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Darwin Correspondence Project

From G. G. Stokes   14 April 1876

Lensfield Cottage Cambridge

14th April 1876

My dear Sir

As the anatomical print at any rate of Mr Lawson Tait’s paper on the pitcher plant appeared to competent judges to be of little value, the Committee Members were consulted as to the expediency of receiving the paper for reading. They took the opinions of persons well qualified to judge of the different parts, and came to the conclusion that it was best not to receive the paper for reading; and they have accordingly directed it to be returned to you as having communicated it.1

I trust you will not suppose that the Committee were insensible of the great value of your own opinion in such a matter; but it seemed to be supposed that you communicated the paper rather because, deeming it presentable, you wished the author to have his say, than because you had yourself a decided opinion as to the value of the paper.

You may not get the paper for 2 or 3 days, as there is a short holiday at the R.S. till Tuesday.

I am dear Sir | Yours sincerely | G. G. Stokes | Sec. R.S.

Chas. Darwin Esq F.R.S. | &c


CD had agreed to submit Tait’s paper on physiology of digestion in Nepenthes (the tropical pitcher-plant) to the Royal Society of London in 1875 (see Correspondence vol. 23, letter to J. D. Hooker, 1 December [1875]). Joseph Dalton Hooker, who was president of the Royal Society, and had worked on the digestive ability of Nepenthes himself, judged the paper to be ‘trash’ (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 28 January 1876). The paper was returned to Tait; he later published on the structures and digestive principles of pitcher-plants in Proceedings of the Birmingham Philosophical Society and Midland Naturalist (see L. Tait 1879 and 1879–80).


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

Tait, Lawson. 1879. Researches on the digestive principles of plants. [Read 22 May 1879.] Proceedings of the Birmingham Philosophical Society 1 (1876–9) pt 2: 125–39.


The Royal Society have not accepted R. L. Tait’s paper on insectivorous plants; it will be returned to CD, who submitted it.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Gabriel Stokes, 1st baronet
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 99: 92–3
Physical description
4pp & ACC 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10452,” accessed on 13 April 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24