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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. O. W. Haweis   8 August [1873]1

Colwood, | Crawley.

Aug 8th


Having just put down your last work after reading it through with much interest I venture to contribute to the many you have doubtless collected an instance of subtle transversion what struck me forcibly some years since.

I knew well a lady who whenever a doubt of any thing spoken crossed her mind (which it did very often) twitched her mouth sideways once or twice. She was highly educated & in good society, but seldom sat long without crossing her knees and hooking the upper foot behind the leg of her chair. I sketched her once in this attitude unawares.

She died about 30 years ago leaving (among other children) an infant daughter whom I met accidentally about 14 years since. We had not conversed five minutes before the same habit of trivial scepticism and the same remarkable expression of it reminded me of her mother. I invited her on a visit, & no day passed that she was not found in her mothers attitude on her chair.2

I may add both mother & daughter were as artists far beyond the standard amateurs attain, except in rare instances.

Pray do not suppose I wish to inflict on you the trouble of acknowledging this I merely register what seems a curious group of facts with the only person I can imagine they might interest

Yours truly | J O W Haweis

CD annotations

1.1.Having … since. 1.3] crossed pencil
3.1 an infant] underlined pencil
4.1 I … interest 5.3] double crossed pencil
Top of letter: ‘Inheritance of | Gesture’ pencil


The year is established by the reference to CD’s ‘last work’ (see n. 2, below).
Expression was published in November 1872. CD discussed the inheritance of gestures in humans, citing cases where there was no possibility of the gesture having been acquired by imitation in Expression,, pp. 33–4, n. 8, and pp. 265–6.


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


On inheritance of gesture.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Oliver Willyams Haweis
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 166: 120
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9001,” accessed on 24 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21