skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From E. F. Lubbock   [after 7 April 1873?]1

High Elms, | Beckenham, | Kent.

Dear Mr. Darwin

You are always so kind about my little observations,— which might be better worth noticing if I could see— that I am emboldened to mention a Pug, of which I am the proud possessor. He has very strong affections, which being combined with an exceedingly stiff & curly tail, put him into awkward predicaments. When he is extra affectionate, he lies on his back, & however much he might wish, couldn’t possibly get at his tail, & so, as he must apparently wag something, he wags one of his hind legs.2

I hear John has seen you, & I do hope something will be arranged.3 I go to Brighton today, as people seem to think it will do me good: & it is a kind of native air to me—but I think I am like the patient at the Bull, of whom Mrs. Gamp observed that “native airs, nor native graces neither, won’t bring him round.”4

With love to Mrs. Darwin, I am yours most truly | E.F. Lubbock

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘Tyndall | CasparyQQQQ’ pencil


The date is conjectured from the likelihood that this letter has to do partly with the subscription for Thomas Henry Huxley; see n. 3, below.
In Expression, p. 51, CD had discussed tail-wagging in dogs as a sign of affection and noted, ‘the essence of the expression lies in the continuous flexuous movements’.
Lubbock refers to her husband, John Lubbock, and probably to discussions about raising a subscription for Thomas Henry Huxley. CD probably saw Lubbock on 7 April 1873 (see letter from G. H. Darwin to John Tyndall, [7 April 1873] and n. 3).
The reference is to Charles Dickens’s Martin Chuzzlewit (Dickens 1844, p. 347).


Observations on her pet pug.

Letter details

Letter no.
Ellen Frances Hordern/Ellen Frances Lubbock
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
High Elms
Source of text
DAR 170: 15
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8699,” accessed on 21 November 2018,

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