From J. P. M. Weale 7 July 1867
Bedford [Cape of Good Hope]
July 7th. 1867
My dear Sir,
I received your kind reply to my notes, which was very gratifying to me. I have to note some errors which I am afraid slipped into my paper, but am not quite certain.1
I think I wrote after P. Zochalia “the only purely S. African form”. If I did it was a mistake.2 Amongst the plants which I have noticed as presenting a deceptive resemblance to orchids is the “Impatiens Capensis”, a plant which loves moisture & shade, & appears very attractive to small hairy Diptera with a long proboscis. I am afraid this plant got misplaced amongst the labiates, which I allow is a gross error on my part, & one which made me blush when I discovered it.3
My friend, Mr. MacOwan of Grahamstown has suggested to me that it would be more correct to name the Bonatea “Darwiniana” as more according to the Botanical Codes.4
I have sent the list of Questions relative to the Native Races to Dr. Grimmer of Colesberg, where most Hottentots & Bushmen are to be found, so far as concerns the Colony,—to the Revd. Tiyo Soga, a Kafir missionary beyond the borders, to Charles Brownlee Esqre the Gurka Commissioner, to Dr. Macarthey of the Katberg Convict Station, to Henry Bowker Inspector of the Mounted Police, & to some friends in Natal.5
Enclosed I send you some answers written by Christian Gaika, constable here & brother to the Chief Sandilli.6
I am sorry to say it is very difficult to get those, who best know the Kafirs to write replies. Intelligence is at such a low stage here, that it is the exception to find scientific enquiries treated otherwise than with contempt.
I wrote out some copies & gave them to some farmers in the neighbourhood, but they have never taken any trouble with the subject.
With respect to the muscle the French call ‘Grief Muscle’ I was a little puzzled, as I thought that the ‘corrugator’ drew the eyebrows together & downward, while ‘Frontalis’ raised & opened them out.7
With respect to both Kafir & Hottentot children the lips are much protruded when they are displeased & sulky, & I have noticed the same in Kafir adults, of both sexes.8
In great grief it is a common gesture amongst Kafirs to place the palms of both hands on the head.
When I have finished my observations I will send you fuller particulars, & will now come to the object of this letter.
I read the notes in the Linnean Soc: Journal on the action of the stamens in Indigofera & medicago.— I had several times tried the larger flowering leguminous plants here with pieces of Horse hair & pins, but to no effect.9
I have now I believe to add another order in which there are special contrivances for crossing different flowers, viz “Polygaleæ”.10 I am not certain, but think this is a novelty. I have tried several Polygalas at different times, but could never succeed.
While out collecting a few weeks ago I gathered on the mountain a Muraltia, which appears to me to be “Muraltia ericæfolia” D.C. var: [G[b]G]. curvifolia. It hardly quite agrees with Harvey’s description,11 but from the specimens I have gathered appears to vary slightly even on the mountain according to its situation. When I brought my plants home for drying I was struck with the different positions of the stamens in different flowers & with Medicago Sativa fresh in my memory I inserted a small pin, & was delighted to see the whole bundle of stamens protruded from the enveloping carina, & start up violently against the two posterior petals. My drawings were made from plants which had been sometime in water, & so the action is hardly so intensely displayed as in growing plants.12
The bundle of stamens is held down in the fleshy concave case of the carina, the stigma being considerably below the anthers. As far as I could see with the unassisted eye it appeared to me that in the fresh flowers a minute quantity of juice spirted up with the stamens, but before closing this I hope to visit the top of the mountain & ascertain it with a glass. As the anthers only open at the apex, & the pollen is shot out in an upward direction it seems highly probable that none of the plant’s own pollen can fall on the stigma. I noticed that almost all the plants lower blossoms had been visited, & I noticed a moderate sized grey Dipterous Insect & bees buzzing round the plants. It struck me also—at a time of the year when so few plants in this neighbourhood are in flower—that its 〈 〉 it appears 〈 〉 with white 〈 〉 resembling it in foliage 〈 〉 might not be a 〈 〉 perhaps be essential to it 〈 〉13 do how attractive heaths are to bees. I have made some dissections of the flower in mature & immature conditions under the microscope. In the mature specimens the stamens invariably started up on the incision being made with the knife, but in the immature ones they appeared to be held down by the closely adhering edges of the carinal case.
You will notice in my drawing that the thick bundle of spiral vessels beneath the ovary sends off a far larger quantum to the posterior petals than to the carina & that they are curved at a much sharper angle than on the other side. (I have only made very rough diagrammatic tracings of my drawings) I am inclined to think that when the pin is inserted it pushes against the two petals, & also against the base of the stamens, so that the anthers are pushed upwards through the opening of the carinal sheath, & then the spiral vessels having been thus stretched act in the manner of a steel spiral spring, & produce the action observed. As I have not concluded my dissections, I only venture this as a suggestion.
The plants appear full of seed.
I do not know whether it will strike you as it does me, but it seems to me that this is a case analogous to the apparent similarity of adaptations between the Orchids & Asclepiads.14 In this case we have adaptations of a similar nature in two most distinct orders. The strikingly Papilionaceous resemblance in the Polygalas proper with their large & conspicuous keel & alæ, seems to me carried out in an inferior degree in the muraltias, whose analogues would seem to be Amphithaleas.15 The Medicagos nigra & laciniata & one species of Clover have somewhat similar actions in their stamens here.
Since writing the above I have again visited the mountain. On examining the flowers with a glass I found that I was in error, & must have mistaken the pollen for the juice. Almost all the flowers on many dozens of plants had been visited by insects, & it was difficult to find a blossom with the flowers unaltered. As it was a warm day I observed bees in plenty especially a small species, which I captured in the act of loosening the stamens. I found on further examination that a slight pressure on the tips of the petals was sufficient to make the stamens leap out of their carinal case.
I am expecting shortly to leave Bedford, but whether I go to Cape Town or Natal is yet uncertain.
I have since living here often thought of your remarks on Colonies in the Voyage of the Beagle.16 It is the exception here to meet agreeable associates & one has to fall back on books for company.
I send enclosed a small packet of Locust Dung. It has been suggested to me that certain obnoxious masses have been carried from different parts of the colony by these insects. I have my doubts on the subject, but you could more easily ascertain whether any seeds of African plants are contained in it in England than I could here.
Trusting that your health may long permit us to enjoy the fruits of your interesting labours | I am, my dear Sir | faithfully yours, | J. P Mansel Weale.
P.S. I may remark that in cases of extreme fear Kafirs are unable to control their bowels, but freely void both fæces & urine. I once saw a Kafir seized by a powerful colonist by the throat, & half choked, when the above unpleasant results occurred most freely, & I have often heard of similar cases. I have been told but have never witnessed the fact myself that Kafirs will turn pale under extreme terror.
A Kafir when he has committed any offence & is trying to screen it will look sideways towards the ground, & every now & again, when he thinks you are not observing look slyly up as if to gather what impression his story has made on you. I remember noticing a somewhat similar habit in a little Chinese girl we had in the house, when I was living in England.
Answers written by Christian Gaika, Constable at Bedford, brother of the Chief Sandilli17
[(1.) Is astonishment expressed by the eyes and mouth being opened wide, & by the eyebrows being raised?]
Answer to first question, Yes they do open their mouths and rise their eyebrows.
[(2.) Does Shame excite a blush when the colour of the skin allows it to be visible? Especially how far down the body does the blush extend?]
Second question Know there is no discolour of the face visible
[(3.) When a man is indignant or defiant does he frown, hold his body and head erect, square his shoulders and clench his fists?]
Third question yes when the indignation is much in them, but they do not square their shoulders.
[(4.) When considering deeply on any subject, or trying to understand any puzzle, does he frown, or wrinkle the skin beneath the lower eyelids?]
Fourth question yes and some times puts his hand to his chin, and pul his beard
[(5.) When in low spirits, are the corners of the mouth depressed & the inner corner or angle of the eyebrows raised & contracted by that muscle which the french call the grief muscle?]
Fifth question Know
[(6.) When in good spirits do the eyes sparkle, with the skin round and under them a little wrinkled & with the mouth a little drawn back in the corners?]
Sixth question Know no signe is seen.
[(7.) When a man sneers or snarls at another, is the corner of the upper lip over the canine teeth raised on the side facing the man whom he addresses?]
Seventh question Know he lifts his upper lip a little and shows his upper teeth and turns his head on the side of the one he is adressing
[(8.) Can a dogged or obstinate expression be recognised, which is chiefly shown by the mouth being firmly closed, a lowering brow & a slight frown?]
eigth question yes they do when fighting
[(9.) Is contempt expressed by a slight protrusion of the lips & turning up of the nose, with a slight expiration?]
ninth question Contempt is expressed by smiling and laughing
[(10.) Is disgust shown by the lower lip being turned down, the upper lip slightly raised, with a sudden expiration something like incipient vomiting?]
Tenth question yes, but not always.
[(11.) Is extreme fear expressed in the same general manner as with Europeans?]
Eleventh question yes the shaking of the body is much experiensed and the eyes widely opend.
[(12.) Is laughter ever carried to such an extreme as to bring tears into the eyes?]
Twelfth question yes that is their common practice.
[(13.) When a man wishes to show that he cannot prevent something being done or cannot himself do something, does he shrug his shoulders, turn inwards his elbows, extend outward his hands & open the palms?]
Thourteenth question yes they are then restless and look ashamed to keep their heads up.
[(14.) Do the children when sulky pout or greatly protrude the lips?]
Fourteenth question yes and some times showes dishonour to the one
[(15.) Can guilty, or sly, or jealous expressions be recognised—though I know not how these can be defined?]
Fifteenth question Guilt can be recognised by the eyes half opend, and the chin to the breast, and some times by the movements in the body. jealous by the distemper showen to the party
[(16.) As a sign to keep silent is a gentle hiss uttered?]
Sixteenth question yes
[(17.) Is the head nodded vertically in affirmation, & shaken laterally in negation]
Seventeenth question yes
Has distributed CD’s questions on expression. Observations on the natives.
Floral structure encouraging cross-pollination in Polygala.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5581,” accessed on 25 August 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-5581