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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Francis Galton   8 November [1872]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Nov. 8th

My dear Galton

I was going in a day or two to have written to you about the Rabbits.2 Those which you saw when here (the last lot) & which were then in the transition mottled condition have now all got their perfect coats, & are perfectly true in character.3 They are now ready to breed, or soon will be; do you want one more generation? If the next one is as 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; but my career is so nearly closed, that I do not think it worth while.— What little more I can do, shall be chiefly new work.

I ought to have thought of crying children rubbing their eyes with their knuckles; but I did not think of it, & cannot explain it. As far as my memory serves, they do not do so whilst roaring, in which case compression wd. be of use. I think it is at the close of a crying fit, as if they wished to stop their eyes crying, or possibly to relieve the irritation from the salt tears.— I wish I knew more about the knuckles & crying.—4

I am rejoiced that your sister is recovering so well: when you next see pray give her my very kindest remembrances.—5

My dear Galton | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

What a tremendous stir-up your excellent article on prayer has made in England & America.6


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Francis Galton, 7 November 1872.
CD was looking after rabbits on which Galton had made transfusion experiments (see letter to Francis Galton, 23 January [1872] and n. 2).
That is, the baby rabbits had not acquired the colours of the rabbits whose blood their parents had been transfused with.
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 an anonymous letter proposing a test for the power of prayer: to arrange special prayers for one particular ward of a hospital and assess the results over three to five years. Galton published an article in the Fortnightly Review (Galton 1872b) suggesting that the test was unnecessary, since the inefficacy of prayer could be proved by existing statistics. Galton’s article was the subject of correspondence in the Spectator between 3 August and 7 September 1872. Tyndall’s and Galton’s articles were discussed in the Independent (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.


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].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Francis Galton
Sent from
Source of text
UCL Library Services, Special Collections (Galton 39 E)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8608,” accessed on 27 June 2017,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20