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Darwin Correspondence Project

From George Cupples   21 January 1869

Guard Bridge | Fifeshire. N.B.

Jany. 21/69

Mr Cupples

Dear Mr Darwin,

I have just now received the enclosed reply from the Breadalbane Head-Forester—and send the original for various reasons, principally because I fear it is not by any means clear & definite enough, and rambles off from the points, which I gave in your own words exactly, and in full.1

About roe-deer, and on any other point—I would write to him again, as well as to others—if you have time just to suggest what are the deficiencies, or what precise details you would wish enlarged upon.

I have not heard about fallow-deer from Mr Wright, and hope he has written to you.2 If not, I can easily stir up both him and others. Indeed there might be more little facts I could obtain, when they occur to you.

In haste yours most truly | George Cupples

Charles Darwin, Esqr.

P.S. Have you any good Red deer Antlers? If not, I think I could get them for you.


Forest Lodge

16 Jany

Mr Cupples

Dear Sir

I have Received your Letters and regarding the Red deers Horns, they don't appear untill 10 or 11 Months after Birth and the Roe Buck about 9 months but it depends a good deal upon the Pasture and the climate, in low grounds or in Parks the horns appear much earlier than in high ground where the climate is colder,4 a stag born in a park where there is a rich Pasture the Head of Antlers are as good at 4 year old as the wild deer on the mountains are at 6 years   a stag is not at his best untill 10 years, the Hind carrys her calve between 8 and 9 months but I may mention that the young males when they are castrated will never have horns, or if a Stag is casterated when the horns are at full growth he will never cast the horns, they will remain as they are when cut with the Velvet or without the Velvet, those deer that we castrated when young are in Season when the Stags are out of Season   we call them Heaviers and are very fine venison when they are 8 or 9 years old; I cannot give you any information about Fallow deer as we have none in this quarter but I think the horns will appear much earlier than on the wild deer being on richer Pasture and more Sheltered than on the high mountains

I was glade to Receive your likeness for to put in my album   I am Sorry that I cannot Send you mine at present although I have a number of my pictures in large Plate in different ways by Sir Edwin Landseer5 and other artists   I have no carte de visits but when I will be in Town I will be glade to get one for you   I do not know of any fine deerhounds except those I mentioned to you before in Glengarry   I believe they are handsome pair of deerhounds

I remain | Dear Sir | Yours very Respectfully | Peter Robertson


See letter to George Cupples, [6–9? January 1869], and letter from George Cupples, 11 January 1869 and n. 3. Cupples had evidently quoted from CD’s letter in requesting information from Peter Robertson.
John Wright had earlier sent information on deer-hounds via Cupples (see Correspondence vol. 16, letter from George Cupples, 13 July 1868).
Cupples added the following annotation to the top of Robertson’s letter: ‘from Mr (Peter) Robertson | above forty years Head-Forester to the Marquis of Breadalbane | (Black Mount)’.
In Descent 1: 288, CD cited Robertson and Cupples for information on the roebuck and red deer.
Edwin Henry Landseer.


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

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.


Forwards reply from [Peter Robertson] head forester for Marquis of Breadalbane on development of horns in Scottish deer.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Cupples
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Guard Bridge
Source of text
DAR 161: 290; DAR 86: A81–2
Physical description
2pp, encl ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6566,” accessed on 29 March 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17