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Darwin Correspondence Project

To G. J. Romanes   27 December 1874

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Dec 27th 1874

Dear Mr Romanes

I am glad that you are pleased with Hooker’s letter.1 He is the best & kindest man I have ever known. With respect to your experiment I should think grafting the ears of rabbits would be almost impossible, as it would be so difficult to keep the animal quiet afterwards. I do not speak of the pain as of course you would do it under chloroform. The comb of the fowl, especially of the Spanish breed is strongly inherited & would be thus well fitted for your work; & I suppose birds can be chloroformed2

Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


See letter from J. D. Hooker, 22 December 1874. Hooker had offered Romanes facilities at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, for his work on grafting. Romanes’s letter to CD has not been found.
Romanes was presumably interested in grafting the ear of one rabbit onto another rabbit and observing the effect on the offspring, although the experiments seem not to have been carried out. Francis Galton had experimented with transfusing blood between rabbits or rats in attempt to support CD’s theory of pangenesis (see Galton 1871 and Correspondence vols. 18 and 19).


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

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.


Discourages grafting ears of rabbits. Suggests comb of fowl.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George John Romanes
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.457)
Physical description
LS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9783,” accessed on 25 July 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22