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Letter 7221

Crichton-Browne, James to Darwin, C. R.

[6 June 1870]


Comments on various figures [in Duchenne’s Mécanisme].


With reference to figures 7, 8, 9, 10 & 11.f2 I would venture withgreat deference to submit that my observations lead me to believe,that awakened attention, especially if accompanied by surprise orwonder is expressed is expressed by the action of theoccipito-frontalis, elevation of the eyebrows &c, but that strong,sustained concentrated attention is accompanied by contraction of thecorrugators of the eyebrows.

Figures 34 & 23.f3 An exceedingly tragic expression, apparentlyproduced by the powerful contraction of the muscles of the eyebrows,with some elevation of the skin of the forehead & transversefolds. This expression if perfect would produce the so-called‘horse-shoe’ on the forehead about which Sir Walter Scott speaks in‘Redgauntlet’.f4 Mrs. Scott Siddons the actressf5 has the power ofproducing these lines on the forehead with singular precision. Shetells me that all her family have been remarkable for this power. Thelines referred are if I remember rightly well seen in Sir JoshuaReynolds portrait of the great Mrs. Siddons as the Tragic Muse.f6 Mybrother Mr. Balfour Browne informs me that the last descendent ofthe Griersons of Largg (the Redgauntlets of Sir Walter Scott) pridesherself on possessing the family peculiarity, the power of producingin a striking manner, the horse-shoe on the forehead.f7

Figures 16. 17. 18.f8 The action of the pyramidalis nasi does notconvey to my mind any idea of an expressive expression. It suggestsrather painful attention. In cases of profound melancholia I havefrequently seen it combined in persistent action with the corrugatoressuperciliorum, notwithstanding Duchennes statement that they areantagonistic.f9

Figures 19. & 20. The muscles of the eyebrows are constantly seen inenergetic action in cases of melancholia. The lines due to thehabitual contraction of this muscle are most characteristic of thephysiognomy of melancholia, especially hypochondriacal-melancholia, inwhich grief & anxiety are felt respecting bodily health &conditions.f10 Along with the contraction of the eyebrows in such casesthere is a peculiar acute arching of the upper eylid which I am at aloss to understand.

Figures 30. 31. 32. & 33.f11 The action of the muscles included in thisgroup is singularly well illustrated in a form of mental disease, wellknown as the General Paralysis of the insane. “In this malady thereis almost invariably optimism, delusions, as to wealth, rank, grandeur&c,— insane joyousness, benevolence & profusion, while its veryearliest physical symptom is trembling at the corners of the mouth &outter corners of the eyes. This is a well recognised fact. Constanttremulous agitation of the inferior palpebral & great zygomaticmuscles is pathognomic of the earlier stages of general paralysis. Thecountenance has a pleased, self-complacent & benevolent expression: Asthe disease advances other muscles become involved but until completefatuity is reached, the prevailing expression is that of feeblebenevolence.”f12

Figure 34. To my thinking this is not a grimace but a genuineexpression—mirth suppressed by voluntary effort—as when chidinga child for a ludicrous offence.f13

Figure 38. Presents not the faintest trace of any lascivious feelingbut rather contempt disgust, meanness.f14

Figure 43.f15 The action of the triangularis ori is well seen in youngchildren in whom the angles of the the mouth are constantly depressed,as the preliminary of tears. Along with the pulling down of the anglesof the mouth, there is some pouting of the lower lip.

Why does not Duchenne deal with other muscles, very influential inthe expression of the emotions—such as those regulating the movementsof the eyeballs, the buccinatorf16 (precisely analogous to the otherfacial muscles, in that it is attached to the lips &c.) used inlaughter, & the masseter;f17 which occasions the grinding & gnashing ofthe teeth, in extreme rage & despair.

DAR 161: 323, 323/1



The date is established by the annotation and by the relationshipbetween this letter and the letter from James Crichton-Browne, 6 June1870.
Crichton-Browne refers to photographs in the ‘Atlas’ accompanyingDuchenne 1862. Figures 7 to 11 are a set illustrating the ‘muscle del’attention’, the occipito-frontalis or frontal muscle (seeExpression, pp. 24–5, for diagrams of facial muscles).
Crichton-Browne probably meant to write 24 and 23. Figures 23 and24 are part of a set showing the action of the ‘muscle du douleur’,grief muscle (corrugator supercilii).
See W. Scott 1832, 1: 334:The furrows of the brow above the eyes became livid and almost black,and were bent into a semicircular, or rather elliptical form, abovethe junction of the eyebrows. I had heard such a look described in anold tale of diablerie, which it was my chance to be entertained withnot long since; when this deep and gloomy contortion of the frontalmuscles was not unaptly described, as forming the representation of asmall horseshoe.
Mary Frances Scott-Siddons.
Reynolds’s portrait of Sarah Siddons as the tragic muse,painted in 1783 and 1784, is now at the Huntington Library, SanMarino, California.
Crichton-Browne refers to John Hutton Balfour Browne and probablyto a relative of his late godmother, Elizabeth Crichton, a descendant ofRobert Grierson, first baronet of Lag and Rockhall. Grierson (‘thepersecutor’) is mentioned in Walter Scott’s Redgauntlet (W. Scott1832, 1: 194 n. 6), and was the prototype for Scott’s Sir RobertRedgauntlet (ODNB).
Figures 16 to 18 are a set demonstrating the ‘muscle del’aggression’ (pyramidalis nasi).
Guillaume Benjamin Amand Duchenne made this statement in the textto the ‘Atlas’ to Duchenne 1862, p. 20.
Figures 19 and 20 are part of the same set as 23 and 24 (see n. 3,above). CD cited Crichton-Browne on this point in Expression, p. 185.
Figures 30 to 33 are part of a set showing the ‘muscles de la joieet de la bienveillance’ or muscles of joy and benevolence (the zygomatic and the lower orbicularis palpebrarum).
CD quoted the section in quotation marks in Expression, p. 205,but did not cite any other original source.
Figure 34 is part of the set showing the ‘muscles de la joieet de la bienveillance’ (see n. 11, above); according to the text, itshows a ‘grimace’.
Figure 38 is part of a set showing the ‘muscle de la lasciveté’or muscle of lasciviousness (muscle transverse du nez or nasalismuscle; this muscle is not shown in CD’s diagrams in Expression,pp. 24–5).
Figure 43 is part of a set showing the ‘muscle de la tristesse’ ormuscle of sadness (triangularis oris or depressor anguli oris), andaccording to the text shows disgust.
The buccinator is a cheek muscle used in chewing and blowing(Chambers).
The masseter is a muscle that raises the lower jaw (Chambers).
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