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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Francis Galton to William Huggins   15 February 1873

42 Rutland Gate SW

Feb 15/73

Dear Dr. Huggins

Enclosed are the family documents about Kepler, wh: you kindly lent. I am ashamed to see how much time has gone by, but plead some illness & much work in partial excuse. Right glad I was, to see the account published & so ably prefaced by Darwin in Nature.1

There remains still some want of investigation into the precise mental condition of Kepler & his relatives.

Kepler fears a butchers’ shop others are rendered furious at the sight of a butcher. Is Kepler ever angry or is it pure aversion & dread, that he feels? What aspect of a butchers shop is it that offends them   Not the sight of raw meat? I suppose they like raw meat. And dogs like to worry living things & to turn them to raw meat. Is it smell,? (? as to the well dressed master butcher) or is it the hooks & the knives & the sight of a murderous man?

Does Kepler object to a butcher’s cart, or to a boy with a tray on his head? or to your cook?

Are he & the rest of his breed brave dogs, given to fighting? Have they squeamish tastes of any kind, as regards food?

I send all these just in hopes that something new might occur to you; the case so richly deserves labour of investigation. It is very remarkable, in the inheritance of instinct, how some of those few which are first acquired & then transmitted are singularly complex. While simple ones do not seem to have much superior chance of being transmitted, on account of their simplicity.

What you say about dog’s reasoning, reminds me of a phrase used by the master of some performing dogs “Dogs, Sir, do a deal of pondering

About the medium:— I fear the room in which the man sits who is tied is far to dark to allow of his being kept in view through an aperture. but I will suggest to Crookes,2 that previous experiment may be made—

Very sincerely yrs. Francis Galton


CD had forwarded Huggins’s description of the mastiff Kepler’s behaviour with his letter to Nature, [before 13 February 1873]. Huggins had evidently contacted Galton first, and Galton had suggested asking CD to provide a covering letter and send it to Nature. The presence of this letter in the Darwin Archive–CUL suggests that CD asked to be given the ensuing correspondence or copies of it. It is possible that the questions about Kepler in this letter were suggested to Galton by CD.
Galton refers to William Crookes, who had investigated some prominent mediums.


Returns family documents about "Kepler" [William Huggins’ dog, see Collected papers 2: 170–1]; there is still some sort of investigation into the "precise mental condition" of "Kepler" and his relatives.

Letter details

Letter no.
Francis Galton
William Huggins
Sent from
London, Rutland Gate, 42
Source of text
DAR 105: A72–3
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8766,” accessed on 16 November 2018,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21