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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Lawson Tait   25 April [1876]1

7, Great Charles St. | Birmingham.

Ap 25

My Dear Sir,

I do not know in what terms to make my apology to you for having placed you in so objectionable a position, as to be sponsor for a rejected paper.2

The lesson to me is a severe one, but one to be profited by & for the future I shall not venture into subjects where even my elementary knowledge seems deficient. The snubbing about the use of the terms seems, from the pencilled remarks of the referee, to be thoroughly deserved, and if you know who he is, I should be obliged if you would let him know this.

I was and am now perfectly unacquainted with the authors whom you mention, and my apology must be that if I have gone over old ground I did it in ignorance & that my work has been found fault with only in its want of novelty seems to be an appreciation of its fidelity. I must say further that I may be excused for my ignorance when the most eminent botanist of the day seems equally unaware of the work of these authors and gives an inaccurate account of structures which I am certain I describe exactly3

I am sorry not to have information on the objections to the physiological part of my paper.4 These I should be quite ready to give issue on by facts & the conclusions from them with the referee, no matter who he may be, and I should be glad to have an opportunity to discuss the subject with him.

Could you tell me where Hashall & Griffith’s work is to be found?5 I cannot even find a reference to their names.

Yours truly, | Lawson Tait


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to Lawson Tait, 24 April 1876.
CD had submitted Tait’s paper on Nepenthes (the genus of tropical pitcher-plants) to the Royal Society of London and it had been rejected; see letter to Lawson Tait, 24 April 1876 and n. 1.
On Tait’s use of terms and the morphological referee’s recommendation of authors that he should have cited, see the letter to Lawson Tait, 24 April 1876 and n. 2. The ‘most eminent botanist’ is probably Joseph Dalton Hooker, who had not cited these authors (see n. 5, below) in his paper on Nepenthes (Hooker 1874). However, Hooker had done so in his extensive bibliography in A. P. de Candolle and Candolle 1824–73, 17: 90–105, of which Tait was unaware.
Pieter Willem Korthals and William Griffith; see letter to Lawson Tait, 24 April 1876 and n. 2. Evidently, Tait had misread ‘Korthals’ as ‘Hashall’.


Candolle, Augustin Pyramus de and Candolle, Alphonse de. 1824–73. Prodromus systematis naturalis regni vegetabilis, sive enumeratio contracta ordinum generum specierumque plantarum huc usque cognitarum, juxta methodi naturalis normas digesta. 19 vols. Paris: Treuttel & Würtz [and others].


Apologises for placing CD in the objectionable position of sponsor for a rejected paper. RLT has gone over old ground in ignorance.

Letter details

Letter no.
Robert Lawson (Lawson) Tait
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 178: 33
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10473,” accessed on 30 May 2023,

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