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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Julius Althaus   16 December 1872

18, Bryanston Street, | Portman Square. W.

Dec. 16. 1872.

Dear Sir.

Having just read your admirable work on expression, it has struck me that you have left out the influence which the sensitive fibres of the fifth pair of cerebral nerves, which are dispersed in the facial muscles, have in conveying the influence of the mind to the portio dura and the muscles animated by it.

Perhaps you will allow me to call your attention to a paper which appeared in the 52d volume of the Transactions of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society of London, for the year 1869 (published by Longmans)—(p.27). It is entitled: ‘on certain points in the physiology and pathology of the fifth pair of cerebral nerves’— I have described a case of disease in it, in which the influence of this fifth nerve was withdrawn, without any affection of the portio dura or the facial muscles being present. Nevertheless, there were striking changes in the physiognomy of the patient (p. 30).1

I regret I have no copy of the paper, otherwise I should send it to you. Hoping that your time will allow you to read the paper, I remain, with great respect, | Yours truly | J Althaus.

Ch. Darwin Esq.


Althaus described the case of a man who had damaged his fifth cerebral nerve but in whom the portio dura (an obsolete term for the facial nerve, or seventh cranial nerve, that controls the muscles of facial expression) was not affected. This individual was able to produce expressions at will, although ‘the effect made was more like that of an automaton than the natural appearance of sentient and animated features’ (Althaus 1868, p. 30). CD did not discuss these nerves explicitly in Expression.


Althaus, Julius. 1868. On certain points in the physiology and pathology of the fifth pair of cerebral nerves. [Read 24 November 1868.] Medico-Chirurgical Transactions 52: 27–42.

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


In his admirable work on expression CD has left out influence of fifth pair of cerebral nerves on the portiodura and on physiognomy; sends reference to his paper on this subject ["On certain points in the physiology and pathology of the fifth pair of cerebral nerves", Med.-Chir. Trans. 52 (1869): 27–42].

Letter details

Letter no.
Julius Althaus
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Bryanston St, 18
Source of text
DAR 159: 56
Physical description
3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8681,” accessed on 30 March 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20