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Darwin Correspondence Project

From H. N. Moseley   3 November 1876

Exeter College | Oxford

Nov 3. 1876.

Dear Sir

I send you by book post an odd volume of a Japanese printed picture book which I think will interest you because it contains two pages on which the various expressions of the human countenance are drawn with considerable vigour.1

I imagine the figures are intended to represent countenances on which the conditions which usually only accompany the various emotions laughter, suspicion, disgust &c, are from habit or senile or other states of the facial muscles and tissues more or less constantly present and which are thus grotesque. It is very possible that you have seen the book before. It is one which is commonly bought by Europeans in Japan and from which many illustrations have been copied into English works on the country. It is complete in 14 volumes.2

I have three copies of the volume which I send you and shall be very glad if you will accept of this one if you care for it.

I formed a large collection of Japanese illustrated books and manuscripts when I was in the country and amongst them I have one on Physiognomy with a series of rough figures of the various shapes of eyebrows and of eyes and maps of the face with the various regions depicted.3 I have also a general work on Necromancy, in which physiognomy and palmistry are treated of with figures of the various classes of countenances of men and women and of the various arrangements of the lines on the palm.4 I would send you these if they would interest you.

I enclose a photograph of a Falkland Island stone stream which you may care to have.5 I have a duplicate copy.

Hoping you will excuse the liberty I have taken in writing to you | I remain yours truly | H. N. Moseley late naturalist on board H.M.S Challenger.

Charles Darwin Esq FRS &c.


The book has not been found in the Darwin Libraries at CUL or Down. Moseley bought the books in Osaka, Japan, while he was on the Challenger expedition (Moseley 1879, p. 484). He had read CD’s Expression (ibid., p. 284).
The book may have been a volume of manga (drawings) by the Japanese artist Hokusai; there are two pages showing the facial expressions of blind people in the eighth volume (see Michener 1959, pp. 64–5). Hokusai’s manga were published in fifteen volumes. Some of Moseley’s Japanese books and manuscripts were donated to the Bodleian Library, Oxford, after his death. The Bodleian collection includes a fourteen-volume set of Hokusai’s manga, published in Nagoya in the late Edo period (Izumi Tytler, Bodleian Japanese Library, personal communication).
The book may have been Ninso haya manabi (A guide to physiognomy; Senryuan and Fujiwara 1840); Senryuan and Fujiwara 1840 contains series of differently shaped eyebrows and eyes and annotated faces. There is a copy in the Bodleian collection.
The book has not been identified.
The photograph has not been found in the Darwin Archive–CUL. A stone stream or block stream is an accumulation of rock debris, usually at the head of ravine and following valley floors (Collins dictionary of geology). CD had visited the Falkland Islands in 1833 and 1834 while on the Beagle voyage (Journal of researches 2d ed., pp. 188–200; he discussed the ‘streams of stones’ on pp. 196–9). The Journal of researches had been a childhood influence on Moseley (ODNB); Moseley cited it in his dedication of his Notes by a naturalist on the ‘Challenger’ to CD (Moseley 1879).


Collins dictionary of geology. By Dorothy Farris Lapidus. London and Glasgow: HarperCollins. 1990.

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

Journal of researches 2d ed.: Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle round the world, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN. 2d edition, corrected, with additions. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1845.

Journal of researches: Journal of researches into the geology and natural history of the various countries visited by HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy, RN, from 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.

Michener, James A. 1959. The Hokusai sketch-books: selections from the manga. Rutland, Vermont, and Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Company.

Moseley, Henry Nottidge. 1879. Notes by a naturalist on the ‘Challenger’, being an account of various observations made during the voyage of H.M.S. ‘Challenger’ round the world, in the years 1872–1876. London: Macmillan and Co.

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.

Senryuan and Fujiwara, Umehiko. 1840. Ninso haya manabi. [A guide to physiognomy.] 2 vols. Tokyo: n.p.


Sends a Japanese book illustrating the expression of emotions.

Letter details

Letter no.
Henry Nottidge Moseley
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Exeter College, Oxford
Source of text
DAR 171: 254
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10661,” accessed on 23 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24