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Letter 7177

Cupples, George to Darwin, C. R.

29 Apr 1870

Summary

Will send deerhound puppy.

Is critical of Herbert Spencer.

Transcription

The Cottage, | Guard Bridge, Fifeshire. | N.B.

April 29/70

My Dear Mr Darwin,

I had your kind letter yesterday afternoon, and was exceedingly gladto see your handwriting again—indeed several times lately had thoughtof making a pretext to write, but for the idea of troubling you toreply (which your great courtesy makes me afraid of.)f1

It will be a very great pleasure to me to send a Deerhoundpuppy—which shall certainly be of the very best.f2 I have atpresent two brood-deerhounds, one of them a beautiful young animal,from which I expect to have a litter this summer, excelling everythingbefore produced from the kennel. It will be some months, however,before any are ready—and perhaps, considering your inquiry as totheir qualities for the house, I may see reason to recommend ratherone with a “dash” of the Irish Wolfhound blood in it (supposedto be extinct, but nevertheless still extant and in my power to get.)In a week or two hence I expect to be able to say definitely when oneof either kind could be counted upon—and shall writeaccordingly. Meanwhile as to your question.

No dog can be better for docility, attachment, and good behaviourabout a house than the pure Scotch deerhound—but greaterintelligence and a more decided turn for guardianship, with more ofthe mastiff temper, can be obtained in a dog partaking of the oldwolf-hound blood, while at the same time the appearance of thedeerhound is preserved. In case of my finding that a dog-puppy ofthis strain is available from a friend who breeds them, and haspromised me one or two—there would be a saving of time, for in alllikelihood these will come into readiness considerably earlier in theseason. I shall make a point of seeing about it without delay, andgiving full particulars before you make choice.

I look forward eagerly to the appearance of your new work.f3 Thebearings of evolution upon sex, and vice versâ, must be of intenseinterest as treated of by you.

I have of late by accident got into epistolary acquaintance with avery remarkable lady, Miss Hennell—whom you have seen, I believe,and whose writings show a devout appreciation of your works.f4 Through herI found occasion to read for the first time the Psychology of HerbertSpencer,f5 and to go on to other books of his just now. Being full ofthem, I am at this moment tempted as an outsider to make one or twocomments en passant—but space, time, and propriety forbid. One remarkI may make— Mr Spencer on the one hand, and orthodoxists on theother, seem to me to give themselves a great deal of superfluous discomfortand trouble on account of/about the results of Science. Theirdisposition to outcries of distress is unintelligible to Transcendentalists,who can quietly take in (I hope) all that is discovered or can bediscovered—without the slightest consequent loss of ability to translate itinto equivalent terms of the “good old” practical scheme of things.f6

I am glad to think you are in working health.

Mrs Cupplesf7 desires to be remembered to Mrs Darwin—and I remain

My dear Mr Darwin | faithfully yours | George Cupples

Charles Darwin, Esqr. | Down

P.S. I do not feel well, but hope to be better as the Spring advances.

DAR 161: 292

true

Footnotes

f1
CD’s letter to Cupples has not been found.
f2
Cupples had offered CD a deer-hound puppy in his letter of 11–13May 1868 (Correspondence vol. 16).
f3
Cupples refers to Descent.
f4
Sara Sophia Hennell mentioned CD in the second volume of herPresent religion as a faith owning fellowship with thought (Hennell1865–[87]), but this was not published until 1873. In the first volumeshe wrote, ‘God … means … the universal Power residing increation, human as well as other…. Making is, no longerinstantaneous creation, effected by the fiat of the sovereign willoutside nature, but the sustenation of the growth that pervades thewhole internal constitution of nature’ (ibid, 1: 13). Hennellbelieved that conventional religious belief rested on a superstitiousregard for symbols, but that ultimately no religious feeling need belost as a result of using abstract thought to analyse such symbols.
f5
Spencer 1855.
f6
Cupples refers to the transcendentalist philosophy associated withRalph Waldo Emerson.
f7
Anne Jane Cupples.
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