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Letter 8608

Darwin, C. R. to Galton, Francis

8 Nov [1872]


Rabbits’ coats true in character. If the next ones are true, it is superfluous to keep trying.

Does not know why crying children rub eyes with knuckles.

Mentions FG’s article on prayer ["Statistical inquiries into the efficacy of prayer", Fortn. Rev. n.s. 12 (1872): 125–35].


Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Nov. 8th

My dear Galton

I was going in a day or two to have written to you about the Rabbits.f2Those which you saw when here (the last lot) & which were then in thetransition mottled condition have now all got their perfect coats, &are perfectly true in character.f3 They are now ready to breed,or soon will be; do you want one more generation? If the next one isas true as all the others, it seems to me quite superfluous to go on trying.—

Many thanks for your note & offer to send out the queries; butmy career is so nearly closed, that I do not think it worth while.— Whatlittle more I can do, shall be chiefly new work.

I ought to have thought of crying children rubbing their eyes withtheir knuckles; but I did not think of it, & cannot explain it. Asfar as my memory serves, they do not do so whilst roaring, in whichcase compression wd. be of use. I think it is at the close of acrying fit, as if they wished to stop their eyes crying, or possibly torelieve the irritation from the salt tears.— I wish I knew more aboutthe knuckles & crying.—f4

I am rejoiced that your sister is recovering so well: when you nextsee pray give her my very kindest remembrances.—f5

My dear Galton | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

What a tremendous stir-up your excellent article on prayer has madein England & America.f6

UCL Library Services, Special Collections (Galton 39 E)



The year is established by the relationship between this letter andthe letter from Francis Galton, 7 November 1872.
CD was looking after rabbits on which Galton had made transfusionexperiments (see letter to Francis Galton, 23 January [1872] and n. 2).
That is, the baby rabbits had not acquired the colours of therabbits whose blood their parents had been transfused with.
See letter from Francis Galton, 7 November 1872 and n. 5.
Galton had not mentioned his sister Emma Sophia Galton in his letter of 7 November 1872, but see the letter from Francis Galton, 15 November 1872.
In June, John Tyndall had published in the Contemporary Review ananonymous letter proposing a test for the power of prayer: to arrangespecial prayers for one particular ward of a hospital and assess theresults over three to five years. Galton published an article in theFortnightly Review (Galton 1872b) suggesting that the test wasunnecessary, since the inefficacy of prayer could be proved byexisting statistics. Galton’s article was the subject of correspondencein the Spectator between 3 August and 7 September 1872. Tyndall’sand Galton’s articles were discussed in theIndependent (a periodical published in New York), 29 August 1872,p. 4, and 26 September 1872, p. 1, and in Harper’s Bazaar, 14 September 1872, p. 610.
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