skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From Francis Galton   17 March 1870

42 Rutland Gate SW

March 17 1870

My dear Darwin.

No good news.—

Bartlet1 apprised me this morng. that it was a popular prejudice that young rabbits might not be looked at, reasonable care being taken, so we opened 2 boxes & examined the litters. The first contained 4 dead young ones all true silver greys. The second contained 5 lively young ones all true silver greys. One however has a largish light colored patch on its nose, but Bartlet tells me this is not unusual with silver greys as the very tips of their noses are often white. However this patch is somewhat large & there are faint hopes, I think, that it may prove more considerable than Bartlet believes.2

I have one more litter yet to come & hope to send you the result by Monday evg. post.3

I have coupled a new pair and re-coupled the 2 does whose litters have failed; one of them with a more suitable mate, & expect the following results

Date of expected Buck transfused Doe transfused
litter from rabbit from
colored as below
April 14 hare colored hare colored
April 16 yellow yellow
April 16 black & white black & white

The quantity of blood transfused was only 1.25 per cent of the weight of the rabbits, which is the same thing as 30 oz of blood to an average man. I know this is a very small proportion of the whole amount of blood, but hope by a second operation on the old bucks & by improved operations on all the young ones to get a great deal more of alien qualities into their veins.

Very sincerely yours | Francis Galton.


Galton refers to Abraham Dee Bartlett, the superintendent of the Zoological Gardens of London. Galton kept his rabbits in the Zoological Gardens partly so that he could be advised by Bartlett (Galton 1871, p. 395).
See letter from Francis Galton, 15 March 1870 and n. 2. Galton was trying to ‘mongrelise’ silver-grey rabbits by introducing blood from other breeds into them and then breeding from them (Galton 1871, p. 396).
Galton next wrote on Tuesday 22 March 1870.


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.


Experiments are not going well, but the quantity of blood transfused was small.

Letter details

Letter no.
Francis Galton
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Rutland Gate, 42
Source of text
DAR 105: 7–8
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7139,” accessed on 15 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18