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Darwin Correspondence Project

To George Cupples   28 April [1873]

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

April 28th

My dear Mr Cupples

As you are a literary man & live in the north you may perhaps know who has given me & others such a dreadful scolding in the last Edinburgh Review.1

I have no motive except mere curiosity in wishing to know who the (old?) gentleman is with so very rough a tongue.— If you know nothing, do not trouble yourself to answer. If I was forced to lay a wager I would wager that Dr Stirling was the Reviewer.2

I think there is a good deal of truth in some of his criticisms, such as on my ignorance of literature & art, but temper has led him into occasional curious unfairnesses; as when he copies Mivart in the Quarterly & says I quote in my Expression book only those who hold similar opinions with my own; for H. Spencer is the sole Evolutionist who has written on Expression & I quote copiously many other authors.3 I hope that this explosion of wrath & contempt has done the poor gentleman, whoever he may be, some good, but I felt it rather hard after wading through so much abuse not to find myself one whit the wiser on any point; for I knew my own ignorance before hand.

Generally a long review does teach one something. If you write, I beg you to tell me how you are in health.— I hope that Mrs. Cupples4 is as bright & active as ever.

Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin

Bran is very happy, lazy & handsome.—5


CD refers to the essay review of Expression that appeared in the April 1873 issue of the Edinburgh Review ([Baynes] 1873).
James Hutchison Stirling was not, in fact, the reviewer. The article had been written by Thomas Spencer Baynes (Wellesley index).
See [Baynes] 1873, pp. 507–8. Baynes asserted that CD’s philosophical knowledge was derived exclusively from Herbert Spencer and Alexander Bain and that CD had never ‘extended his reading in any other direction’. St George Jackson Mivart, in his unsigned review of Descent in the Quarterly Review ([Mivart] 1871, pp. 85–6), had claimed that CD referred favourably only to those who supported his views.
Anne Jane Cupples.
Bran was a deer-hound that Cupples had given CD in 1870 (see Correspondence vol. 18, letter from George Cupples, 14 November 1870).


[Baynes, Thomas Spencer.] 1873. [Review of Expression.] Edinburgh Review 137: 492–528.

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.

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

[Mivart, St George Jackson.] 1871c. Darwin’s Descent of man. Quarterly Review 131: 47–90.

Wellesley index: The Wellesley index to Victorian periodicals 1824–1900. Edited by Walter E. Houghton et al. 5 vols. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. 1966–89.


Asks whether GC knows who gave CD a scolding in last Edinburgh Review [Apr 1873].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Cupples
Sent from
AP 28 73
Source of text
John Hay Library, Brown University (Albert E. Lownes Manuscript Collection, MS. 84.2)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8886,” accessed on 17 October 2021,

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