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Letter 6737

Gray, Asa to Darwin, C. R.

9 May [1869]

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    Encloses Mrs Gray's notes on expression among Arabs.


Sunday, May 9,

Dear Darwin,

I saw Miss Horner to-day, and she told me of a letter just received from Mrs. Darwin, which announced that, under Dr. Paget's care, you were all right again, and already resuming your rides. Very glad we are.

This sheet is one upon which Mrs. G. had noted a few mem. on expression—of no great account,—but showing that we often thought of you in Egypt.



In Alexandria I saw the Arab commissionaire or dragoman of an old Gentleman, who seemed a German use exactly the gesture of No 13, when the gentelman would go in a direction different from that which he pointed to—

Passing slowly a common country cargo boat, the old man on board stood looking at us, with brow wrinkled & mouth compressed & upper lip raised— An expression, as I read it, of dislike & contempt— Almost hatred—

A black towing a country trading-boat, when there came some obstruction in passing us, had the distress muscles, (the forehead transversely wrinkled in the middle,) very strongly marked, as he stood on the bank watching us—

I should say yes, certainly, to No 6— after watching a good deal—

(17) We all decided that the head was never ``shaken laterally in negation'' & that they did not understand what it meant— Nodding in affirmation was rare, it was more often a sign of approval or greeting.—

(2) One Eg. the rais (Reis i.e. Captain) of the small boat, in bringing up his boat nearly ran it into the large one, the men chaffed him a good deal, & my brother said he blushed quite to the back of his neck. He was a man full of gestures & very emphatic— When he wished to say he had nothing to do with a thing, that he washed his hands of it, he would hold both hands each side of his head, opened out flat—

One of the little village girls who carried our water-jar on excursions, a girl about 11 or 12, had one day some remark made to her by a young man of another party who passed us, evidently something which displeased her— She drew herself up, raised her head, compressed her lips dropping the corners, & fell back by one of the gentlemen of our party— Her expression was of great contempt— And the whole action very dignified—

(16) I heard the hiss to keep quiet, but as often from our dragoman & whites as from the natives—

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