RECORD: Anon. 1873. [Mocking comments on Expression.] Mr. Charles Darwin at Home. Public Ledger [Memphis, Tennessee] vol. XV, no. 126 (25 January), p. 1.

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe 12.2019. RN1


[page] 1

Mr. Charles Darwin at Home.

From the New York World.)

Mr. Charles Darwin must be a very disagreeable man to have about one's house. A chronic interviewer is a person to be dodged, and a hypochondriac invited to dine with a mad house doctor cannot be expected to display much appetite. But Mr. Darwin has a foible in the matter of his studies which makes him more to be dreaded than Bogney himself. He has been looking at people for twenty-five years, by his own admission, with a view to detect certain phenomena in the facial and other muscles which will go to corroborate his great theory about species. He has peeped over the edge of cradles and watched the innocent, chubby, smiling faces of infancy, and smiled again, but not from affection, but because he saw things to confirm his views. He has sat at the dinner table and watched maidens mince and portly gentlemen gorge their food, courteously plying his hospitalities and leading them on, to make them display their "points" of expression more openly. He has stood by with glances of furtive appreciation while young people whirled in the giddy mazes of the dance, or flirted in windows, or let grand passions shake their bosoms in the recesses of dim alcoves. He has critically given himself up to the raptures of eloquent divines, and recreated in the simple, unconventional gambols of childhood, and scanned the mantling blushes of timid maidenhood, and searched out the sacred secret of paternal love, questioned art, and struck full-handed the various harp of beauty - for what? To gather evidence that, in our highest as well as our lowest passions, we express ourselves like the brutes whom he charges us with being descended from. We may, indeed, be unfortunate in our remote ancestry, but we fancy at least that we have outgrown the connection, and it is impolite, as well as impolitic, to talk of ropes to those whose parents have been hung. We should fancy, if Mr. D. were so unfortunate as to live in Chicago, and were caught looking into his cradle to see if the grimaces of his colic-wrung infant were not essentially ape-like, his wife would be deemed to have good ground for an action of divorce. We feel satisfied that were Mr. D. to invite some of our "Americans abroad" to dine withhim and were to reveal his real thoughts when beholding them thrust their knives down their throats in that unhappy way which so called forth Mr. Thackeray's sympathies, it would be a case for revolvers. Would Mr. Darwin be so injudicious as to advertise the popular preacher under whose ministry he has been sitting, that his gestures and the workings of his mouth remind the philosopher of nothing so much as Mr. Carlyle's Dead Sea apes? Would he dare to evolve the exquisite coy blush and tittering "Oh, don't" with which Arabella permits Claude to squeeze her hand or brush her cheek with his neat mustache, literally from the rage of the vulture or the love of the turtle? But expression, human expression, we mean- fails us, and we do not care to resort to ancestral notes, to give vent to our repugnance at the idea of Mr. Darwin coming among us and taking notes like  Captain Grose, with a view to printing them. We demand to know if John Tyndall is any such person.


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Citation: John van Wyhe, editor. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (http://darwin-online.org.uk/)

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