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Darwin Correspondence Project

From James Paget   9 July 1867

1 Harewood Place | Hanover Square | W.

July 9. 1867

My dear Darwin

I will gladly seek for answers to your questions—1 I have begun to make as many people as possible blush in conditions favourable for inspection—2 But, pray tell me whether it will be useful for your purpose to examine the condition of the platysma during screaming in the partial or complete insensibility produced by chloroform—.3 This may be often observed: but the occasions of watching screaming during diseases of the brain is so rare—except in children—that it might take me years to collect facts enough for an answer to your question.4

Always sincerely your’s | James Paget.

Charles Darwin Esq.


Paget had evidently received a copy of CD’s queries about expression (see Correspondence vol. 15, Appendix IV for a later, printed, copy of the queries). This may have been handwritten, or it may have been one of the printed questionnaires sent to CD by Asa Gray (see letter to Asa Gray, 15 April [1867]).
CD asked in his later, printed, queries about expression: ‘Does shame excite a blush when the colour of the skin allows it to be visible? and especially how low down the body does the blush extend?’ (see Correspondence vol. 15, Appendix IV). Most of the extant handwritten questionnaires from 1867 do not include the second part of the question. Gray’s printed questionnaire (see n. 1, above) is not extant. An example of blushing reported by Paget appears in Expression, p. 312.
This sentence is quoted in Paget’s Memoirs and letters, p. 407 (S. Paget ed. 1901). Preceding it an undated fragment from a letter to Paget from CD is quoted: ‘I am greedy for facts’. A fragment carryiing the same wording, in CD’s hand, is held at the American Philosophical Society (626): on the verso are the words, ‘I will ask’.
CD wrote to William Erasmus Darwin in 1868: ‘I have asked some London surgeons to observe about the Platysma.... Paget tells me he has never had an opportunity of observing since I asked him, though plenty previously.—’ (Correspondence vol. 16, letter to W. E. Darwin, 8 April [1868]). Paget was a surgeon at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London (ODNB).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.


Will seek answers to CD’s questions on expression. Observing patients’ blushing. Is CD interested in the platysma during screaming under chloroform?

Letter details

Letter no.
James Paget, 1st baronet
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Harewood Place, 1
Source of text
DAR 174: 6
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5582,” accessed on 16 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15