168 Life and Letters of Francis Galton
(19) 42, RUTLAND GATE, S.W. February 1/72. (At Athenaeum)
MY DEAR DARWIN, If you can make it convenient to send, in separate hampers, 1 buck and 1 doe, I should be glad, as then my stock will be large enough to be above risk of accident. As for the others, pray do what you like with them. Would you send the pair, as before, addressed to-Dr Charles Carter, University College, Gower Street, and if you could kindly let a postage card be sent to him, to say when they might be expected, they would be the more sure to be immediately attended to. I grieve to say, that I find I must abandon the rats, as a task above my power to bring to a successful issue. I am most truly obliged for the care you have taken of the rabbits-I heartily wish, for my part, that I could have done more in the way of experiment than I have effected. Very sincerely yours, FRANCIS GALTON.
(20) 42, RUTLAND GATE, S. W. May 26/72.
MY DEAR DARWIN, I feel perfectly ashamed to apply again to you in my recurring rabbit difficulty, which is this: I have (after some losses) got three does and a buck of the stock you so kindly took charge of cross-circulated, and so have means of protracting the experiments to another generation, and of breeding from them and seeing if their young show any signs of mongrelism. They do not thrive over well in London, also we could not keep them during summer at our house, because the servants in charge when we leave could not be troubled with them. Is it possible that any of your men could take charge of them and let them breed, seeing if the young show any colour, then killing the litter and breeding afresh, 2 or 3 times over? I would most gladly pay even a large sum-many times the cost of their maintenance-to any man who would really attend to them. Can you help me? Ever sincerely yours, FRANCIS GALTON.
DOWN, BECHENHAM, KENT. May 27th. [1872?]
MY DEAR GALTON, We shall be very happy to keep the 4 rabbits and breed from them. I have just spoken to my former groom (now commuted into a footman) and he says he will do his utmost to keep them in good health. I have said that you would give him a present, and make it worth his while; and that of course adds to the expense that you will be put to, and I have thought that you would prefer doing this to letting me do so, as I am most perfectly willing to do.
If you will send an answer by return of post, I will direct our carrier, who leaves here every Wednesday night, to call on next Thursday morning at whatever place you may direct. Next week we shall probably be at Southampton for 10 days.
We have now got 2 litters from some of the young ones which you saw here; and my man says that in one litter there are some odd white marks about their heads ; but I am not going again to be deluded about their appearance, until they have got their permanent coats.
Yours most sincerely, In haste for post, C. DARWIN.
(21) 42, RUTLAND GATE. May 28th, 1872.
MY DEAR DARWIN, You are indeed most kind and helpful and I joyfully will send the rabbits. But really and truly I must bear every. expense to the full and will rely on your groom telling me, at the end; in addition to his present. The rabbits are none of them absolutely recovered, at all events the buck and 1 doe are not, but they will want no further attention in respect to what remains unhealed of their wounds. Two of the does are believed to be in kindle, having been left with the buck a fortnight and 10 days ago. I will tell
anomaly, but is common in a lesser degree to various persons. It is also a consolation to reflect that gravity acts at any distance, in some wholly unknown manner, and so may nerve-force. Nothing is so difficult to decide as where to draw a just line between scepticism and credulity. It was a very long time before scientific men would believe in the fall of aerolites; and this was chiefly owing to so much bad evidence, as in the present case, being mixed up with the good. All sorts of objects were said to have been seen falling from the sky. I very much hope that a number of men, such as Professor Stokes, will be induced to witness Mr Crookes' experiments."
It will be clear that at this time-after the Galton investigations but before Huxley's report (see our p. 67)-Darwin was endeavouring to retain an open mind.