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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Robert Brough Smyth   13 August 1868

Coranderrk

17th. June 1868

Memorandum.1

Dear Sir

Herewith I have the honor to forward for the information of Mr. Darwin answers to his questions from

1. The Reverend Mr. Hagenauer, a Missionary in Gipps Land2 who has had many years experie〈nce〉 of the Aborigines of Australia, and who is an inte〈lligent〉 clever observer.

2. Mr. La〈n〉g 〈    〉 Teacher at the Aborig〈ine〉 st〈ation〉 〈45 line missing〉 and 〈    〉 from all 〈sor〉ts of th〈e〉 Color〈  〉 〈c〉ollected in n〈  〉mb〈  〉

3. Mr. Lane a Polic〈e M〉agistrate, a〈n〉d Wa〈rd〉en—〈a〉 gentleman, on whose o〈b〉servations the utmost reliance may be placed.

4. Mr. Templeton Bunnet—whose Station 〈i〉s 〈on〉 the borders of the Colony—and by reason of its situation enables the observer to see some Aboriginals who have not had much intercourse with the Whites.3

5. Mr. Bulmer4—a Missionary in a remote part of Gipps Land.

It was my intention to have visited Coranderrk;5 and to have made observations as closely in accordance with Mr. Darwin’s requirements as practicable but urgent business, which has occupied my attention ever since I received Mr. Gowen Evans’6 letter has prevented me from fulfilling this duty. I have however made observations wherever a suitable subject presented himself—

“Jim Cane” a very lively and intelligent full-blooded Aboriginal came from Warrnambool t〈o〉 see me—as the 〈    〉 in reference to the removal of his children to the school 〈at〉 Lak〈e〉 Condah.7

I ex〈  〉 〈rest of line missing〉 with questio〈ns of〉 gr〈a〉ve impor〈tance〉 〈    〉 made a f〈  〉

When laug〈h〉ing the skin o〈  〉 〈    〉 eyelids wr〈in〉kled 〈    〉 head was bent forward—the 〈shou〉lders were elevated—and 〈the〉 hands were removed from the body—the fingers gathered t〈o〉geth〈er〉 as if picking up fruit; and again the hands were drawn backwards—lightly touching the hips.

When trying to remember a word he had forgotten—the body was bent forward—the head thrown slightly backwards—and the eyes were half or nearly closed.

The upper eyelids quivered.

I showed Jim Cane a mass of silver in a glass case—beautifully mounted, and bearing a slight resemblance to the form of a sheep—a thing surprising and singularly attractive to a Black fellow.

His curiosity was excited. The upper lip was slightly drawn together, and slightly protruded, and all the muscles about the corner of the nose worked rapidly.

Something being named on which he felt strongly (the injustice done him as he conceived by the removal of his children) he threw his half opened hand up to his he〈ad〉 and spoke very rapidly.

When shewn a mas〈s〉 of off〈i〉cial papers in a large ro〈om〉 〈1 line missingcluck-cluck45line missing〉 the mouth 〈3 or 4 words missing〉 and again he 〈    〉 back his hands towards 〈    〉 hips.

In endeavouring to explain any point of difficulty he turned out his hands, and exposed the flat palms—the 〈t〉humb being bent outwards from the fingers.

Addressing me on a subject interesting to him—his face was fronting me, the eyes turned quite to the left—so as to show little more than the whites.

Thomas Bungelene—a full blooded Black—who was educated at the expense of the Government and who was for some time under my charge—showed on one occasion a complexion as nearly approaching to what we understand by paleness as could well be conceived in the case of a very Black fellow.8

He was angry and much frightened—and almost a death like pallor was exhibited.

Mr. Thomas A. Hickey, the Clerk of the Central Board—took a full blooded Black named “Jemmy Barber” to the Theatre Royal Melbourne when the Japanese Jugglers and Acrobats were giving a performance.9

Jemmy had never been in a theatre before, or indeed, in any lar〈ge〉 Hall. When he saw the place he did 〈n〉ot wish to go any fu〈rther〉 〈1 or 2 lines〉 an assemblage 〈23 line〉 He breathed hard through 〈1 or 2 words〉 〈  〉ting his nostrils, whether through fear surprise 〈or del〉ight Mr Hickey could not ascer〈tain.〉 He would not answer questions put to him.

When he saw two little boys turning head over heels very quickly he was much astonished and expressed his feelings by protruding his lips and making a noise with his mouth as if he were blowing out a match.10

R Brough Smyth

Flemington, | 13th Aug. 1868

[Enclosure 1]

A Mission Station, Lake Wellington

May 28, 1868.

Sir

It gives me great pleasure to forward to you the answers to the Queries of Expressions of the Aborigines here and in my neighbourhood and I hope that it will be satisfactory to you for the purpose required. I have done my best in the matter, but not being a scientific man 〈    〉 I may not have expressed myself clear en〈ough〉 although I follow〈ed〉 closely to the questions with 〈2 lines〉 not much 〈3 or 4 words〉 the Queries

Some of my notes had 〈    〉 taken for some time back for a Photographic Artist near Melbourne, 〈bu〉t I am glad to be able to send them complete to you.

I have the honour to be | Sir | Your obedient Servant | F. A. Hagenauer

R. Brough Smyth Esqr | S. C. B. A. | Melbourne.

Answers to Queries about Expressions 11

No 1. Astonishment is very often expressed by the eyes and and mouth being opened wide and the eyebrows raised.

No 2. I have never seen anything like a blush, but I have seen them looking down to the ground in account of shame.12

No 3. It is seldom that a man in an indignant state frowns or holds the head erect, but does oftener clench his fist and square his shoulders.

No 4. When considering deeply he does frown.

No 5. When in low spirits the corners of the mouth are depressed and the head hangs a little forwar〈d〉 but I could not observe a movement of the g〈rief muscle〉13

No 6. When in good spirit the eyes sparkle with the s〈kin〉 round and under them a little wrinkled 〈3 lines missing

No 9. Contempt is expressed by 〈a〉 slight protusion of the lips and turning up of the nose with a slight expiration.

No 10. Not observed.

No 11. Fear is expressed in the same manner as by Europeans, and in extreme cases they will lift both arm above the head.14

No 12. I have often seen tears coming into their eyes by great laughter.

No 13. Only observed them motionless under circumstances where they cannot prevent a thing being done.

No 14. Children when sulky do pout.

No 15. Guildy expression can be seen by the eyes being generally closed a little;15 jealousy by a frown.

No 16. A gentle hiss is generally uttered as a signal for silence by some; by others also a sound like the low cry of cattle.

No 17. The head is nodded vertically in affirmation and shaken laterally in negation.

[Enclosure 2]

Coranderrk

17th. June 1868

Not Official

Dear Sir

As the time has now elapsed for my replies to the various Queries relative to expression I have sent you all the answers I am able to give in accordance with the instructions and I can assure you that I have found it a much more difficult task than I anticipated and one requiring more time   however, I trust that what    written 〈several lines missing

the honor to 〈be〉

Dear Sir | Your most obedient servant | Archibald Grahame Lang

R. Brough Smyth Esquire

Answers to Queries relative to the different emotions depicted on the countenances of the Aboriginals

No 1. Astonishment I have found exactly corresponds with your description.

No 2 I have noted that shame almost invariably excites a blush which frequently extends as low as the neck.16

No 3 Indignation was shown by the eyebrows being very much contracted, the eyes appeared to flash, the body erect and the arms occasionally thrown about

No 6 When in good spirits the eyes sparkle with the skin as described but    a〈rm〉s were rais〈e〉d a〈nd〉 ext〈ende〉d 〈one or more lines

No 15 A sense of guilt is    ly show〈n〉 by the eyes being turned from side to side

No 16 As a sign to keep silence a gentle hiss is uttered.

[Enclosure 3]

Belfast

June 24th. 1868

Dear Sir,

I return herewith the Ethnological questions to which you wished me to give a reply, but it must be understood that having never studied the subject, the opinions I have ventured to express on the various queries proposed, are the result only of those general observations of character which 〈four lines missing〉 the Ab〈or〉igin〈es〉 of these    as also the Red Indians of N. America—seem to be wanting in the usual manner of shewing surprise—

I have the honor to be | Dear Sir | Your most obednt. Servt. | H. B. Lane PM

To | R Brough Smyth Esqr

Queries about Expression17

No 1. Is astonishment expressed by the eyes and mouth being opened wide, and by the eyebrows being raised? Yes

No 2. Does shame excite a blush when the color of the skin allows it to be visible, and especially how low down does the blush extend? Yes

No 3. When a man is indignant or defiant does he frown, hold his body and head erect, square his sholders and clench his fists? Yes

No 4. When considering deeply on any subject or trying to understand any puzzle does he frown or wrinkle the skin below the lower eyelids? Yes

No 5. When in low spirits are the corners of the mouth depressed and the inner corner or angle of the eyeb〈row〉 raised by that muscle which the Fren〈c〉h call 〈the ‘Grief’ muscle?〉

No 6. When 〈in good spirits do the eyes sparkle with th〉e skin round and under the〈m a little wrinkled〉 and with the mouth a little drawn back in the corners?

No 7. When a man sneers or snarls at another is the corner of the upper lip over the canine or eyeteeth raised on the side facing the man whom he addresses? Yes

No 8. Can a dogged or obstinate expression be r〈e〉cognised, which is chiefly shown by the mouth being firmly closed, a lowering brow and a slight frown? Yes

No 9. Is contempt expressed by a slight protusion of the lips and turning up of the nose with a slight expiration?

No 10. Is disgust shown by the lower lip being turned down, the upper slightly raised with a sudden expiration something like incipient vomiting or spitting something out of the mouth?

No 11. Is extreme fear expressed in the same general manner as with Europeans? I think so.

No 12. Is laughter ever carried to such an extreme as to bring tears into the eyes? I never saw this effect with Aboriginals

No 13. When a man wishes to shew that he cannot prevent something being done or cannot himself do something does he shrug his shoulders turn inwards his elbows extend outwards his hands and open the palms? Yes

No 14. Do children when sulky pout or protrude the lips? Yes

No 15. Can guilty or sly or jealous expressions be 〈reco〉gnised, though I know not how these can be defined. Yes ge〈nerally〉18

No 16. As 〈a〉 sign to keep silent is a gentle hiss 〈uttered?〉

No 17. Is the head nodded vertically i〈n affirmation, and shaken〉 lat〈erall〉y in negation?

Observations on natives wh〈o〉 have had little communication with Europeans would be of course the most valuable though those made on any natives would be of much interest to me.

General remarks on experience19 are of comparatively little value. A definite description of the cou〈n〉tenance under any emotion or frame of mind would possess much more value, and an answer within 6 weeks20 would be gratefully accepted.

Memory is so deceptive on subjects like these that I hope it may not be trusted to.

Down Bromley Kent. Octr. 1867.

[Enclosure 4]

Echuca

25 June 1868

Dear Sir

I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated the 4th ulto enclosing a series of questions having reference to Emotional Express〈ion〉 〈2 or 3 lines missing〉 of forwarding my    which are based upon careful personal observation supported by very valuable and reliable information obtained from two Gentlemen21 long resident in these parts and thoroughly acquainted with the character and habits of the Blacks amongst whom they lived during many years at a period when the natives had comparatively little friendly intercourse with Europeans   Mr Mitchell in particular has    them under daily observation    〈o〉ther parts of Australia 〈several lines missing〉 wishes but the importance of 〈the〉 subject induced me to be very particular in the sources of my information

I have the honor to be | Dear Sir | Your most obedient Servant | Templeton Bunnet

R. Brough Smyth, Esq. | &c & | Melbourne

Queries about Expression22

No 1. Is astonishment expressed by the eyes or mouth being opened wide, and by the eyebrows being raised? Yes

No 2. Does shame excite a blush when the color of the skin allows it to be visible, & especially how low down does the blush extend? The emotion of shame is not exhibited by any observable expression however inwardly it may be felt.

No 3. When a man is indignant or defiant does he frown, hold his body and head erect square his shoulders and clench his fists? Yes

No 4. When considering deeply on any subject or trying to understand any puzzle does he frown or wrinkle the skin below the lower eyelids? Yes

No 5. When in low spirits are the corners of the mouth depressed and the inner corner or angle 〈of the eyebrow〉 raised by that muscle which 〈the French call the ‘grief’ muscle?〉23

No 6. Wh〉en 〈in good spirits do the eyes sparkle, with the skin ro〉und an〈d un〉der them 〈a little wrinkled and〉 with the mouth a little drawn back in the corners?

No 7. When a man sneers or snarles at another, is the corner of the upper lips over the canine or eyeteeth raised on the side facing the man whom he addresses? Yes

No 8. Can a dogged or obstinate expression be r〈e〉cognised, which is chiefly shown by the mouth being firmly closed a lowering brow and a slight frown? Yes

No 9. Is contempt expressed by a slight protrusion of the lips and turning up of the nose with a slight expiration? Yes slightly, but this emotion is more markedly shewn by a peculiar expression of the eyes.

No 10. Is disgust shown by the lower lip being turned down, the upper slightly raised with a sudden expiration something like incipient vomiting or spitting something out of the mouth? I have been unable to trace any outward expression of the sentiment of disgust.

No 11. Is extreme fear expressed in the same general manner as with Europeans? Yes

No 12. Is laughter ever carried to such an extreme as to bring tears into the eyes? Tho' indulging in the heartiest fits of laughter they do not produce the effect of bringing tears into the eyes.

No 13. When a man wishes to shew that he cannot prevent something being done or cannot himself do something does he shrug his shoulders turn inwards his elbows, extend outwards his hands and open the palms? Yes but in a more subdued and less demonstrative manner than is the case amongst civilised peoples.24

No 14. Do children when sulky pout or protrude the lips? Yes

No 15. Can guilty or sly or jealous expressions be 〈recognised〉? though I know not how these can be defined? Yes

No 16. As a sign to keep silent is a gentle hiss 〈uttered〉? Yes

No 17. Is t〉he head nodded vertically in 〈affirmation and〉 shaken laterally in negation?

〈Observations on natives who have had little communication with Europeans w〉ould 〈be of course the most valuable th〉ough 〈those made on any〉 natives would be of much interest to me. General remarks on experience are of comparatively little value. A definite desc〈r〉iption of the countenance under any emotion or frame of mind would possess much more value, and an answer within 6 weeks would be gratefully accepted.

Memory is so deceptive on subjects like these that I hope it may not be trusted to.

Down Bromley Kent. Oct 1867

[Enclosure 5]

Answers to Queries about Expression

No 1 It is a difficult matter to astonish the Aborigines but when they are astonished they raise the eyebrows and make an exclamation ‘Kooke’   to do so the mouth is drawn up as if going to whistle25

No 2 I have not been able to detect anything like shame in the adult Aborigines, but I have noticed in the children when ashamed their eyes present a restless watery appearance as if they did not know where to look26

No 3 In anger I have found that the mouth if firmly closed nostrils distended and the man picks up the first thing 〈    〉 reach to hurl at the person against w〈  〉 angry: In deliberate 〈    〉 I find 〈1 line missing〉 head 〈1 or 2 lines missing〉 which we do. 〈    〉 rem〈  〉 〈2 or 3 words〉 stupidity if unable to find the matter 〈    〉 a rule they are incapable of mental exe〈rtion〉

No 5 A Black in low spirits I find shews it 〈by〉 a sullen silence mouth closed eyes sle〈e〉py looking and not inclined to walk about, but will if left to himself roll himself up in his rug

No 6 A Black in good spirits shews it by his sparkly eyes and a grin which shews his teeth all the face in a smile. As a rule Blacks are very impulsive   they are like children very easily pleased and its opposite. When a Blk’s wants are all supplied and he has health he is generally in good spirits.

No 7. In snarling at each other I find they speak with the teeth closed the upper lip drawn to on〈e〉 side and a general angry expression of face looking direct at the person addressed27

No 8 A dogged or obstinate expression may be detected by the mouth being firmly closed and a frown

No 9 Contempt is shewn in the same way as described in the circular. the same remarks will apply to No 10 disgust

No 11 During the time I have had the circular I have not seen a case of extreme fear

No 12 Laughter is often carried to such an extent that tears are brought into the eyes   the Blks have a keen sense of the ludicrous. They are excellent mimics and when one is a〈ble to i〉mitate the peculiarities of some absent member of the tribe, it is very common 〈to hear〉 all in the 〈camp convulsed with laughter〉28

〈No 13〉 〈    〉 he 〈    〉 not p〈r〉event someth〈in〉g being do〈ne〉 he 〈    〉 merely said so and turn〈ed〉 away as if half ashamed

〈No 1〉4 When the children are sulky they pout the lips

No 15 I cannot say anything about a jealous expression not having observed a case

No 16 As a sign to keep silence I have seen the person put the mouth as if going to whistle and then suddenly open it, at the same time silently uttering the word Woo lart ba wort which means be silent. I have also observed when they wish to stop a noise they give a sudden Yah

〈No 1〉7 In making a sign in the affirmative the head is nodded vertically with an expression gna which means yes. but they do not like us nod the head silently

In making a sign in the negative they throw the head a little back and put out the tongue29

These are the fruits of my observation   I hope I have made my remarks plain so that they may be of use to you. I may say all which I have stated I have seen among the Blks and if you think that the modes of expression is nearly similar to European expression, I can only say I think the Blk 〈    〉 〈w〉ild state would express himself just th〈  〉 〈  〉uld. N〈  〉 be anything which I ha〈  〉 〈1 line missing

fai〈thf〉ully yo〈urs〉 | J. M. Bulmer

CD annotations

7.1 It was … rapidly. 15.3] crossed pencil
12.1 The upper eyelids quivered.] scored pencil
17.1 In endeavouring … fingers. 17.2] scored pencil, ‘Shrugging shoulder’ pencil
18.1 Addressing … whites. 18.2] crossed pencil
20.1 He was … exhibited.] scored pencil
22.3 He breathed … ascer〈tain.〉 22.4] scored pencil
23.1 When … match. 23.3] scored pencil
Top of letter: ‘Australia | Owing to the kindness of Mr E. Wilson who has so much influence over his friends in Australia’ pencil; ‘4–9 | Australia’ red crayon
Enclosure 1:
Top of letter: ‘1’ pencil circled pencil
Top of Answers to Queries: ‘J. A. Hagenauer’ pencil; ‘Hagenauer’ red crayon, del pencil
Enclosure 2:
Top of letter: ‘6’ red crayon
Top of Answers to Queries ‘6’ pencil, circled pencil
Enclosure 3:
Top of letter: ‘7’ red crayon
Top of Queries about Expression: ‘7’ red crayon
Enclosure 4:
Top of letter: ‘Bunnett | 8’ red crayon
Top of Queries about Expression: ‘8’ red crayon
Enclosure 5:
No 12 … laughter〉] scored red crayon
Top of Answers to Queries ‘9’ pencil, circled pencil

Footnotes

Smyth’s letter and its enclosures were sent to CD by Edward Wilson (letter from Edward Wilson, 14 October 1868).
Smyth refers to Friedrich August Hagenauer. Gipps Land: Gippsland, a region in Victoria, Australia.
Archibald Grahame Lang and H. B. Lane have not been further identified.
John Bulmer.
Coranderrk was a station in Victoria for aboriginal peoples; it was established in 1863 (Barwick 1972, p. 24). See also Correspondence vol. 15, letter from Ferdinand von Mueller, 8 October 1867 and nn. 7 and 8.
Gowen Evans was Wilson’s representative on the board of the Argus newspaper in Victoria (Wilson, the proprietor, had moved back to England in 1864; see Aust. dict. biog. s.v. Wilson, Edward).
An Anglican mission was established at Lake Condah, Victoria, in 1867 (Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia). Jim Cane and his children have not been identified.
CD quoted Smyth’s remarks about Bungelene’s pallor in Expression, p. 294.
The ‘Central Board’ was presumably the Board for the Protection of the Aborigines. Thomas A. Hickey and Jemmy Barber have not been further identified.
CD quoted the last part of Smyth’s remarks on Barber’s expression in Expression, p. 285.
Hagenauer also answered CD’s questions in his letter to Ferdinand von Mueller, [12 September 1867] (Correspondence vol. 15).
CD quoted Hagenauer’s remarks in Expression, p. 321.
See Expression, p. 194.
See Expression, p. 292.
See Expression, pp. 262–3.
CD quoted Lang’s reply in Expression, p. 321.
Lane wrote his answers on a handwritten copy of CD’s queries about expression that was probably made in Australia. Where the text is damaged in this and the questionnaire following (enclosure 4), missing words have been supplied based on other handwritten questionnaires.
Lane’s answer has been reconstructed based on CD’s summary of responses in DAR 186.
In other lists of queries, this phrase reads, ‘General remarks on expression’.
The copyist or another person has scored out all but the ‘6’ of ‘6 or 8 months or even a year to any single one of the foregoing questions’ and interlined ‘weeks’.
The gentlemen have not been identified.
Bunnet, like Lang, wrote his answers on a handwritten copy of CD’s queries about expression. The questionnaire is in the same hand and contains the same divergences from the usual text as Lang’s (see nn. 19 and 20, above).
Bunnet’s answer has been destroyed: in DAR 186: 6, CD noted by Bunnet’s name under this question: ‘A chapfallen expression observed   no g muscle’. See also Expression, pp. 178–9.
CD quoted Bunnet’s answer in Expression, p. 269.
CD quoted from Bulmer’s answer (writing ‘Korki’ instead of ‘Kooke’) in Expression, pp. 285–6.
CD quoted Bulmer’s answer in Expression, p. 321.
CD quoted Bulmer’s answer in Expression, p. 252.
Missing sections in Bulmer’s answer to question 12 have been restored from CD’s quotation of it in Expression, p. 209.
CD quoted Bulmer’s answer in Expression, p. 275.

Summary

Relates some observations on expression among Australian aboriginals and encloses answers to CD’s queries from other observers. [These include letters and observations from: J. A. Hagenauer, 28 May 1868; Archibald Grahame Lang, 17 June 1868; H. B. Lane, 24 June 1868; Templeton Bunnett, 25 June 1868; J. Bulmer (1868). (See introduction to Expression.)]

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-6314
From
Smyth, R. B.
To
Darwin, C. R.
Sent from
Flemington, Australia
Source of text
DAR 177: 205–12
Physical description
4pp damaged †, encl 14pp damaged †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6314,” accessed on 6 December 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-6314

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