Queries about Expression

An introduction by R. B. Freeman

Darwin states on page 15 of The expression of the emotions, 1872, that he 'circulated, early in the year 1867, the following printed queries'. He adds that he had appended in manuscript a few additional remarks on some later copies, and prints sixteen queries with a final note relating to expected answers. In the course of the book, he repeatedly refers to answers which he had received from people who were in contact with non-European races, and, on pages 19-22, gives the names of twenty-nine who had replied.

Five copies of a single printed sheet are known, two and a corrected proof at Cambridge and two in America; they are dated from Down only with the year 1867. Another edition in leaflet form was also printed; this one in America at the instigation of Asa Gray. It can safely be dated on, or slightly before, March 26, 1867, but no copy is known to survive. It is not, therefore, possible to comment on its text except by inference.

Another version was published anonymously in Notes and queries for China and Japan. It is in a query dated July, 1867, and signed R. S.; Robert Swinhoe was a consular official and ornithologist stationed at Amoy at the time; the PART 1s dated August 31st, 1867. Darwin is described as 'a friend in England'. This text contains seventeen queries instead of sixteen; the one not present in the leaflet is No. 16 'As a sign to keep silent, is a gentle hiss uttered?', the only query which is about vocalization rather than expression. Five questions, Nos 2, 5, 7, 10 and 13, are shorter, and there are minor differences of wording and arrangement. It therefore differs considerably from the English printed leaflet.

Finally, it was printed in the Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution of Washington, for 1867 (1868, p. 324). This text is very close to that of Notes and queries for China and Japan, differing only in minor points and in the presence of americanisms. The printer's copy from which it was composed does not survive in the Institution. The late text in The expression of the emotions is certainly from a printed or manuscript copy of the English leaflet, from which it differs only in trivial points.

R. B. Freeman and P. J. Gautrey have examined these five versions in two papers (Bull. Brit. Mus. nat. Hist. (hist. Ser.), Vol. 4, pp. 205-219 and J. Soc. Bibiphy nat. Hist., Vol. 7, pp. 259-263). They also examined manuscript versions of the questions and associated letters; the English leaflet is reproduced in facsimile in the first paper. They conclude that Darwin was mistaken in saying in The expression of the emotions that the queries which he prints there were circulated early in 1867. They also conclude that the earlier ones, up to the autumn of 1867 at least, were in manuscript. It follows that the American edition, of which no copy is known, probably prints the text of a manuscript version, with some americanisms and a slight change in the address. This is followed by that printed in Notes and queries for China and Japan, which is also set from a manuscript version, and is the first edition in English, as opposed to American. The English pamphlet then becomes the third printing and that by the Smithsonian the fourth. They also suggest that the Smithsonian was printed from a copy of the American leaflet and that the americanisms can be attributed to Asa Gray, rather than to the editor of the Smithsonian Report. Their arguments can be disproved if a copy of the English leaflet, or an earlier printed version of it, which was certainly in print before March 1867, can be found. Darwin's statement of 'early in the year 1867' is at present impossible to reconcile with the known facts.

Darwin, C. R. 1867. Queries about expression. [N.p.: publisher or printer?]. Text Image Text & image F873

[Darwin, C. R.] 1867. Queries about Expression. In S[winhoe], R., Signs of emotion amongst the Chinese. Notes and Queries on China and Japan 1 (31 August): 105. Text Image Text & image F1739

Darwin, C. R. 1867. Queries about expression. [N.p.: publisher or printer?]. Text Image Text & image F876

Darwin, C. R. 1867. Queries about expression. In Freeman, R. B. & Gautrey, P. J. eds., Charles Darwin's Queries about expression. Bulletin of the British Museum of Natural History (historical series) 4 (1972): 205-219, 1 plate. Text Image Text & image F876

Darwin, C. R. 1868. Queries about expression for anthropological inquiry. Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, Misc. Document No. 86, for 1867: 324. Text Image Text & image F874

[Found by JvW since Freeman wrote:]

John van Wyhe, Comparison of three versions of Darwin's Queries about expression

Darwin, C. R. 1868. [Queries about expression]. Ethnology. The News, Shoalhaven and Southern Coast Districts Advertiser (12 February): 4. Text Image Text & image F3697

Darwin, C. R. 1874. Physiognomy. In Notes and queries on Anthropology, for the use of travellers and residents in uncivilized lands. (Drawn up by a Committee appointed by the British Association for the Advancement of Science.) London: Edward Stanford, pp. 12-13. Text Image Text & image F1832


From: Freeman, R. B. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d ed. Dawson: Folkstone.

NOTE: With thanks to The Charles Darwin Trust and Dr Mary Whitear for use of the Bibliographical Handlist. Copyright. All rights reserved. For private academic use only. Not for republication or reproduction in whole or in part without the prior written consent of The Charles Darwin Trust, 31 Baalbec Road, London N5 1QN.

Corrections and additions copyright John van Wyhe, The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online - National University of Singapore.


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