay on expression.—2 I fear that the Eustachian tube question must have cost you a deal of labour.—3 it is quite a complete little essay.— It is pretty clear that the mouth is not opened under surprise merely to improve the hearing. Yet why do Deaf men generally keep their mouths open? The other day a man here was mimicking a deaf friend, leaning his head forward & sideways to the speaker, with his mouth well open— it was a life-like representation of a deaf man.— Shakespeare somewhere says “hold your breath, listen” or “hark” I forget which.—4

Surprise hurries the breath, & it seems to me one can breathe, at least hurriedly, much quieter through the open mouth than through the nose. I saw the other day you doubted this.5 As olfaction is your province at present, I think breathing through the nose ought to come within it likewise—so do pray consider this point & let me hear your judgment.—6 Consider the nose to be a flower to be fertilised, & then you will make out all about it.7

I have had to allude to your paper on “Sense of Smell”—is the Paging right, viz 1, 2, 3?8 If not I protest by all the Gods against the plan followed by some of having presentation copies falsely paged; & so does Rolleston, as he wrote to me the other day.—9

In Haste | yours very sincerely | C. Darwin


The letters from Ogle have not been found. CD evidently received one letter before 8 March (see letter to John Tyndall, 8 March [1871]).
The quotation from Shakespeare has not been identified.
CD may refer to his meeting with Ogle during his visit to London (see first letter to John Tyndall, 1 March [1871].
For more on Ogle’s research on the sense of smell, see first letter to John Tyndall, 1 March [1871] and n. 4.
CD alludes to Ogle’s work on the fertilisation mechanism in Salvia. CD had at first discouraged Ogle from publishing his observations because the genus had already been described by Friedrich Hildebrand (Hildebrand 1866), but later told Ogle that his paper (Ogle 1869) contained much new material (see Correspondence vol. 17, letter to William Ogle, 7 July [1869] and n. 3).
CD refers to Ogle 1870 (see Expression, p. 256 n. 3). CD’s copy of the article, now in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL, is separately paginated, but the original page numbers have been added in pencil.


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

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

Ogle, William. 1869. The fertilisation of Salvia and of some other flowers. Popular Science Review 8: 261–73.


Thanks WO for his replies [to 7551]. Discusses the open mouth in surprise; asks WO to investigate its function in hearing and breathing.

Asks why deaf persons generally keep mouths open.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Ogle
Sent from
MR 13 71
Source of text
DAR 261.5: 7 (EH 88205905)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7575,” accessed on 8 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19