skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project


From Frederick F. Geach   April 1868


April 1868,

My dear Sir,

I am sorry to learn from your letter of October my answers have not been sufficiently explanatory, pray assure yourself the reasons for such brevity was suggested by your remarks in paragraph 19. and from a fear of inducing conclusions without sufficient data1   however, I am glad to learn some of the answers have confirmed your views, and I hope the enclosed revised list will prove more successful—2

The unanswered questions have unfortunately evaded my observations. nevertheless I shall continue to note for a future letter.3 “You ask what caused the blushes”, I have occasionally had to construct and enter into Conversation so as to elicit the answers   Therefore you will fully comprehend the difficulty, the poor Jungle Men, and Women, are so afraid of a White Man, that it would be useless to attempt to answer query—No 3. for some time— While the Malay Women, always have a sarong & bajao dress.4 Many things cause the blushes— Doing what they know to be against orders, Caught in helping themselves to petty things—Shame & Fear.

With Chinese, in being detected in stealing petty things, falsehoods, &c, &c. The young Chinese Carpenter I spoke of blushed because I asked—Why do you not make better work? when his face, arms, breast & legs, blushed5

I have not had an opportunity of attending either a Marriage feast or being in at the death of a deer or a Fishing haul and as the Malays or Chinese seldom allow me to learn their pleasures or dislikes, Nos 6 & 7 will remain unanswered

A Number of Natives answer q. 13. in such a beautiful style I am sure you would be pleased to see. You are correct in assuming laughter is carried to excess. A married woman was excited by my orders and laughted until tears came. I have seen men do the same.

There are no Monkies kept in this part of the Country. the one I purchased with a view to Answer you, did not weep, but moaned when he saw his brothers pass in freedom—6

After again reading your remarks on question 5. I am fully persuaded the expressions are to be found in the Malays, the one that came under my notice was in a Malacca Malay,7 who has been with Europeans, the wrinkles on the forehead continue a very short way & deep.— on the next opportunity I will give more attention.—

Remaining | Yours very truly | Fred. Geach

C. Darwin Esq.

CD annotations

1.1 I am … dress. 2.7] crossed blue crayon
2.7 Many] after opening square bracket, red crayon
5.1 A Number … see. 5.2] scored blue crayon
6.1 There are … freedom— 6.3] crossed blue crayon
7.1 After] after opening square bracket, blue crayon
Top of letter: ‘Malay Peninsula’ pencil; ‘34 Malay’ red crayon


CD’s letter has not been found, but was evidently a response to the letter from Geach of June 1867 (Correspondence vol. 15), which contained replies to CD’s queries on expression. Geach refers to CD’s comment, ‘General remarks on expression are of comparatively little value.’ For a copy of CD’s printed version of his Queries on expression, see Correspondence vol. 16, Appendix V.
The enclosure has not been found.
Geach sent additional responses in his letter of 4 July 1868.
‘Bajao’, now commonly spelled ‘Bajau’, refers to a group of once nomadic maritime people, now living in Sabah, in eastern Malaysia (Sather 1997). Bajau traditional dress fully covers the bodies of the women.
In his letter of June 1867, Geach had written in answer to question 2, ‘One Chinese = The whole body’ (Correspondence vol. 15). In Expression, p. 317, CD cited Geach for this case.
CD’s question about monkeys’ crying was probably contained in his first letter to Geach, sent after he received Geach’s address from Alfred Russel Wallace (see Correspondence vol. 15, letter from A. R. Wallace, 2 March [1867]). This letter has not been found; however, in his letter to Fritz Müller of 15 August [1867] (Correspondence vol. 15), CD had also asked for information on crying in monkeys.
Malacca (now Melaka) was an area (now a Malaysian state) on the south Malaysian peninsula, on the Strait of Malacca (Columbia gazetteer of the world).


Sends expanded answers [to Queries about expression], in view of CD’s statement that his first list had not been sufficiently explanatory. Is pleased that some answers confirmed CD’s views [see Expression, passim].

Letter details

Letter no.
Geach, F. F.
Darwin, C. R.
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 165: 23
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6077,” accessed on 24 July 2016,