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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Francis Galton   22 February [1855]1

Down Farnborough Kent

Feby. 22

My dear Galton

Many thanks for your note & your trouble in searching out about the Pigeons.—2

I am most particularly obliged to you for having obtained Mr. Andersson very kind offer of information about the several Breeds of cattle in S. Africa:3 the information will be of real value to me. Please to give to Mr Andersson my cordial thanks. If he will take the trouble I shd. be much interested to hear about any difference in the breeds of any other domestic animals, sheep. goats dogs &c &c, kept by the several tribes. I do not at all want long descriptions; a very brief notice wd suffice for my purpose. Perhaps you would forward this note. i e if my horrid handwriting would be legible by a foreigner. If Mr. Andersson by an extraordinary chance shd. know anything about the origins of the breeds, such information wd. be eminently valuable to me. Do the natives ever procure a choice animal to cross their breeds with? Or do they ever make any selection of any peculiar colour, or any good useful character, & & breed from these? or is the breeding quite promiscuous? In periods of famine, wd. they make any selection & keep any particular animals as more valuable for breeding up their stock again?— These queries are not altogether vague, but are founded, more or less, on statements which I have heard.— I am really deeply interested on this subject, & shall be greatly indebted to you & Mr Andersson for any information, however slight.

Your’s very truly | C. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter, the letter to Francis Galton, 24 July [1853] (Correspondence vol. 5), and the letter from C. J. Andersson to Francis Galton, 18 May 1854 (Galton 195, University College, London, Special Collections), and by the form of the address, which CD used until August 1855. CD’s first letter to Galton after Galton’s return from Africa was dated 24 July [1853] (Correspondence vol. 5). Galton wrote to Andersson on 30 July and 30 November 1853, but Andersson did not reply to any letters from this period until May 1854 (letter from C. J. Andersson to Francis Galton, 18 May 1854 (Galton 195, University College, London, Special Collections)); accordingly, Andersson could not have offered to send observations to CD before that date.
Galton’s letter has not been found.
CD refers to Charles John Andersson, who travelled in South Africa with Galton between 1850 and 1852. CD cited Andersson’s observations of cattle-breeding in South Africa in Variation 1: 87–8 and 2: 207.


Thanks for FG’s note and trouble in searching out pigeons.

Is obliged to FG for obtaining C. J. Andersson’s offer of information about breeds of cattle in South Africa.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Francis Galton
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of South Africa, Cape Town
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1554F,” accessed on 26 November 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18 (Supplement)