RECORD: [Darwin, C. R.] 1867. Queries about expression. In S[winhoe], Robert, Signs of emotion amongst the Chinese. Notes and Queries on China and Japan 1 (31 August): 105.

REVISION HISTORY: Scanned, OCRed, corrected and edited by John van Wyhe 2.2006. RN3

NOTE: See introduction by R. B. Freeman.


[page] 105

SIGNS OF EMOTION AMONGST THE CHINESE &c.—The following Queries have been addressed to me1 by a friend in England.2 He wishes them to be applied to the expression displayed under various emotions by the Chinese or by any other outlandish race. Some of your readers may find leisure to record their observations on this subject in Notes and Queries. I give my Querist's own words:—

Queries about Expression.

1. Is astonishment expressed by the eyes and mouth being opened wide and by the eyebrows being raised?

2. Does shame excite a blush, when the colour of the skin allows it to be visible?

3. When a man is indignant or defiant does he frown, hold his body and head erect, square his shoulders and clench his fists?

4. When considering deeply on any subject, or trying to understand any puzzle, does he frown, or wrinkle the skin beneath the lower eyelids?

5. When in low spirits, are the corners of the mouth depressed, and the inner corner or angle of the eyebrows raised by that muscle which the French call the "Grief Muscle?"

6. 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?

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 addresses?

8. Can a dogged or obstinate expression be recognised, which is chiefly shown by the mouth being firmly closed, a lowering brow and slight frown?

9. Is contempt expressed by a slight protrusion of the lips and turning up of the nose, with a slight expiration?

10. Is disgust shown by the lower lip being turned down, the upper lip slightly raised, with a sudden expiration something like incipient vomiting?

11. Is extreme fear expressed in the same general manner as with Europeans?

12. Is laughter ever carried to such an extreme as to bring tears into the eyes?

13. When a man wishes to show 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?

14. Do the children when sulky, pout or greatly protrude the lips?

15. Can guilty, or sly, or jealous expressions be recognised?—though I know not how these can be defined.

16. As a sign to keep silent, is a gentle hiss uttered?

17. Is the head nodded vertically in affirmation and shaken laterally in negation?

Observations on natives who 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 expression are of comparatively little value.

A definite description of the countenance under any emotion or frame of mind would possess much more value.

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

Amoy, July, 1867. R. S.3

1 Robert Swinhoe (1836-1877), was an ornithologist and consular official stationed at Amoy, China 1865-1873. See Correspondence vol. 15, pp. 112-3. For Darwin's queries about expression, see Freeman and Gautrey 1972 and 1975, and Freeman 1977. See also Expression pp. 15-16 and CUL-DAR53.1.B2.

2 I. e. Darwin.

3 No replies were published.


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