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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Francis Galton   9 December 1859

42. Rutland Gate | London S.W.

Dec 9. 1859.

My dear Darwin

Pray let me add a word of congratulation on the completion of your wonderful volume,—to those which I am sure you will have received from every side. I have laid it down in the full enjoyment of a feeling that one rarely experiences after boyish days, of having been initiated into an entirely new province of knowledge which, nevertheless, connects itself with other things in a thousand ways.

I hear you are engaged in a second Edition. There is a trivial error in p. 68. about Rhinoceroses, which I thought I might as well point out. & have taken advantage of the same opportunity to scrawl down 12 a dozen other notes, which may, or may not, be worthless to you1

With our united kind regards to yourself & Mrs. Darwin | Believe me very sincerely yours | Francis Galton


68. (Rhinoceros.— “none are destroyed by beasts of prey”)

The wild dogs hunt the young ones very much & exhaust them to death— They pursue them all day long tearing at their ears which is the only part their teeth can fasten on. It is rare to find a Rhinoceros whose ears are not more or less mutilated,—& bear witness to the perils of their youth.

I never saw the young ones actually hunted but it was a common subject of assertion, that it was so, & I fully believe it. When one of these tough skinned beasts is dead, the jackals &c &c wait patiently till he corrupts enough for them to bite into him.2

74. (Indirect effects—) Mr. Young of Invershin3 told me years ago that he did not approve wholly of killing otters in order to preserve salmon. Otters killed a few salmon but they killed many trout & the Salmon fry had no greater enemy than trout. Therefore he actually preserved the otters in more than one instance with a view to the advantage of the Salmon.4

CD annotations

Top of enclosure: ‘Francis Galton’s— Dec. 9—1859’ ink ‘Ch. V’5 brown crayon


The letter arrived at Down too late for the correction to be made in the second edition of Origin (see letter to Francis Galton, 13 December [1859]). See also n. 5, below.
Galton had travelled in south-west Africa and published an account (Galton 1853), for which he received the Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society.
Mr Young has not been identified.
The river Shin, in the highlands of Scotland, was noted for its salmon fishing. CD did not make use of this information in later editions of Origin.
CD’s annotation refers to the chapter of his species book entitled ‘The struggle for existence as bearing on natural selection’ (Natural selection, pp. 172–212). In the third edition of Origin, he deleted the reference to young rhinoceroses never being destroyed by predators (Peckham ed. 1959, p. 152).


Galton, Francis. 1853. The narrative of an explorer in tropical South Africa. London: John Murray.

Natural selection: Charles Darwin’s Natural selection: being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. Edited by R. C. Stauffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.


Congratulates CD on Origin; has been "initiated into an entirely new province of knowledge".

Notes error involving rhinoceros.

Encloses other notes.

Letter details

Letter no.
Francis Galton
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Rutland Gate, 42
Source of text
DAR 98: B16 and DAR 106: D22
Physical description
ALS 3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2573,” accessed on 14 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7