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Darwin Correspondence Project

From George Cupples   4 June 1873

The Cottage, | Guard Bridge, Fifeshire | N.B.

June 4/73.

My Dear Mr Darwin,

We have just now got home from Edinburgh, where I looked out the number of the Edinburgh Review containing the article you referred to—but had not time to read it.1 Nobody seemed to have given it any attention—as it was understood to be pretty much a repetition of what had been said before, with the addition of some fresh vinegar and pepper. As to the authorship, I asked two or three friends, without saying why I wanted to know. I am glad to be able to say that my friend Dr Stirling knew nothing about it—had not even heard of it till I spoke of the article, which he read afterwards and appeared neither to like the tone nor set value on the argument.2

His notion was, that the writer is most likely Professor Spencer Baynes of St Andrew’s—near here, and an acquaintance of my own (a devout Hamiltonian and adherent of the Scotch school in metaphysics.)3 Such papers are not likely to find favour about Edinburgh, however—where the University in general, as elsewhere, seems to lean the other way. The old psychologists (Platonics apart, e.g. the Grecian Stuart Blackie)4 become Berkeleian, and so swallow things quietly—whilst Theology endeavours grimly to accept the Inevitable.5 Dr John Brown had dipped into the review in question, but seemed not to have found it interesting enough to do more.6 The intellectual atmosphere of Edinburgh is liberal. Emerson from America was there lately—7 I don’t know whether he has met you, but from what I know of him (Transcendentalist as he is) I should say he would have delighted in doing so, more even than in saying the same thing over again with Carlyle at Chelsea, or vainly “interviewing” Tennyson.8 I can fancy the ingenuous pleasure which Emerson would have had—the pure idealist that he is, most Greek of modern thinkers—in coming together for a little while with the Realist of Realists, and putting questions there as to Nature’s self. I can imagine how he would go away home, feeling satisfied that he had seen what Americans must feel to be the most representatively English thing in England yet. If you and he did not meet, it only brings the more forcibly on me a sense of that old contrariety in Fate,—which denies—or perhaps only postpones—the best conceivable sort of meetings and understandings between men.— Thought and Fact—ideal and real—can they meet? Do they need to meet! Are they not the two poles, reciprocally playing in each, and through all—wherefore then the bitterness of reviewers, the rage of sects, the apparent anger at truth having its way? The calm manner of English scientific men is certainly a strong presumption in their favour at present, and I don’t see why Hegelians9 should wax hot on the other hand if they are right.

Pray pardon this summer vein of writing, which may, I hope, be allowed to pass as such.

I saw a dog-show in Edinburgh, where the first-prize dog (which carries all before him throughout England at the great shows) was “Morni”, grand-uncle to your “Bran.” He was twice brought up to our lodgings in town—and I took some good drawings of him. A splendid specimen he is. His attendant (a quondam taxidermist, a naturalist in his way, once in the employment of the late Lord Derby) proved the most extraordinary enthusiast I ever met with.10 I had a letter from him afterwards, about that dog, which would really have amused you. I would not for worlds have missed it.

I ascertain that Iceland dogs (a small Esquimaux) have all six claws or toes on the hind-feet—like Pyreneans (which resemble a large Esquimaux.) I suppose shepherd colleys have five claws—11 Ordinary well-bred dogs having four.

My paper failing, I close, and with kindest regards from Mrs Cupples12 to Mrs Darwin and yourself, remain, dear Mr Darwin, yours ever truly, George Cupples


CD had asked about the authorship of the unfavourable review of Expression that had appeared in the April 1873 issue of the Edinburgh Review ([Baynes 1873]; see letter to George Cupples, 28 April [1873]).
CD had suggested that James Hutchison Stirling might be the author of the review in his letter to Cupples of 28 April [1873]. See also letter from George Cupples, 1 May 1873.
The review was in fact by Thomas Spencer Baynes (Wellesley index). He was professor of logic, metaphysics, and English literature at the University of St Andrews, and had studied under William Hamilton at the University of Edinburgh (ODNB).
John Stuart Blackie was professor of Greek at Edinburgh (ODNB).
Cupples alludes to the Irish philosopher George Berkeley and his influential writings on idealism and the psychology of perception (ODNB). For contemporary accounts of Scottish metaphysics and idealism, see J. F. Ferrier 1875 and Seth Pringle-Pattison 1885.
The Edinburgh physician and writer John Brown published widely in Scottish periodicals such as the North British Review (ODNB).
Ralph Waldo Emerson visited England and Scotland in the spring of 1873; he was in Edinburgh for one day, 8 May 1873, to visit Stirling (Ireland 1882, p. 21).
Emerson had visited Thomas Carlyle on trips to England in 1833 and 1847 (Ireland 1882, pp. 53–4, 60). Cupples also refers to Alfred Tennyson.
Cupples refers to followers of the idealist philosophy of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (see letter from George Cupples, 1 May 1873 and n. 3).
Cupples had given CD an Irish deerhound puppy named Bran in 1870 (Correspondence vol. 18). Morni was a champion deerhound whose owner, G. W. Hickman, was a breeder and authority on deerhounds (see Dalziel 1889, 1: 48–9, 74). The late Edward George Geoffrey Smith Stanley, fourteenth earl of Derby, had kept at Knowsley Hall near Liverpool a large menagerie, which had been established by his father, Edward Smith Stanley (ODNB).
The Pyrenean mountain dog has double spurs or dew-claws on the hind feet; the Icelandic sheepdog often has two dew-claws, and the shepherd or Border collie generally has one dew-claw.
Ann Jane Cupples.


[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–.

Dalziel, Hugh. 1889. British dogs: describing the history, characteristics, breeding, management, and exhibition of the various breeds of dogs established in Great Britain. 2d edition. 2 vols. London: L. Upcott Gill.

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

Ferrier, James Frederick. 1875. Institutes of metaphysic: the theory of knowing and being. 3d edition. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons.

Ireland, Alexander. 1882. In memoriam. Ralph Waldo Emerson: recollections of his visits to England in 1833, 1847–8, 1872–3, and extracts from unpublished letters. London: Simpkin, Marshall, & Co.

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.

Seth Pringle-Pattison, Andrew. 1885. Scottish philosophy: a comparison of the Scottish and German answers to Hume. Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons.

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.


J. V. Carus’ lecture.

Edinburgh intellectual climate.

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s visit to Edinburgh.

J. H. Stirling did not write anonymous review of Expression in Edinburgh Review. Suggests T. Spencer Baynes of St Andrews. [? T. S. Baynes, "Darwin on expression", 137 (1873): 492–528.]

Letter details

Letter no.
George Cupples
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Guard Bridge
Source of text
DAR 161: 299
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8935,” accessed on 27 September 2021,

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