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Darwin Correspondence Project

From O. G. Rejlander   [1871]1

Odd odds and ends 2

I was teaching my Wife3 how to “develope” a collodion photogr.— —saying “now pour this evenly over the plate—there—now move the plate gently up & down”— — She moved her head to & fro but held the plate quite level— I saw her curls swaying   She stood so for nearly a minute before I awoke her. I was so interested— but the hand was still— so intent she was in listening, that the connection betw. the hand and brain was suspended— in fact, the brain rocked without communicating the action to the hand— She often talks in her sleep—

“He looked very sheepish” = some one baffled etc   When to express that the exulting party puts his thumb to his nose with extended fingers to imitate a long face.? (The Origin of gestures)

Some rub the palms of their hands briskly together at any success in joke or otherwise.

Complacently stroking the beard raising, the chin & lips

A searching look— half-shutting the eyelids fixing the eyes steadily on the object.

Indignation—challenging— Head erect, thrown back nostrils expanded—superciliary muscles projecting lips compressed—or if accomp. with contempt the corners of the mouth drawn down—the attitude ready for combat—

“He looked as dropped from the Skye” A vacant look, mouth open Arm hanging as lifeless at the sides—etc

“Crestfallen” A man sitting both hands on the knees head drooping—jaw drooping—the eyelids extended they eyes rather diverging being fixed on no object—

Aversion disgust— Much like the expr. of suddenly experience a bitter taste—

Mrs. W. told me of having several nights watched her husband go out of bed in the middle of the night4 (He was subject to epileptic fits) go downstairs and write a letter, in a good hand—Upside down!

—A Certain Officer On Parade, quite sober, (within my knowledge) sheathed his Sabre and walked on towards home—unconscious of breach of discipline—(He got one days arrest only)—

In writing—omitting words, habitually or letters—

In reading—for the eye to catch letters lower down—

Astonishment simple = Head & neck extended mouth open as if the eyes & ears were not sufficient to recieve the impress.—

Astonishment with wonder—hands—showing the palms—raised the eyes wide open eyebrows arched, the mouth open but rounded for the interjection Oh. head thrown back—

Astonishment—agreeable— Hands raised, as before, eyes dilated eyebrows raised head rather on one side slightly bent and a suppressed smile—

Contempt: the body averted head turned to the object the eyes looking ascant—corners of the mouth drawn downwards with an expression about the nose as if something smelt disagreably—

A Sneer—a disguised contempt accompanied with and awkward forced smile on one side the face—

The same by a female accompanied by a sudden puff of whispering-breath and a sudden jerk of her drapery on the side of the dis. object towards herself to blow away the “persistent” air and afraid that even the hem of her garment should be touched— male= poh! poh!

(Pleading, apologetically—“as stated”—only add a most defencless attitude)

Spitting—defiance— at a person

do. contempt— on the ground

(Llamas spit their undigested food that raises a blister on the skin)

Showing the tounge by way of insult children & very low persons show it broadly & far out   Grown up females do it pointedly & quickly

Silly people often play the tounge over the lower lip—

(Hunchbacked—club-footed child much squinting children more mischievous expecially the squinting)

Furtive looks

The pouting child both lips out if angry—as well— the underlip only if sad—called the “dripping-pan”—

The sigh deep in thought & feeling paralysing the action of the breathing untill a forcible vent is found in a Sigh—

A violent sigh from suppressed anger in man passive offensive derision or spite—by wrinkling the nose to some one—

Stamping the foot in anger or command (fem)

Snapping the fingers in contempt (male)

Striking the hand on a table—

Striking a closed fist in the palm of the other (female)

Speaking with the teeth clenched in a growl-like voice—(male)

Grief—the inner point of the eyebrows raised

Anger—the inner point of eyebrows depressed

The hands!!!

Raised over the head imploring palms out

Down at the sides—expostulating do

extended Horizontally—Open to receive


pointing with the thumb “over the left’ also really in earnest

forefinger most direct

middle finger—common men

Ring finger the same

Little finger Children—Ladies and many well bred persons—

Forefinger upright—perpendicly = warning

Closed fist extended—threat—

Forefinger to the side of the nose—knowing

Do to the forehead—thinking—with difficulty—

Forefinger to the mouth = Silence

Hand behind the ear = hearing

Forefingers in the ear = not hearing

One hand drawn smartly across the other palm means ‘nothing

Some people cannot hold the fingers still— Dying people have begun scratching the clothes just before going—

Babies toes move with the fingers

An uneasy cough—or cough to show (wanted) indifference

A Whistle to gain assurance


Yawning (I could make my Dog yawn)

Sick at sights

The mouth watering at acids

The teeth “set on edge” at the slip of the knife on a plate or filing a saw

Smacking the lips


Biting the nails

sucking the thumb or the tounge


While reading keep moving the fingers in search of inequalities—

Draw the air suddenly thro’ the nose

The Scotch— Hm! Hm! = response

Danish So–So

Also a sucking noise = indeed or “dear oh me”

Country-Engld AAh!

Swedish jah! jah-ah!?

The occupier Clark of the Shop of this Mansion5 has a bull-terrier which I had not seen before the other night (nor he me—) when (late) I passed the shop and the terrier ran at me head down— I was apprehensive of attack but he wagged his tail and sneezed with pleasure to recognise me— — How— by scent knowing me to be an inmate of the house— —

The other night I went into Alvarez’s Cig. Shop and the She-Cat there (opera Colonade)6 was most anxious—as only a cat can be—for a male companion— I saw it—& having learnt some of their calls—I made the—endearing noise—of a Cat and up got her pelvis—down on her breast— ready— I repeated it several times to show the owner it was no accident

A Dog even a strange dog will generally repeat my Uffh! Uffh! being the first noise of warning of distant danger by dogs— My Dog could say my friends name, Hoof, when asked and if not saying it plainly repeat it—at my order—untill well pronounced he generally knowing when that was by jumping about, pleased, immediately

The brain of my clever Dog I have, carefully, compared to that of a Childs at one year and 3 months—not even to 112 year— —(too long to argue)

Grangers Barndoor Cock who had two horns diagram hanging at each side—artificially produced in a cruel way   I have seen two—a man near Wolverhampton did it. The bone was laid bare on either side & then hartshorn & something else was rubbed over the bone.7

A child was lately brought to the Kings college that had the tail of a dog which it wagged like a dog. I think the whole lower part was that of a dog. Mr Dawson of K. College was my informant—8

CD annotations

18.1 A Sneer] tick in left margin, red crayon
28.1 The pouting child] ticks in left & right margins, red crayon
35.1 Speaking with the teeth clenched] tick in left margin, red crayon
58.1 An uneasy cough] tick in left margin, red crayon
Top of letter] ‘by O. G. R. | 1871’ ink


The year is established by CD’s annotation. CD had made contact with Rejlander by the end of March 1871 (letter to H. E. Darwin, 20 March 1871).
CD had consulted Rejlander about taking photographs for Expression; Rejlander was interested in the expressive power of photography (ODNB).
Mrs W. and her husband have not been identified.
‘Clark’ is written above ‘occupier’; he has not been identified. Rejlander lived at 1 Albert Mansions, Victoria Street, London (letter from O. G. Rejlander, 30 April 1871).
Alvarez has not been identified. The Opera Colonnade was in Regent Street, London.
The case has not been identified.
Dawson of King’s College has not been identified.


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

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.


Observations on expression.

Letter details

Letter no.
Oscar Gustaf Rejlander
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 189: 139
Physical description
AmemS 6pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7418,” accessed on 13 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19