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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Julius von Haast   12 May – 2 June 1867

Christchurch N Z.

12 May 1867

My dear Mr Darwin

I have had the pleasure of receiving your valued letter of the 27th of February, in which you enclose some queries about Expression, which I consider of very high importance for generalisations concerning the human species, if, as I hope you are able to obtain sufficient material.1 As far as I am aware, nobody has ever tried to use thus psychological expressions in comparing them with each other & perhaps with those of the higher Mammalia for ethnological studies and I need scarcely tell you with what impatience I am expecting the results of your investigations on that important subject. I had at once your queries copied & sent them to the following Gentlemen.

1.) Fenton Chief Judge of the Native Court in Auckland

2). Revd. W. Colenso, the capital botanist in Napier Hawkes Bay

3) W. Buller FL.S. ornothologist, a Native Judge in Wanganui

4) The Revd I. Stack a Maori Missionary in Kaipoi; the first three in the northern, the last in this or South Island. No 2 & 3 are great Darwinians & 1 & 4 also very liberal minded men & I have no doubt, that they will furnish you with a great deal of reliable & valuable material.2

I do not know if you have written to Dr Hector in Wellington,3 but in any case I shall have two other copies prepared and send him one & the other to Mr Wm. Mantell FGS also a very clever Maori scholar & excellent observer.4

Unfortunately I shall not be able to furnish you with any observations of mine, as I am not within reach of the natives, but I am certain that these Gentlemen will be able to give all the necessary information. I told them to send their answers either direct to you or to me for transmission.—5 Hooker’s second volume of the Handbook of the N. Z. flora6 came by last mail & you may imagine with what avidity I went through it— The two volumes form a most excellent compact work and which will be of far greater use to the Colony, than we can at present conceive, as it will awake the minds of many colonists to look round them in their country of adoption & read the book of Nature, instead of solely money-grubbing. I think one of the greatest triumphs of modern Science has been to popularise it and thus open the lofty halls of knowledge also to those, whose ordinary occupations would formerly have prevented them from entering.

I am expecting your new work7 with great impatience from my London agent & trust that your health will allow you to work for many years without interruption   In a few weeks I shall have the pleasure of sending you another little work of mine, which will make you acquainted with the head waters of the Rakaia, one of our large alpine rivers.8

With best wishes believe me my dear Mr Darwin | ever yours very sincerely | Julius Haast.

June 2

Three of my correspondents have already written & will answer your questions most conscienciously.—

Chs. Darwin Esqre

FRS etc etc

Down Bromley Kent.

CD annotations

1.1 I have … subject 1.8] crossed blue crayon
3.1 Unfortunately … rivers. 4.5] crossed blue crayon


Haast refers to Francis Dart Fenton, chief judge of the Native Land Court in Auckland; the missionary William Colenso of Hawke’s Bay; Walter Lawry Buller, resident magistrate in Wanganui; and James West Stack, whose Christchurch mission house was built on land gifted from the Kaiapoi Reserve (DNZB). Buller was elected a fellow of the Linnean Society in 1858 (List of the Linnean Society of London). In a letter to Haast dated 20 May 1867, Stack agreed to provide answers to CD’s questions, and commented that he believed that the biblical account of creation and CD’s theory would one day be reconciled (Reed ed. 1935, pp. 63–4).
Haast refers to James Hector, director of the meteorological department of the New Zealand Institute, of the Colonial Museum, and of the botanical garden in Wellington, New Zealand (DNZB). There are no extant letters to or from Hector in this period.
Stack’s replies to CD’s questionnaire are enclosed in the letter from Julius von Haast, 4 December 1867; no replies from the other observers have been found in the Darwin Archive–CUL. CD wrote to Mantell with further enquiries, possibly in 1869 (see letter to W. B. D. Mantell, [1869?] (Calendar no. 6520)), and cited him for the information given on ideas of female beauty in Descent 2: 369. Only Stack is cited in Expression for giving information on the New Zealand Maori population (Expression, p. 20).
Haast explored the headwaters of the Rakaia in 1866 (H. F. von Haast 1948, pp. 463–75). His Report on the headwaters of the Rakaia was printed in 1866 by direction of the Provincial Government, Christchurch (J. F. J. von Haast 1866; see Correspondence vol. 14, letter from Julius von Haast, 17 July 1866). The report has not been found in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL; see also the letter from Julius von Haast, 4 December 1867.


Calendar: A calendar of the correspondence of Charles Darwin, 1821–1882. With supplement. 2d edition. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1994.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

DNZB: A dictionary of New Zealand biography. Edited by G. H. Scholefield. 2 vols. Wellington, New Zealand: Department of Internal Affairs. 1940. The dictionary of New Zealand biography. Edited by W. H. Oliver et al. 5 vols. Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand: Department of Internal Affairs [and others]. 1990–2000.

Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.

Haast, Heinrich Ferdinand von. 1948. The life and times of Sir Julius von Haast, explorer, geologist, museum builder. Wellington, New Zealand: privately published.

Haast, John Francis Julius von. 1866. Report on the head-waters of the Rakaia. Christchurch: government of Canterbury province.

Hooker, Joseph Dalton. 1864–7. Handbook of the New Zealand flora: a systematic description of the native plants of New Zealand and the Chatham, Kermadec’s, Lord Auckland’s, Campbell’s, and MacQuarrie’s Islands. 2 vols. London: Lovell Reeve & Co.

List of the Geological Society of London. London: [Geological Society of London]. 1864–1934.

List of the Linnean Society of London. London: [Linnean Society of London]. 1805–1939.


JvH will help with expression queries. Considers CD’s investigation highly important and original. Sends list of men to whom he is sending copies of the questions.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Francis Julius (Julius) von Haast
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 166: 11
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5534,” accessed on 11 December 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15