We are indebted to Dr. Airy for furnishing us with a copy of his letter to Mr. Darwin, the original of which had been mislaid.)

Down, April 5th [1871].

I am greatly obliged for your letter. Your idea about the easy turning of the head instead of the ears themselves strikes me as very good, and quite new to me, and I will keep it in mind; but I fear that there are some cases opposed to the notion.

If I remember right the hedgehog has very human ears, but birds support your view, though lizards are opposed to it.

Several persons have pointed out my error about the platysma. (473/3. The error in question occurs on page 19 of the "Descent of Man," Edition I., where it is stated that the Platysma myoides cannot be voluntarily brought into action. In the "Expression of the Emotions" Darwin remarks that this muscle is sometimes said not to be under voluntary control, and he shows that this is not universally true.) Nor can I remember how I was misled. I find I can act on this muscle myself, now that I know the corners of the mouth have to be drawn back. I know of the case of a man who can act on this muscle on one side, but not on the other; yet he asserts positively that both contract when he is startled. And this leads me to ask you to be so kind as to observe, if any opportunity should occur, whether the platysma contracts during extreme terror, as before an operation; and secondly, whether it contracts during a shivering fit. Several persons are observing for me, but I receive most discordant results.

I beg you to present my most respectful and kind compliments to your honoured father [Sir G.B. Airy].


(474/1. Mr. Galton had written on November 7th, 1872, offering to send to various parts of Africa Darwin's printed list of questions intended to guide observers on expression. Mr. Galton goes on: "You do not, I think, mention in "Expression" what I thought was universal among blubbering children (when not trying to see if harm or help was coming out of the corner of one eye) of pressing the knuckles against the eyeballs, thereby reinforcing the orbicularis.")

Down, November 8th [1872].

Many thanks for your note and offer to send out the queries; but my career is so nearly closed that I do not think it worth while. What little more I can do shall be chiefly new work. I ought to have thought of crying children rubbing their eyes with their knuckles, but I did not think of it, and cannot explain it. As far as my memory serves, they do not do so whilst roaring, in which case compression would be of use. I think it is at the close of the crying fit, as if they wished to stop their eyes crying, or possibly to relieve the irritation from the salt tears. I wish I knew more about the knuckles and crying.

What a tremendous stir-up your excellent article on prayer has made in England and America! (474/2. The article entitled "Statistical Inquiries into the Efficacy of Prayer" appeared in the "Fortnightly Review," 1872. In Mr. Francis Galton's book on "Enquiries into Human Faculty and its Development," London, 1883, a section (pages 277-94) is devoted to a discussion on the "Objective Efficacy of Prayer.")


(475/1. We have no means of knowing whether the observations suggested in the following letter were made--if not, the suggestion is worthy of record.)

Down, December 21st, 1872.

You will have received some little time ago my book on Expression, in writing which I was so deeply indebted to your kindness. I want now to beg a favour of you, if you have the means to grant it. A clergyman, the head of an institution for the blind in England (475/2. The Rev. R.H. Blair, Principal of the Worcester College: "Expression of the Emotions," Edition II., page 237.), has been observing the expression of those born blind, and he informs me that they never or very rarely frown. He kept a record of several cases, but at last observed a frown on two of the children who he thought never frowned; and then in a foolish manner tore up his notes, and did not write to me until my book was published.

Charles Darwin

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