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Darwin Correspondence Project

From A. J. Cupples to Emma Darwin   8 November [1872]1

The Cottage | Guard Bridge | Fifeshire

8th Nov

My dear Mrs. Darwin

Please thank Mr Darwin for sending me his book, it was very kind indeed of him.2 I have not been able to do more than look at the plates, because Mr Cupples3 walked it off, and a minister here has got the promise of it after him, all without my leave in the matter. I have written to Aberfoyle to make inquiries about the dog who howls to the music4   Miss Glen5 is a person to be relied upon, and I have given her instructions, and told her to be very particular. I cannot say for certain about the puckering up of the eyes or face   my impression is it simply winked its eye lids very fast, as one would do if hammering was going on, and that the eyes ran with or, were filled with moisture like a person crying, but Miss Glen will be able to tell us. After your letter came I remembered a young lady having told me their dog howled when particular tunes were played so I went off to see it, but after walking three miles I was told it was a dog they once had and that it was in Campbelton.6 She told me their ministers wife said their dog howled so off we set to get the dog, for in this case the minister had no piano, but we were told she ment her dog at home, her mothers dog in fact at Stirling.7 Then the minister who is a great wag began to tell me about a wonderful dog in St Andrews who used to pull the bell, and not only howl to music but played the piano and howled to his own playing. So I set off another day to find this wonderful animal. I found all he said about the dog was true, but he had been the property of Proffr Macgill and the gentleman is dead8 and the dog is away   And now the Minister keeps teazing me about my novel hunt never failing to ask every time I meet him “Well have you caught the howling dog yet”   He has told several of the gentlemen in the neighbourhood too, who say “Oh by the way I have heard of a wonderful dog who howls, but he’s in Sky.”9 or some eaqually far away place. However though it has been a great amusement to them, it has been very useful to me for the stories I have heard about dogs, is something extraordinary throwing my poor dog quite into the shade, and I shall be able to tell my friends in Edinburgh who doubt my story. We have both been ill with severe coughs but are getting better now   the season is very trying and it does not appear to be getting any better either.

With my kind regards to Mr Darwin and many thanks once more | I remain | Yours very truly | A J Cupples.

Please remember me to your daughter I have a feeling she is married now, so I cannot say Miss Darwin10


The year is established by the reference to Expression, which was published in November 1872 (Freeman 1977).
Cupples’s name appears on CD’s presentation list for Expression (Appendix V).
No other mention of the dog has been found; there is no other letter from A. J. Cupples to Emma Darwin in the Darwin Archive–CUL. CD mentioned dogs’ howling to music in Descent 2: 333.
Catherine Glen lived in Aberfoyle, a village in Stirling, Scotland.
Campbeltown is on the peninsula of Kintyre, western Scotland.
Stirling is presumably here the Scottish town, not the county.
John McGill, professor of Hebrew, died in 1871.
Skye is an island in the Hebrides.
Henrietta Emma Litchfield was married in August 1871 (see Correspondence vol. 19).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 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.

Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.


Accounts of dogs that howl to music; their expression whilst so doing.

Letter details

Letter no.
Anne Jane Douglas/Anne Jane Cupples
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
Sent from
Guard Bridge
Source of text
DAR 161: 281
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8611,” accessed on 17 April 2024,

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