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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Darwin   22 [March 1868]1


My dear W.

Thanks about Langstaff.2 As you are one of the few persons who can remember to observe expression, I shall often bother you with queries.—

Remember to observe a suppressed yawn, to see whether depressor angulioris, cannot be so well prevented acting as the other muscles.— This was your observation & if confirmed. wd be of value.—3

The Boss4 says that when you scratch a tickling point, you close your eyelids violently (& so do I)— do tears come at all into your eyes?5

Your affect. F. | C. Darwin


The date is established by the relationship between this letter, the note dated 14 March 1868 in DAR 160: 97 (see n. 3, below), and the letter to W. E. Darwin, 8 April [1868].
William communicated information from Charles Langstaff on the movements of the facial muscles during weeping. See letter from W. E. Darwin, 5 March [1868].
In a note dated 14 March 1868 (DAR 160: 97), CD recorded William’s observations of a woman checking a yawn at a concert, including the movement of the depressor anguli oris muscle.
CD remarked that tears were secreted whenever the eyelids were strongly contracted, regardless of whether any emotion was experienced (Expression, p. 163).


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


Asks WED to observe a suppressed yawn.

Asks whether scratching a tickling point makes tears come to his eyes.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
Natural History Museum, Library and Archives (General Special Collections MSS DAR A23)
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8396,” accessed on 7 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16