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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Francis Galton   29 March [1872]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

March 29th

My dear Galton

I think that I have never been more interested in my life than by your letter. It takes one’s breath away, & I am much more inclined to believe in some wonderful force from your account than if I had been myself a witness. The case of the needle in the vacuum (which I will not mention) is incomparably in my opinion the most important. I hope that Mr Crookes will stick to this & work it out, & that you may continue to be a witness with, as you say, eyes & ears very open.2 It is rather dreadful to think what we may have to believe.

Very many thanks about the case of inheritance. I cannot do better than give your own words. If I do not hear to the contrary, I will insert “female” in passage about the 3d. generation3

I thank you most heartily for your letter | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Francis Galton, 28 March 1872.
See letter from Francis Galton, 28 March 1872 and n. 3. The reference is to William Crookes.
See letter from Francis Galton, 28 March 1872. CD quoted Galton on the inheritance of a characteristic arm gesture in Expression, pp. 33–4 n. 8. The quoted text does not match precisely the text of letters from Galton since CD did not use any of the names of the individuals referred to, but see Correspondence vol. 19, letters from Francis Galton, 22 December 1871 and [after 22 December 1871], and this volume, letter from Francis Galton, [before 28 March 1872] and n. 6. In the passage referred to, CD wrote, ‘One of his children, a girl’ (Expression, pp. 34 n. 8).


Comments on FG’s description of a séance at the house of William Crookes.

Will use FG’s words about [H. M. Butler’s] hereditary habit [in Expression, p. 33 n. 8].

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. 8258,” accessed on 21 June 2018,

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