To J. D. Hooker 15 [May 1855]1
My dear Hooker
You have been a very good man to exhale some of your satisfaction in writing two notes to me,—you could not have taken a better line in my opinion,—but as for showing your satisfaction in confounding my experiments, I assure you I am quite enough confounded—those horrid seeds, which, as you truly observe if they sink they wont float.—
I have written to Scoresby2 & have had a rather dry answer, but very much to the purpose & giving me no hopes of any law unknown to me which might arrest their everlasting descent into the deepest depths of the ocean. By the way it was very odd but I talked to Col. Sabine3 for an hour on the subject, & could not make him see with respect to transportal the difficulty of the sinking question! The bore is if the confounded seeds will sink, I have been taking all this trouble in salting the ungrateful rascals for nothing.—
Everything has been going wrong with me lately; the fish at the Zoolog. Soc. ate up lots of soaked seeds, & in imagination they had in my mind been swallowed, fish & all, by a heron, had been carried a hundred miles, been voided on the banks of some other lake & germinated splendidly,—when lo & behold, the fish ejected vehemently, & with disgust equal to my own, all the seeds from their mouths.—4
But I am not going to give up the floating yet: in first place I must try fresh seeds, though of course it seems far more probable that they will sink; & secondly as a last resource I must believe in the pod or even whole plant or branch being washed into sea: with floods & slips & earthquakes; this must continually be happening, & if kept wet, I fancy the pods &c &c wd. not open & shed their seeds.—5
Do try your Mimosa seeds at Kew.
I had intended to have asked you whether the Mimosa scandens & Guilandina Bonduc grows at Kew to try fresh seeds.— R. Brown tells me he believes 4 W. Indian seeds have been washed on shores of Europe.6 I was assured at Keeling isld. that seeds were not rarely washed on shore:7 so float they must & shall! What a long yarn I have been spinning.—
I am glad to hear of the elections for the Club,8 but very sorry about De la Rue:9 he does not appear like a gentleman, but all that he says at the Council seems very gentlemanlike & nice: I would not have the blackballing of such a man on my conscience for a couple of hundred guineas: what a mortification for him.—
Goodbye my dear Hooker | Ever yours | C. Darwin
If you have several of the Loffoden seeds,10 do soak some in tepid water & get planted with utmost care: this is experiment after my own heart with chances 1000—to 1 against its success.— Are they of the so-called Mimosa scandens?—
CD upset because salted seeds do not float.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1681,” accessed on 25 March 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-1681