We’re trying to find this correspondent – are you able to help?
The letter was written to Charles Darwin on 9 March 1875 from 81 Upper Leeson Street, Dublin. The correspondent says that they have just finished reading Descent. They write about their personal experience of pain, living in the country, collecting insects, a “long residence on the continent”, the Baths of Lucca, dogs, servants (including a French one), a thoroughbred mare, and once owning a water-spaniel that understood Italian. They were opposed to vivisection unless perhaps the animals were anaesthetised, and have just read Greg’s Enigmas of Life. The writer is not young – “not long ago” they were “nearly fifty” and their mother (presumably about seventy) had remarked on a trick of behaviour that copied the writer’s great-grandmother (their mother’s paternal grandmother, that is), who died before the writer was born. They also talk of a distant cousin with the same habit, whose grandfather married the writer’s great-grandmother’s sister. I think this means they were second cousins once removed. I can’t imagine that we will identify the second cousin (whether once removed or otherwise) but surely we can pin down the correspondent? We do have a guess, but we don’t want to influence you. Do send us a message if you have any suggestions!