From Dyson Lacy [before 13 August 1868]1
Original Questions with answer’s 2
No 1 Is astonishment expressed by the eyes and mouth being opened wide and by the eyebrows’ being raised?
Ans: Astonishment I have seen expressed by the eyebrows’ being raised and a peculiar noise made with the mouth as if articulating the word “clock”.3 This note was made from observation at the time.
No 2 Does shame excite a blush when the colour of the skin allows it to be visible and especially how low down does the blush extend.?
Ans: The only ideas of shame that they seem to have are these, the men and women go about in a state of nature and of that they are not ashamed but if the foreskin of the man is turned back so as to expose him or the woman exposes herself in a similar manner according to her formation then the sense of shame comes over them but I think only in a very limited degree, as regards change of colour the coating of dirt is generally so thick that it would require more than an ordinarily strong blush to penetrate.4 If you can imagine it I may remark that I have seen them almost turn pale with fear.
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.?
Ans An indignant man frowns and sets himself erect his hands clutch his weapon “Nullah Nullah”.5 they have no notion of clenching the fist at least I have never seen it done amongst wild blacks. The first part of this note was put down on the first occasion, the last is from memory.
No 4 When considering deeply on any subject; or trying to understand any puzzle does he frown or wrinkle the skin beneath the lower eyelids.?
Ans I have seen them thinking deeply when out with me tracking and in referring to events that have happened sometime previously and have always noticed them both frown and wrinkle the lower eyelids.6
No 5 When in good spirits do the eyes sparkle with the skin round and under them a little wrinkled and with the mouth a little drawn back in the corners.?
Ans I have noticed their eyes sparkle but no other sign except laughter which I have seen carried to such an excess as to bring tears.7
No 6 8 I have only seen one black who ever shewed grief it was plainly marked by raised eyebrow’s and the lower lip inclined to hang there were other indications but I cannot find words to explain.
No 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 adresses.?
Ans The whole upper lip is raised9 and he talks very fast laying strong emphasis on the apparent end of sentences.
No 8 Can a dogged or obstinate expression be recognized, which is chiefly shewn by the mouth being firmly closed, a lowering brow and a slight frown?
Ans I can give no better description, but may add that the arm’s are generally folded.10
No 9 Is contempt expressed by a slight protrusion of the lips and turning up of the nose with a slight expiration.?
Ans When a mans wishes to shew contempt he turns up his nose his lips protrude a little in giving vent to a noise such as little boys make sometime by blowing on their hand, the upper lip is a little turned up—11
No 10 Is disgust shewn by the lower lip being turned down the upper lip slightly raised with a sudden expiration something like incipient vomiting or spitting something out of the mouth?
Ans Disgust is shewn in the above way also by shrugging the shoulders and uttering an exclamation like “Ugh”12
No 11 Is extreme fear expressed in the same general manner as with Europeans?
Ans I have seen extreme fear expressed by a nervous twitching of hands, feet; lips, perspiration standing out on the skin,13 and an incapacity to hold their urine
No 12 Is laughter ever carried to such an excess as to bring tears in the eyes
Ans Yes,14 I have at the time this was noted made one of the boys roll over and over with laughing.
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.?
Ans I have no note down neither do I remember anything in reference to this question worth noting.
No 14 Do children when sulky pout and greatly protrude the lips?
Ans Children both pout and protrude the lips in a manner to shew their temper and in other ways behave as a naughty European child would15
No 15 Can guilty or sly or gealous expressions be recognized? tho I know not how they can be defined.?
Ans They are easily detected expecially if the thought occurs that they are suspected I can only define it by a restless and uneasy manner a dislike to look at you16 and a decided tendency to tell a whole packet of lies when undergoing a gentle cross examination.
No 16 As a sign to keep silent is a gentle hiss uttered?
Ans When out hunting with them I have always noticed the above sign.
No 17 Is the head nodded vertically in affirmative and shaken laterally in negative?
Ans I have noticed the head nodded vertically in affirmative, but the word (Baal) or (Ara) meaning No used as negative without any lateral inclination of the head.17
With one or two exceptions these were noted down at different times, and in one or two instances only has memory been resorted to, I have had good opportunities of remarking their habits and have come to the conclusion that they are for nearly all purposes a very useless race, and that anything that they can do well such as tracking can be equally well done by a white man this I know as I have seen a white man able to track as well as any black that I ever saw. They are disgustingly dirty, and cannot help telling lies.18
The following are a few words used by the blacks about our district they are not common to all for their languages vary very much for instance you will find two tribes within one hundred miles of each other that do not understand each other’s language but go some hundreds’ of miles away, and you will tribes that can speak to either of those situated at a long distance19
I give you a case in point The native Police up here are from the “Murray” district and can speak to those black’s on our run but the black’s upon our run do not understand those 50 miles away. The following words are spelt as they are sounded.20
To see” “Narler
To hear “Numger
The eye “Deelie
The Knee “Moo
To run “Warnung
A Gard “Moonmilly
A Spring “Omoodoolbee
A Creek “Dhūrra
Not or no “Ara Baal
Beard & hair “Yerlie
An Ant “Mooncana
A dray or cart “Bhoonte
Sheep “Eurie Anoo
TillyQQQQ root “Boothalla
Stomach etc “Oonah
Liver heart etc “Utcherie
Answers to CD’s queries on expression in natives of Queensland, Australia.
[Forwarded by Edward Wilson to CD.]
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6374,” accessed on 25 July 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-6374