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Darwin Correspondence Project

From E. F. Lubbock to Emma Darwin   [c. 29 November 1873]1

Dear Mrs. Darwin

Why do the heathen so violently rage together? he will have all the parish against him. I don’t know whether Beaumont is still on the School board—or if he was only on the Farnboro’ one—but I have written to him on the chance. We shall get our way, I don’t doubt, & I will break out with a chessboard or some more books if we do.2

I hate begging—so now you will perceive I am going to beg. Yesterday I was at the Busks’, & Mr. Busk was groaning & lamenting over his Presidency of the Anthro—(I never can spell the horrid word)—Society—the name irritates him, as it does John, & it isn’t the right one.3 We never wanted to be merged & swallowed whole in and by this mushroom society, with no good men in it— So I said well, why not alter it back to the Ethnological, which was the first & real root of the thing?4 To which he said despondently that they were in debt £700.

I said we would collect it: on which he brightened up & said if we could screw together half that, he should be in a position to say “take this if you become the Ethnological again: otherwise it will be returned to those who gave it.”5

Now I want Mr. Darwin if he will to head the subscription: his name will go so far— I don’t ask for the actual money, because we may never come to realize the sum wanted: but I ask for his name & a promise of something, if we see our way. John would help I know, but I don’t like to speak for him. Poor old Mr. Crawford would have given every penny he had, in fact I should think he turned in his grave when his pet Society was named after his bitterest enemies.6 Will you ask Mr. Darwin to suggest a few people we might apply to.—

I am afraid I beg badly— I never did it but once before—but I am rather heart & soul in this matter. You see John was President for some years & the amalgamation or rather swamping of his society vexed him very much.7

I hope you won’t think me very meddlesome   I felt so sorry for Mr. Busk—I don’t think he’s well, either.

With love to you all I am yours affectionately EFL


The date is established by the discussion of a dispute with George Sketchley Ffinden over the use of the schoolroom in a letter from Emma Darwin to Horace Darwin, postmarked ‘29 November 1873’ (DAR 258: 585; see n. 2, below).
Ellen Frances Lubbock quotes from the Book of common prayer (1662), Pslams 2: 1. She also refers to Beaumont William Lubbock, John Lubbock’s younger brother. The Darwins and Lubbocks were involved in a dispute with Ffinden, the vicar of Down and chairman of the school committee, who objected to the use of the Down schoolroom as a winter reading room (see J. R. Moore 1985, pp. 471 and 480, and letter to the Down School Board, [after 29 November 1873].
In 1871, the Anthropological and Ethnological Societies of London joined to form the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (Rainger 1978, p. 69). George Busk, president of the institute in 1873 and 1874, had been a member of the Ethnological Society, as had John Lubbock. Ellen Lubbock also refers to Ellen Busk, George Busk’s wife.
The Ethnological Society was founded in 1843. The Anthropological Society was founded in 1863, and many of its members opposed CD’s theory of natural selection and supported a polygenist theory of the human race (see Rainger 1978, pp. 56–60, Stepan 1982, pp. 44–6, and Stocking 1987, pp. 245–54).
The Anthropological Institute inherited debts from the Ethnological and Anthropological Societies (Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 2 (1873): 427). At the annual meeting of the Anthropological Institute on 27 January 1874, George Busk announced that the institute was still £700 in debt, and appealed to members to join a subscription to pay it in full.
John Crawfurd was president of the Ethnological Society from 1861 to 1863 and 1865 to 1868 (Transactions of the Ethnological Society of London).
John Lubbock was president of the Ethnological Society from 1863 to 1865 (Transactions of the Ethnological Society of London), and president of the Anthropological Institute in 1871 and 1872 (Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland).


Moore, James Richard. 1985. Darwin of Down: the evolutionist as squarson-naturalist. In The Darwinian heritage, edited by David Kohn. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press in association with Nova Pacifica (Wellington, NZ).

Rainger, Ronald. 1978. Race, politics, and science: the Anthropological Society of London in the 1860s. Victorian Studies 22: 51–70.

Stepan, Nancy. 1982. The idea of race in science: Great Britain 1800–1960. London: Macmillan in association with St Anthony’s College, Oxford.

Stocking, George W., Jr. 1987. Victorian anthropology. New York: The Free Press. London: Collier Macmillan.


Wants the Anthropological Society renamed the Ethnological Society. Is trying to raise funds toward payment of the Society’s debt.

Letter details

Letter no.
Ellen Frances Hordern/Ellen Frances Lubbock
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 170: 16
Physical description
ALS 8pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8700,” accessed on 21 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21