skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From Francis Galton   15 November 1872

42 Rutland Gate

Nov 15/72

My dear Darwin

I have left your kind letter of ten days since unanswered. having some possible rabbit combinations in view which have ended in nothing:1 The experiments have, I quite agree, been carried on long enough. It would be a crowning point to them if your groom2 could get a prize at some show for those he has reared up so carefully, as it would attest their purity of breed. There in such a show, I believe, impending at the Xtal Palace3   Enclosed is a £2 cheque. Will you kindly tip him with it for me assuring him how indebted I feel for his attention. I dont know how I can repay you!

Would it not be worth while before abandoning the whole affair, to get a litter from each of the available does, not with a view of keeping the young but simply of seeing whether any are born mottled. & if not of then killing them.? The reason being, that the mixed breed are so very apt to take wholly after one or the other ancestor. & one might get no other evidence of impure blood than a rare instance of a decidedly mongrel birth

However I leave this quite in your hands, knowing that it means 5 or 6 weeks more trouble with the rabbits.

I read and re read your “Expression” with infinite instruction & pleasure. & feel sure that its influence will soon be seen, at the Royal Academy.4 Enclosed, is a small addition to the note about the Butler family in p. 34.

My sister Emma, I am rejoiced to say, is now at the sea side steadily mending in perfect quiet & in full hopes of complete restoration to health.— I wish most heartily that your’s was better.5

Ever sincerely yrs. Francis Galton


not to be printed— It is evidently written in a joking strain— F Galton—6

For Darwin

Last evening, Novr. 10th., the undersigned having preached two Sermons, including a drive to London & back, fell asleep in his drawing-room between 10 and 11 o’clock.

He awoke by finding that he had brought his hand suddenly down over the nose, & considerably lacerated the latter with his nail.7

This morning the aforesaid “latter” bears pathetic witness to the truth of the above statement.

The same was done not infrequently in bed by the father of the Undersigned, as his widow8 was in the habit of relating.

H. Montague Butler, D.D.

Harrow on the Hill | Novr. 11th. 1872


See letter to Francis Galton, 8 November [1872] and n. 2. Galton was experimenting on transfusing and breeding from rabbits of different colours.
Rabbits were included in the Crystal Palace Poultry Show, which opened on 19 November 1872 (The Times, 20 November 1872, p. 9).
See letter from Francis Galton, 7 November 1872 and n. 1. Galton refers to the Royal Academy of Arts.
Galton refers to Emma Sophia Galton; see letter to Francis Galton, 8 November [1872]. CD’s only surviving sister was Caroline Sarah Wedgwood.
The rest of the note was written by Henry Montagu Butler.
Galton had sent CD an account of this habit of his father-in-law, H. M. Butler, in December 1871 (see Correspondence vol. 19, letters from Francis Galton, 22 December 1871 and [after 22 December 1871]). CD quoted Galton’s account (which also related to H. M. Butler’s father, George Butler, and his daughter Agnes Isabel) in Expression, pp. 33–4 n. 8.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 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.


Agrees the rabbit experiment has gone on long enough, but would like one more litter.

Letter details

Letter no.
Francis Galton
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Rutland Gate, 42
Source of text
DAR 105: A50–A51, A69–A70
Physical description
ALS 4pp, encl 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8626,” accessed on 21 April 2024,

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