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Darwin Correspondence Project

From F. P. Cobbe   25 December [1872]1

26, Hereford Sq


Dear Mr. Darwin,

I think the enclosed story of a dog-suicide will interest you. It seems to be better authenticated than any I had heard of when I wrote my article.2 It is sent to me by Revd. C. Conybeare of Itchen Stoke.3 Perhaps some of your party will kindly return it to me when you have read it— Miss Lloyd4 & I have come to Brighton for Xmas but intend to return to Hereford Sq in a day or two—

A friend of mine begs me to tell you that she has twice seen an Ourang Outang stare a baboon out of countenance:—the baboon retreating before the fixed & threatening gaze of the Ourang. tho’ there was no minatory action whatever

Very truly yrs. | Frances P. Cobbe

The animal my friend believes to have been an Ourang was kept in the Crystal Palace5


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to F. P. Cobbe, 28 November 1872.
In the letter to F. P. Cobbe, 28 November 1872, CD had doubted Cobbe’s claim that dogs committed suicide ([Cobbe] 1872a, pp. 445–6). Cobbe’s enclosure, presumably returned to her as requested, has not been found.
Charles Ranken Conybeare.
Mary Charlotte Lloyd.
There is no record of an orang-utan being kept at the Crystal Palace (the glass structure erected in Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition in 1851, and later moved to Sydenham). It is possible that one was exhibited at the Crystal Palace; in 1864, for example, Wombwell’s Menagerie displayed wild animals there (see Piggott 2004, p. 184).


Sends story of a dog’s suicide.

Letter details

Letter no.
Frances Power Cobbe
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Hereford Square, 26
Source of text
DAR 161: 189
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8696,” accessed on 18 February 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20