To Miles Joseph Berkeley 29 February 1
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Sir
At Hookers suggestion I am going to send to Linnean Soc, an account of the few experiment which I made on salting seeds,2 & I want to know whether you will permit me to tabulate your results with mine.3 I thought of arranging the genera in their nat. Families—
I had intended trying many more experiments but my ardor was damped, by finding that plants would float for so short a time in salt-water:4 I am, however, not quite sure that I tried this part of the affair quite fairly, so shall try the floating again— I kept the plants in the water in my room & therefor too warm & in nearly the dark, & this might have hastened their decay. Will you be so kind as to tell me the proper name of the Aubergine & Corn Salad & of the Kidney Bean; I tried the dwarf.— was yours the tall or dwarf?
I hope you will excuse me troubling you & believe me Dear Sir | Yours sincerely & obliged | Charles Darwin
Do you think it of any consequence how I arrange the Families: shd I follow Lindley or put the Families by mere chance, keeping, perhaps, Endogens & Exogens apart?—5 It will take me some little time to find out order of the Natural Families—
I planted the curious Peas you were so kind as to send me near some other kinds, but unfortunately they were gathered before they were quite ripe, so that I cd not tell positively whether they had been affected.6 But another lot of “Pois sans parchemin”, which were ticketed as your purest seed, were sown separately & have come nearly true, yet some few of the peas were not mottled with brown, & I do not think they could have been impregnated with the pollen of any other variety.— A neighbour has a curious pea with black pods, & these when planted by themselves sometimes come false. This leads me to ask whether you do not think that the change in the seed may be due to mere variation, & not to the anomalous & direct action of the pollen.—7
I have forgotten, indeed, Gærtner’s experiments, which certainly seem to prove direct action of the pollen.—8 Yet on other hand how strange it is that nurserymen take no pains to prevent crossing in the Peas which they raise from seed close together—9 And in Sweet Peas they certainly come true if planted quite close together. Have you tried any other experiments? Can you throw any light on this point which interests me extremely?10
I have a small collection of Pois sans Parchemin from Vilmorin,11 —all his varieties of this sub-class: Have you any wish for a sample of each kind?— One word more, there seems to me capital evidence for & against the natural crossing of Pisum & Lathyrus, & I am completely puzzled.—12
Preparing paper on seed-soaking for Linnean Society ["Action of sea-water on seeds", Collected papers 1: 264–73]. Wants to use MJB’s results. Lost ardour when he found seeds would not float.
Has grown MJB’s purest pea seeds and got a few variants. Gärtner’s experiments suggest direct action of pollen, but CD thinks it is "mere variation".
- experiment, scientific observation
- negative attitude/assessment
- sea, sea-currents
- theory (including philosophy)
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1834,” accessed on 31 August 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-1834