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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Frederick F. Geach   June 1867


June. 1867

My dear Sir,

I enclose the result of a few observations on Malays who have not had any communications with Europeans, and beg to assure you I feel a pleasure in making any memoranda that will be of the slightest Assistance.2

I feel sorry your queries did not reach me before I visited the Aborigines in Feby,—nevertheless I shall meet with the difficult parts in time, I have made a Copy of your letter for my Friend A. E. Hart, Timor, a Gentleman well known to Mr. Wallace and an admirer of a certain book in that Gentlemans possession   I hope to get his reply within 12 mos, when I will enclose it to you.3

Please inform me if this mode of answering is in accordance with your 19th. clause,4

With best wishes for your improved health. | Yours very truly | F. F. Geach

C. Darwin Esq.


Peninsula of Johore.5

June. 1867.

Reply to Queries.6

No.1— It will be a long time before I can get an opportunity of seeing the expression.

" 2. With 3 natives to the breasts.

=I think it covers the whole body=

One Chinese = The whole body

" 3 In 3 or 4 mos. I may get a few subjects.

" 4 Corners of the mouth depressed.

Chin in wrinkles.

Frowns, Contracts eye brow.

do Frowns and looks down.

do Brow wrinkles head raised

(Orang Pahang)7


do— Frowns=

5 )

6 ) I have not had an opportunity of seeing the expressions

7 )

Queries continued


9 )

10) difficult and will take months to answer=


12. Seldom

13. You have beautifully expressed the Native actions

14— yes.

15— yes

16— require more time and better opportunities

17— yes—


All from Natives who have NO communication with Europeans=

F. F. Geach

CD annotations

Top of enclosure: ‘Singapore’ ink; ‘Malay’ pencil; ‘35 Malay’ red crayon
Enclosure, bottom of first page: ‘See over’ blue crayon, circled blue crayon
Enclosure, last paragraph: All from Natives … Europeans=] double scored blue crayon


The Malay State of Johor was an independent state within the British sphere of influence (Joseph Kennedy 1962, p. 101). The main town is Johor Baharu (Times atlas).
CD had sent Geach a handwritten copy of his queries about expression after receiving his address from Alfred Russel Wallace in March (see letter from A. R. Wallace, 2 March [1867], and letter to A. R. Wallace, 7 March [1867]). This questionnaire has not been found. For a transcript of a later, printed, version of the queries, see Correspondence vol. 15, Appendix IV. CD cited Geach a number of times in Expression for providing information on the Malay people and Chinese immigrants in Malacca (now Melaka). See also Correspondence vol. 16, letter from F. F. Geach, April 1868.
Wallace had met A. E. Hart in Delli (now Dili), east Timor, in 1861. He wrote of him: ‘He is what you may call a speculative man: he reads a good deal, knows a little and wants to know more, and is fond of speculating on the most abstruse and unattainable points of science and philosophy’ (Marchant ed. 1916, 1: 79). No reply from Hart has been found in the Darwin Archive–CUL, and he is not cited in Expression.
Geach refers to a paragraph at the end of CD’s questionnaire where CD wrote: ‘General remarks on expression are of comparatively little value; and memory is so deceptive that I earnestly beg it may not be trusted.’
Peninsula of Johore: i.e. mainland Johore, not including Singapore.
See n. 2, above.
Orang Pahang: a person from Pahang. Pahang was an independent Malay State (Joseph Kennedy 1962, p. 135).


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

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

Kennedy, Joseph. 1962. A history of Malaya A.D. 1400–1959. London: Macmillan & Co.

Times atlas: ‘The Times’ atlas of the world. Comprehensive edition. 9th edition. London: Times Books. 1992.


Encloses observations on Malays who have not had communication with Europeans [in answer to CD’s queries about expression].

Letter details

Letter no.
Frederick F. Geach
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 165: 21
Physical description
ALS 1p, encl 2pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5557,” accessed on 1 April 2023,

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