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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Lawson Tait   17 [July 1875]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

J. 17th

My dear Sir

I thank you for your extremely kind note.—2 I did not answer, as you told me I might not, your former notes to Abinger, as I was quite worn out.—3 I wish I cd. help you about D. binata, but I hardly know Lady D. Nevill well enough to borrow plants for a third party.—4

You are aware that Dr Hooker has worked hard at Nepenthes & will soon publish: I told him to try the secretion of pitchers which had caught no insects, & it cd. not digest.5 Therefore to get the ferment, it wd be necessary to give some nitrogenous compound, & wd. not this make the separation of the ferment very difficult?—

In Haste | yours sincerely | Ch Darwin


The year and month are established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Lawson Tait, 15 July [1875].
CD stayed at Abinger Hall, Surrey, the home of Thomas Henry Farrer, from 3 June to 6 July 1875 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)). Tait had written six letters to CD during his stay.
Tait was trying to obtain specimens of Drosera binata, the forked-leaf sundew (see letter from Lawson Tait, 15 July [1875]). CD had received the plant from Dorothy Fanny Nevill (see Correspondence vol. 22, letter to D. F. Nevill, 7 September 1874).
CD had advised Joseph Dalton Hooker on his research on the digestive properties of the tropical pitcher-plant, Nepenthes (Correspondence vol. 21, letter to J. D. Hooker, 3 November [1873]). For Tait’s interest in the plant, see the letter from Lawson Tait, 15 July [1875] and n 5.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.


Informs RLT of J. D. Hooker’s work on Nepenthes ["Nepenthaceae, Cytinaceae", in Prodromus systematis naturalis regni vegetabilis by A. P. de Candolle (1873), 17: 90–116].

Has asked JDH to try secretions of pitchers that had caught no insects.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Robert Lawson (Lawson) Tait
Sent from
Abinger Hall Down letterhead
Source of text
DAR 221.5: 27
Physical description
2pp (Photocopy)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10023,” accessed on 1 March 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 23