skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. T. Moggridge   10 March 1874

Down Beckenham

March 10th. 1874

My dear Mr. Moggridge

It is uncommonly kind of you to have taken the trouble to copy the long extract from Ziegler.1 But it so happens that I have seen the Paper and much it astonished me. I tried most of his experiments, and could not observe even a trace of the effects which he describes.2 I cannot but think that the whole Paper is the work of the imagination.

I am very sorry to hear that the vapour experiments have failed; but nothing could be better, as it seems to me, than your plan of enclosing a number of the ants with the seeds. The incidental results on the power of different vapours in killing seeds and stopping germination appear very curious, and as far as I know are quite new.3

You say nothing about your health; I heard indirectly some time ago a rather bad account, but I hope that this was an error.4

Believe me with many thanks | Your’s very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

P.S. | I never before heard of seeds not germinating except during a certain season; it will be a very strange fact if you can prove this.5


See letter from J. T. Moggridge, 7 March 1874 and enclosure. The reference is to Martin Ziegler.
Ziegler’s paper (Ziegler 1872) had been published in Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Académie des sciences 74 (1872): 1227–9. Ziegler claimed that the leaves of Drosera (sundew) were not affected by albuminous substances unless these substances had been held between the experimenter’s fingers for one minute.
Moggridge had been an invalid for several years; he died on 24 November 1874 at the age of 32 (Gardeners’ Chronicle, 5 December 1874, p. 723).


Criticises paper by Ziegler [see 9339].

Acid experiments on seeds have failed.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Traherne Moggridge
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 146: 381
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9349,” accessed on 19 July 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22