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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Lubbock   28 September [1867]1

High Elms

28 Sep

Dear Mr. Darwin

I return you with many thanks Haliburtons ingenious paper, & send you a paper which gives almost at full length something of my own which is partly in answer to it.2

Will you kindly return me the newspaper.

I hope you have been pretty well & that the Book is making satisfactory progress.3

We had a capital meeting at Dundee & I have been since in the Orkneys & Shetlands.4

Ever | Yours affecy | John Lubbock

C Darwin Esq


The year is established by the reference to the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting at Dundee (see n. 4, below).
Lubbock refers to Robert Grant Haliburton and a paper discussing superstitions connected with sneezing as a proof of the unity of origin of the human race (Haliburton 1863; CD’s copy is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL; see also Correspondence vol. 11, letter to J. D. Hooker, 23 [June 1863] and n. 8). Lubbock evidently sent CD a copy of a paper, later published in Transactions of the Ethnological Society, in which he discussed Haliburton 1863 (Lubbock 1867; CD’s annotated copy of an offprint of this article is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL). In his paper, Lubbock argued that the existence of similar ideas in distant countries owed its origin not to humans having once lived all in close association with one another, as Haliburton suggested, but rather to ‘the original identity of the human mind’ (see Lubbock 1867, p. 341).
According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), CD had recently been unwell with eczema (see also letter from H. B. Jones to Emma Darwin, 1 October [1867]). CD was correcting proof-sheets of Variation; he had recently reported that he had almost finished the first proofs and planned to start work on the second proofs at the beginning of October (see letter to J. V. Carus, 16 September 1867).
The British Association held its annual meeting for 1867 at Dundee from 4 to 11 September 1867 (Report of the thirty-seventh meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, held at Dundee, p. lxxiii). The Orkneys and Shetlands are groups of islands in the North Sea, off the north coast of Scotland.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Haliburton, Robert Grant. 1863. New materials for the history of man, derived from a comparison of the customs and superstitions of nations. Halifax, Nova Scotia: n.p.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Returns R. G. Haliburton’s paper ["The unity of the human race proved by the universality of certain superstitions connected with sneezing", reprinted in New materials for the history of man (1863)] and sends one of his own partly in answer to it ["The early condition of man", Anthropol. Rev. 6 (1868): 1–14].

Capital BAAS meeting at Dundee.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Lubbock, 4th baronet and 1st Baron Avebury
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
High Elms
Source of text
DAR 170: 58
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5635,” accessed on 6 April 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15