Charles Bell Essays On The Anatomy And Philosophy Of Expression

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Essays on the Anatomy and Philosophy of Expression (1824)

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THE reprinting of this volume recalls the time when it was written, when we studied together, before the serious pursuits of life were begun. I inscribe it to you, as the just object of my pride as well as of my affection; and that those most naturally interested in us may know how we have been united, so that from the age when they begin to wonder at the strange faces in their uncle's book, they may learn how much brotherly attachment adds to the value of life.


Soho-Square, Oct. 1, 1823



Anatomy stands related to the arts of design, as the grammar of that language in which they address us. The expressions, attitudes, and movements of the human figure, are the characters of this language; which is adapted to convey the effect of historical narration, as well as to show the working of human passion, and give the most striking and lively indications of intellectual power and energy. The art of the painter, considered with a view to these interesting representations, assumes a high character. All the lesser embellishments and minuteness of representation are, by an artist who has those more enlarged views of his profession, regarded as foreign to the main subject: distracting and hurtful to the grand effect, admired only because they have the merit of being accurate imitations, and almost appear to be what they are not. This distinction must be felt, or we shall never see the grand style in painting revived. The painter must not be satisfied to copy and represent what he sees; he must cultivate this talent of imitation, merely as bestowing those facilities which are to give scope to the exertions of his genius, as the instruments and means only which he is to employ for communicating his thoughts, and presenting to others the creations of his fancy. It is by his creative powers alone that he can become truly a painter; and for these he is to trust to original genius, cultivated and enriched by a constant observation of nature. Till he has acquired a poet's eye for nature, and can seize with intuitive quickness the appearances of passion, and all the effects produced upon the body by the operations of the mind, he has not raised himself above the mechanism of his art, nor does he rank with the poet or the historian.

To assist the painter in a department of this inspiring study, is one of the Author's objects in these Essays. He has been desirous, in principles deduced from the structure of man, and the comparative anatomy of animals, to lay a foundation for studying the influence of the mind upon the body; and he ventures to expect great indulgence to an attempt at once so new and so difficult, where there is no authority to consult but that of nature.


After the first edition was published, I was so fortunate as to make discoveries in the Nervous System, which gave a new and extraordinary interest to the subject of these essays. I found that there was a system of nerves, distinguishable by structure and endowments, which had hitherto been confounded with the common nerves; and having traced them through the face, and neck, and body, and compared them in the different classes of animals, it was finally discovered that these nerves were the sole agents in expression, when the frame was wrought under the influence of passion.

Here was secure ground on which to proceed; before this, but vague surmises could be entertained of the nature of expression, since the organs had not been ascertained, or only partially. We witnessed emotions, we felt the sympathies implanted in our nature, nevertheless the description of passion was a mere description; poetical it might be, but never philosophical, since it was not known by what links the organs were excited, nor by what course the influence of the mind was propagated to the muscular frame. We might study to be accurate and minute, but something was wanting,  and the inquirer was thrown back dissatisfied.

In proof of this I take the following extract from Dr. Beattie*.

"Descartes, and some other philosophers, have endeavoured to explain the physical cause which connects a human passion with its correspondent natural sign. They wanted to show, from the principles of


* Dissertations, Moral and Critical, 4to, p. 242.


motion, and of the animal economy, why fear, for example, produces trembling and paleness; why laughter attends the perception of incongruity; why anger inflames the blood, contracts the brows, and distends the nostrils; why shame is accompanied with blushing; why despair fixes the teeth together, distorts the joints, and disfigures the features; why scorn shoots out the lip; why sorrow overflows at the eyes; why envy and jealousy look askance; and why admiration raises the eyebrows and opens the mouth. Such inquiries may give rise to ingenious observation, but are not in other respects useful, because never attended with success. He who established the union of soul and body knows how and by what intermediate instruments the one operates upon the other. But to man this is a mystery unsearchable. We can only say that tears accompany sorrow, and the other natural signs their respective passions and sentiments, because such is the will of our Creator, and the law of the human constitution."

Yes, if that will be declared, we must abide by it and search no further. But, on the other hand, something informs me that it is acceptable to exercise the talents bestowed upon us, and to search and explain the Creator's works. This divine and philosopher says well, if we are to look on the surface only. But where is his authority for going no deeper? No doubt he believed that he was giving a very accurate statement of the effects of passion, but it would be easy to show that he has jumbled signs, quite incongruous, from an ignorance of their natural relations. We have in this extract an enumeration of phenomena the most surprising in the whole extent of nature, and the most affecting to human sympathies. We must confess that they are so deeply implanted in our nature, that we shall not be able to discover the ultimate connexion between the emotions of the soul and those signs of the body. But this conviction should not extinguish the desire of comprehending the organs of expression, more than thoseof the voice, or of seeing and hearing.

In these Essays the subject matter does not always correspond with the titles, so although there be something said of the forms of beauty, and the expression in painting, the work has a larger scope, and aims at greater usefulness. It has been the author's main design to furnish a sufficient foundation for arranging the symptoms of disease, and for a more accurate description of them.

The description of a disease is a mere catalogue of signs, if their cause and relation be not understood; and if no cause for certain appearances, and no relation among them be observed, the signs can neither be accurately recorded nor remembered.

The motion of one part of the body, produced by the excitement of another, and the movements produced by passion on the frame of the body, become symptoms when caused by disease. 

A man pulling on a rope draws his breath and retains it, to give force to his arms. Instinct produces the same effect in fear, for the moment of alarm is marked by a sudden inspiration, and a state of preparation for action. This, the painter requires to know before he can give an accurate representation of these conditions of the frame. But it is even more important to the physician. In the asthmatic, for example, the chest is kept distended, and the whole attitude is that best calculated to aid the actions of the muscles of respiration; and so that attitude and these actions become symptomatic of the disease.

And can there be a better lesson whereby symptoms are to be learned, than in the observation of the natural sympathies and appearances presented when the frame is wrought upon by the sentiments of the mind? An uninformed person walks through the wards of an hospital with a sensation varying only in intensity, but the physician sees a thousand features of disease to which he is blind, and suffers hopes and fears to which he is a stranger. The physician sees but a part, yet that partial view is attended with a train of consequences which none can perceive but those who are acquainted with the secret ties which bind the parts together.

It is the observation of these ties, these cords of sympathy which unite the body in its natural and healthful motions, in its agency under passion, and when suffering from disease, which the author proposes to be the chief subject of the following Essays. No one will deny that the signs in the eye must be noticed with more interest, and consequently with more minuteness, in proportion as the classification of its muscles and the sources of its sympathies are better understood.

It is repeatedly shown in these Essays, that the marks of passion and of bodily suffering are the same, and that the respiratory organs are the source of all expression, as well as of a very extensive range of symptoms in disease. Let us take`an example of a mortal affection, to which my attention was first drawn by the study of expression.

When a soldier is desperately wounded by gun-shot, or when amputation, or any other great operation of surgery is performed, a class of obscure symptoms sometimes arise, and the man dies, without the proximate cause of his death being comprehended. The cause of his death is inflammation in the lungs, but with symptoms so slight as to have no correspondence with the common description of pulmonary inflammation. There is no violent pain, no cough, no inflammatory pulse; you observe only a tremulous motion and swelling of the upper lip, and working of the muscles of the nostrils. Called to him by this sign, you find his voice feeble and his words cut; and with symptoms no more marked than these, he dies.

When we learn that the muscles about the lips and nostrils are respiratory muscles, and when we know that a respiratory nerve goes purposely to combine these muscles with the motion of the thorax, and above all, when by such investigation of the anatomy, we find that these same motions indicate some powerful emotions of the mind, are we not prepared to be more attentive observers, and to discover such symptoms as must remain obscure to those who have no clew to them?

Perhaps it may be proper to make some apology for the sketches which accompany the text. I have often found it necessary to take the aid of the pencil, in slight marginal illustrations, in order to express what I despaired of making intelligible by the use of language merely; as in speaking of the forms of the head, or the operation of the muscles of the face. The slightness of these sketches, as they appeared in the manuscript, explained sufficiently the humble intentions of the Author. But, under the graver, they have assumed an appearance more soft and finished, than was perhaps to be desired; and certainly stand more in need of an apology for their incorrectness.

It was intended to place a sketch of hydrophobia on page 108, forgetting that the plate belonged to the subject treated of in page 126. It was necessary to fill the marginal space with another illustration of the subject, after the work was printed. .







THE changes of the human countenance which accompany the exercise of the mind, afford at once the most familiar and the most interesting subject of study. But although we be continually and deeply conversant with those outward signs of emotion, we are scarcely conscious of the exertion, until by inquiry into their cause we try to recover our first impressions and to reason on them. How is it to be accounted for, that a subject more familiar to us than our mother tongue, and without which existence to most people would be indifferent and unprofitable, has not been brought into some relation with philosophy? In the author's opinion, it is to be attributed to as neglect of that close connexion which is established betwixt the operations of the mind and of the body, and to a very mistaken notion which has prevailed, that every thing interesting in anatomy has long since been discovered - that after the structure of animal bodies has been studied for so long a time, and by a succession of so many eminent men, every thing must have been disclosed. Those who hold this opinion cannot be aware that every discovery in science opens a new field of inquiry, and that this is especially true of anatomy. No part of knowledge stands so much connected with the other departments, and is so universally dependent on discoveries in other sciences, as anatomy; if we understand by that term the knowledge of the functions as well as the structure of animal bodies.

I have regretted the influence of this opinion on our students, because it takes from them that animation and pleasure which belong to their time of life, and their peculiar studies, which, if followed as they ought to be, afford an ever new hope and prospect of discovery.

Nor ought the study of animal structure to be limited to that only which appears useful; but, on the contrary, extended in a liberal manner to all the ramifications which promise to improve our general knowledge. We never know to what useful conclusion the inquiry may lead, while it is sure to gratily us, to give rise to admiration, and a sort of involuntary praise. At one time I thought an apology was necessary for paying attention to expression, a subject of mere amusement, when I might have been more usefully employed; and now, if I shall have any reputation as a discoverer, I shall owe it principally to the views which this neglected subject has suggested to me. Here I first learned to look upon the fabric of the human body as a combination of parts which differed essentially from things of human invention-that while the latter were pieces fitted and contrived to produce some ultimate effect, the former was cast with such perfection that each part performed many functions. I saw in the face so many different offices performed, that I began to inquire by what peculiarities of structure this was attained, and being led to examine other organs in the same manner, I laid the ground of my observations on the nervous system.

A very remarkable error has been propagated, and as long as it continued there could be little known of the machinery of expression; nothing certainly, unless through our experience of the sympathies planted in our nature. These sympathies,  when followed after the manner of philosophical inquiries, or pursued as matters of taste, led to nothing, or at most to some unsubstantial theory. However excellent the works may be which set forth these theories, however to be valued for the beauties of composition, for just sentiment and classical illustration, and all the graces of a cultivated understanding, they leave us as to knowledge where we were.

The error to which I have alluded is a substantial one, being no less than a mistake as to the organs on which expression depends. There is a system of nerves extended over the frame called sympathetic, because they were universally believed to be the sources of the sympathies of our organs; and, in short, the explanation of every thing obscure in physiology, pathology, or expression, was sought for in the influence of this class or system of nerves. As the nerves called sympathetic are universally spread over the body, there was no consent of parts or sympathy, from the blush of passion to the act of sneezing, but was readily assigned to the influence, of some branch or network of this system of nerves; and although this opinion was universally received in all countries, it had no foundation in truth.

While there is every probability that the sympathetic system, or, as it is sometimes called, the ganglionic system of nerves, ministers to certain operations of the animal economy, it has no control over the muscular frame, either in the performance of the voluntary motions, or during that influence of the mind upon the bodily frame which we call passion.

In the volume of the Philosophical Transactions for the year 1821, there is a paper of mine which proves that, independent of the common nerves which bestow sensibility, and also of the branches of the sympathetic nerve, there is a nerve which extends from one point over the whole face, possessed of totally different powers. It is there also proved by observations made on the effects of the accidental injuries and diseases of these nerves, and also by experiments on animals, that the motions of breathing and speaking, as far as they regard the face, and all the indications of emotion in the countenance of man, or of passion in brutes, are produced solely through the influence of this nerve. It is also shown there, that the singular course of this nerve, apart from the common nerves of the face (a circumstance always known, but not hitherto explained), is for the purpose of its being associated with a set of nerves of the same class and function with itself.

Although this nerve be the source of all those varying emotions of the countenance which indicate the condition of the mind, yet I have called it the respiratory nerve of the face, for reasons which I entreat my reader's patience until I explain; and this is the more necessary, since we shall find that the whole extended apparatus of respiration is the instrument of expression, as it is of voice and speech.

Some account of the author's discoveries in the nervous system, as directing the actions of breathing, speaking, and expression*.

In the face we have an opportunity of observing the subservience of the nerves to the different uses of the parts. The human countenance performs many functions: in it we have combined the organs of mastication, of breathing, of natural voice and speech, and of expression; some motions are performed directly by


* This will be found further illustrated in the Philosophical Transactions, vol. for the years 1821, &c.


the will; while others are signs of emotion, over which we have a very limited or imperfect control. The face serves for the lowest animal enjoyment, and reflects the highest and most refined emotions. Happily for our present inquiry, the nerves, which in other parts of the frame are bound together for the convenience of distribution to remote parts, are here distinct, and run apart from each other, until they meet at their extremities.

On turning to the plate of the nerves of the face, and consulting the explanation, it will be seen that there are two sets of nerves running upon it. One nerve comes out just before the ear, and spreads out to every part. Another nerve is not seen in its course through the head, but its four branches are seen to come out upon the face: the first above the eye, going to the forehead; the second below the eye, sent to the nose and cheek; the third branch coming out upon the chin, and the fourth before the ear.

The great nerve that comes out before the ear, and spreads over the face, does not exist in any of the lower tribes of animals unless the creature breathes by nostrils. When it exists, I have found that it does not bestow sensibility as the other nerves do; that when it is cut across, the sensibility of the skin is not diminished. But if this nerve be cut across, the motions of the nostrils which accompany the act of breathing immediately cease. On the contrary, if the other nerves which come out upon the face, branches of what is called the fifth pair, are divided, sensibility is destroyed; and if the trunk of the same nerve be cut, the motion of the jaw is lost; but the fine motions of the face, which accord and keep time with the motions of the chest in breathing, whether awake or asleep, continue unimpaired.

When a horse has run and pants and breathes hard, the nostrils are alternately dilated and contracted, while the chest rises and falls. So in a man, excited by exercise or passion, the shoulders are raised at each inspiration, the muscles of the neck and throat are violently drawn, and the lips and nostrils move in time with the general action. Thus parts remote in situation are combined in function, and when thus united in the act of respiration, it is by means of distinct nerves appropriated to that office. The nerves which perform this function come out from where the spinal marrow joins the brain, and from thence they diverge to remote parts: to the face, the windpipe, the neck and shoulders, the outside of the chest, the diaphragm. The division of any one of these nerves cuts off the part to which it is distributed from combining in the act of respiration, without depriving it of sensibility, or impeding the forcible action of its muscles when excited by other nerves, or acting in the performance of some other function.

These nerves, from their principal function, I have distinguished by the term respiratory nerves, since it is solely through them that the muscles are excited to the act of breathing. But we are led to inquire what other offices the organs of respiration, and the respiratory nerves in particular, perform? They combine in the act of speaking without doubt, and I shall make it equally manifest that they are also the organs of expression.

In the first place, comparative anatomy, that is, the comparison of these nerves in different animals, exhibits profusion and seeming intricacy, in proportion to the animal's powers of expression. Every one must have observed, not merely the resemblance in the face of the monkey to the features of man, but also that activity and grimace, which bear the same proportion to the expression of the human countenance. The nerves of the face and neck of the monkey are numerous, and have frequent connexions. But on cutting the respiratory nerve of the face of the monkey, the features become dead to the influence of the creature's passions. Yet after such an experiment the skin is sensible, and the muscles of the jaws and tongue are capable of the actions of chewing and swallowing, only there is no grimace or expression to be seen. If the respiratory nerve of one side be cut, the expression of that side is utterly extinguished, while the chattering and mewing, the scowl of the eyebrow, and the grinning of the lips and cheek, remain on the other side.

There is a great deal of expression in a dog, whether we attend to the wistful and friendly look with which he regards his master's face, or when he is placed in fierce opposition to another dog. All the fire of expression disappears the instant that the nerve of respiration is divided. He will fight as bitterly, but with no retraction of his lips, or sparkling of his eye, or drawing back of his ears. The face is inanimate, it does not partake of the action corresponding with the passion, though the muscles of the face and jaws, as far as they are liable to influence through other nerves, continue their offices.

By cutting the same nerve in a cat it may be deprived of all expression. If the nerve of one side of the head be cut, as it comes out before the ear, we shall see no brilliancy in the eye from the action of the eyelids, no motion of the whiskers, nor spitting in anger; although all these signs be exhibited on the opposite side.

If birds be deficient in expression, from the horny bill being substituted for the mouth and nostrils, yet they are not without some sign of passion in the rising and flutter of the feathers. The game cock, in the position of fighting, spreads a ruff of feathers round his head. The position of his head, and the feathers raised from his neck, are the expressions of hostile excitement. But on the division of the respiratory nerve the feathers are no longer raised, although the disposition to spar continues.

The accidental injury or the disease of the respiratory nerve of the face of man exhibits the same consequences with these experiments on brutes. When the respiratory nerve is injured on one side, the individual can neither laugh nor weep with that side of the face; then the slightest smile deforms the countenance, by the unequal action of the muscles; on that side where the nerve is entire in the performance of its office, the act of smiling takes place, while the muscles of the other remain inactive, and are drawn into distortions.

In the former edition of these essays I had shown the number and complication of the muscles as instruments of expression; but by these discoveries of distinct properties in the nerves, we see why there is a complication of nervous branches, in proportion not merely to the number of muscles to be called into action, but to the variety of uses to which they are put - the various combinations which they form, in alliance with different organs. It now appears, that by an apparatus of appropriate nerves, the muscles of the face, neck, and chest are drawn to co-operate in the act of respiration. But by these observations it is also proved, that it is through the nerves of respiration that the muscles become agents of expression; for although they can both act and feel after the respiratory nerves are cut, they no longer express passion, but remain tranquil during the utmost excess of suffering or of passion in the animal. When, therefore, we shall have proved that the organs of respiration are the organs of expression, as well as of speech, the mystery that hangs over this subject will disappear, and the motions of the countenance and of the frame of the body will be as intelligible as the natural expression of the voice.






In this plate the two distinct classes of nerves which go to the face are represented; the one to bestow sensibility, and the other for the motions of speaking and expression, that is, the motions connected with the respiratory organs.

The nerves on the side of the neck are also represented. These I have discovered to be double nerves, performing two functions; they control the muscular frame, and bestow sensibility upon the skin. Besides these regular spinal nerves, which are for the common endowments, the nerves of the throat are represented. These latter nerves are the chords of sympathy, which connect the motions of the neck and throat with the motions of the nostrils and lips; not merely during excited respiration, but in the expression of passion

A. The RESPIRATORY NERVE OF THE FACE; or, according to authors, the PORTIO DURA of the seventh nerve.

a. Branches ascending to the temple and side of the head.

b. Branches which supply the eyelids.

c. Branches going to the muscles which move the nostrils.

d. Branches going down upon the side of the neck and throat.

e. Superficial cervical plexus.

ff. Connexions formed with the cervical nerves.

g. A nerve to the muscles on the back of the ear.









I. FRONTAL NERVE. A branch of the fifth.

II. SUPERIOR MAXILLARY NERVE. A branch of the fifth.

III. MANDIBULA LABRALIS. A branch of the fifth.

IV. Temporal branches of the second division of the fifth.

V. The SUBOCCIPITAL NERVE. The first of the Spine.








IN the human countenance, under the influence of passion, there are characters expressed, and changes of features produced, which it is impossible to explain on the notion of a direct operation of the mind upon the features. Ignorance of the source of these changes of the features, or inattention to the cause which produces them, has thrown an obscurity over the whole of this subject, which it is my purpose in the present essay to remove, before advancing to a description of the characters of passion, as indicated in the face and in the body.

If, in the examination of the sources of expression, it should be found that the mind is dependent on the frame of the body, the discovery ought not to be considered as humiliating, or such as should affect the belief of the capacity for a separate existence of that principle on which the changes wrought in the body are ultimately impressed. It is a fundamental law of our nature, that the mind shall be subject to the operations of the body, and have its powers developed through its influence; the organs being the links in that chain of relations betwixt the mind and the material world, without which the immaterial principle within could not be approached. Since we are dwellers in a material world, it is necessary that the spirit should be given up to the influence of a material and organized body, without which it could neither feel, nor re-act, nor manifest itself in any way.

I do not mean to affirm that all the affections of the mind have their source in the body, or their objects in the things presented to the senses. As the Creator has established these necessary relations of the mind with the materials around us, so has he implanted, or caused to be generated in us, various higher intellectual faculties. He has raised in every intelligent being emotions that point to him, affections by which we are drawn to him, and which rest in him as their end. In the mind of the rudest slave, left to the education of the mere elements around him, sentiments are developed which lead him to a parent and creator. These feelings cannot be traced to any source, they rise spontaneously, they are universal, and not to be shaken off; furnishing an instance of that adaptation of the mind to its various relations, of which many examples might be given, but none better calculated to afford us a conception of the author of our being, or tending more to raise our estimation of ourselves, as allied to him.

This it was perhaps necessary to premise, when I am about to prove the extensive influence of the corporeal on the intellectual part of man. Philosophers, in examining the properties of the mind, have too much overlooked the influence of the body, by which is not meant what are usually called the organs of the senses, those outward parts in which are produced the corporeal processes that precede sensation - I mean the gross frame-work of the body. It appears to me that the frame of the body is a complex organ, I shall not say of sense, but of intellectual operation, very analogous to the operations of the organs of sense; that it serves for the development of certain states or conditions of the mind, as the organs of the five senses serve to furnish ideas of matter.

There is no deception in the sensations which point to whereabouts these emotions are seated. In the affections of the mind we call passions, there is an influence which "steals through the veins and fans the awakened heart." This is not asserted on the mere proof of sensation seated thus deep in our breast during the varying affections of the mind, nor on the language of mankind, which gives universal assent to this proposition; it is to be proved by circumstances in expression, in which we cannot be deceived.

I shall make it manifest, that what the eye, the ear, or the finger are to the mind, as exciting those conceptions which have been appointed to correspond with the qualities of the material world, the organs of the breast are to the development of our affections; and without which we might see, hear, and smell, but we should walk the earth coldly indifferent to all those emotions, which may be said in an especial manner to actuate us, and give interest and grace to human thoughts and actions.

By emotions are meant certain changes or affections of the mind, as grief, joy, or astonishment. That such states or conditions of the mind proceed from or in any degree pertain to the body, may not perhaps willingly be admitted. This may be, because we are not prepared to admit that our ideas of sense, as light, sound, or taste, are generated of the organs of the senses, and not by something received and conveyed through them to the sensorium. It may therefore be necessary to reflect that the different organs of the senses can be exercised and give rise to sensation and perception, when there is no corresponding outward impression; that the ideas excited in the mind are according to the organ struck or agitated; that the same impression conveyed to different organs of sense will give occasion to a variety of ideas, - light, when the eye is struck, sound, when the ear is struck, to ideas corresponding with the organs exercised, not with the impression. A needle passed through the retina, the organ of vision, will produce the sensation of a spark of fire, not of sharpness or of pain; and the same needle may exercise other organs, as the papillae of taste on the tongue, or those of touch in the skin; and with each there will be a new or distinct impression.

Whilst we continue to believe that something is conveyed through the organs of the senses to the sensorium, we must have a very imperfect conception of the influence of the organization of the body in eliciting or developing the activity of the mind. But when we observe that the organs of the senses have an operation on the mind, independent of external circumstances, we can better comprehend how other organs of the body have a relation established with the mind, and a control over it independent of outward impressions.

Let us consider the heart in its office of receiving the influence of the mind, and of reflecting that influence.

It is a singular fact in the history of physiological opinions, that the heart, an organ the most susceptible in the whole frame, whether excited by the emotions of the mind, or the agitations or derangement of the body, should have been considered as insensible. And yet in one sense this is true; to touch it is insensible, as was exhibited to the illustrious Harvey in the person of a young noble-man who had the heart exposed by an abscess. This single circumstance, had there been no more, should have earlier directed the minds of physicians to a correct view of this matter, by proving to them that the internal organs are affected and united by sensibilities different in kind from those which are bestowed upon the surface of animal bodies; the external sensibility being only one of those many endowments with which animals are furnished to correspond with the elements around them. Though the heart has no common sensibility, yet we have proof that by its peculiar sensibilities it is held united in the closest connexions and sympathies with the other vital organs - that it participates in all the changes of the general system, and is affected by the passions of the mind.

Connected with the heart, and depending upon its peculiar and excessive sensibility, there is an extensive apparatus of muscles and nerves. These constitute the organs of breathing and of speech obviously; but I shall prove that they are more - that they are the organs of expression, and necessary to the development of emotions, of which by their activity they become the outward signs.

We discover that certain states of the mind produce sensation in the heart, and through that corporeal influence, directly from the heart, indirectly from the mind, an extensive class of agents are put in motion. We find this influence has sway, at so early a period of our existence, that we shall be forced to acknowledge that the operation or play of the organs of expression precede the mental emotions with which they are to be joined, accompany them in their first dawn, strengthen them, and direct them; and thus it is not perhaps too much to conclude that the organs of the body, which move in sympathy with the mind, produce the same uniformity among men in their internal feelings and emotions or passions, as there is in their ideas of external nature through the uniform operations of the organs of sense.

Let us place examples before us, and then try whether the received doctrines of the passions will furnish us with an explanation of the phenomena, or whether we must go deeper, and seek the assistance of anatomy. 

In the expression of the passions there is a compound influence in operation. Let us contemplate the expression of terror. We can readily conceive why a man stands with eyes intently fixed on the object of his fears, the eyebrows elevated to the utmost, and the eye largely uncovered; or why, with hesitating and bewildered steps, his eyes are rapidly and wildly in search of something. In this we only perceive the intent application of his mind to the object of his apprehensions - its direct influence on the outward organ. But observe him further: there is a spasm on his breast, he cannot breathe freely, the chest is elevated, the muscles of his neck and shoulders are in action, his breathing is short and rapid, there is a gasping and a convulsive motion of his lips, a tremor on his hollow cheek, a gulping and catching of his throat; and why does his heart knock at his ribs, while yet there is no force of circulation? - for his lips and cheeks are ashy pale.

So in grief; if we attend to the same class of phenomena, we shall be able to draw an exact picture. Let us imagine to ourselves the overwhelming influence of grief on woman. The object in her mind has absorbed all the powers of the frame, the body is no more regarded, the spirits have left it, it reclines, and the limbs gravitate; they are nerveless and relaxed, and she scarcely breathes; but why comes at intervals the long drawn sigh? - why are the neck and throat convulsed? - what causes the swelling and quivering of the lips, and the deadly paleness of the face? - or why is the hand so pale and earthly cold? - and why, at intervals, as the agony returns, does the convulsion spread over the frame like a paroxysm of suffocation?

It must, I think, be acknowledged, when we come to arrange these phenomena, these outward signs of the passions, that they cannot be traced to the direct influence of the mind. However strange it may sound to unaccustomed ears, it is to the heart and lungs, and all the extended instrument of breathing, that we are to trace these effects.

Over these motions of the body the mind has an unequal control. By a strong effort the outward tokens may be restrained, at least in regard to the general bearing of the body; but who, while suffering, can retain the natural fulness of his features, or the healthful colour of his cheek, the unembarrassed respiration and clearness of the natural voice? The villain may command his voice, and mask his purpose with light and libertine words, or carry an habitual sneer of contempt of all softer passions; but his unnatural paleness, and the sinking of his features, will betray that he suffers. Clarence says to his murderers, "How deadly thou dost look! - Speak! your eyes do menace me - Why look you pale?"

The just feelings of mankind demand respect; men will not have the violence of grief obtruded on them, The actor, to preserve the dignity of his character, must permit only those uncontrollable signs of inward suffering to escape, betraying how much he feels, and how much he restrains.

Even while asleep, these interior organs of feeling will prevail, and betray the source of muscular expression. Has my reader seen Mrs. Siddons in Queen Katherine during that solemn scene, while the sad note is played which she named her knell? Who taught the crowd sitting at a play, an audience differing in age, habits, and education, to believe those quivering motions, and that gentle smile, and those slight convulsive twitchings, to be true to nature? To see every one hushed to the softest breathing of sympathy with the silent expression of the actress, exhibits all mankind held together by one universal feeling, and that feeling excited by expression so deep laid in our nature, as to have influence without being obvious to reason.

To illustrate this curious subject, I shall first explain the extensive connexions which are established betwixt the great organs that sustain life and the muscular system. I shall then show that the functions of these organs are affected by passions of the mind. I shall prove that this connexion subsists at the moment of birth, and accompanies us through life; and, finally, that from this source are derived those hitherto obscure indications of emotion in the countenance and general frame, which cannot be explained on the supposition of a direct influence of the mind on these muscles of expression.

The heart and the lungs may be safely taken as two parts which are combined in the same function. The action of the heart and the motion of the lungs are equally necessary to the circulation of that blood, which is fitted for the supply of the body, and the interruption of their motions threatens life. Accordingly, these two organs are united by nerves, and consequently by the closest sympathy; and in all the variations to which they are liable they are still found to correspond, the accelerated action of the one being directly followed by the excitement of the other.

The motion of the lungs proceeds from a force altogether external to these organs: the lungs themselves are passive; they are moved by a very great number of muscles which lie upon the breast, back, and neck; these muscles give play to the bones of the chest, and the lungs follow the motions of the chest. The heart and lungs, though insensible to common impression, yet being acutely alive to their proper stimulus, they suffer from the slightest change of posture or exertion of the frame, and also from the changes or affections of the mind. The impression thus made on these internal organs is not visible in its effect upon them, but on the external and remote muscles associated with them. This law embraces all mankind; we see the consequence in those susceptible and nervous persons, whom the mere change of position, or the effort of rising, or the slightest emotion of mind, flutters and agitates. But it is when the strong are subdued by this mysterious union of soul and body, when passion tears the breast, that the most afflicting picture of human frailty is presented, and the surest proof afforded that it is the respiratory organs on which the influence of passion falls with so powerful an expression of agony.

The next circumstance of this detail to which I beg my reader's attention, is the extent of the actions of respiration, the remoteness of the parts agitated in sympathy with the heart. The act of respiration is not limited to the trunk; the actions of certain muscles on the windpipe, the throat, the lips, the nostrils, are necessary to expand those tubes and openings, so that the air may e be admitted through them in respiration, with a freedom corresponding with the increased action of the chest. Without this, the sides of these pliant tubes would fall together, and we should be suffocated by exertion or passion. Let us consider how many muscles are combined in the simple act of breathing - how many are added in the act of coughing - how these are changed and modified in sneezing; - let us reflect on the various combinations of muscles of the throat, windpipe, tongue, lips, in speaking and singing, and we shall be able justly to estimate the extent of the muscles which are associated with the proper or simple act of dilating and compressing the chest. But how much more numerous are the changes wrought upon these muscles, if nature employs them in the double capacity of expression; not in the language of sounds merely, but the language of expression in the countenance also; and certainly the one is as much their office as the other. 

By what nervous cords these muscles are combined, it would be superfluous to describe here. The labour of many months discloses but a part of them; and the display, and the consideration of the uses they serve, present the most overwhelming proof of the excellence of design, - but a design made manifest by the results, rather than comprehensible in its means. Can we perfectly comprehend how tickling the throat should produce a convulsion over the whole frame, in which a hundred muscles are finely adjusted and proportioned in their actions to expel what irritates the windpipe? or do we comprehend how tickling the nostril should make a change in these muscles, throw some out and bring others into action, to the effect of sending the air through a different tube to remove what is offensive there? and all this without the act of the will!

Let us now see how the machine works. Observe a man threatened with suffocation: see the sudden and wild energy that pervades every feature; the contractions of his throat, the gasping and the spasmodic twitchings of his face, the heaving of his chest and shoulders, and how he stretches his hands and catches like a drowning man. These are efforts made under the oppressive, intolerable sensation at his heart; and these the means which nature employs to guard and preserve the animal machine, giving to the vital organ a sensibility that irresistibly animates to the utmost exertion.

It is this painful sensation that introduces us to "this breathing world," which guards the vital functions through life as it draws us into existence. Pain is the agent which most effectually rouses the dormant faculties of both mind and body. While the child slumbers in the womb it does not live by breathing, it possesses an organ which performs the office of the lungs. In the birth there is a short interval, betwixt the loss of the one organ, and the substitution of the other; nor would the breath ever be drawn, or the lungs perform their function, but for this painful and irresistible nisus, which calls the whole corresponding muscles into action. Spasms and contractions are seen to extend over the infant's chest; the features are working, and the muscles of the face agitated, probably for the first time; at last air is admitted into the lungs, a feeble cry is heard, the air in successive inspirations fully dilates the chest, and the child cries lustily. Now the regular inspiration is established, and the animal machinery subsides into repose. With the revolution which the whole economy has undergone new wants are engendered, new appetites, &c.; these are lulled by the mother's breast. During all this no one sympathises with the little sufferer, the grimace with which he enters the world excites only smiles. 

"On parent's knees, a naked new-born child,

Weeping thou sat‘st, while all around thee smiled -

So live, that sinking in thy last long sleep

Calm thou may'st smile, when all around thee weep."

From the Persian.

"Anger," says Lord Bacon, "is certainly a kind of baseness, as it appears well in the weakness of those subjects in whom it reigns - children, women, old folks, sick folks." But this I may say, that anger is at no period of life so strongly impressed upon human features as in the first moment of our visiting the light. At that instant an association of muscles is formed, or then put into operation, which stamps a character of expression that continues for life, betraying the wants of the body in early infancy, and the sufferings of the mind in the after period. The frame of the body, constituted for the support of the vital functions, becomes the instrument of expression; and an extensive class of passions, by influencing the heart, by affecting that sensibility which governs the muscles of respiration, calls them into co-operation, so that they become an undeviating and sure sign of certain states or conditions of the mind. They are the organs of expression.

Returning now to the contemplation of any of the stronger passions, we comprehend much which was before obscure. We see how that grief which strikes the heart should affect the regularity of breathing - why the muscles of the throat should be affected with spasm - why slight quivering motions pass from time to time over the face, the lips, and cheeks, and nostrils; - because these are the organs of respiration, organs which have their muscles united to the sensibility of the heart, and moved under its influence. Now we comprehend how the passion of rage or terror binds and tightens the chest, why the features are so singularly agitated by the indirect as well as by the direct induence of the passions - how the words are cut -  how the voice sticks in the throat - how the paralysed lips refuse the commands of the will, so that they are held in a mixed state of violence and weakness, which, more than any fixed expression, characterizes the influence of the passion.





THE fleshy or muscular part of the animal frame is a peculiar fibrous substance; and of the various textures, it alone possesses power of contraction, and consequently of producing motion. In the limbs and trunk the muscles are distinct and powerful, having their tendons attached to the bones, and performing the various voluntary movements. In the face they are more delicate; their action being merely to operate on the skin, the lips, and eyelids, they require less power; and that power is not always, as in the muscular exertions of the body and limbs, directly under the will, but often involuntary and inseparably united to the conditions or affections of the mind. It is this latter consideration which gives so much interest to this subject. By the form of the head we shall presently find that nature has been provident of an excellence in that organ on which the mind and superior intelligence of man depend, so in the muscles of the face there is a provision for a superiority of expression; and thus the very spirit by which the body is animated, and the signs of the various affections of the mind, shine out in the countenance.

This superiority of expression in the face some would have to be an accidental result; they say, that the muscles prepared for mastication and speaking give such a superiority of muscular apparatus to the human face, as to account for the superiority of expression. But I have put that question to rest, by observations and experiments upon the nerves*. That the muscles used in speaking are those of expression may be readily allowed; but there are also muscles of expression, which have nothing to do with the voice, and which are purely indicative by signs of the operations of the mind. Further, we shall find that the countenance of man is not merely pre-eminent by the possession of powers peculiar to him, but also by this, that he stands intermediate betwixt the two great classes of animals, possessing the muscular system of both combined.

It is only necessary for the reader to understand that the muscles are formed of distinct packets of fibres or fasciculi, and that their extremities are called their origin and insertions: the fixed extremity, attached generally to some point of bone, is the origin; the extremity which moves is the insertion of the muscle.


* Philos. Transactions.







THIS plate represents the muscles of the face as they appear in a front view.

The EYEBROW is most distinctly a character designed for expression. We find certain muscles attached to it, which produce its various motions and inflexions.

A. The FRONTAL MUSCLE. This is a thin muscle, which is expanded over the forehead, and inserted into the skin under the eyebrow. We do not see here the whole of the muscle, but only a part of what is properly called Occipito-frontalis.

The OCCIPITO-FRONTALIS arises in a fleshy web of fibres, from the back of the skull (from a ridge of the temporal and occipital bones): becoming tendinous, it covers all the upper part of the skull with a membrane or sheet of tendon, and terminates in the anterior muscle, which is seen in this view.

B. B. The CORRUGATOR SUPERCILII is the second muscle attached to or inserted into the integument under the eyebrow. It arises from the lower part of the frontal bone near the nose, and is inserted as I have said. It lies nearly transverse, and its office is to knit and draw the eyebrows together.

C. C. The CIRCULAR MUSCLE OF THE EYELIDS, (the ORBICULARIS PALPEBRARUM). There is a little tendon in the inner angle of the eye, which is a fixed point for this muscle, attaching it to the maxillary bone, and being both origin and insertion.

The DESCENDING SLIP OF THE OCCIPITO FRONTALIS. As this fasciculus of fibres descends from the frontal muscle to be attached to the side of the nose, it has a distinct operation, and may be considered as a distinct muscle. It draws the inner extremity of the eyebrow downwards.

These four muscles move the eyebrow, and give it all its various inflexions. If the Orbicularis Palpebrarum and the descending slip of the Frontalis act, there is a heavy and lowering expression. If they yield to the influence of the Frontal muscle, the eyebrow is arched, and there is a cheerful or an alert and inquiring expression.

If the Corrugator Supercilii acts, there is more or less of mental anguish, or of painful exercise of thought. If combining with the Frontalis, the forehead is furrowed, and there is an upward inflection of the inner extremity of the eyebrow, there is more of querulous and weak anxiety indicated.

The arched and polished forehead, terminated by the distinct line of the eyebrow, is a table on which we may see written, in perishable characters, but distinct while they continue, the prevailing cast of thought; and by the indications here, often the mere animal activity displayed in the motions of the lower part of the face, has a meaning and a force given to it.

Independent of the actions of the muscles, their mere fleshiness gives character to this part of the face. The brow of Hercules wants the elevation and form of intelligence; but there may be observed a fleshy fulness on the forehead and around the eyes, which conveys an idea of dull brutal strength, with a lowering and gloomy expression, which accords with the description in the Iliad.


The Orbicularis Palpebrarum I divide into two muscles: the outer fleshy circular band, which runs around the margin of the orbit; and the lesser band of pale fibres which lies upon the eyelids. These last are employed in the act of closing the eyelids, but the former is only drawn into action in combination with the other muscles of the face in expressing passion, or in some convulsive excitement of the organ. In laughing and crying the outer and more powerful muscle is in action, gathering up the skin about the eye, and forcing back the eyeball itself.

In drunkenness, which produces a sort of temporary paralysis, the eyelids are disposed to close, and there is an attempt to raise the upper eyelid by a forcible elevation of the eyebrow; and very often the character is completed by an unequal elevation of the eyebrows. We may observe this in Hogarth's print of A Midnight Modern Conversation, Gin-lane, and several others.

So in the exhausted state of long suffering the heavy eyelid, half covering the pupil, and elevated eyebrow, are indicative of great weakness and dejection.


D. Marks a muscle which arises from the upper jaw, and descends to be attached to the upper lip and the nostril. From this it is called LEVATOR LABII SUPERIORIS ALAEQUE NASI. It raises the upper lip and the nostril.

E. A set of fibres which compress the nostril, viz. COMPRESSOR NASI.

The DEPRESSOR ALAE NASI cannot be seen in this plate, as it lies under the orbicularis oris. It arises near the alveoli of the incisor teeth, and is inserted into the moveable cartilage which makes the nostril.

These three muscles serve to expand and contract the tube of the nostril. They move in consent with the muscles of respiration, and thus the inflation of the nostrils indicates general excitement and animal activity. The expression in the dilated nostril gives spirit to the whole countenance; it implies a preparation for activity in the whole frame.


F. The LEVATOR LABII PROPRIUS. It arises from the upper jaw bone near the orbit. It is attached to the upper lip exclusively; it raises the upper lip.

G. The LEVATOR ANGULI ORIS. This muscle, lying under the last, is of course shorter: it raises the angle of the mouth.

H. The ZYGOMATIC MUSCLE; so called because its origin is from the Zygomatic process of the cheek bone. It is inserted into the angle of the mouth.

There is sometimes an additional muscle of this name - the ZYGOMATICUS MINOR.

These last muscles form a class; they raise the upper lip and the angle of the mouth so as to expose the canine teeth even in man. We shall find them to be very strong in the carnivorous animals, while there is no such action to be performed in the milder class of graminivorous animals. If these muscles be in action contrary to the circular fibres of the lips, there is a painful and bitter expression; but if they are influenced along with the orbicularis oris and orbicularis palpebrarum, if the former of these muscles be relaxed, and the other contracted, there is a fulness of the upper part of the face, and a cheerful smiling expression of countenance.

K. The ORBICULARIS MUSCLE of the lips. This is a circular muscle, which forms much of the fleshy substance of the lips. It closes the mouth; when allowed to act fully, it purses the lips; it is the antagonist or opponent to the other muscles which are inserted or fixed into the lips.

L. The NASALIS LABII SUPERIORIS. This muscle draws down the septum of the nose, and belongs to a former class of muscles.

N. TRIANGULARIS ORIS, or DEPRESSOR LABIORUM. A strong muscle arising from the base of the lower jaw, and inserted into the angle of the mouth.

O. QUADRATUS MENTI, or depressor of the lower lip.

P. The LEVATORES MENTI. These are small but strong muscles, which, arising from the lower jaw near the alveolar processes of the incisor teeth, descend, and are fixed into the integument of the chin; so that by their action they throw up the chin and project the lower lip.

Q. The BUCCINATOR, is a muscle which forms the flesh of the cheek. It is principally for turning the morsel in the mouth, and is particularly strong in the graminivorous and ruminating animals. In broad laughter it retracts the lips.

These are muscles of mastication no doubt, but their perfection arises from their adaptation to speech and expression. The orbicularis muscle is singularly affected in the various emotions of the mind, trembling and relaxing, both in joy and grief. It relaxes pleasantly in smiling; it is more drawn by the superiority of its opponent in weeping.

The union of so many muscles in the angle of the mouth produces the fleshy prominence so peculiar to those who have a thin face, and are at the same time muscular. When the cheeks are fat and full, it is the action of these muscles which produces the dimpled cheek.

The angle of the mouth is full of expression, as the orbicularis, the superior, or the inferior class of muscles attached here, have the preponderance in action.

The Triangularis muscle and the Levator Menti combining, give rise to expression peculiar to man. The angle of the mouth is drawn down, and the lip arched and elevated, and hence the most contemptuous and proud expression.

B. The TEMPORAL MUSCLE. A strong muscle, closing the lower jaw. It is assisted by the MASSETER muscle, which lies on the outside of the lower jaw, and which arises from the jugum, and is inserted into the angle of the jaw.


Although I have made some remarks on the motions of the eyebrows and eyelids, the subject admits of a deeper interest, for the motion of the eyeball in conjunction with the eyelids has been quite overlooked. The eyeball has one set of muscles for moving it under the influence of the will, and to direct its axis to objects. It has another class of muscles, which are involuntary in their operations, and those move the eye in an insensible manner, for the purpose of preserving the organ, as I have elsewhere shown*. The muscles, which perform the involuntary rolling motions of the eyeball, have connexion through the fourth nerve with the system of respiratory nerves; and that is equivalent to saying, with the nerves of expression.

In all violent and excited conditions of the organs of breathing, the eye by the influence of this nerve is turned up, and this is the


* Philos. Transactions.


reason of a very striking coincidence in the features of expression - the rolling upwards or elevation of the eyeball in all powerful emotions of the mind, during which the respiratory organs suffer disturbance; in that agony which is shown by sighing or deep inspiration, by a certain modification of the lips, and expansion of the nostrils: whether it comes from pain of body or mental suffering, the pupils of the eyes are raised and half obscured by the eyelids.

This sometimes imposes the necessity of a certain position of the head; for to direct the eye downwards at the time that the agony experienced tends to drag it upwards, are inconsistent conditions of the muscular system of the eye. In bodily pain, as well as in certain conditions of mental suffering, the eye is directed upwards, and therefore the natural position of the head is forwards. During a lecture I sketched these outlines with chalk to illustrate this fact; and, however faulty, I could not improve them. The engraver has transferred them to the margin.

The muscles which turn up the eyeball under the upper eyelid during sleep being involuntary muscles, they prevail whenever the voluntary muscles are enfeebled or relaxed. This is the reason that during the influence of depressing passion, as for example grief, when the body and limbs are flung relaxed, the pupil is raised at the same time that the eyelid hangs low. We see this in some fine heads of the Magdalen, a favourite study of the old painters, where the eyelids are livid and swollen with weeping, and the eye, still swimming in tears, is half raised and concealed; and if an object be then contemplated, the face is inclined forwards, and the heavy eyelid is raised to accommodate the position of the pupil, which is elevated by the influence of the prevailing passion.






THE head of a dog is taken to show the muscular apparatus of carnivorous animals.

A. A. The circular fibres, which surround the eyelids, and which are common to all animals.

B. C. D. Accessary muscles, which I have called SCINTILLANTES, as they draw back the eyelids from the eyeball, and give a sparkling

fierceness to the eye.

Artists bestow an expression on the eye of the lion, which they suppose gives dignity - a kind of knitting of the eyebrows, whilst the eyelids are straining wide. This is quite incompatible with the powers of expression possessed by brutes. When the lion closes his eyes in repose, the fleshiness about the eyelids and the hair of the skin produces an appearance similar to the morose human expression, but when he is excited, and the eye strains wide, there is no such character.


I. K. The mass of muscular fibres, which is always the strongest in this class of animals, and which with those concealed under them, I call RINGENTES. These are the snarling muscles; they raise and expose the teeth with the savage expression peculiar to this class of animals.

L. The muscles which move the nostril in smelling.

M. The circular fibres of the mouth, which yet do not make a perfect ORBICULAR MUSCLE.

N. A muscle which answers to the ZYGOMATICUS in man, and which must have great power in this animal, as it reaches from the ear to the angle of the mouth. It opens the mouth, retracts the lips, and disengages them from the teeth, as in seizing their prey.

O. The CUTANEOUS MUSCLE, which sends up a web of fibres from the neck upon the side of the face. These fibres are much stronger than in man.

I observed above that some painters have thought it allowable to give human expression to the heads of lions, and others have presented human character in their heads of horses. I conceive this to be done upon a mistaken principle, nor will it ever enhance the peculiar beauty of the animal to engraft upon it some part of human expression. Rubens, in his picture of Daniel in the lion's den, has given human expression to the heads of the lions. Notwithstanding, it appears to me more than doubtful, whether the mingling of human expression with the features of the savage animals be in the true spirit of that principle of association, which should govern the adaptation of expression and character in producing an ideal form. However this may be determined, there seems to me a distinction to be preserved when the lion is represented in its natural state, and when sculptured emblematically. Represented in his den, or in the forest, the picture should possess all the natural character; a difference may be made when he is couched amidst the insignia of empire.

A horse's head is added to this section in illustration. It is taken from Julio Romano; and we find that in representing the horse he has produced an ideal head. We say that it is a horse rather because there is a bridle in the mouth than because we recognise the natural character of that animal. Instead of the full clear eye standing prominent upon the temple, we see an eye sunk deep, with an over-hanging eyebrow; the character entirely human, and the expression thoughtful and suspicious. In the hair of the forehead, and in the ears, in the roundness of the head and neck, the artist has preferred the model of the antique to what, in this instance, we must consider to be the finer forms of nature. We have here the nostrils of the horse, but they want expansion; and what is most monstrous of all, thick and fleshy lips are given, and an open mouth, which no power of association can ever teach us to admire.

There is a spirit in the expanded nostril, a fire in the eye; a kind of intelligence in the horse's head taken altogether; there is a beauty in the form of the neck, and an ease and grandeur in the carriage of the head, where strength and freedom are combined, which I am afraid cannot be excelled by the substitution of an ideal form. No doubt the painter in this instance wished to avoid that commonness of form, which represses the elevation of sentiment in the beholder, and destroys the poetical influence of the picture; but it is attempted here at too great an expense of truth. It may be remembered, that in the utmost excitement of animals of this class they will not open the mouth. They cannot breathe through the mouth, a valve in the throat prevents it, so that animation will be exhibited only in the nostril and the eye. The opening of the mouth is from the checking of the bit betwixt their teeth, and will never be seen when the horse is untrammeled and free.

Such were the opinions delivered in the first edition of this work, and they were drawn from an observation of nature, on which I always rest with absolute reliance. Since that time, the Elgin collection of sculptures has arrived in this country. These remains of antiquity are of great value to the arts of this country, as they obviously tend to turn the artist's attention to nature, and exhibit to him the consistency of natural form and beauty. The horse's head in that collection is perfectly natural, and if there be exaggeration, it is only in the stronger marking of that which is the natural distinction of the animal*.


* Mr. Haydon has published an essay in French, drawing a comparison betwixt the head of the Venetian horses, and those from the ruins of Athens. He shows that the sculpture of the head in the latter is in the better times of Grecian art, when they respected the beautiful in nature; and he has done me the honour of sustaining and amplifying my opinions on this subject.






THE first figure of this plate is a sketch by Mr. Northcote, and exhibits the natural character of the horse's head, in illustration of the anatomy demonstrated in the second figure.

Fig. 2. represents the muscles of the horse's head.

A. A. The orbicular muscle of the eyelids.

B. An accessory muscle to raise the eyelid.

C. A very peculiar muscle, since it pulls down the eyelid.

D. A muscle connected also with the eye, and arising from the cartilages of the ear.

E. A muscle answering to the zygomatic muscle in man.

These muscles, surrounding the eyelids of the horse, account for the superior expression of the eye. The muscle D seems to be calculated to operate upon the outer angle of the eyelids, and to enable the animal to direct the eye backwards: in this it is probably assisted by the muscle E.

F. This forms a class of muscles which descend on the side of the face, and are inserted into the nostril.

G. G. Muscular fibres, also operating in the distention of the tube of the nostril.

H. A strong muscle, which acts upon the cartilage, and distends the nostril with great power.

There is something in the distribution of these muscles which illustrates the character of the class, and accounts for the peculiarity of expression. We cannot fail to observe the difference in the general direction and classing of the muscles of the face in the horse and in the dog. In the carnivorous animal they all tend to lift the lips from the canine teeth, so that they cannot act without showing the teeth with the snarling expression; here, on the contrary, muscles having the same place and origin pass to the cartilages of the nose, and inflate it the instant that they are excited. It is therefore these muscles, more than any other circumstance, that produce the very different character and expression of the two classes of animals, the Carnivorous and Graminivorous.

I. A strong muscle, which lies under those of the nostril F. Its tendon passes forward over the nose, and unites with its fellow of the other side. These together form a broad tendon, which is inserted into the upper lip. There is a similar muscle moving the lower lip, which cannot be seen in this view.

L. M. The circular fibres of the lips, which in the horse are particularly strong and fleshy.

N. A web of muscle, which is extended from the cutaneous muscle of the neck.

The muscles I. K. L. M. have all great power, and give extensive motion to the lips. K. is the tendon of the muscles of the upper lip, which I have called DEPASCENTES: it takes this course over the nose in a manner quite peculiar to this class of animals, to raise and project the lip as in gathering its food. Any one who feeds his horse from his hand may feel the singular sensitiveness and mobility of his lips.

Looking to these muscles, and contrasting them with the animated sketch above it, we cannot fail to see how much the form of the head has to do with the teeth - small forward, and large and deep set in the back part of the jaw; and how much the peculiarity of expression of the animal is owing to the breathing through the nostril, and not through the mouth; and to the brilliant eye placed on the utmost projection of the head, and which, by the slightest turn of the pliant neck, is directed backward; and, finally, how the muscles conform to these offices - 1. In drawing back the eyelids - 2. In expanding the nostrils with unusual freedom - 3. In the power of projecting the lips from the incisor teeth, and in a certain muscularity in the cheek, which is necessary to put the food under the operation of the grinding teeth.





THE violent passions mark themselves so distinctly on the countenance, both of man and of animals, that we are led even in the very first inquiry to consider the movements by which they are indicated, as certain signs or characters provided by nature for the express purpose of intimating the internal emotion; and to suppose that they are interpreted by the observer, in consequence of a peculiar and instinctive faculty. This view, however, which appears to me so natural and just, is not received; an opposite theory has prevailed, in which instinctive agency is rejected, and the appearances are explained from a consideration of the necessities and the voluntary exertions of the animal. With regard to the observer, it has been asserted, that it is by experience alone that he distinguishes the signs of the passions; that we learn, while infants, to consider smiles as expressions of kindness, because they are accompanied by acts of beneficence, and by endearments; and frowns as the contrary, because we find them followed by blows; that the expression of anger in a brute is only that which has been observed to precede his biting, and that of fondness, his fawning and licking of the hand. With regard to the creature itself, it is said, what have been called the external signs of passion are merely the concomitants of those voluntary movements, which the passion or habits suggest; that the glare of the lion's eye, for example, is the consequence of a voluntary exertion to see his prey more clearly - his grin or snarl, the natural motion of uncasing his fangs before he uses them. Men will reason in this manner who have not duly considered the instrument or apparatus of expression. But, on the other hand, the power over the voluntary muscles may be retained, while the expression is destroyed; and although the muscles serve two purposes which may be confounded, there is no expression, properly so called, unless these muscles be moved by an appropriate nerve of expression.

Attending merely to the evidence furnished by anatomical investigation, a remarkable difference is to be found between the anatomy and range of expression in man and in animals: In the former, there seems to be a systematic provision for that mode of communication and that natural language, which is to be read in the changes of the countenance; there is no emotion in the mind of man which has not its appropriate signs; and there are even muscles in the human face, to which no other use can be assigned than to serve as the organs of this language.


In brutes the strongest and most marked expression is that of rage; the object of which is opposition, resistance, and defence. But on examination it will be found that the strength of the expression is in exact proportion to the strength of the principal action in the creature when thus excited.

The graminivorous animals, which seek their subsistence not by preying upon others, nor by the ferocity, contest, and victory which supply the carnivorous with food, have in their features no strong expression of rage. Their expression is chiefly confined to the effect produced on the general system. Thus the inflamed eye and the breathing nostrils of the bull are induced by the general excitement. His only proper expression of rage is in the position of the head, with the horns turned obliquely to the ground, ready to strike; and indeed it may be observed in general, that animals which strike with the horns show little indication either of fear or rage, except in the position of the head, and in the excitement of the eye; for the breath ejected from the expanded nostril is the consequence of mere exertion, and may belong to different conditions of the frame. In all graminivorous animals, the skin of the head is closely attached to the skull, and capable only of very limited motion: the eye is almost uniformly mild, and the lips are unmoved by passion.

It is in the carnivorous animals, with whose habits and manner of life ferocity is instinctively connected, as the great means of their subsistence, that rage is distinguished by the most remarkable strength of expression. The eyeball is terrible, and the retraction of the flesh of the lips indicates the most savage fury. The excitement of the respiratory organs, the heaving and agony of breathing, the deep and harsh motion of the air drawn through the throat in the savage growl, indicate the universal excitement of the animal. It is quite wrong to imagine that the whole of this is a mere preparatory exposure of the canine teeth. I believe brutes to have expression, properly so called, as well as man, though in a more limited degree. In them, however, the expression is so moulded to their natures and their necessities, that, on a superficial consideration, it seems accessory to their needful and voluntary actions. But if expression in them were a mere voluntary act, and the snarl of the carnivorous animal a mere uncasing of the fangs, like the unsheathing of the sword, then would the expression be perfect as long as the voluntary power remained in the muscles. Yet this is not the case.

The horse is universally considered a noble animal, as he possesses the expression of courage without the ferociousness of the beast of prey; and as there is expression in his eye and nostril, accompanied by that consent between the motions of the ear and the eye, which so much resembles the exertion of mind, and the movements of the human countenance. But even this more perfect expression is the result of an incidental consent of animal motions, and is no more a proof of peculiar intelligence than the diminutive eye and the unexpressive face of the elephant. We admire it because there is as much animation as in the tiger, without the ferocity. The consent of motions between the eye and the ear of the horse is a physical consequence of the necessities of the animal. His defence lies in the hind feet, and there is a peculiar provision both in the form of the skull, and in the muscles, for that retroverted direction of the eye, which seems so peculiarly expressive in the horse, but which is merely intended to guide the blow: and from the connexion of muscles, the ear must consent in its motion with this expression of the eye. The fleshiness of the lips, and of the nostrils of a horse, and the inflation of the nostril, are merely incidental to the peculiar provisions for the animal's respiration, and to the necessary motions of the lips, suited to the habits of his life.

In man we see united not only all the capacities for expression, and all the incidental and necessary effects of the several motions of features, which are to be found in the several classes of quadrupeds, but we find besides, several peculiar muscles, to which no other office can be assigned, than to act as organs of expression; to serve as instruments of that universal language which has been called instinctive, which at least produces something like the effect of innate sympathy, and seems to be independent of experience or arbitrary custom. It is, in short, of man alone that we can with strict propriety say, the countenance is an index of the mind, having expression corresponding with each emotion.



In order to see distinctly what the peculiarities of mere animal expression are, it seems proper to reduce the muscles of expression in animals to their classes. These muscles, as they appear in the several quadrupeds, may be distinguished into, 1. Those which raise the lips from the teeth; 2. Those which surround the eyelids; and 3. Those which move the nostril.

1. The first of these classes, viz. the muscles which raise the lips from the teeth, admit of a subdivision. In the carnivorous animal the muscles of the lips are so directed as to raise the lip from the canine teeth. In the graminivorous they are so directed as to raise the lips from the incisores. The former I would take the liberty of distinguishing by the name of RINGENTES, snarling muscles; the latter by the name of DEPASCENTES.

The snarling muscles take their origin from the margin of the orbit of the eye, and from the upper jaw, they are inserted into that part of the upper lip. from which the whiskers grow, and which is opposite to the canine teeth. Their sole office is to raise the upper lip from the canine teeth, and although they are assisted in this office by other muscles, (the masticating and zygomatic muscles) I have ventured to distinguish them particularly as the muscles of snarling. This action of snarling is quite peculiar to the ferocious and carnivorous animals. The graminivorous are incapable of it, and these muscles consequently are to be found only in the former class, not in the latter. In the carnivorous animals there is no perfect or regular orbicular muscle, as in man, for contracting the lips. The lips hang loose and relaxed, unless when drawn aside by the snarling muscles, and they fall back into this state of relaxation, with the remission of the action of these muscles.

The muscles of the lips, which in carnivorous animals are directed to the side of the mouth, are in graminivorous animals directed to the middle of the lip over the Incisores. I have given to these the name of DEPASCENTES, from their use and destination in enabling the animal to open its lips, so as to gather its food, and to bite the grass. They are long muscles; one set comes down upon the side of the face, and joining in a broad tendon, passes over the nose to be inserted into the upper lip. Another set runs along the lower jaw, to be inserted by a peculiar feathered tendon into the under lip. The horse has these muscles very strong. In the stallion they give a very characteristic and peculiar expression, when he snuffs the breeze, with his head high in air. When he bites, the expression is entirely different from that of the carnivorous animal. Instead of exposing the teeth, corresponding with the canine, he lifts the lips from the fore teeth, and protrudes them. The carnivorous animals have not these muscles of the fore part of the lip. In them the lips over the incisores are not fleshy like  those of the graminivorous animals, but they are tied down to the gums, and the fore teeth are uncovered only in consequence of the straining occasioned by retraction of the side of the mouth.

Although the graminivorous animals have not those muscles of the lips, which so powerfully draw back the lips in the carnivorous class, they have a more perfect orbicular muscle surrounding the mouth, and regulating the motion of their fleshy lips.

2. MUSCLES WHICH SURROUND THE EYELID. In man, the upper eyelid is raised by a muscle coming from the bottom of the orbit. But besides this muscle, animals of prey, in whom there is that peculiar and ferocious splendour of the eye, which we distinguish in the tiger or the lion, have in addition three muscles attached to the eyelids, which drawing the eyelids backward upon the peculiarly prominent eyeball, produce the fixed straining of the eye, and by stretching the coats, give a greater brilliancy to the reflection. These muscles may be classed under the term SCINTILLANTES, because by retracting the eyelids, they expose the brilliant white of the eye, which reflects a sparkling light. In the sheep, there is only a web of fibres to raise the eyelid. In the horse, there is a muscle to pull down the lower eyelid, and one passing from the ear to the outer angle of the eyelid, to retract it, and enable the animal to direct the pupil backward where his defence lies. In the feline tribe there is a reflection of light from the bottom of the eye when the pupil is dilated; and as the pupil is dilated in obscure light, there is a brilliant reflection from the cat's eye, which we mistake for indication of passion. All these may be partially displayed in the human eye, as the bloodshot redness in combination with the circle of reflected light from the margin of the cornea, like a flame or angry spark, as Charon is described by Dante,

"Che' intorno agli occhi avea di flamme ruote,"

Or as lighted charcoal, from the bottom of the eye,

"Caron demonic con occhi di bragia."

It is in this way that a touch of true expression will illuminate a whole passage; so Milton,

"With head uplift above the wave, and eyes

That sparkling blaz'd."*

3. The muscles of the nostril are not less distinct and peculiar in different classes of animals than those of the eye and lips. In the carnivorous animals the nose is comparatively insignificant, pro-


* So also Spenser, B. vi. cant. 7, stanza 42.


vision being made in the open mouth for any occasional increase of respiration above the uniform play of the lungs; while in the inoffensive animals, the prey of the more ferocious, the inflation of the nostril is provided for by the action of a peculiar set of muscles. 

For example, in the horse "the glory of whose nostrils is terrible," the muscles which inflate the nostril are very peculiar. They arise like the Ringentes of the carnivorous animals; but instead of being fixed into the lips, as in carnivorous animals, whose lips are to be raised from the canine teeth, they pass to the nostrils, and in combination with some lesser muscles powerfully inflate them when the animal is pushed to his speed, or excited by fear, or inflamed to rage. In the sheep, though the nostril seems to have a very limited power of expansion, and the animal is soon run down, yet the muscles of the nostril are particularly strong when compared with those of a dog, which has only a small muscle for those quick motions of the nostril, which we may observe while the animal is smelling. In the fear and panting of a sheep, the motion of the nostril is perhaps the only trait of expression.



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