Correspondence with Charles Darwin 157
also with negative conclusions, which results confirmatory of the thesis of his memoir Galton never to my knowledge published in detail. Those who read the letters below cannot doubt that Darwin knew the nature of the experiments, and knew that Galton was assuming that the ` gemmules' circulated in the blood. The whole point was to determine whether the hereditary units of a breed A could be transferred by transfusion of blood to members of a breed B and would 'mongrelise' the offspring conceived later by B. Was the `blood' indeed as supposed in folk-language all over the world a true bearer of hereditary characters ? That question is itself of importance, even apart from the question of Darwin's theory of heredity. But the publication of these letters has in this particular instance a deeper significance. It is a biographer's duty to illustrate the real strength of his subject's character, not merely to call it great. I know of no case in which a disciple's reverence for his master has exceeded that shown by Galton for Darwin in this matter. I doubt if any natures the least smaller than those of Darwin and Galton would have sustained their friendship unbroken, even for a day, after April 24th, 1871. I feel that the self-effacement of Galton in this instance is one of the most characteristic actions of his life:; but it is not one that a biographer can disregard, however great his reverence for Darwin. Here are the letters extending from the start of the pangenesis experiments to nearly the time when Galton began to write his paper.
(1) 42, RUTLAND GATE, S.W. Dec. 11, 69.
MY DEAR DARWIN,' I wonder if you could help me. I want' to make some peculiar experiments that have occurred to me in breeding animals and want to procure a few couples of rabbits of marked and assured breeds, viz: Lop-ear with as little tendency to Albinism as possible. Common_ Rabbits, ditto. Angora albinos. And I find myself wholly unable to get them, though I have asked many people. Do you know anybody who has such things? I write without your book in reach, but you there especially mention a breeder of Angoras. Also you quote with approbation from Delaney's little book. Are either or both of those men accessible and likely to help? Pray excuse my troubling you; the interest of the proposed experiment
for it is really a curious one-must be my justification. Very sincerely yours, FRANCIS GALTON.
(2) 42, RUTLAND GATE, S.W. March 15, 70.
MY DEAR DARWIN, Very many thanks for the information and books. When I have got up the subject, I will write again, and will in the meantime take all care of the books.
I shall hope in a week from now to give you some news and by Saturday week definite facts about the rabbits. One litter [?doe] has littered to-day and all looks well with her. Two others towards the end of the week, viz: Wednesday and Saturday. I grieve to say that my most hopeful one was confined prematurely by 3 days having made no nest and all we knew of the matter was finding blood about the cage and the head of one_ of the litter. She was transfused from yellow and the buck also from yellow. Well the head was certainly much lighter than the head of another abortion I had seen, and was certainly irregularly coloured, being especially darker about the muzzle, but I did not and do not care to build anything about such vague facts and have not even kept the head. As soon as I know anything I will write
instantly and first to you. For my part, I am quite sick with expected hope and doubt.
Ever very sincerely, F. GALTON.
It will be seen from Letters (1) and (2) that between Dec. 11, 1869 and March 15, 1870, Galton must by letter or verbally have communicated the purpose of his experiments to Darwin. He now speaks quite openly of the transfusion and its possible effect on the nature of the offspring.