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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. L. Brunton   30 October 1874

Down Beckenham | Kent

Oct 30. 1874

My dear Sir

I am very much obliged for the beautiful photograph.1 There is certainly a marked difference between the two sides of the face, but the only difference in expression that I can recognise, is that one side looks a little less devout. As you have attended so closely to differences on the sides of the face, shall I not return the photo— If so send me a post card.2 I read a few days ago with extraordinary interest your remarkable article on Inhibition.3 How wonderfully complex the nervous system is! I arrived at one side-conclusion, viz that you, & not I, ought to have written my book on Expression.

My dear Sir | yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The photograph was of a drawing of Jusepe de Ribera’s painting of St Agnes; see letter from T. L. Brunton, [29] October [1874] and n. 2.
CD retained the photograph (see letter from T. L. Brunton, 2 November [1874] and n. 2, and plate on p. 525); it is in DAR 53.1: A40.
Brunton reported on his attempt to understand the inhibition of spinal reflexes and sympathetic action in his article ‘Inhibition, peripheral and central’ (Brunton 1874). For more on the context of the paper, see R. Smith 1992, pp. 135–7.


Brunton, Thomas Lauder. 1874. On inhibition, peripheral and central. West Riding Lunatic Asylum Medical Reports 4: 179–222.

Smith, Roger. 1992. Inhibition: history and meaning in the sciences of mind and brain. Berkeley: University of California Press.


Discusses expression on two halves of the face. Mentions photograph [of picture by Rubens].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Lauder Brunton, 1st baronet
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 143: 163
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9703,” accessed on 20 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22