To Jeffries Wyman 8 October 1
Down Bromley | Kent.
My dear Sir
I am very much obliged for your letter.2 I have tried the little experiment with the string, & it answered well;3 as did a very long narrow strip of elastic paper after having been scraped or compressed by being rubbed over a knife. I cannot see the difficulty of the mathematicians, the slip of paper when held at both ends, tends to form a regular bow, but as every part tends to contract into a small circle, if the contraction be not quite regular one part can pass by the side of the other, & the whole will break up into a set of circles or spires, which will be reversed at the 2 ends on the self-twisting principle which I have explained.
I am aware that you are much interested on the movement of plants for I have read your excellent paper on the bursting of certain gourds.4 I suppose you know Cohn’s paper on the contraction of the stamens of certain Compositæ:5 I have seen the phenomenon & was much interested by the paper.
I formerly made numerous observations shewing what an extraordinary small pressure is sufficient in certain cases to excite movement & as I believe contraction in the cells of some plants; I likewise found that certain re-agents such as Strychnine &c had a powerful influence on the movements.6 But my health has been so weak for several years that I have not been able to publish these observations,7 & I hardly know why I have mentioned them to you.
With many thanks for your note; & with sincere respect believe me | My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Charles Darwin
Experiments with string and elastic paper answered well.
Does JW know Ferdinand Cohn’s paper on contraction of stamens of certain Compositae [Edinburgh New Philos. J. n.s. 18 (1863): 190–4]?
Formerly made observations on movement in plants, but weak health has made it impossible to publish.
- Letter no.
- Darwin, C. R.
- Wyman, Jeffries
- Sent from
- Source of text
- The Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Boston
- Physical description
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4912,” accessed on 23 January 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4912