The Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals
by Charles Darwin
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[5] Mrs. Gaskell, 'Mary Barton,' new edit. p. 84.

With one of my own infants, from his eighth day and for some time afterwards, I often observed that the first sign of a screaming-fit, when it could be observed coming on gradually, was a little frown, owing to the contraction of the corrugators of the brows; the capillaries of the naked head and face becoming at the same time reddened with blood. As soon as the screaming-fit actually began, all the muscles round the eyes were strongly contracted, and the mouth widely opened in the manlier above described; so that at this early period the features assumed the same form as at a more advanced age.

Dr. Piderit[6] lays great stress on the contraction of certain muscles which draw down the nose and narrow the nostrils, as eminently characteristic of a crying expression. The depressores anguli oris, as we have just seen, are usually contracted at the same time, and they indirectly tend, according to Dr. Duchenne, to act in this same manner on the nose. With children having bad colds a similar pinched appearance of the nose may be noticed, which is at least partly due, as remarked to me by Dr. Langstaff, to their constant snuffling, and the consequent pressure of the atmosphere on the two sides. The purpose of this contraction of the nostrils by children having bad colds, or whilst crying, seems to be to cheek the downward flow of the mucus and tears, and to prevent these fluids spreading over the upper lip.

After a prolonged and severe screaming-fit, the scalp, face, and eyes are reddened, owing to the return of the blood from the head having been impeded by the violent expiratory efforts; but the redness of the stimulated eyes is chiefly due to the copious effusion of tears. The various muscles of the face which have been strongly contracted, still twitch a little, and the upper lip is still slightly drawn up or everted,[7] with the corners of the mouth still a little drawn downwards. I have myself felt, and have observed in other grown-up persons, that when tears are restrained with difficulty, as in reading a pathetic story, it is almost impossible to prevent the various muscles. which with young children are brought into strong action during their screaming-fits, from slightly twitching or trembling.

[6] 'Mimik und Physiognomik,' 1867, s. 102. Duchenne, Mecanisme de la Phys. Humaine, Album, p. 34.

Infants whilst young do not shed tears or weep, as is well known to nurses and medical men. This circumstance is not exclusively due to the lacrymal glands being as yet incapable of secreting tears. I first noticed this fact from having accidentally brushed with the cuff of my coat the open eye of one of my infants, when seventy-seven days old, causing this eye to water freely; and though the child screamed violently, the other eye remained dry, or was only slightly suffused with tears. A similar slight effusion occurred ten days previously in both eyes during a screaming-fit. The tears did not run over the eyelids and roll down the cheeks of this child, whilst screaming badly, when 122 days old. This first happened 17 days later, at the age of 139 days. A few other children have been observed for me, and the period of free weeping appears to be very variable. In one case, the eyes became slightly suffused at the age of only 20 days; in another, at 62 days. With two other children, the tears did NOT run down the face at the ages of 84 and 110 days; but in a third child they did run down at the age of 104 days. In one instance, as I was positively assured, tears ran down at the unusually early age of 42 days. It would appear as if the lacrymal glands required some practice in the individual before they are easily excited into action, in somewhat the same manner as various inherited consensual movements and tastes require some exercise before they are fixed and perfected. This is all the more likely with a habit like weeping, which must have been acquired since the period when man branched off from the common progenitor of the genus Homo and of the non-weeping anthropomorphous apes.

[7] Dr. Duchenne makes this remark, ibid. p. 39.

The fact of tears not being shed at a very early age from pain or any mental emotion is remarkable, as, later in life, no expression is more general or more strongly marked than weeping. When the habit has once been acquired by an infant, it expresses in the clearest manner suffering of all kinds, both bodily pain and mental distress, even though accompanied by other emotions, such as fear or rage. The character of the crying, however, changes at a very early age, as I noticed in my own infants,—the passionate cry differing from that of grief. A lady informs me that her child, nine months old, when in a passion screams loudly, but does not weep; tears, however, are shed when she is punished by her chair being turned with its back to the table. This difference may perhaps be attributed to weeping being restrained, as we shall immediately see, at a more advanced age, under most circumstances excepting grief; and to the influence of such restraint being transmitted to an earlier period of life, than that at which it was first practised.

With adults, especially of the male sex, weeping soon ceases to be caused by, or to express, bodily pain. This may be accounted for by its being thought weak and unmanly by men, both of civilized and barbarous races, to exhibit bodily pain by any outward sign. With this exception, savages weep copiously from very slight causes, of which fact Sir J. Lubbock[8] has collected instances. A New Zealand chief "cried like a child because the sailors spoilt his favourite cloak by powdering it with flour." I saw in Tierra del Fuego a native who had lately lost a brother, and who alternately cried with hysterical violence, and laughed heartily at anything which amused him. With the civilized nations of Europe there is also much difference in the frequency of weeping. Englishmen rarely cry, except under the pressure of the acutest grief; whereas in some parts of the Continent the men shed tears much more readily and freely.

The insane notoriously give way to all their emotions with little or no restraint; and I am informed by Dr. J. Crichton Browne, that nothing is more characteristic of simple melancholia, even in the male sex, than a tendency to weep on the slightest occasions, or from no cause. They also weep disproportionately on the occurrence of any real cause of grief. The length of time during which some patients weep is astonishing, as well as the amount of tears which they shed. One melancholic girl wept for a whole day, and afterwards confessed to Dr. Browne, that it was because she remembered that she had once shaved off her eyebrows to promote their growth. Many patients in the asylum sit for a long time rocking themselves backwards and forwards; "and if spoken to, they stop their movements, purse up their eyes, depress the corners of the mouth, and burst out crying." In some of these cases, the being spoken to or kindly greeted appears to suggest some fanciful and sorrowful notion; but in other cases an effort of any kind excites weeping, independently of any sorrowful idea. Patients suffering from acute mania likewise have paroxysms of violent crying or blubbering, in the midst of their incoherent ravings. We must not, however, lay too much stress on the copious shedding of tears by the insane, as being due to the lack of all restraint; for certain brain-diseases, as hemiplegia, brain-wasting, and senile decay, have a special tendency to induce weeping. Weeping is common in the insane, even after a complete state of fatuity has been reached and the power of speech lost. Persons born idiotic likewise weep;[9] but it is said that this is not the case with cretins.

[8] 'The Origin of Civilization,' 1870, p. 355.

Weeping seems to be the primary and natural expression, as we see in children, of suffering of any kind, whether bodily pain short of extreme agony, or mental distress. But the foregoing facts and common experience show us that a frequently repeated effort to restrain weeping, in association with certain states of the mind, does much in checking the habit. On the other hand, it appears that the power of weeping can be increased through habit; thus the Rev. R. Taylor,[10] who long resided in New Zealand, asserts that the women can voluntarily shed tears in abundance; they meet for this purpose to mourn for the dead, and they take pride in crying "in the most affecting manner."

A single effort of repression brought to bear on the lacrymal glands does little, and indeed seems often to lead to an opposite result. An old and experienced physician told me that he had always found that the only means to check the occasional bitter weeping of ladies who consulted him, and who themselves wished to desist, was earnestly to beg them not to try, and to assure them that nothing would relieve them so much as prolonged and copious crying.

[9] See, for instance, Mr. Marshall's account of an idiot in Philosoph. Transact. 1864, p. 526. With respect to cretins, see Dr. Piderit, 'Mimik und Physiognomik,' 1867, s. 61.

[10] 'New Zealand and its Inhabitants,' 1855, p. 175.

The screaming of infants consists of prolonged expirations, with short and rapid, almost spasmodic inspirations, followed at a somewhat more advanced age by sobbing. According to Gratiolet,[11] the glottis is chiefly affected during the act of sobbing. This sound is heard "at the moment when the inspiration conquers the resistance of the glottis, and the air rushes into the chest." But the whole act of respiration is likewise spasmodic and violent. The shoulders are at the same time generally raised, as by this movement respiration is rendered easier. With one of my infants, when seventy-seven days old, the inspirations were so rapid and strong that they approached in character to sobbing; when 138 days old I first noticed distinct sobbing, which subsequently followed every bad crying-fit. The respiratory movements are partly voluntary and partly involuntary, and I apprehend that sobbing is at least in part due to children having some power to command after early infancy their vocal organs and to stop their screams, but from having less power over their respiratory muscles, these continue for a time to act in an involuntary or spasmodic manner, after having been brought into violent action. Sobbing seems to be peculiar to the human species; for the keepers in the Zoological Gardens assure me that they have never heard a sob from any kind of monkey; though monkeys often scream loudly whilst being chased and caught, and then pant for a long time. We thus see that there is a close analogy between sobbing and the free shedding of tears; for with children, sobbing does not commence during early infancy, but afterwards comes on rather suddenly and then follows every bad crying-fit, until the habit is checked with advancing years.

[11] 'De la Physionomie,' 1865, p. 126.

On the cause of the contraction of the muscles round the eyes during screaming.—We have seen that infants and young children, whilst screaming, invariably close their eyes firmly, by the contraction of the surrounding muscles, so that the skin becomes wrinkled all around. With older children, and even with adults, whenever there is violent and unrestrained crying, a tendency to the contraction of these same muscles may be observed; though this is often checked in order not to interfere with vision.

Sir C. Bell explains[12] this action in the following manner:—"During every violent act of expiration, whether in hearty laughter, weeping, coughing, or sneezing, the eyeball is firmly compressed by the fibres of the orbicularis; and this is a provision for supporting and defending the vascular system of the interior of the eye from a retrograde impulse communicated to the blood in the veins at that time. When we contract the chest and expel the air, there is a retardation of the blood in the veins of the neck and head; and in the more powerful acts of expulsion, the blood not only distends the vessels, but is even regurgitated into the minute branches. Were the eye not properly compressed at that time, and a resistance given to the shock, irreparable injury might be inflicted on the delicate textures of the interior of the eye." He further adds, "If we separate the eyelids of a child to examine the eye, while it cries and struggles with passion, by taking off the natural support to the vascular system of the eye, and means of guarding it against the rush of blood then occurring, the conjunctiva becomes suddenly filled with blood, and the eyelids everted."

[12] 'The Anatomy of Expression,' 1844, p. 106. See also his paper in the 'Philosophical Transactions,' 1822, p. 284, ibid. 1823, pp. 166 and 289. Also 'The Nervous System of the Human Body,' 3rd edit. 1836, p. 175.

Not only are the muscles round the eyes strongly contracted, as Sir C. Bell states and as I have often observed, during screaming, loud laughter, coughing, and sneezing, but during several other analogous actions. A man contracts these muscles when he violently blows his nose. I asked one of my boys to shout as loudly as he possibly could, and as soon as he began, he firmly contracted his orbicular muscles; I observed this repeatedly, and on asking him why he had every time so firmly closed his eyes, I found that he was quite unaware of the fact: he had acted instinctively or unconsciously.

It is not necessary, in order to lead to the contraction of these muscles, that air should actually be expelled from the chest; it suffices that the muscles of the chest and abdomen should contract with great force, whilst by the closure of the glottis no air escapes. In violent vomiting or retching the diaphragm is made to descend by the chest being filled with air; it is then held in this position by the closure of the glottis, "as well as by the contraction of its own fibres."[13] The abdominal muscles now contract strongly upon the stomach, its proper muscles likewise contracting, and the contents are thus ejected. During each effort of vomiting "the head becomes greatly congested, so that the features are red and swollen, and the large veins of the face and temples visibly dilated." At the same time, as I know from observation, the muscles round the eyes are strongly contracted. This is likewise the case when the abdominal muscles act downwards with unusual force in expelling the contents of the intestinal canal.

[13] See Dr. Brinton's account of the act of vomiting, in Todd's Cyclop. of Anatomy and Physiology, 1859, vol. v. Supplement, p. 318.

The greatest exertion of the muscles of the body, if those of the chest are not brought into strong action in expelling or compressing the air within the lungs, does not lead to the contraction of the muscles round the eyes. I have observed my sons using great force in gymnastic exercises, as in repeatedly raising their suspended bodies by their arms alone, and in lifting heavy weights from the ground, but there was hardly any trace of contraction in the muscles round the eyes.

As the contraction of these muscles for the protection of the eyes during violent expiration is indirectly, as we shall hereafter see, a fundamental element in several of our most important expressions, I was extremely anxious to ascertain how far Sir C. Bell's view could be substantiated. Professor Donders, of Utrecht,[14] well known as one of the highest authorities in Europe on vision and on the structure of the eye, has most kindly undertaken for me this investigation with the aid of the many ingenious mechanisms of modern science, and has published the results.[15] He shows that during violent expiration the external, the intra-ocular, and the retro-ocular vessels of the eye are all affected in two ways, namely by the increased pressure of the blood in the arteries, and by the return of the blood in the veins being impeded. It is, therefore, certain that both the arteries and the veins of the eye are more or less distended during violent expiration. The evidence in detail may be found in Professor Donders' valuable memoir. We see the effects on the veins of the head, in their prominence, and in the purple colour of the face of a man who coughs violently from being half choked. I may mention, on the same authority, that the whole eye certainly advances a little during each violent expiration. This is due to the dilatation of the retro-ocular vessels, and might have been expected from the intimate connection of the eye and brain; the brain being known to rise and fall with each respiration, when a portion of the skull has been removed; and as may be seen along the unclosed sutures of infants' heads. This also, I presume, is the reason that the eyes of a strangled man appear as if they were starting from their sockets.

[14] I am greatly indebted to Mr. Bowman for having introduced me to Prof. Donders, and for his aid in persuading this great physiologist to undertake the investigation of the present subject. I am likewise much indebted to Mr. Bowman for having given me, with the utmost kindness, information on many points.

[15] This memoir first appeared in the 'Nederlandsch Archief voor Genees en Natuurkiinde,' Deel 5, 1870. It has been translated by Dr. W. D. Moore, under the title of "On the Action of the Eyelids in determination of Blood from expiratory effort," in 'Archives of Medicine,' edited by Dr. L. S. Beale, 1870, vol. v. p. 20.

With respect to the protection of the eye during violent expiratory efforts by the pressure of the eyelids, Professor Donders concludes from his various observations that this action certainly limits or entirely removes the dilatation of the vessels.[16] At such times, he adds, we not unfrequently see the hand involuntarily laid upon the eyelids, as if the better to support and defend the eyeball.

[16] Prof. Donders remarks (ibid. p. 28), that, "After injury to the eye, after operations, and in some forms of internal inflammation, we attach great value to the uniform support of the closed eyelids, and we increase this in many instances by the application of a bandage. In both cases we carefully endeavour to avoid great expiratory pressure, the disadvantage of which is well known." Mr. Bowman informs me that in the excessive photophobia, accompanying what is called scrofulous ophthalmia in children, when the light is so very painful that during weeks or months it is constantly excluded by the most forcible closure of the lids, he has often been struck on opening the lids by the paleness of the eye,— not an unnatural paleness, but an absence of the redness that might have been expected when the surface is somewhat inflamed, as is then usually the case; and this paleness he is inclined to attribute to the forcible closure of the eyelids.

Nevertheless much evidence cannot at present be advanced to prove that the eye actually suffers injury from the want of support during violent expiration; but there is some. It is "a fact that forcible expiratory efforts in violent coughing or vomiting, and especially in sneezing, sometimes give rise to ruptures of the little (external) vessels" of the eye.[17] With respect to the internal vessels, Dr. Gunning has lately recorded a case of exophthalmos in consequence of whooping-cough, which in his opinion depended on the rupture of the deeper vessels; and another analogous case has been recorded. But a mere sense of discomfort would probably suffice to lead to the associated habit of protecting the eyeball by the contraction of the surrounding muscles. Even the expectation or chance of injury would probably be sufficient, in the same manner as an object moving too near the eye induces involuntary winking of the eyelids. We may, therefore, safely conclude from Sir C. Bell's observations, and more especially from the more careful investigations by Professor Donders, that the firm closure of the eyelids during the screaming of children is an action full of meaning and of real service.

We have already seen that the contraction of the orbicular muscles leads to the drawing up of the upper lip, and consequently, if the mouth is kept widely open, to the drawing down of the corners by the contraction of the depressor muscles. The formation of the naso-labial fold on the cheeks likewise follows from the drawing up of the upper lip. Thus all the chief expressive movements of the face during crying apparently result from the contraction of the muscles round the eyes. We shall also find that the shedding of tears depends on, or at least stands in some connection with, the contraction of these same muscles.

[17] Donders, ibid. p. 36.

In some of the foregoing cases, especially in those of sneezing and coughing, it is possible that the contraction of the orbicular muscles may serve in addition to protect the eyes from too severe a jar or vibration. I think so, because dogs and cats, in crunching hard bones, always close their eyelids, and at least sometimes in sneezing; though dogs do not do so whilst barking loudly. Mr. Sutton carefully observed for me a young orang and chimpanzee, and he found that both always closed their eyes in sneezing and coughing, but not whilst screaming violently. I gave a small pinch of snuff to a monkey of the American division, namely, a Cebus, and it closed its eyelids whilst sneezing; but not on a subsequent occasion whilst uttering loud cries.

Cause of the secretion of tears.—It is an important fact which must be considered in any theory of the secretion of tears from the mind being affected, that whenever the muscles round the eyes are strongly and involuntarily contracted in order to compress the blood-vessels and thus to protect the eyes, tears are secreted, often in sufficient abundance to roll down the cheeks. This occurs under the most opposite emotions, and under no emotion at all. The sole exception, and this is only a partial one, to the existence of a relation between the involuntary and strong contraction of these muscles and the secretion of tears is that of young infants, who, whilst screaming violently with their eyelids firmly closed, do not commonly weep until they have attained the age of from two to three or four months. Their eyes, however, become suffused with tears at a much earlier age. It would appear, as already remarked, that the lacrymal glands do not, from the want of practice or some other cause, come to full functional activity at a very early period of life. With children at a somewhat later age, crying out or wailing from any distress is so regularly accompanied by the shedding of tears, that weeping and crying are synonymous terms.[18]

Under the opposite emotion of great joy or amusement, as long as laughter is moderate there is hardly any contraction of the muscles round the eyes, so that there is no frowning; but when peals of loud laughter are uttered, with rapid and violent spasmodic expirations, tears stream down the face. I have more than once noticed the face of a person, after a paroxysm of violent laughter, and I could see that the orbicular muscles and those running to the upper lip were still partially contracted, which together with the tear-stained cheeks gave to the upper half of the face an expression not to be distinguished from that of a child still blubbering from grief. The fact of tears streaming down the face during violent laughter is common to all the races of mankind, as we shall see in a future chapter.

In violent coughing especially when a person is half-choked, the face becomes purple, the veins distended, the orbicular muscles strongly contracted, and tears run down the cheeks. Even after a fit of ordinary coughing, almost every one has to wipe his eyes. In violent vomiting or retching, as I have myself experienced and seen in others, the orbicular muscles are strongly contracted, and tears sometimes flow freely down the cheeks. It has been suggested to me that this may be due to irritating matter being injected into the nostrils, and causing by reflex action the secretion of tears. Accordingly I asked one of my informants, a surgeon, to attend to the effects of retching when nothing was thrown up from the stomach; and, by an odd coincidence, he himself suffered the next morning from an attack of retching, and three days subsequently observed a lady under a similar attack; and he is certain that in neither case an atom of matter was ejected from the stomach; yet the orbicular muscles were strongly contracted, and tears freely secreted. I can also speak positively to the energetic contraction of these same muscles round the eyes, and to the coincident free secretion of tears, when the abdominal muscles act with unusual force in a downward direction on the intestinal canal.

[18] Mr. Hensleigh Wedgwood (Dict. of English Etymology, 1859, vol. i. p. 410) says, "the verb to weep comes from Anglo-Saxon wop, the primary meaning of which is simply outcry."

Yawning commences with a deep inspiration, followed by a long and forcible expiration; and at the same time almost all the muscles of the body are strongly contracted, including those round the eyes. During this act tears are often secreted, and I have seen them even rolling down the cheeks.

I have frequently observed that when persons scratch some point which itches intolerably, they forcibly close their eyelids; but they do not, as I believe, first draw a deep breath and then expel it with force; and I have never noticed that the eyes then become filled with tears; but I am not prepared to assert that this does not occur. The forcible closure of the eyelids is, perhaps, merely a part of that general action by which almost all the muscles of the body are at the same time rendered rigid. It is quite different from the gentle closure of the eyes which often accompanies, as Gratiolet remarks,[19] the smelling a delicious odour, or the tasting a delicious morsel, and which probably originates in the desire to shut out any disturbing impression through the eyes.

[19] 'De la Physionomie,' 1865, p. 217.

Professor Donders writes to me to the following effect: "I have observed some cases of a very curious affection when, after a slight rub (attouchement), for example, from the friction of a coat, which caused neither a wound nor a contusion, spasms of the orbicular muscles occurred, with a very profuse flow of tears, lasting about one hour. Subsequently, sometimes after an interval of several weeks, violent spasms of the same muscles re-occurred, accompanied by the secretion of tears, together with primary or secondary redness of the eye." Mr. Bowman informs me that be has occasionally observed closely analogous cases, and that, in some of these, there was no redness or inflammation of the eyes.

I was anxious to ascertain whether there existed in any of the lower animals a similar relation between the contraction of the orbicular muscles during violent expiration and the secretion of tears; but there are very few animals which contract these muscles in a prolonged manner, or which shed tears. The Macacus maurus, which formerly wept so copiously in the Zoological Gardens, would have been a fine case for observation; but the two monkeys now there, and which are believed to belong to the same species, do not weep. Nevertheless they were carefully observed by Mr. Bartlett and myself, whilst screaming loudly, and they seemed to contract these muscles; but they moved about their cages so rapidly, that it was difficult to observe with certainty. No other monkey, as far as I have been able to ascertain, contracts its orbicular muscles whilst screaming.

The Indian elephant is known sometimes to weep. Sir E. Tennent, in describing these which he saw captured and bound in Ceylon, says, some "lay motionless on the ground, with no other indication of suffering than the tears which suffused their eyes and flowed incessantly." Speaking of another elephant he says, "When overpowered and made fast, his grief was most affecting; his violence sank to utter prostration, and he lay on the ground, uttering choking cries, with tears trickling down his cheeks."[20] In the Zoological Gardens the keeper of the Indian elephants positively asserts that he has several times seen tears rolling down the face of the old female, when distressed by the removal of the young one. Hence I was extremely anxious to ascertain, as an extension of the relation between the contraction of the orbicular muscles and the shedding of tears in man, whether elephants when screaming or trumpeting loudly contract these muscles. At Mr. Bartlett's desire the keeper ordered the old and the young elephant to trumpet; and we repeatedly saw in both animals that, just as the trumpeting began, the orbicular muscles, especially the lower ones, were distinctly contracted. On a subsequent occasion the keeper made the old elephant trumpet much more loudly, and invariably both the upper and lower orbicular muscles were strongly contracted, and now in an equal degree. It is a singular fact that the African elephant, which, however, is so different from the Indian species that it is placed by some naturalists in a distinct sub-genus, when made on two occasions to trumpet loudly, exhibited no trace of the contraction of the orbicular muscles.

[20] 'Ceylon,' 3rd edit. 1859, vol. ii. pp. 364, 376. I applied to Mr. Thwaites, in Ceylon, for further information with respect to the weeping of the elephant; and in consequence received a letter from the Rev. Mr Glenie, who, with others, kindly observed for me a herd of recently captured elephants. These, when irritated, screamed violently; but it is remarkable that they never when thus screaming contracted the muscles round the eyes. Nor did they shed tears; and the native hunters asserted that they had never observed elephants weeping. Nevertheless, it appears to me impossible to doubt Sir E. Tennent's distinct details about their weeping, supported as they are by the positive assertion of the keeper in the Zoological Gardens. It is certain that the two elephants in the Gardens, when they began to trumpet loudly, invariably contracted their orbicular muscles. I can reconcile these conflicting statements only by supposing that the recently captured elephants in Ceylon, from being enraged or frightened, desired to observe their persecutors, and consequently did not contract their orbicular muscles, so that their vision might not be impeded. Those seen weeping by Sir E. Tennent were prostrate, and had given up the contest in despair. The elephants which trumpeted in the Zoological Gardens at the word of command, were, of course, neither alarmed nor enraged.

From the several foregoing cases with respect to Man, there can, I think, be no doubt that the contraction of the muscles round the eyes, during violent expiration or when the expanded chest is forcibly compressed, is, in some manner, intimately connected with the secretion of tears. This holds good under widely different emotions, and independently of any emotion. It is not, of course, meant that tears cannot be secreted without the contraction of these muscles; for it is notorious that they are often freely shed with the eyelids not closed, and with the brows unwrinkled. The contraction must be both involuntary and prolonged, as during a choking fit, or energetic, as during a sneeze. The mere involuntary winking of the eyelids, though often repeated, does not bring tears into the eyes. Nor does the voluntary and prolonged contraction of the several surrounding muscles suffice. As the lacrymal glands of children are easily excited, I persuaded my own and several other children of different ages to contract these muscles repeatedly with their utmost force, and to continue doing so as long as they possibly could; but this produced hardly any effect. There was sometimes a little moisture in the eyes, but not more than apparently could be accounted for by the squeezing out of the already secreted tears within the glands.

The nature of the relation between the involuntary and energetic contraction of the muscles round the eyes, and the secretion of tears, cannot be positively ascertained, but a probable view may be suggested. The primary function of the secretion of tears, together with some mucus, is to lubricate the surface of the eye; and a secondary one, as some believe, is to keep the nostrils damp, so that the inhaled air may be moist,[21] and likewise to favour the power of smelling. But another, and at least equally important function of tears, is to wash out particles of dust or other minute objects which may get into the eyes. That this is of great importance is clear from the cases in which the cornea has been rendered opaque through inflammation, caused by particles of dust not being removed, in consequence of the eye and eyelid becoming immovable.[22] The secretion of tears from the irritation of any foreign body in the eye is a reflex action;—that is, the body irritates a peripheral nerve which sends an impression to certain sensory nerve-cells; these transmit an influence to other cells, and these again to the lacrymal glands. The influence transmitted to these glands causes, as there is good reason to believe, the relaxation of the muscular coats of the smaller arteries; this allows more blood to permeate the glandular tissue, and this induces a free secretion of tears. When the small arteries of the face, including those of the retina, are relaxed under very different circumstances, namely, during an intense blush, the lacrymal glands are sometimes affected in a like manner, for the eyes become suffused with tears.

It is difficult to conjecture how many reflex actions have originated, but, in relation to the present case of the affection of the lacrymal glands through irritation of the surface of the eye, it may be worth remarking that, as soon as some primordial form became semi-terrestrial in its habits, and was liable to get particles of dust into its eyes, if these were not washed out they would cause much irritation; and on the principle of the radiation of nerve-force to adjoining nerve-cells, the lacrymal glands would be stimulated to secretion. As this would often recur, and as nerve-force readily passes along accustomed channels, a slight irritation would ultimately suffice to cause a free secretion of tears.

[21] Bergeon, as quoted in the 'Journal of Anatomy and Physiology,' Nov. 1871, p. 235.

[22] See, for instance, a case given by Sir Charles Bell, 'Philosophical Transactions,' 1823, p. 177.

As soon as by this, or by some other means, a reflex action of this nature had been established and rendered easy, other stimulants applied to the surface of the eye—such as a cold wind, slow inflammatory action, or a blow on the eyelids— would cause a copious secretion of tears, as we know to be the case. The glands are also excited into action through the irritation of adjoining parts. Thus when the nostrils are irritated by pungent vapours, though the eyelids may be kept firmly closed, tears are copiously secreted; and this likewise follows from a blow on the nose, for instance from a boxing-glove. A stinging switch on the face produces, as I have seen, the same effect. In these latter cases the secretion of tears is an incidental result, and of no direct service. As all these parts of the face, including the lacrymal glands, are supplied with branches of the same nerve, namely, the fifth, it is in some degree intelligible that the effects of the excitement of any one branch should spread to the nerve-cells or roots of the other branches.

The internal parts of the eye likewise act, under certain conditions, in a reflex manner on the lacrymal glands. The following statements have been kindly communicated to me by Mr. Bowman; but the subject is a very intricate one, as all the parts of the eye are so intimately related together, and are so sensitive to various stimulants. A strong light acting on the retina, when in a normal condition, has very little tendency to cause lacrymation; but with unhealthy children having small, old-standing ulcers on the cornea, the retina becomes excessively sensitive to light, and exposure even to common daylight causes forcible and sustained closure of the lids, and a profuse flow of tears. When persons who ought to begin the use of convex glasses habitually strain the waning power of accommodation, an undue secretion of tears very often follows, and the retina is liable to become unduly sensitive to light. In general, morbid affections of the surface of the eye, and of the ciliary structures concerned in the accommodative act, are prone to be accompanied with excessive secretion of tears. Hardness of the eyeball, not rising to inflammation, but implying a want of balance between the fluids poured out and again taken up by the intra-ocular vessels, is not usually attended with any lacrymation. When the balance is on the other side, and the eye becomes too soft, there is a greater tendency to lacrymation. Finally, there are numerous morbid states and structural alterations of the eyes, and even terrible inflammations, which may be attended with little or no secretion of tears.

It also deserves notice, as indirectly bearing on our subject, that the eye and adjoining parts are subject to an extraordinary number of reflex and associated movements, sensations, and actions, besides those relating to the lacrymal glands. When a bright light strikes the retina of one eye alone, the iris contracts, but the iris of the other eye moves after a measurable interval of time. The iris likewise moves in accommodation to near or distant vision, and when the two eyes are made to converge.[23] Every one knows how irresistibly the eyebrows are drawn down under an intensely bright light. The eyelids also involuntarily wink when an object is moved near the eyes, or a sound is suddenly heard. The well-known case of a bright light causing some persons to sneeze is even more curious; for nerve-force here radiates from certain nerve-cells in connection with the retina, to the sensory nerve-cells of the nose, causing it to tickle; and from these, to the cells which command the various respiratory muscles (the orbiculars included) which expel the air in so peculiar a manner that it rushes through the nostrils alone.

To return to our point: why are tears secreted during a screaming-fit or other violent expiratory efforts? As a slight blow on the eyelids causes a copious secretion of tears, it is at least possible that the spasmodic contraction of the eyelids, by pressing strongly on the eyeball, should in a similar manner cause some secretion. This seems possible, although the voluntary contraction of the same muscles does not produce any such effect. We know that a man cannot voluntarily sneeze or cough with nearly the same force as he does automatically; and so it is with the contraction of the orbicular muscles: Sir C. Bell experimented on them, and found that by suddenly and forcibly closing the eyelids in the dark, sparks of light are seen, like those caused by tapping the eyelids with the fingers; "but in sneezing the compression is both more rapid and more forcible, and the sparks are more brilliant." That these sparks are due to the contraction of the eyelids is clear, because if they "are held open during the act of sneezing, no sensation of light will be experienced." In the peculiar cases referred to by Professor Donders and Mr. Bowman, we have seen that some weeks after the eye has been very slightly injured, spasmodic contractions of the eyelids ensue, and these are accompanied by a profuse flow of tears. In the act of yawning, the tears are apparently due solely to the spasmodic contraction of the muscles round the eyes. Notwithstanding these latter cases, it seems hardly credible that the pressure of the eyelids on the surface of the eye, although effected spasmodically and therefore with much greater force than can be done voluntarily, should be sufficient to cause by reflex action the secretion of tears in the many cases in which this occurs during violent expiratory efforts.

[23] See, on these several points, Prof. Donders 'On the Anomalies of Accommodation and Refraction of the Eye,' 1864, p. 573.

Another cause may come conjointly into play. We have seen that the internal parts of the eye, under certain conditions act in a reflex manner on the lacrymal glands. We know that during violent expiratory efforts the pressure of the arterial blood within the vessels of the eye is increased, and that the return of the venous blood is impeded. It seems, therefore, not improbable that the distension of the ocular vessels, thus induced, might act by reflection on the lacrymal glands—the effects due to the spasmodic pressure of the eyelids on the surface of the eye being thus increased.

In considering how far this view is probable, we should bear in mind that the eyes of infants have been acted on in this double manner during numberless generations, whenever they have screamed; and on the principle of nerve-force readily passing along accustomed channels, even a moderate compression of the eyeballs and a moderate distension of the ocular vessels would ultimately come, through habit, to act on the glands. We have an analogous case in the orbicular muscles being almost always contracted in some slight degree, even during a gentle crying-fit, when there can be no distension of the vessels and no uncomfortable sensation excited within the eyes.

Moreover, when complex actions or movements have long been performed in strict association together, and these are from any cause at first voluntarily and afterwards habitually checked, then if the proper exciting conditions occur, any part of the action or movement which is least under the control of the will, will often still be involuntarily performed. The secretion by a gland is remarkably free from the influence of the will; therefore, when with the advancing age of the individual, or with the advancing culture of the race, the habit of crying out or screaming is restrained, and there is consequently no distension of the blood-vessels of the eye, it may nevertheless well happen that tears should still be secreted. We may see, as lately remarked, the muscles round the eyes of a person who reads a pathetic story, twitching or trembling in so slight a degree as hardly to be detected. In this case there has been no screaming and no distension of the blood-vessels, yet through habit certain nerve-cells send a small amount of nerve-force to the cells commanding the muscles round the eyes; and they likewise send some to the cells commanding the lacrymal glands, for the eyes often become at the same time just moistened with tears. If the twitching of the muscles round the eyes and the secretion of tears had been completely prevented, nevertheless it is almost certain that there would have been some tendency to transmit nerve-force in these same directions; and as the lacrymal glands are remarkably free from the control of the will, they would be eminently liable still to act, thus betraying, though there were no other outward signs, the pathetic thoughts which were passing through the person's mind.

As a further illustration of the view here advanced, I may remark that if, during an early period of life, when habits of all kinds are readily established, our infants, when pleased, had been accustomed to utter loud peals of laughter (during which the vessels of their eyes are distended) as often and as continuously as they have yielded when distressed to screaming-fits, then it is probable that in after life tears would have been as copiously and as regularly secreted under the one state of mind as under the other. Gentle laughter, or a smile, or even a pleasing thought, would have sufficed to cause a moderate secretion of tears. There does indeed exist an evident tendency in this direction, as will be seen in a future chapter, when we treat of the tender feelings. With the Sandwich Islanders, according to Freycinet,[24] tears are actually recognized as a sign of happiness; but we should require better evidence on this head than that of a passing voyager. So again if our infants, during many generations, and each of them during several years, had almost daily suffered from prolonged choking-fits, during which the vessels of the eye are distended and tears copiously secreted, then it is probable, such is the force of associated habit, that during after life the mere thought of a choke, without any distress of mind, would have sufficed to bring tears into our eyes.

To sum up this chapter, weeping is probably the result of some such chain of events as follows. Children, when wanting food or suffering in any way, cry out loudly, like the young of most other animals, partly as a call to their parents for aid, and partly from any great exertion serving relief. Prolonged screaming inevitably leads to the gorging of the blood-vessels of the eye; and this will have led, at first consciously and at last habitually, to the contraction of the muscles round the eyes in order to protect them. At the same time the spasmodic pressure on the surface of the eye, and the distension of the vessels within the eye, without necessarily entailing any conscious sensation, will have affected, through reflex action, the lacrymal glands. Finally, through the three principles of nerve-force readily passing along accustomed channels—of association, which is so widely extended in its power—and of certain actions, being more under the control of the will than others—it has come to pass that suffering readily causes the secretion of tears, without being necessarily accompanied by any other action.

[24] Quoted by Sir J. Lubbock, 'Prehistoric Times,' 1865, p. 458.

Although in accordance with this view we must look at weeping as an incidental result, as purposeless as the secretion of tears from a blow outside the eye, or as a sneeze from the retina being affected by a bright light, yet this does not present any difficulty in our understanding how the secretion of tears serves as a relief to suffering. And by as much as the weeping is more violent or hysterical, by so much will the relief be greater,— on the same principle that the writhing of the whole body, the grinding of the teeth, and the uttering of piercing shrieks, all give relief under an agony of pain. CHAPTER VII.


General effect of grief on the system—Obliquity of the eyebrows under suffering—On the cause of the obliquity of the eyebrows— On the depression of the corners of the mouth.

AFTER the mind has suffered from an acute paroxysm of grief, and the cause still continues, we fall into a state of low spirits; or we may be utterly cast down and dejected. Prolonged bodily pain, if not amounting to an agony, generally leads to the same state of mind. If we expect to suffer, we are anxious; if we have no hope of relief, we despair.

Persons suffering from excessive grief often seek relief by violent and almost frantic movements, as described in a former chapter; but when their suffering is somewhat mitigated, yet prolonged, they no longer wish for action, but remain motionless and passive, or may occasionally rock themselves to and fro. The circulation becomes languid; the face pale; the muscles flaccid; the eyelids droop; the head hangs on the contracted chest; the lips, checks, and lower jaw all sink downwards from their own weight. Hence all the features are lengthened; and the face of a person who hears bad news is said to fall. A party of natives in Tierra del Fuego endeavoured to explain to us that their friend, the captain of a sealing vessel, was out of spirits, by pulling down their cheeks with both hands, so as to make their faces as long as possible. Mr. Bunnet informs me that the Australian aborigines when out of spirits have a chop-fallen appearance. After prolonged suffering the eyes become dull and lack expression, and are often slightly suffused with tears. The eyebrows not rarely are rendered oblique, which is due to their inner ends being raised. This produces peculiarly-formed wrinkles on the forehead, which are very different from those of a simple frown; though in some cases a frown alone may be present. The corners of the mouth are drawn downwards, which is so universally recognized as a sign of being out of spirits, that it is almost proverbial.

The breathing becomes slow and feeble, and is often interrupted by deep sighs. As Gratiolet remarks, whenever our attention is long concentrated on any subject, we forget to breathe, and then relieve ourselves by a deep inspiration; but the sighs of a sorrowful person, owing to his slow respiration and languid circulation, are eminently characteristic.[1] As the grief of a person in this state occasionally recurs and increases into a paroxysm, spasms affect the respiratory muscles, and he feels as if something, the so-called globus hystericus, was rising in his throat. These spasmodic movements are clearly allied to the sobbing of children, and are remnants of those severer spasms which occur when a person is said to choke from excessive grief.[2]

[1] The above descriptive remarks are taken in part from my own observations, but chiefly from Gratiolet ('De la Physionomie,' pp. 53, 337; on Sighing, 232), who has well treated this whole subject. See, also, Huschke. 'Mimices et Physiognomices, Fragmentum Physiologicitim,' 1821, p. 21. On the dulness of the eyes, Dr. Piderit, 'Mimik und Physiognomik,' 1867, s. 65.

[2] On the action of grief on the organs of respiration,

Obliquity of the eyebrows.—Two points alone in the above description require further elucidation, and these are very curious ones; namely, the raising of the inner ends of the eyebrows, and the drawing down of the corners of the mouth. With respect to the eyebrows, they may occasionally be seen to assume an oblique position in persons suffering from deep dejection or anxiety; for instance, I have observed this movement in a mother whilst speaking about her sick son; and it is sometimes excited by quite trifling or momentary causes of real or pretended distress. The eyebrows assume this position owing to the contraction of certain muscles (namely, the orbiculars, corrugators, and pyramidals of the nose, which together tend to lower and contract the eyebrows) being partially checked by the more powerful action of the central fascim of the frontal muscle. These latter fasciae by their contraction raise the inner ends alone of the eyebrows; and as the corrugators at the same time draw the eyebrows together, their inner ends become puckered into a fold or lump. This fold is a highly characteristic point in the appearance of the eyebrows when rendered oblique, as may be seen in figs. 2 and 5, Plate II. The eyebrows are at the same time somewhat roughened, owing to the hairs being made to project. Dr. J. Crichton Browne has also often noticed in melancholic patients who keep their eyebrows persistently oblique, "a peculiar acute arching of the upper eyelid." A trace of this may be observed by comparing the right and left eyelids of the young man in the photograph (fig. 2, Plate II.); for he was not able to act equally on both eyebrows. This is also shown by the unequal furrows on the two sides of his forehead. The acute arching of the eyelids

see more especially Sir C. Bell, 'Anatomy of Expression,' 3rd edit. 1844, p. 151. depends, I believe, on the inner end alone of the eyebrows being raised; for when the whole eyebrow is elevated and arched, the upper eyelid follows in a slight degree the same movement.

But the most conspicuous result of the opposed contraction of the above-named muscles, is exhibited by the peculiar furrows formed on the forehead. These muscles, when thus in conjoint yet opposed action, may be called, for the sake of brevity, the grief-muscles. When a person elevates his eyebrows by the contraction of the whole frontal muscle, transverse wrinkles extend across the whole breadth of the forehead; but in the present case the middle fasciae alone are contracted; consequently, transverse furrows are formed across the middle part alone of the forehead. The skin over the exterior parts of both eyebrows is at the same time drawn downwards and smooth, by the contraction of the outer portions of the orbicular muscles. The eyebrows are likewise brought together through the simultaneous contraction of the corrugators;[3] and this latter action generates vertical furrows, separating the exterior and lowered part of the skin of the forehead from the central and raised part. The union of these vertical furrows with the central and transverse furrows (see figs. 2 and 3) produces a mark on the forehead which has been compared to a horse-shoe; but the furrows more strictly form three sides of a quadrangle. They are often conspicuous on the foreheads of adult or nearly adult persons, when their eyebrows are made oblique; but with young children, owing to their skin not easily wrinkling, they are rarely seen, or mere traces of them can be detected.

These peculiar furrows are best represented in fig. 3, Plate II., on the forehead of a young lady who has the power in an unusual degree of voluntarily acting on the requisite muscles. As she was absorbed in the attempt, whilst being photographed, her expression was not at all one of grief; I have therefore given the forehead alone. Fig. 1 on the same plate, copied from Dr. Duchenne's work 4 represents, on a reduced scale, the face, in its natural state, of a young man who was a good actor. In fig. 2 he is shown simulating grief, but the

[3] In the foregoing remarks on the manner in which the eyebrows are made oblique, I have followed what seems to be the universal opinion of all the anatomists, whose works I have consulted on the action of the above-named muscles, or with whom I have conversed. Hence throughout this work I shall take a similar view of the action of the corrugator supercilii, orbicularis, pyramidalis nasi, and frontalis muscles. Dr. Duchenne, however, believes, and every conclusion at which he arrives deserves serious consideration, that it is the corrugator, called by him the sourcilier, which raises the inner corner of the eyebrows and is antagonistic to the upper and inner part of the orbicular muscle, as well as to the pyramidalis nasi (see Mecanisme de la Phys. Humaine, 1862, folio, art. v., text and figures 19 to 29: octavo edit. 1862, p. 43 text). He admits, however, that the corrugator draws together the eyebrows, causing vertical furrows above the base of the nose, or a frown. He further believes that towards the outer two-thirds of the eyebrow the corrugator acts in conjunction with the upper orbicular muscle; both here standing in antagonism to the frontal muscle. I am unable to understand, judging from Henle's drawings (woodcut, fig. 3), how the corrugator can act in the manner described by Duchenue. See, also, oil this subject, Prof. Donders' remarks in the 'Archives of Medicine,' 1870, vol. v. p. 34. Mr. J. Wood, who is so well known for his careful study of the muscles of the human frame, informs me that he believes the account which I have given of the action of the corrugator to be correct. But this is not a point of any importance with respect to the expression which is caused by the obliquity of the eyebrows, nor of much importance to the theory of its origin.

'I am greatly indebted to Dr. Duchenne for permission to have these two photographs (figs. 1 and 2) reproduced by the heliotype process from his work in folio. Many of the foregoing remarks on the furrowing of the skin, when the eyebrows are rendered oblique, are taken from his excellent discussion on this subject. two eyebrows, as before remarked, are not equally acted on. That the expression is true, may be inferred from the fact that out of fifteen persons, to whom the original photograph was shown, without any clue to what was intended being given them, fourteen immediately answered, "despairing sorrow," "suffering endurance," "melancholy," and so forth. The history of fig. 5 is rather curious: I saw the photograph in a shop-window, and took it to Mr. Rejlander for the sake of finding out by whom it had been made; remarking to him how pathetic the expression was. He answered, "I made it, and it was likely to be pathetic, for the boy in a few minutes burst out crying." He then showed me a photograph of the same boy in a placid state, which I have had (fig. 4) reproduced. In fig. 6, a trace of obliquity in the eyebrows may be detected; but this figure, as well as fig. 7, is given to show the depression of the corners of the mouth, to which subject I shall presently refer.

Few persons, without some practice, can voluntarily act on their grief-muscles; but after repeated trials a considerable number succeed, whilst others never can. The degree of obliquity in the eyebrows, whether assumed voluntarily or unconsciously, differs much in different persons. With some who apparently have unusually strong pyramidal muscles, the contraction of the central fasciae of the frontal muscle, although it may be energetic, as shown by the quadrangular furrows on the forehead, does not raise the inner ends of the eyebrows, but only prevents their being so much lowered as they otherwise would have been. As far as I have been able to observe, the grief-muscles are brought into action much more frequently by children and women than by men. They are rarely acted on, at least with grown-up persons, from bodily pain, but almost exclusively from mental distress. Two persons who, after some practice, succeeded in acting on their grief-muscles, found by looking at a mirror that when they made their eyebrows oblique, they unintentionally at the same time depressed the corners of their mouths; and this is often the case when the expression is naturally assumed.

The power to bring the grief-muscles freely into play appears to be hereditary, like almost every other human faculty. A lady belonging to a family famous for having produced an extraordinary number of great actors and actresses, and who can herself give this expression "with singular precision," told Dr. Crichton Browne that all her family had possessed the power in a remarkable degree. The same hereditary tendency is said to have extended, as I likewise hear from Dr. Browne, to the last descendant of the family, which gave rise to Sir Walter Scott's novel of 'Red Gauntlet;' but the hero is described as contracting his forehead into a horseshoe mark from any strong emotion. I have also seen a young woman whose forehead seemed almost habitually thus contracted, independently of any emotion being at the time felt.

The grief-muscles are not very frequently brought into play; and as the action is often momentary, it easily escapes observation. Although the expression, when observed, is universally and instantly recognized as that of grief or anxiety, yet not one person out of a thousand who has never studied the subject, is able to say precisely what change passes over the sufferer's face. Hence probably it is that this expression is not even alluded to, as far as I have noticed, in any work of fiction, with the exception of 'Red Gauntlet' and of one other novel; and the authoress of the latter, as I am informed, belongs to the famous family of actors just alluded to; so that her attention may have been specially called to the subject.

The ancient Greek sculptors were familiar with the expression, as shown in the statues of the Laocoon and Arretino; but, as Duchenne remarks, they carried the transverse furrows across the whole breadth of the forehead, and thus committed a great anatomical mistake: this is likewise the case in some modern statues. It is, however, more probable that these wonderfully accurate observers intentionally sacrificed truth for the sake of beauty, than that they made a mistake; for rectangular furrows on the forehead would not have had a grand appearance on the marble. The expression, in its fully developed condition, is, as far as I can discover, not often represented in pictures by the old masters, no doubt owing to the same cause; but a lady who is perfectly familiar with this expression, informs me that in Fra Angelico's 'Descent from the Cross,' in Florence, it is clearly exhibited in one of the figures on the right-hand; and I could add a few other instances.

Dr. Crichton Browne, at my request, closely attended to this expression in the numerous insane patients under his care in the West Riding Asylum; and he is familiar with Duchenne's photographs of the action of the grief-muscles. He informs me that they may constantly be seen in energetic action in cases of melancholia, and especially of hypochondria; and that the persistent lines or furrows, due to their habitual contraction, are characteristic of the physiognomy of the insane belonging to these two classes. Dr. Browne carefully observed for me during a considerable period three cases of hypochondria, in which the grief-muscles were persistently contracted. In one of these, a widow, aged 51, fancied that she had lost all her viscera, and that her whole body was empty. She wore an expression of great distress, and beat her semi-closed hands rhythmically together for hours. The grief-muscles were permanently contracted, and the upper eyelids arched. This condition lasted for months; she then recovered, and her countenance resumed its natural expression. A second case presented nearly the same peculiarities, with the addition that the corners of the mouth were depressed.

Mr. Patrick Nicol has also kindly observed for me several cases in the Sussex Lunatic Asylum, and has communicated to me full details with respect to three of them; but they need not here be given. From his observations on melancholic patients, Mr. Nicol concludes that the inner ends of the eyebrows are almost always more or less raised, with the wrinkles on the forehead more or less plainly marked. In the case of one young woman, these wrinkles were observed to be in constant slight play or movement. In some cases the corners of the mouth are depressed, but often only in a slight degree. Some amount of difference in the expression of the several melancholic patients could almost always be observed. The eyelids generally droop; and the skin near their outer corners and beneath them is wrinkled. The naso-labial fold, which runs from the wings of the nostrils to the corners of the mouth, and which is so conspicuous in blubbering children, is often plainly marked in these patients.

Although with the insane the grief-muscles often act persistently; yet in ordinary cases they are sometimes brought unconsciously into momentary action by ludicrously slight causes. A gentleman rewarded a young lady by an absurdly small present; she pretended to be offended, and as she upbraided him, her eyebrows became extremely oblique, with the forehead properly wrinkled. Another young lady and a youth, both in the highest spirits, were eagerly talking together with extraordinary rapidity; and I noticed that, as often as the young lady was beaten, and could not get out her words fast enough, her eyebrows went obliquely upwards, and rectangular furrows were formed on her forehead. She thus each time hoisted a flag of distress; and this she did half-a-dozen times in the course of a few minutes. I made no remark on the subject, but on a subsequent occasion I asked her to act on her grief-muscles; another girl who was present, and who could do so voluntarily, showing her what was intended. She tried repeatedly, but utterly failed; yet so slight a cause of distress as not being able to talk quickly enough, sufficed to bring these muscles over and over again into energetic action.

The expression of grief, due to the contraction of the grief-muscles, is by no means confined to Europeans, but appears to be common to all the races of mankind. I have, at least, received trustworthy accounts in regard to Hindoos, Dhangars (one of the aboriginal hill-tribes of India, and therefore belonging to a quite distinct race from the Hindoos), Malays, Negroes and Australians. With respect to the latter, two observers answer my query in the affirmative, but enter into no details. Mr. Taplin, however, appends to my descriptive remarks the words "this is exact." With respect to negroes, the lady who told me of Fra Angelico's picture, saw a negro towing a boat on the Nile, and as he encountered an obstruction, she observed his grief-muscles in strong action, with the middle of the forehead well wrinkled. Mr. Geach watched a Malay man in Malacca, with the corners of his mouth much depressed, the eyebrows oblique, with deep short grooves on the forehead. This expression lasted for a very short time; and Mr. Geach remarks it "was a strange one, very much like a person about to cry at some great loss."

In India Mr. H. Erskine found that the natives were familiar with this expression; and Mr. J. Scott, of the Botanic Gardens, Calcutta, has obligingly sent me a full description of two cases. He observed during some time, himself unseen, a very young Dhangar woman from Nagpore, the wife of one of the gardeners, nursing her baby who was at the point of death; and he distinctly saw the eyebrows raised at the inner corners, the eyelids drooping, the forehead wrinkled in the middle, the mouth slightly open, with the corners much depressed. He then came from behind a screen of plants and spoke to the poor woman, who started, burst into a bitter flood of tears, and besought him to cure her baby. The second case was that of a Hindustani man, who from illness and poverty was compelled to sell his favourite goat. After receiving the money, he repeatedly looked at the money in his hand and then at the goat, as if doubting whether he would not return it. He went to the goat, which was tied up ready to be led away, and the animal reared up and licked his hands. His eyes then wavered from side to side; his "mouth was partially closed, with the corners very decidedly depressed." At last the poor man seemed to make up his mind that he must part with his goat, and then, as Mr. Scott saw, the eyebrows became slightly oblique, with the characteristic puckering or swelling at the inner ends, but the wrinkles on the forehead were not present. The man stood thus for a minute, then heaving a deep sigh, burst into tears, raised up his two hands, blessed the goat, turned round, and without looking again, went away.

On the cause of the obliquity of the eyebrows under suffering.— During several years no expression seemed to me so utterly perplexing as this which we are here considering. Why should grief or anxiety cause the central fasciae alone of the frontal muscle together with those round the eyes, to contract? Here we seem to have a complex movement for the sole purpose of expressing grief; and yet it is a comparatively rare expression, and often overlooked. I believe the explanation is not so difficult as it at first appears. Dr. Duchenne gives a photograph of the young man before referred to, who, when looking upwards at a strongly illuminated surface, involuntarily contracted his grief-muscles in an exaggerated manner. I had entirely forgotten this photograph, when on a very bright day with the sun behind me, I met, whilst on horseback, a girl whose eyebrows, as she looked up at me, became extremely oblique, with the proper furrows on her forehead. I have observed the same movement under similar circumstances on several subsequent occasions. On my return home I made three of my children, without giving them any clue to my object, look as long and as attentively as they could, at the summit of a tall tree standing against an extremely bright sky. With all three, the orbicular, corrugator, and pyramidal muscles were energetically contracted, through reflex action, from the excitement of the retina, so that their eyes might be protected from the bright light. But they tried their utmost to look upwards; and now a curious struggle, with spasmodic twitchings, could be observed between the whole or only the central portion of the frontal muscle, and the several muscles which serve to lower the eyebrows and close the eyelids. The involuntary contraction of the pyramidal caused the basal part of their noses to be transversely and deeply wrinkled. In one of the three children, the whole eyebrows were momentarily raised and lowered by the alternate contraction of the whole frontal muscle and of the muscles surrounding the eyes, so that the whole breadth of the forehead was alternately wrinkled and smoothed. In the other two children the forehead became wrinkled in the middle part alone, rectangular furrows being thus produced; and the eyebrows were rendered oblique, with their inner extremities puckered and swollen,— in the one child in a slight degree, in the other in a strongly marked manner. This difference in the obliquity of the eyebrows apparently depended on a difference in their general mobility, and in the strength of the pyramidal muscles. In both these cases the eyebrows and forehead were acted on under the influence of a strong light, in precisely the same manner, in every characteristic detail, as under the influence of grief or anxiety.

Duchenne states that the pyramidal muscle of the nose is less under the control of the will than are the other muscles round the eyes. He remarks that the young man who could so well act on his grief-muscles, as well as on most of his other facial muscles, could not contract the pyramidals.[5] This power, however, no doubt differs in different persons. The pyramidal muscle serves to draw down the skin of the forehead between the eyebrows, together with their inner extremities. The central fasciae of the frontal are the antagonists of the pyramidal; and if the action of the latter is to be specially checked, these central fasciae must be contracted. So that with persons having powerful pyramidal muscles, if there is under the influence of a bright light an unconscious desire to prevent the lowering of the eyebrows, the central fasciae of the frontal muscle must be brought into play; and their contraction, if sufficiently strong to overmaster the pyramidals, together with the contraction of the corrugator and orbicular muscles, will act in the manner just described on the eyebrows and forehead.

When children scream or cry out, they contract, as we know, the orbicular, corrugator, and pyramidal muscles, primarily for the sake of compressing their eyes, and thus protecting them from being gorged with blood, and secondarily through habit. I therefore expected to find with children, that when they endeavoured either to prevent a crying-fit from coming on, or to stop crying, they would cheek the contraction of the above-named muscles, in the same manner as when looking upwards at a bright light; and consequently that the central fasciae of the frontal muscle would often be brought into play. Accordingly, I began myself to observe children at such times, and asked others, including some medical men, to do the same. It is necessary to observe carefully, as the peculiar opposed action of these muscles is not nearly so plain in children, owing to their foreheads not easily wrinkling, as in adults. But I soon found that the grief-muscles were very frequently brought into distinct action on these occasions. It would be superfluous to give all the cases which have been observed; and I will specify only a few. A little girl, a year and a half old, was teased by some other children, and before bursting into tears her eyebrows became decidedly oblique. With an older girl the same obliquity was observed, with the inner ends of the eyebrows plainly puckered; and at the same time the corners of the mouth were drawn downwards. As soon as she burst into tears, the features all changed and this peculiar expression vanished. Again, after a little boy had been vaccinated, which made him scream and cry violently, the surgeon gave him an orange brought for the purpose, and this pleased the child much; as he stopped crying all the characteristic movements were observed, including the formation of rectangular wrinkles in the middle of the forehead. Lastly, I met on the road a little girl three or four years old, who had been frightened by a dog, and when I asked her what was the matter, she stopped whimpering, and her eyebrows instantly became oblique to an extraordinary degree.

[5] Mecanisme de la Phys. Humaine, Album, p. 15.

Here then, as I cannot doubt, we have the key to the problem why the central fasciae of the frontal muscle and the muscles round the eyes contract in opposition to each other under the influence of grief;—whether their contraction be prolonged, as with the melancholic insane, or momentary, from some trifling cause of distress. We have all of us, as infants, repeatedly contracted our orbicular, corrugator, and pyramidal muscles, in order to protect our eyes whilst screaming; our progenitors before us have done the same during many generations; and though with advancing years we easily prevent, when feeling distressed, the utterance of screams, we cannot from long habit always prevent a slight contraction of the above-named muscles; nor indeed do we observe their contraction in ourselves, or attempt to stop it, if slight. But the pyramidal muscles seem to be less under the command of the will than the other related muscles; and if they be well developed, their contraction can be checked only by the antagonistic contraction of the central fasciae of the frontal muscle. The result which necessarily follows, if these fasciae contract energetically, is the oblique drawing up of the eyebrows, the puckering of their inner ends, and the formation of rectangular furrows on the middle of the forehead. As children and women cry much more freely than men, and as grown-up persons of both sexes rarely weep except from mental distress, we can understand why the grief-muscles are more frequently seen in action, as I believe to be the case, with children and women than with men; and with adults of both sexes from mental distress alone. In some of the cases before recorded, as in that of the poor Dhangar woman and of the Hindustani man, the action of the grief-muscles was quickly followed by bitter weeping. In all cases of distress, whether great or small, our brains tend through long habit to send an order to certain muscles to contract, as if we were still infants on the point of screaming out; but this order we, by the wondrous power of the will, and through habit, are able partially to counteract; although this is effected unconsciously, as far as the means of counteraction are concerned.

On the depression of the corners of the mouth.—This action is effected by the depressores anguili oris (see letter K in figs. 1 and 2). The fibres of this muscle diverge downwards, with the upper convergent ends attached round the angles of the mouth, and to the lower lip a little way within the angles.[6] Some of the fibres appear to be antagonistic to the great zygomatic muscle, and others to the several muscles running to the outer part of the upper lip. The contraction of this muscle draws downwards and outwards the corners of the mouth, including the outer part of the upper lip, and even in a slight degree the wings of the nostrils. When the mouth is closed and this muscle acts, the commissure or line of junction of the two lips forms a curved line with the concavity downwards,[7] and the lips themselves are generally somewhat protruded, especially the lower one. The mouth in this state is well represented in the two photographs (Plate II., figs. 6 and 7) by Mr. Rejlander. The upper boy (fig. 6) had just stopped crying, after receiving a slap on the face from another boy; and the right moment was seized for photographing him.

[6] Henle, Handbuch der Anat. des Menschen, 1858, B. i. s. 148, figs. 68 and 69.

[7] See the account of the action of this muscle by Dr. Duchenne, 'Mecanisme de la Physionomie Humaine, Album (1862), viii. p. 34.

The expression of low spirits, grief or dejection, due to the contraction of this muscle has been noticed by every one who has written on the subject. To say that a person "is down in the mouth," is synonymous with saying that he is out of spirits. The depression of the corners may often be seen, as already stated on the authority of Dr. Crichton Browne and Mr. Nicol, with the melancholic insane, and was well exhibited in some photographs sent to me by the former gentleman, of patients with a strong tendency to suicide. It has been observed with men belonging to various races, namely with Hindoos, the dark hill-tribes of India, Malays, and, as the Rev. Mr. Hagenauer informs me, with the aborigines of Australia.

When infants scream they firmly contract the muscles round their eyes, and this draws up the upper lip; and as they have to keep their mouths widely open, the depressor muscles running to the corners are likewise brought into strong action. This generally, but not invariably, causes a slight angular bend in the lower lip on both sides, near the corners of the mouth. The result of the upper and lower lip being thus acted on is that the mouth assumes a squarish outline. The contraction of the depressor muscle is best seen in infants when not screaming violently, and especially just before they begin, or when they cease to scream. Their little faces then acquire an extremely piteous expression, as I continually observed with my own infants between the ages of about six weeks and two or three months. Sometimes, when they are struggling against a crying-fit, the outline of the mouth is curved in so exaggerated a manner as to be like a horseshoe; and the expression of misery then becomes a ludicrous caricature.

The explanation of the contraction of this muscle, under the influence of low spirits or dejection, apparently follows from the same general principles as in the case of the obliquity of the eyebrows. Dr. Duchenne informs me that he concludes from his observations, now prolonged during many years, that this is one of the facial muscles which is least under the control of the will. This fact may indeed be inferred from what has just been stated with respect to infants when doubtfully beginning to cry, or endeavouring to stop crying; for they then generally command all the other facial muscles more effectually than they do the depressors of the corners of the mouth. Two excellent observers who had no theory on the subject, one of them a surgeon, carefully watched for me some older children and women as with some opposed struggling they very gradually approached the point of bursting out into tears; and both observers felt sure that the depressors began to act before any of the other muscles. Now as the depressors have been repeatedly brought into strong action during infancy in many generations, nerve-force will tend to flow, on the principle of long associated habit, to these muscles as well as to various other facial muscles, whenever in after life even a slight feeling of distress is experienced. But as the depressors are somewhat less under the control of the will than most of the other muscles, we might expect that they would often slightly contract, whilst the others remained passive. It is remarkable how small a depression of the corners of the mouth gives to the countenance an expression of low spirits or dejection, so that an extremely slight contraction of these muscles would be sufficient to betray this state of mind.

I may here mention a trifling observation, as it will serve to sum up our present subject. An old lady with a comfortable but absorbed expression sat nearly opposite to me in a railway carriage. Whilst I was looking at her, I saw that her depressores anguli oris became very slightly, yet decidedly, contracted; but as her countenance remained as placid as ever, I reflected how meaningless was this contraction, and how easily one might be deceived. The thought had hardly occurred to me when I saw that her eyes suddenly became suffused with tears almost to overflowing, and her whole countenance fell. There could now be no doubt that some painful recollection, perhaps that of a long-lost child, was passing through her mind. As soon as her sensorium was thus affected, certain nerve-cells from long habit instantly transmitted an order to all the respiratory muscles, and to those round the mouth, to prepare for a fit of crying. But the order was countermanded by the will, or rather by a later acquired habit, and all the muscles were obedient, excepting in a slight degree the depressores anguli oris. The mouth was not even opened; the respiration was not hurried; and no muscle was affected except those which draw down the corners of the mouth.

As soon as the mouth of this lady began, involuntarily and unconsciously on her part, to assume the proper form for a crying-fit, we may feel almost sure that some nerve-influence would have been transmitted through the long accustomed channels to the various respiratory muscles, as well as to those round the eyes, and to the vaso-motor centre which governs the supply of blood sent to the lacrymal glands. Of this latter fact we have indeed clear evidence in her eyes becoming slightly suffused with tears; and we can understand this, as the lacrymal glands are less under the control of the will than the facial muscles. No doubt there existed at the same time some tendency in the muscles round the eyes at contract, as if for the sake of protecting them from being gorged with blood, but this contraction was completely overmastered, and her brow remained unruffled. Had the pyramidal, corrugator, and orbicular muscles been as little obedient to the will, as they are in many persons, they would have been slightly acted on; and then the central fasciae of the frontal muscle would have contracted in antagonism, and her eyebrows would have become oblique, with rectangular furrows on her forehead. Her countenance would then have expressed still more plainly than it did a state of dejection, or rather one of grief.

Through steps such as these we can understand how it is, that as soon as some melancholy thought passes through the brain, there occurs a just perceptible drawing down of the corners of the mouth, or a slight raising up of the inner ends of the eyebrows, or both movements combined, and immediately afterwards a slight suffusion of tears. A thrill of nerve-force is transmitted along several habitual channels, and produces an effect on any point where the will has not acquired through long habit much power of interference. The above actions may be considered as rudimental vestiges of the screaming-fits, which are so frequent and prolonged during infancy. In this case, as well as in many others, the links are indeed wonderful which connect cause and effect in giving rise to various expressions on the human countenance; and they explain to us the meaning of certain movements, which we involuntarily and unconsciously perform, whenever certain transitory emotions pass through our minds. CHAPTER VIII.


Laughter primarily the expression of joy—Ludicrous ideas— Movements of the features during laughter—Nature of the sound produced—The secretion of tears during loud laughter— Gradation from loud laughter to gentle smiling—High spirits— The expression of love—Tender feelings—Devotion.

JOY, when intense, leads to various purposeless movements— to dancing about, clapping the hands, stamping, &c., and to loud laughter. Laughter seems primarily to be the expression of mere joy or happiness. We clearly see this in children at play, who are almost incessantly laughing. With young persons past childhood, when they are in high spirits, there is always much meaningless laughter. The laughter of the gods is described by Homer as "the exuberance of their celestial joy after their daily banquet." A man smiles—and smiling, as we shall see, graduates into laughter— at meeting an old friend in the street, as he does at any trifling pleasure, such as smelling a sweet perfume.[1] Laura Bridgman, from her blindness and deafness, could not have acquired any expression through imitation, yet when a letter from a beloved friend was communicated to her by gesture-language, she "laughed and clapped her hands, and the colour mounted to her cheeks." On other occasions she has been seen to stamp for joy.[2]

[1] Herbert Spencer, 'Essays Scientific,' &c., 1858, p. 360.

Idiots and imbecile persons likewise afford good evidence that laughter or smiling primarily expresses mere happiness or joy. Dr. Crichton Browne, to whom, as on so many other occasions, I am indebted for the results of his wide experience, informs me that with idiots laughter is the most prevalent and frequent of all the emotional expressions. Many idiots are morose, passionate, restless, in a painful state of mind, or utterly stolid, and these never laugh. Others frequently laugh in a quite senseless manner. Thus an idiot boy, incapable of speech, complained to Dr. Browne, by the aid of signs, that another boy in the asylum had given him a black eye; and this was accompanied by "explosions of laughter and with his face covered with the broadest smiles." There is another large class of idiots who are persistently joyous and benign, and who are constantly laughing or smiling.[3] Their countenances often exhibit a stereotyped smile; their joyousness is increased, and they grin, chuckle, or giggle, whenever food is placed before them, or when they are caressed, are shown bright colours, or hear music. Some of them laugh more than usual when they walk about, or attempt any muscular exertion. The joyousness of most of these idiots cannot possibly be associated, as Dr. Browne remarks, with any distinct ideas: they simply feel pleasure, and express it by laughter or smiles. With imbeciles rather higher in the scale, personal vanity seems to be the commonest cause of laughter, and next to this, pleasure arising from the approbation of their conduct.

[2] F. Lieber on the vocal sounds of L. Bridgman, 'Smithsonian Contributions,' 1851, vol. ii. p. 6.

[3] See, also, Mr. Marshall, in Phil. Transact. 1864, p. 526.

With grown-up persons laughter is excited by causes considerably different from those which suffice during childhood; but this remark hardly applies to smiling. Laughter in this respect is analogous with weeping, which with adults is almost confined to mental distress, whilst with children it is excited by bodily pain or any suffering, as well as by fear or rage. Many curious discussions have been written on the causes of laughter with grown-up persons. The subject is extremely complex. Something incongruous or unaccountable, exciting surprise and some sense of superiority in the laugher, who must be in a happy frame of mind, seems to be the commonest cause.[4] The circumstances must not be of a momentous nature: no poor man would laugh or smile on suddenly hearing that a large fortune had been bequeathed to him. If the mind is strongly excited by pleasurable feelings, and any little unexpected event or thought occurs, then, as Mr. Herbert Spencer remarks,[5] "a large amount of nervous energy, instead of being allowed to expend itself in producing an equivalent amount of the new thoughts and emotion which were nascent, is suddenly checked in its flow." . . . "The excess must discharge itself in some other direction, and there results an efflux through the motor nerves to various classes of the muscles, producing the half-convulsive actions we term laughter." An observation, bearing on this point, was made by a correspondent during the recent siege of Paris, namely, that the German soldiers. after strong excitement from exposure to extreme danger, were particularly apt to burst out into loud laughter at the smallest joke. So again when young children are just beginning to cry, an unexpected event will sometimes suddenly turn their crying into laughter, which apparently serves equally well to expend their superfluous nervous energy.

[4] Mr. Bain ('The Emotions and the Will,' 1865, p. 247) has a long and interesting discussion on the Ludicrous. The quotation above given about the laughter of the gods is taken from this work. See, also, Mandeville, 'The Fable of the Bees,' vol. ii. p. 168.

[5] 'The Physiology of Laughter,' Essays, Second Series, 1863, p. 114.

The imagination is sometimes said to be tickled by a ludicrous idea; and this so-called tickling of the mind is curiously analogous with that of the body. Every one knows how immoderately children laugh, and how their whole bodies are convulsed when they are tickled. The anthropoid apes, as we have seen, likewise utter a reiterated sound, corresponding with our laughter, when they are tickled, especially under the armpits. I touched with a bit of paper the sole of the foot of one of my infants, when only seven days old, and it was suddenly jerked away and the toes curled about, as in an older child. Such movements, as well as laughter from being tickled, are manifestly reflex actions; and this is likewise shown by the minute unstriped muscles, which serve to erect the separate hairs on the body, contracting near a tickled surface.[6] Yet laughter from a ludicrous idea, though involuntary, cannot be called a strictly reflex action. In this case, and in that of laughter from being tickled, the mind must be in a pleasurable condition; a young child, if tickled by a strange man, would scream from fear. The touch must be light, and an idea or event, to be ludicrous, must not be of grave import. The parts of the body which are most easily tickled are those which are not commonly touched, such as the armpits or between the toes, or parts such as the soles of the feet, which are habitually touched by a broad surface; but the surface on which we sit offers a marked exception to this rule. According to Gratiolet,[7] certain nerves are much more sensitive to tickling than others. From the fact that a child can hardly tickle itself, or in a much less degree than when tickled by another person, it seems that the precise point to be touched must not be known; so with the mind, something unexpected— a novel or incongruous idea which breaks through an habitual train of thought— appears to he a strong element in the ludicrous.

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