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Letter 8697

Darwin, C. R. to Galton, Francis

30 Dec [1872]


F. M. Balfour wants to experiment on Pangenesis. Asks FG to recommend coloured rabbits that breed true.


Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Dec 30th

My dear Galton

A young Mr. Balfour, a friend of my sons, is staying here.f2 He is veryclever & full of zeal for Nat. Hist.— He has been transplantingbits of skins between brown & white Rats, in relation to Pangenesis!f3 Hewants to try for several successive generations the same experiment withRabbits.f4 Hence he wants to know which colours breed truest. I have,of course, recommended Silver-greys.— What other colour breeds true?Can you tell me? I think white or albinoes had better be avoided. Doany grey breeds, of nearly the colour of the wild kind, breed true?Will you be so very kind as to let me hear.

I much enjoyed my short glimpse of you in London.f5

Ever yours | C. Darwin

UCL Library Services, Special Collections (Galton 39 E)



The year is established by the reference to Francis Maitland Balfour’s visit(see n. 2, below).
Balfour was a student of natural sciences at Cambridge, where FrancisDarwin had also studied. According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242),Balfour arrived on 27 December 1872.
Galton had performed similar experiments with rats but had given upthis line of research (see letter from Francis Galton, 1 February 1872and n. 3).
Galton had done experiments in which he transfused blood betweendifferent coloured rabbits in order to test CD’s hypothesis ofpangenesis (see letter from Francis Galton, 1 February 1872 andn. 4).
CD visited London from 17 to 22 or 23 December 1872 (‘Journal’ (AppendixII)).
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