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Darwin Correspondence Project


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. Zochaliathe 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

CD annotations

1.1 I received … out. 8.3] crossed red crayon
9.1 With . . . sexes. 9.3] scored red crayon
10.2 on the head.] before closing square bracket red crayon
12.1 I read … succeed. 13.4] ‘Polygalea’ added blue crayon
18.4 The strikingly … labours 23.2] crossed blue crayon
Top: ‘Gaika’ ink; ‘S. Africa’ pencil ‘Natal’ brown crayon; ‘26’ brown crayon
Left margin: ‘Answers procured for me by Mr J. P. Mansel Weale, relates to Kaffirs’ ink
Right margin: ‘Introduce somewhere under Laughter case the extreme that question uncovered 〈    〉 Kaffir [illeg]pencil
Bottom: excised paragraph 9 pasted here: scored both sides red crayon; ‘J. P. Mansel Weale of Natal’ ink
On cover: ‘Expression—’ ink, del pencil ‘(cf Pouting)’ pencil, del pencil; ‘Dichogamy in Polygala— Drawings in Portfolio of Dichogamy’18 ink, scored pencil; ‘+ answers by Gaika’ pencil, del pencil; ‘J. P. Mansel Weale of Bedford, Natal C. of Good Hope’19 ^ ink


Weale sent CD a paper on Bonatea in January, in the hope that it could be published in an English journal (see letter from J. P. M. Weale, 9 January 1867). CD replied to him in a letter of 22 February [1867], saying that he had forwarded it to the Linnean Society. It was read there on 7 March 1867 and published in 1869 (Weale 1867).
In the manuscript of Weale 1867 (Linnean Society archives, SP1249), Weale wrote, ‘Amongst the Pieridæ, P. Zochalia (according to Mr. Trimen, the only purely S. African form), is, as far as the author’s observations go, very local in its range, whilst its congeners vary much and have an almost general distribution.’ The words in parentheses are crossed in ink. This sentence was not included in the version published in the Journal of the Linnean Society.
In the manuscript of Weale 1867 (see n. 2, above), Weale wrote: ‘The Scrophulariaceae in many instances are found to possess an orchideous resemblance in the Karoo, where the orchids are, as far as I am aware, unknown; & in the Bedford forest I could point to many Labiates, and especially to Impatiens Capensis which has so close a similarity of growth to an orchid, that it might easily be mistaken for one by a casual and inexperienced observer.’ This sentence was part of a section omitted in the version published in the Journal of the Linnean Society. Impatiens is a member of the family Balsaminaceae, not the Labiatae.
Weale refers to Peter MacOwan, a botanist and headmaster of the Shaw College Grammar School, Grahamstown, Cape Colony (Gunn and Codd 1981). Bonatea darwinii is a synonym of Bonatea cassidea. At the International Congress of Botany in Paris in August 1867, it was stipulated that when species were named after people, the genitive form of the noun should be used if the name was that of the person who described or distinguished the species, and an adjectival form in all other cases. It was admitted in the commentary that this rule had not been adhered to in the past and should have been proposed as a recommendation; it was later abandoned. See Candolle 1867, pp. 22, 41–2, and Candolle 1883, pp. 20, 69. MacOwan may have been referring to this distinction. Darwinii is the genitive of the noun, Darwiniana the adjectival form. No alteration to the word Darwinii was made in the manuscript (see n. 2, above).
CD had sent Weale a handwritten set of queries about expression with his letter of 27 February [1867]. W. Grimmer was district surgeon of the division of Colesberg, Cape Colony; J. McCarthy was surgeon at the Katberg Convict Station, Cape Colony (Cape of Good Hope general directory). The others referred to are Tiyo Soga, a Xhosa missionary working in British Kaffraria, Charles Pacalt Brownlee, civil commissioner of Stutterheim in British Kaffraria, and James Henry Bowker, commandant in the Frontier Armed and Mounted Police, Cape Colony (DSAB).
Christian Gaika was described as ‘Kafir Interpreter and Constable’ in the division of Bedford, Cape Colony, in the Cape of Good Hope general directory. See Shanafelt 2003, pp. 822–4, 842. Sandile was paramount chief of the Rarabe, son of Ngqika (Gaika), a Xhosa chieftain (DSAB).
In question 5 on his questionnaire, CD had asked: ‘When in low spirits are the corners of the mouth depressed & the inner corner or angle of the eyebrows raised by that muscle which the french call the grief muscle?’ (see enclosure to letter to J. P. M. Weale, 27 February [1867]). On the involvement of both the corrugator muscle and the occipito-frontalis in this expression, see Expression, pp. 179–80. CD called these muscles, when ‘in conjoint yet opposed action’, the ‘grief-muscles’ (Expression, p. 181); this was the first published usage of this phrase in English (OED). The phrase ‘muscle de la douleur’, referring to the corrugator supercilii, was used by Guillaume Benjamin Amand Duchenne in his Mécanisme de la physionomie humaine (Duchenne 1862, pp. 35–53). For the difference between CD’s and Duchenne’s understanding of the muscles used in creating this expression, see Expression, p. 181 n. 3; see also letter to J. P. M. Weale, 27 August [1867].
See Expression, p. 233.
Weale refers to Henslow 1865 and 1866, on the structure of Medicago sativa and Indigofera respectively, both published in the issue of the Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) dated 29 November 1866. Both papers included notes from CD. Weale used horsehair and pins to try to trigger the mechanism by which the pollen was ejected.
Weale refers to the order Polygaleae or Polygalaceae (Lindley 1853), now the family Polygalaceae.
Muraltia ericaefolia var: curvifolia is described in Flora Capensis (W. H. Harvey and Sonder 1859–65, 1: 100). Weale refers to William Henry Harvey.
Weale’s drawings have not been found.
This section of text (from ‘〈    〉 it appears’) is on the verso of ‘With respect … sexes.’ in paragraph 9. This part of the letter has been excised from the main body and stuck on to the enclosure. Some words, where the ink has come through the paper, are legible by means of a mirror.
In Origin, p. 193, CD had written, ‘the very curious contrivance of a mass of pollen-grains, borne on a foot-stalk with a sticky gland at the end, is the same in Orchis and Asclepias,—genera almost as remote as possible amongst flowering plants’. He suggested that natural selection had sometimes modified in a similar manner parts of different organic beings, the similarity not being due to inheritance from a common ancestor (Origin, p. 194).
The genus Muraltia was a member of the order (now family) Polygalaceae, like the genus Polygala; Amphithalea was listed in the suborder Papilionaceae of the order (now family) Fabaceae (Lindley 1853).
See, for example Journal of researches, pp. 529–30, where CD commented unfavourably on the state of European society in New South Wales, Australia.
CD quotes or cites Gaika’s answers in Expression, pp. 209 (question 12), 255 (question 9), 295 (question 11), and 320 (questions 2 and 13). The questions have been transcribed from the handwritten questionnaire sent to Weale (see letter to J. P. M. Weale, 27 February [1867]), and are given here in square brackets.
The drawings have not been found. CD kept a number of portfolios on different subjects; the contents have since been dispersed.
Bedford was in Cape Colony, on the south coast of South Africa; Natal is a province on the north-east coast of South Africa.

Letter details

Letter no.
Weale, J. P. M.
Darwin, C. R.
Sent from
Bedford South Africa
Source of text
DAR 181: 41
Physical description
8pp †, 2pp †


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 14 February 2016,