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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Francis Galton   23 January [1872]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Jan. 23d

My dear Galton

The Rabbits have all lost their patches & are grey of different tints; so you were right. They are quite mature now & ready to breed. We have put 2 does to a buck, for one more generation.

Had you not better have the others soon, as we shall soon want space for the Breeders?—2

Have you seen Mr Crookes?—3 I hope to Heaven you have, as I for one shd. feel entire confidence in your conclusion.—

Ever yours | sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter, the letter from Francis Galton, 2 December 1871 (Correspondence vol. 19), and the letter from Francis Galton, 28 March 1872.
In 1871, Galton had sent CD some transfused rabbits to breed and to take care of until they could be used in further experiments (see Correspondence vol. 19, letter from Francis Galton to Francis Darwin, 7 April 1871). Galton later recommended that all the young be killed except for a reserve of four or five (ibid., letter from Francis Galton, 13 September 1871), and sent for the old ones in November (letter from Francis Galton, 21 November 1871). CD seems to have kept six young rabbits (ibid., letter from Francis Galton, 24 November 1871), and may have bred from them. Galton’s experiments in rabbit blood transfusions were intended to test CD’s hypothesis of pangenesis (see Variation 2: 357–404) by producing different colours in the offspring of transfused rabbits.
Galton had evidently contacted the chemist William Crookes about his investigations of mediums; see letter from Francis Galton, 28 March 1872.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


His rabbits have lost their patches and are grey.

Has FG seen William Crookes [spiritualist]?

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Francis Galton
Sent from
Source of text
UCL Library Services, Special Collections (GALTON/3/2/2/12 Letter 1)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8173,” accessed on 13 July 2024,

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