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Darwin Correspondence Project

From F. B. Zincke   29 November 1876

Wherstead Vicarage. Ipswich.

29 Nov. 1876.

Dear Sir.

By the Post that takes this I send you the Inaugural Address I delivered to the Society for the Development of the Science of Education at their first general meeting at the Society of Arts, Nov 8th.1

I venture to send it to you because there are some thoughts & arguments in it which may be traced up to yr. teaching.

I think it very desirable that education sd. be aware both of the persistency & of the reversibility of instincts. Nothing can have escaped yr. observation—but I wd. give as an instance of the former the dread our horned cattle & sheep have of a dog. I almost daily walk through a park where there are many of both. As soon as my dog appears, a little yellow terrier, the cattle draw together & come up to him with hostile demonstrations. This is evident even with the calves, & more especially in the dusk of the evening. This I take to be, possibly, their inherited dread of the wolf, which they see in the dog. Although the dog is now so very different in appearance & character from the wolf, his appearance awakens the old instinctive feelings. (I observe that the horses in this park take no notice of the dog. Is this an intimation that the progenitors of our horse inhabited a region free from wolves?) Pavements are always worn most in a line parallel to, & close to a wall. I take it that this is from an instinctive feeling to have one side protected by the wall. Animals have the same instinct. They will travel along side of a bank or wall.

As to the reversibility of instincts I think we may regard the existing instincts of this dog, in many instances so unlike those of the wolf or jackal, as instances.

The wood pigeon supplies me with another instance. This bird has an instinct of unusual timidity & wariness. If a poacher on entering a wood finds there are wood pigeons in it he takes it for granted that the game keepers are not near. Yet this instinct of timidity & wariness in unusual degrees has been absolutely & entirely reversed in the wood pigeons of the Tuileries Gardens at Paris. While I have been breakfasting at a Café in the gardens they have unfailingly come under my chair & table to pick up the crumbs of bread.

But I am only taking up yr. time with what, if it be correct, you must be already acquainted with—

I am sir, yrs very truly | F. Barham Zincke


The address has not been found in the Darwin Archive–CUL. In it, Zincke argued for the establishment of middle schools in towns and cities for middle-class children, who, he suggested, were not well served either by grammar schools or by working-class board schools. Middle schools would offer a foundation course of subjects such as English composition, mathematics, physiology, geography, and history, with further tuition tailored to particular callings or professions, the whole curriculum being open to girls and boys alike. The system could, he hoped, eventually be extended to all classes of society. (Zincke 1876.)


Zincke, Foster Barham. 1876. Society of the Development of the Science of Education. Inaugural address delivered in the theatre of the Society of Arts, November 8, 1876, at the first general meeting of the society. London: Smith, Elder, and Co.


Considers different animal instincts, some of which have reversed, others of which have proved persistent.

Letter details

Letter no.
Foster Barham Zincke
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 184: 11
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10692,” accessed on 7 December 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24