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Darwin Correspondence Project

From C. L. Brace   [August? 1873]1

Dear 〈several words missing

Our 〈several words missing〉 very much 〈several words missing〉 months since 〈several words missing〉 〈  〉den app〈ea〉rance 〈several words missing〉 interesting 〈b〉ook 〈on “Expres〉sion”— We have enjoy〈ed〉 so much the more 〈for〉 remembering the char〈ming〉 visit 〈we〉 had with its 〈au〉thor, last July.2

I see you in〈cl〉ine to 〈the〉 “Single Pair” theory of human origin, which always seemed to me the more probable3

Did I tell you that curious instance we heard of dogs sympathy with human tones? We had one 〈several words missing〉 〈  〉ers [who]several words missing〉 lying 〈several words missing〉 in a chair 〈several words missing〉 would come 〈several words missing〉 a mos〈  〉 〈  〉om pass〈  〉 〈2 or 3 words missing〉 〈v〉oice 〈    〉 say “Poor 〈Fa〉nny! poor Fanny”! 〈    〉 the little dog would 〈r〉aise such 〈a〉 piteous 〈  〉an & 〈c〉ry, as from 〈    〉 deepest misery, tho’ 〈ju〉st before she had been very comfortable!

I had a first class “fact” for you lately. A very intelligent physician of New York—Dr. Stout4—told me that on visiting the Sioux tribe in 〈1 line missing[illeg]several words missing〉 one of 〈several words missing〉 his po〈  〉 〈several words missing〉-ward on〈  〉 ears 〈1 or 2 words missing〉 sounds 〈    〉 The c〈  〉 〈1 or 2 words missing〉 this, my friend say〈s〉 〈    〉 a very remarkable 〈    〉 [illeg] much as a hor〈se〉 does. The officer 〈    〉 that he had know〈n〉 several of the Sioux who had this power over the muscles of the ears.5

Many people can mov〈e〉 the ears, as they do th〈e〉 skin over the skull or scalp, but this seemed 〈1 line missing〉 〈several words missing〉 〈  〉est 〈several words missing〉 〈  〉fe went 〈several words missing〉 〈  〉ver brin〈  〉 in the North 〈1 or 2 words missing〉 and 〈  〉ad Provis〈  〉 〈1 or 2 words missing〉 〈  〉ang〈  〉 after brin〈  〉 〈1 or 2 words missing〉 [2 words illeg] 〈  〉ned— and 〈sp〉ent two months there.

It was a 〈m〉ost interest〈ing〉 experience— [Elsewhere] 〈    〉 〈E〉urope, has there been 〈su〉ch progress.

We have not seen the Grays lately, but hear good accounts of them.

I am so glad the Doctor has given up lecturing—6 Mrs Brace &

CD annotations

0.1 Dear … comfortable. 3.6] crossed pencil
5.3 and 〈  〉ad … & 8.1] crossed pencil


The month is conjectured from the reference to Asa Gray’s giving up lecturing (see n. 6, below).
Charles Loring and Letitia Brace visited Down on 11 July 1872 (see Correspondence vol. 20, letter to Asa Gray, 8 July [1872], and Emma Darwin’s diary).
In Expression, p. 361, CD suggested that the similarity of all the chief expressions exhibited by humans was an argument in favour of the several races being descended from a ‘single parent-stock’.
Dr Stout has not been identified.
CD discussed the movement of the ears in Descent 1: 20–1. In Expression, p. 365, he wrote: ‘If our ears had remained movable, their movements would have been highly expressive, as is the case with all animals which fight with their teeth.’
Asa Gray resigned as professor of botany at Harvard University with effect from the end of July 1873 (J. L. Gray 1893, 2: 640, 643).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 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.

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

Gray, Jane Loring, ed. 1893. Letters of Asa Gray. 2 vols. London: Macmillan and Co.


Reports that the ability to move ears is common among the Sioux.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Loring Brace
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 160: 273 (fragile letters)
Physical description
4pp inc & damaged †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8717,” accessed on 15 April 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21