Letter 8700

Lubbock, E. F. to Darwin, Emma

[c. 29 November 1873]


Wants the Anthropological Society renamed the Ethnological Society. Is trying to raise funds toward payment of the Society’s debt.


Dear Mrs. Darwin

Why do the heathen so violently rage together? he will haveall the parish against him. I don’t know whether Beaumont isstill on the School board—or if he was only on the Farnboro’one—but I have written to him on the chance. We shall get ourway, I don’t doubt, & I will break out with a chessboard or somemore books if we do.f2

I hate begging—so now you will perceive I am going to beg.Yesterday I was at the Busks’, & Mr. Busk was groaning &lamenting over his Presidency of the Anthro—(I never can spellthe horrid word)—Society—the name irritates him, as itdoes John, & it isn’t the right one.f3 We never wanted to bemerged & swallowed whole in and by this mushroom society, with nogood men in it— So I said well, why not alter it back to theEthnological, which was the first & real root of the thing?f4 Towhich he said despondently that they were in debt £700.

I said we would collect it: on which he brightened up & said if we couldscrew together half that, he should be in a position to say“take this if you become the Ethnological again: otherwise itwill be returned to those who gave it.”f5

Now I want Mr. Darwin if he will to head the subscription:his name will go so far— I don’t ask for the actual money,because we may never come to realize the sum wanted: but I askfor his name & a promise of something, if we see our way. Johnwould help I know, but I don’t like to speak for him. Poor oldMr. Crawford would have given every penny he had, in fact Ishould think he turned in his grave when his pet Society wasnamed after his bitterest enemies.f6 Will you ask Mr. Darwin tosuggest a few people we might apply to.—

I am afraid I beg badly— I never did it but once before—but Iam rather heart & soul in this matter. You see John was Presidentfor some years & the amalgamation or rather swamping of hissociety vexed him very much.f7

I hope you won’t think me very meddlesome   I felt so sorry forMr. Busk—I don’t think he’s well, either.

With love to you all I am yours affectionately EFL

DAR 170: 16



The date is established by the discussion of a dispute with GeorgeSketchley Ffinden over the use of the schoolroom in a letter from EmmaDarwin to Horace Darwin, postmarked ‘29 November 1873’ (DAR 258: 585;see n. 2, below).
Ellen Frances Lubbock quotes from the Book of common prayer(1662), Pslams 2: 1. She also refers to Beaumont William Lubbock, JohnLubbock’s younger brother. The Darwins and Lubbocks were involved in adispute with Ffinden, the vicar of Down and chairman of the schoolcommittee, who objected to the use of the Down schoolroomas a winter reading room (see J. R. Moore 1985, pp. 471 and 480, and letterto the Down School Board, [after 29 November 1873].
In 1871, the Anthropological and Ethnological Societies of Londonjoined to form the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain andIreland (Rainger 1978, p. 69). George Busk, president of the institutein 1873 and 1874, had been a member of the Ethnological Society, ashad John Lubbock. Ellen Lubbock also refers to Ellen Busk, GeorgeBusk’s wife.
The Ethnological Society was founded in 1843. The AnthropologicalSociety was founded in 1863, and many of its members opposed CD’stheory of natural selection and supported a polygenist theory of thehuman race (see Rainger 1978, pp. 56–60, Stepan 1982, pp. 44–6, andStocking 1987, pp. 245–54).
The Anthropological Institute inherited debts from the Ethnologicaland Anthropological Societies (Journal of the AnthropologicalInstitute of Great Britain and Ireland 2 (1873): 427). At the annualmeeting of the Anthropological Institute on 27 January 1874, GeorgeBusk announced that the institute was still £700 in debt, andappealed to members to join a subscription to pay it in full.
John Crawfurd was president of the Ethnological Society from 1861 to 1863 and 1865 to 1868 (Transactions of the Ethnological Society ofLondon).
John Lubbock was president of the Ethnological Society from 1863 to1865 (Transactions of the Ethnological Society of London), andpresident of the Anthropological Institute in 1871 and 1872 (Journalof the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland).
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