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Letter 1699

Darwin, C. R. to Berkeley, M. J.

12 June [1855]

Summary

Thanks for approval of seed-soaking experiments in Gardeners’ Chronicle ["Does sea-water kill seeds?", 26 May 1855; Collected papers 1: 255–8]. They seem not to have convinced Hooker of consequences for geographical distribution.

Transcription

Down Farnborough Kent

June 12th

My dear Sir

I am extremely much obliged to you for your note with your account of your experiments in the salting line.— Your approbation in the Gardener’s Chron. has been a great satisfaction to me, & has stimulated me to go on trying.f1

I hope you will state in Gardeners’ Chron. (or to me) whether the seeds which were left for 5 days were quite wet or became partially dry: in the former case it might, I shd think be counted as part of the immersion.f2

I had begun to try whether by drying the seeds for a week after immersion, whether they wd then germinate; but this day I have had a most provoking accident in a set of seeds, which had soaked for 8 & 10 weeks (& those which had been dryed) having been allowed to get dry in the glasses, owing to one day’s omission of looking at them, & I fear they are assuredly all killed. I may just mention that some of my seeds have germinated after 56 days immersion. By the way, I may mention, that when the seeds are come to nearly their full period of endurance: their germination becomes much delayed sometimes.

Hooker seems much interested in these experiments; but they seem to have had very little influence, or no influence, in making him think that plants thus get distributed, which I am rather surprised at; & I shd like sometime very much to hear your opinion on this head.

With very sincere thanks, pray believe me Your’s very sincerely | C. Darwin

Your Peas have come up capitallyf3

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Footnotes

f1
In the Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, no. 17, 28 April 1855, p. 278, Berkeley had described his own experiments and urged others to undertake similar investigations.
f2
Berkeley did not discuss this point in his report in Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, no. 35, 1 September 1855, p. 580. In CD’s report of his own and Berkeley’s experiments, ‘On the action of sea-water on the germination of seeds’ (Collected papers 1: 264–73), CD included this period in the total time of immersion.
f3
See letters to M. J. Berkeley, 7 April [1855] and 11 April [1855]. CD’s notes on his observations on peas and other vegetables, made between March and September 1855, are in DAR 46.2: 1–26.
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