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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Lawson Tait   29 April [1876]1


Ap. 29th

My dear Sir

Prof. Dyer says it wd. take much time to look up all the references about Nepenthes, but he says you will find a list of references in DeCandolles Prodromus Vol. XVII. p. 91; & further that at the Linn. Soc. you wd. be able to see much of the works referred to. Korthals’ “book is a large & costly one” & D. does not know when it cd. be consulted.2

With respect to your candidature for R. Socy, I of course know nothing, but I believe the Council judge as well as they can (& they take infinite pains) for what he has actually published, but are influenced somewhat by the estimation in which he was held, & considerably by the length of time during which he has been a candidate.3

Yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Lawson Tait, 25 April [1876].
See letter from Lawson Tait, 25 April [1876]. CD had asked William Turner Thiselton-Dyer to supply details of the references mentioned by Joseph Dalton Hooker on reading Tait’s paper on Nepenthes (the genus of tropical pitcher-plants); see letter to W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 26 April [1876]. Hooker had written the section on Nepenthes for Augustin Pyramus and Alphonse de Candolle’s Prodromus systematis naturalis regni vegetabilis (A. P. de Candolle and Candolle 1824–73, 17: 90–105); he provided an extensive list of references. The bylaws of the Linnean Society allowed only fellows and members to consult books in the library (Charter and bye-laws of the Linnean Society of London), but Tait could probably have had access if he was introduced by a fellow. Pieter Willem Korthals’s ‘Over het geslacht Nepenthes’ (On the genus Nepenthes; Korthals 1839–44) was part of the larger Dutch work Verhandelingen over de natuurlijke geschiedenis der Nederlandsche overzeesche bezittingen, door de Leden der Natuurkundige commissie in Indië en andere Schrijvers (Treatises on the natural history of the Dutch overseas territories, by the members of the science commission in India and other writers).
In 1875, Tait’s paper ‘Preliminary note on the anatomy of the umbilical cord’ (L. Tait 1876a) had been read at the Royal Society. Tait hoped to become a fellow but was never elected (Correspondence vol. 23, letter from Lawson Tait, 5 June [1875]; ODNB).


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].

Charter and bye-laws of the Linnean Society of London. London: Taylor and Francis. 1874.

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

Korthals, Pieter Willem. 1839–44. Over het geslacht Nepenthes. In Verhandelingen over de natuurlijke geschiedenis der Nederlandsche overzeesche bezittingen, door de Leden der Natuurkundige Commissie in Indië en andere Schrijvers, edited by Coenraad Jacob Temminck. Leiden: S. and J. Luchtmans and C. C. van der Hoek.

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.


Sends Thiselton-Dyer’s suggestions for references to Nepenthes,

and gives his opinion on what will influence the Royal Society’s Council in considering RLT’s candidacy.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Robert Lawson (Lawson) Tait
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 221.5: 36
Physical description
3pp (Photocopy)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10484,” accessed on 18 April 2021,

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