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Darwin Correspondence Project

From George Cupples   15 January 1869

Guard Bridge | Fifeshire. N.B.

Jany. 15/69

Dear Mr Darwin,

I enclose a letter just now received from Mr Mc.Neill of Colonsay in reference to the deer’s horns.1 I trust it may be of some definite value, though (as usual with some people) it is discursive and rambling, apparently. I had furnished him with an exact quotation of your queries.2

I await reply from the Forester of Black Mount,3 who, I have no doubt, can tell about all three species.

Mr Wright,4 I presume, will communicate direct.

I venture to ask that in Mr McNeill’s case (as he wrote previously about the relative sizes of Deerhound dog and bitch) you would send him a line or two in reply.5 Not that he expects this—indeed no one could wish to trespass on your time—but he is always ready to serve if he can. He is brother to Lord Colonsay,6 and himself a scholarly Highland gentleman, as well as an Edinburgh lawyer of high standing—the author of the portion of Scrope’s book referring to the “long-descended race of Deerhounds”.7

At your leisure and convenience you might perhaps return Mr McNeill’s letter. Any others I may receive on the question shall not give you such trouble. I do hope they may furnish the facts required—and that the Spring may recruit your health.

Ever truly yours | George Cupples

To | Charles Darwin, Esq. | &c &c—


Archibald McNeill’s letter has not been found.
Peter Robertson.
John Wright.
For the information sent by McNeill, see Correspondence vol. 16, letter from George Cupples, 13 January 1868.
Duncan McNeill.
Cupples refers to William Scrope and Scrope 1838, pp. 333–59. The chapter was entitled ‘A description of the highland deerhound, with an account of a day’s deer-coursing in the island of Jura. (Communicated by Archibald Macneill, Esq., of Colonsay)’.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Scrope, William. 1838. The art of deer-stalking; illustrated by a narrative of a few days’ sport in the forest of Atholl, with some account of the nature and habits of red deer, and a short description of the Scotch forests; legends; superstitions; stories of poachers and freebooters, &c. &c. London: John Murray.


Forwards A. McNeill’s letter on deer horns. McNeill wrote portion on deerhounds in William Scrope’s book [The art of deer-stalking (1838)].

Letter details

Letter no.
George Cupples
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Guard Bridge
Source of text
DAR 161: 289
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6555,” accessed on 5 December 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17