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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Lawson Tait   16 August 1875

7, Great Charles St. | Birmingham.

Aug. 16 1875

My Dear Sir,

I cannot tell you how much your kind letter has gratified me.1

That the unopened pitchers of the Nepenthes’ do contain the ferment sometimes, is indisputable; and after all not more wonderful than that the gastric mucous membrane always contains pepsin, the amount being increased by the presence of food.2

The whole question wants very carefully going over, and it is my intention to give some time to it as soon as a run of ovariotomies is over with which I am now engaged.3

These cases are such a terrible strain that I am always unable to do anything else when I have a number. Then, I see my way to quite a book on tails, which will be more to interest the public, as I find my little paper on the cat has made quite a sensation.4

I trust you will take really a long rest. How you can do such work as you get through is to me a marvel. I stayed a day with Dr. Andrew Clark at his country place a short time ago & was delighted to hear him speak encouragingly of your health.5

Yours sincerely | Lawson Tait


CD had written to thank Tait for his review of Insectivorous plants (letter to Lawson Tait, 15 August [1875] and n. 2).
See letter to Lawson Tait, 15 August [1875] and n. 3. Tait had published a paper in Nature, 29 July 1875, pp. 251–2, on digestion in Nepenthes (the tropical pitcher-plant).
Tait pioneered surgical techniques for the removal of the ovaries (ODNB).
In June 1875, Science Gossip had printed a summary of a lecture delivered by Tait to the Birmingham Natural History Society on the uses of tails in animals; the lecture had focused on experiments conducted on his cat (Tait 1875a); no book by him on the subject has been found.
Andrew Clark was CD’s physician.


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

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.


Digestive fluid in insectivorous plants. RLT’s work on tails.

Letter details

Letter no.
Robert Lawson (Lawson) Tait
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 178: 17
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10122,” accessed on 12 August 2020,

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