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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Lawson Tait   24 June [1875]1

7, Great Charles St. | Birmingham.

June 24

My Dear Sir,

In case you should like to see it there is an adverse article in last Saturday’s Spectator in which my paper is made, very absurdly, to be the peg on which to hang an attack on Natural Selection2

I reply in next Saturday’s.3

Mr. Norman Lockyer has written to me for my paper for Nature.4

Yours faithfully, | Lawson Tait


The year is established by the reference to the article in the Spectator (see n. 2, below).
An unsigned article, ‘Flower–traps’, in the Spectator, 19 June 1875, pp. 784–5, reported on Tait’s lecture at the Birmingham Natural History Society (see n. 4, below). The writer noted Tait’s scepticism concerning the ability of insect-catching plants to absorb nutrients through the leaf surface, and his alternative explanation that the products of digestion ran down the leaf-stalk to the roots, where they were absorbed in the usual way. The writer compared insect catching in plants to human pursuits that were not advantageous to survival, and concluded that the principle of natural selection was a limited one.
Tait’s letter to the editor appeared in the Spectator, 26 June 1875, pp. 816–17. He argued that his observations suggesting that products of digestion might be channelled to the roots supported CD’s theory, because it suggested an intermediary step in the development of insectivory, and further noted that he would not come to a conclusion about absorption by leaves until Insectivorous plants was published, and he had weighed the evidence offered by CD.
Tait read a paper on insectivorous plants to the Birmingham Natural History Society on 15 June 1875; it was reported in the Birmingham Daily Post, 16 June 1875, p. 5. Tait summarised his experiments in a letter published in Nature, 29 July 1875, pp. 251–2.


Insectivorous plants. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.


An article on RLT’s lecture on insectivorous plants has appeared; the author adopts an anti-Darwinian attitude [see "Flower traps", Spectator 19 June 1875, pp. 784–5; RLT’s reply in Spectator 26 June 1875, pp. 816–17.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Robert Lawson (Lawson) Tait
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 178: 13
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10029,” accessed on 4 March 2021,

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