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Darwin Correspondence Project


From George Cupples   29 April 1870

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

April 29/70

My Dear Mr Darwin,

I had your kind letter yesterday afternoon, and was exceedingly glad to see your handwriting again—indeed several times lately had thought of making a pretext to write, but for the idea of troubling you to reply (which your great courtesy makes me afraid of.)1

It will be a very great pleasure to me to send a Deerhound puppy—which shall certainly be of the very best.2 I have at present two brood-deerhounds, one of them a beautiful young animal, from which I expect to have a litter this summer, excelling everything before produced from the kennel. It will be some months, however, before any are ready—and perhaps, considering your inquiry as to their qualities for the house, I may see reason to recommend rather one with a “dash” of the Irish Wolfhound blood in it (supposed to 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 one of either kind could be counted upon—and shall write accordingly. Meanwhile as to your question.

No dog can be better for docility, attachment, and good behaviour about a house than the pure Scotch deerhound—but greater intelligence and a more decided turn for guardianship, with more of the mastiff temper, can be obtained in a dog partaking of the old wolf-hound blood, while at the same time the appearance of the deerhound is preserved. In case of my finding that a dog-puppy of this strain is available from a friend who breeds them, and has promised me one or two—there would be a saving of time, for in all likelihood these will come into readiness considerably earlier in the season. I shall make a point of seeing about it without delay, and giving full particulars before you make choice.

I look forward eagerly to the appearance of your new work.3 The bearings of evolution upon sex, and vice versâ, must be of intense interest as treated of by you.

I have of late by accident got into epistolary acquaintance with a very remarkable lady, Miss Hennell—whom you have seen, I believe, and whose writings show a devout appreciation of your works.4 Through her I found occasion to read for the first time the Psychology of Herbert Spencer,5 and to go on to other books of his just now. Being full of them, I am at this moment tempted as an outsider to make one or two comments en passant—but space, time, and propriety forbid. One remark I may make— Mr Spencer on the one hand, and orthodoxists on the other, seem to me to give themselves a great deal of superfluous discomfort and trouble on account of/about the results of Science. Their disposition to outcries of distress is unintelligible to Transcendentalists, who can quietly take in (I hope) all that is discovered or can be discovered—without the slightest consequent loss of ability to translate it into equivalent terms of the “good old” practical scheme of things.6

I am glad to think you are in working health.

Mrs Cupples7 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.


CD’s letter to Cupples has not been found.
Cupples had offered CD a deer-hound puppy in his letter of 11–13 May 1868 (Correspondence vol. 16).
Cupples refers to Descent.
Sara Sophia Hennell mentioned CD in the second volume of her Present religion as a faith owning fellowship with thought (Hennell 1865–[87]), but this was not published until 1873. In the first volume she wrote, ‘God … means … the universal Power residing in creation, human as well as other.... Making is, no longer instantaneous creation, effected by the fiat of the sovereign will outside nature, but the sustenation of the growth that pervades the whole internal constitution of nature’ (ibid, 1: 13). Hennell believed that conventional religious belief rested on a superstitious regard for symbols, but that ultimately no religious feeling need be lost as a result of using abstract thought to analyse such symbols.
Spencer 1855.
Cupples refers to the transcendentalist philosophy associated with Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Anne Jane Cupples.


Will send deerhound puppy.

Is critical of Herbert Spencer.

Letter details

Letter no.
Cupples, George
Darwin, C. R.
Sent from
Guard Bridge
Source of text
DAR 161: 292
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7177,” accessed on 22 October 2016,