skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From F. S. B. F. de Chaumont to W. E. Darwin   16 April 1871

Oakland | Woolston

April 16th./71

My dear Darwin,

I called at the bank yesterday to talk over the subject of your letter, but you were not there. I shall be most happy to place my letter at your father’s disposal, but I hope he will put in assistant-Professor, as that is my true position—1 In speaking of my wife2 I presume he means by English, British extraction; her father being Scotch & mother English3 although perhaps English is really rigidly correct, as the non-Gaelic Scots & the Northumbrians are both Angle in origin—

I do not remember ever to have seen the platysma myoides contract under any of the circumstances you name,—at least I never gave any particular attention to it—4 As to the voluntary contraction I have seen some cases and I can do it myself completely, as I shall be happy to show you some day— My sister5 has also voluntary command over it—

I am unable to answer the question about the pupil in ague,—but then I have seen very little of the disease— I put the question to Dr. Parkes6 and he says it does not change— I hear however that a number of cases have come in yesterday and if possible I will get some information on the point.— I may look in upon you tomorrow on my way up to the Rehearsal

Yours very sincerely | F. de Chaumont

W. E. Darwin Esqr

CD annotations

1.3 assistant-Professor] underl red crayon
1.4 British] underl red crayon
2.3 myself completely, 2.4] underl red crayon
Top of letter: ‘Shrugging’ red crayon

CD note:

* I mentioned your questions to Dr De Chaumont & this is his answer.

Can he make any observations on the Platisma for you?7 [crossed pencil]



De Chaumont refers to his letter to W. E. Darwin of 11 March 1871. De Chaumont’s observations in this letter of his daughters’ shrugging were cited by CD in Expression, pp. 265–7. CD had thought de Chaumont to be a full professor (see CD’s annotations to the letter from F. S. B. F. de Chaumont to W. E. Darwin, 11 March 1871). CD called de Chaumont ‘a medical professor and excellent observer’ in Expression, p. 265.
Elleanor Tempest François de Chaumont.
Thomas Gray and Harriet Tempest Gray.
For other correspondence on the platysma myoides, see the letter to William Ogle, 13 April [1871] and n. 1.
Anna Kennedy Francois de Chaumont.
Edmund Alexander Parkes worked with de Chaumont at the Army Medical School in Netley Hospital, near Southampton.
See n. 4, above.


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


Answers to questions about expression.

Letter details

Letter no.
Francis Stephen Bennet François de Chaumont
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 162: 136
Physical description
3pp †, †(by CD)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7688,” accessed on 28 January 2022,

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