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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Francis Galton   [before 28 March 1872]1



My dear Darwin

On Tuesday or Wedy. I will write about the rabbits.2 I am not quite sure, where they can best be bestowed until returning to town & seeing my stock.—wh: have not even yet been operated on (owing to trouble about instruments, due from Germany)   How curious those changes are, in the colour of the silver greys. The fact of their turning out of different shades of grey is nothing unusual; at all events, in the particular breed to wh: these belong, for Mr. Royds3 (the rabbit fancier from whom I first got them, always insisted upon the fact of the shades being very variable and said that the fanciers had recently changed their taste from dark silver grey to light.

You asked me about Himalayas,4 the assertion I have more than once heard, is that any breed of silver grey is liable (without crossing) to throw Himalayas   whether these revert, I don’t know, for when I asked, I was told that they were not kept & studied. One breed, I had from Mr. Rayson,5 a rabbit fancier in Yorkshire, was very apt, as he told me, to throw Himalayas. Some times they were yellow with black tips & sometimes white with black tips. One of my own breeding, from his stock was a yellow Himalaya, & at first I hoped it might be successful mongrelisation.

About Dr. Butler and the curious inherited trick— I shall be glad to amend & fortify the statement I sent you, for I have cross questioned the whole family & the grand child is now regularly under observation. I will send you the results when I have them— the trick is still more curious than I thought, for it occurs in Dr. Montague6

CD annotations

0.3 My dear … to light. 1.8] crossed pencil
3.1 About Dr.... Montague 3.4] crossed pencil
Top of letter: ‘Armitage’ pencil


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Francis Galton, 28 March 1872.
Galton’s letter about the rabbits has not been found. For more on Galton’s experiments with rabbits, see letter to Francis Galton, 23 January [1872] and n. 2.
Ernest Edmund Molyneux Royds.
CD’s query has not been found.
Charles Rayson.
In his letter of 22 December 1871 (Correspondence vol. 19), Galton had described George Butler’s habit of putting his arm across the top of his head when sleeping in a chair. His arm would eventually drop, hitting his nose and waking him. Galton had noted that Butler’s son, Henry Montagu Butler, and granddaughter, Agnes Isabel Butler, inherited this habit. See also Expression, pp. 33–4 n. 8.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.


On colours and breeding of rabbits.

Letter details

Letter no.
Francis Galton
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 159: 114
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4730,” accessed on 29 July 2021,

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