DARWIN, Charles. Autograph letter signed ("Ch. Darwin") to George Cupples (1822-1891), Beckenham, England, 20 September . 4 pages, 8vo, small rust mark from paperclip at top of pages 1 and 4, otherwise fine, with original stamped and postmarked envelope in Darwin's hand.
"WHEN I KNOW A DOG, I LOVE IT WITH ALL MY HEART & SOUL...I AM VERY HARD AT WORK, CORRECTING PROOFS ON MY NEW BOOK, 'ON THE DESCENT OF MAN"
A warm letter from the aging naturalist to Cupples, a scottish dog breeder (with whom Darwin had consulted in reserach on The Descent of Man), who had just informed Darwin that he was sending him a puppy. Darwin is enthusiastic about the new pet: "I am delighted to hear about the dog; but as I said before you are too generous to make me such a present. I do not feel worthy of it; except to say when I know a dog, I love it with all my heart & soul. Whenever I hear of the dog & train & station in London & hour of arrival I will send a servant to meet the train in London, & he shall either keep in London or bring the dog home the same night according to the hour." Darwin adds that "I should be very grateful for a few instructions about food & name of Father or near relatives that we may Christian him...Any hints, if necessary, about teaching him to be quiet & not attack men or animals wd. be advisable. I can assure you, we will all make much of him." At the side, Darwin adds: "We are pleased to hear that he is not grey but cream-coloured!"
"I am very hard at work correcting proofs of my new book, 'on the Descent of Man &c." & which turns out unfortunately large, viz 2 volumes. I need not say that a copy will of course be sent you when published; but I shall be at least 2 more months at the abominable work of making my rugged style passably smooth..."
Darwin had consulted Cupples in the writing of The Descent of Man, and in Chapter 17, dealing with the secondary sexual chracters of mammals, Darwin writes that "I was anxious to obtain information as to the Scotch deerhound, the sexes of which differ more in size than those of any other breed...or than in any wild canine species known to me. Accordingly, I applied to Mr. Cupples, well known for his success with the breed..." Cupples, he writes, has furnished him with considerable factual information on the breed, which Darwin analyzes, and, in a note adds "I hope Mr. Cupples will keep to his intention of publishing a full account and history of this famous breed." It was not until some years later that Cupples fulfilled his intention and published Scotch Deerhounds & their Masters (Edinburgh, 1894), still a highly regarded treatise. The proofs for The Descent of Man occupied Darwin for several years, but were finished in January 1871. The published book, two thick volumes of 423 and 475 pages, respectively appeared the following month, a few days after Darwin's 62nd birthday.
Provenance: Roger Caras (1928-2001), Emmy award winning broadcaster, former president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, dog fancier -- The present owner.