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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Francis Galton   12 May 1870

42 Rutland Gate SW

May 12 1870

My dear Darwin

Good rabbit news.! One of the latest litters has a white forefoot. It was born April 23rd. but as we do not disturb the young, the forefoot was not observed till to-day. the little things had huddled together shewing only their backs & heads and the foot was never suspected. The mother was injected from a grey and white and the father from a black and white.

This, recollect, is from a transfusion of only 18th part of alien blood in each parent; now, after many unsuccesful experiments, I have greatly improved the method of operation and am beginning on the other jugulars of my stock.1 Yesterday I operated on 2 who are doing well to-day & who now have 13rd. alien blood in their veins. On Saturday I hope for still greater success. and shall go on at any waste of rabbit life, until I get at least 12 alien blood.

The experiment is not fair to Pangenesis until I do.2

We are for the time relieved from anxiety about my poor dear mother,3 who suffered the agonies of death over & over again, but has strangely pulled through. & is now comfortable though very weak and seriously shaken

Very sincerely yours | Francis Galton


Galton discussed the difficulties of transfusing blood in rabbits in his letter of 8 April 1870.
Galton’s experiments were designed to test CD’s hypothesis of pangenesis (see letter from Francis Galton, 15 March 1870 and n. 2). For accounts of the experiments, see Galton 1871, Pearson 1914–30, 2: 156–66, and Bulmer 2003, pp. 116–18.


Bulmer, Michael. 2003. Francis Galton: pioneer of heredity and biometry. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Galton, Francis. 1871. Experiments in pangenesis, by breeding from rabbits of a pure variety, into whose circulation blood taken from other varieties had previously been largely transfused. [Read 30 March 1871.] Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 19 (1870–1): 393–410.

Pearson, Karl. 1914–30. The life, letters and labours of Francis Galton. 3 vols. in 4. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Good news: one little rabbit has a white forefoot.

Letter details

Letter no.
Francis Galton
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Rutland Gate, 42
Source of text
DAR 105: A17–18
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7185,” accessed on 19 April 2024,

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