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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Francis Galton   21 April [1872]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Ap. 21st.

My dear Galton

I have considered your proposition well. It seems to me highly desirable that the subject shd. be investigated, & that it is a sort of duty in every one who can do so to aid.—2 I have consulted my wife, & she thinks even more strongly than I do, that it wd. be impossible for me.— It is very rare that I can converse with anyone & be in any way excited for an hour: my head then begins to rock, & all power of attention is lost. I am, also, so often too unwell to go out, that I shd. frequently break any appointment.— Moreover, odd as it may seem, an extreme desire to be well on any particular day, or rather evening, is very apt to make me bad.— I regret it much, but I dare not accept Mr. Home’s3 remarkably liberal offer. Do not give up yourself.— Can you not get some man known for physical science to join you?

If Mr Crooke succeeds in making his apparatus, & can get some instrument-maker to sell it, then everyone could buy one & try for himself—4 This would settle the question at once, whether any power does come out of the human body of certain or many individuals.— It wd. undoubtedly be a very grand discovery.—

With very sincere thanks for your letter | Yours very truly | Ch. Darwin

I regret my decision deeply, but I am sure it is unavoidable.— Only those who live with me can know how strange a state I am in in health, I never pass 24 hours, without failing several times, when I can do nothing whatever & not even read a line.—


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Francis Galton, 19 April 1872.
See letter from Francis Galton, 19 April 1872. Galton had invited CD to attend a séance.
Daniel Dunglas Home.
William Crookes had already attempted to record Home’s phenomena on self-registering instruments between April and July 1871 (ODNB s.v. Home, Daniel Dunglas). He evidently planned to construct new instruments for this purpose.


ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.


Encourages FG to carry out investigation [of spiritualism]. However, his own health is too uncertain to accept Daniel Dunglas Home’s offer. Discusses possibility of reproducing Crookes’s apparatus for sale.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Francis Galton
Sent from
Source of text
Cleveland Health Sciences Library (Robert M. Stecher collection)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8296,” accessed on 20 January 2020,

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