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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Francis Darwin   [12 May 1878]1

Pantlludw, | Machynlleth.


My dear Father,

Many thanks for your letter also for Nature & the german paper—2 I am very glad the root results came out well. It was was idiotic of me not to keep notes of the negative cases.3 I didn’t send a note to Nature about the Drosera because I thought it oughtn’t to appear before it did in the Linnean, I sent a note as an appendix about the Germans’ experiment, but I am not sure whether it will go in, tho’ why I cannot understand as I have had no proofs—4 Murie says he will plan its insertion “some way” or other.5 He seems to think I am not going to alter my proofs much but I expect I shall. The Germans work is very satisfactory as confirming mine. I see my London Institution lecture is translated in that French revue Internationale.6

George has sent me a very interesting article by Stanley Jevons on Brownian movement7   I think it may bear on water in wood.

I think I shall come back on Wednesday 22nd—& I must try & get a day or two at Cambridge to try electricity with Dew Smith.8

Your Southampton visit seems to have been very prosperous—9

Bernard is extremely jolly & very good friends with all but Baby who I believe takes a certain amount of pleasure in teasing him. He is quite enraptured every day at throwing stones in the stream. I don’t know what he’ll do at Down   I think he will have to have a little puddle made for him like the beavers. He had a heart breaking parting from Mary Anne this morning   she went to church in the waggonette & I & B drove as far as the gate to meet the postbag, & when he found she was going on without him he was dreadfully grieved—but cheered up in 2 minutes over the thoughts of a little tame rabbit he wanted to see.10 I had two nice letters from Mother & Bessy11 which I ought to have answered—

Your affec son | Frank Darwin

I should be much obliged if you would pay £60 now instead of July 1 to my account.12 I don’t think I shall want it, but I shall shave it rather close.

I send off Sachs today13

my Fortnightly & yr XIXth century came here—I thought you wd see Wm’s14


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to Francis Darwin, [11 May 1878], and by the reference to a payment of £60 (see n. 12, below). In 1878, 12 May was a Sunday.
See letter to Francis Darwin, [11 May 1878] and nn. 2 and 4. The German paper was Sachs 1873–4.
Francis had discarded notes on failed experiments on the sensitivity of the radicle or embryonic root.
See letter to Francis Darwin, [11 May 1878] and n. 3. Francis wanted to add text to the published version of his paper on nutrition of Drosera rotundifolia (common or round-leaved sundew), read to the Linnean Society on 17 January 1878 (F. Darwin 1878a). The German experiments were reported in Kellermann and Raumer 1878.
James Murie was assistant secretary of the Linnean Society.
Francis’s lecture at the London Institution on 11 March 1878, ‘The analogies of plant and animal life’, was published in Nature (F. Darwin 1878c). It also appeared in French translation in the Revue internationale des sciences between 2 May and 6 June 1878 (F. Darwin 1878d).
George Howard Darwin had sent William Stanley Jevons’s article, ‘On the movement of microscopic particles suspended in liquid’, which was published in the Quarterly Journal of Science, April 1878 (Jevons 1878).
According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), Francis returned to Down from Wales on 27 May 1878. Albert George Dew-Smith had co-written papers on the effects of electrical currents on mollusc and frog hearts (Dew-Smith and Foster 1875 and 1876). Francis was in Cambridge on 29 May (letter to Wallis Nash, 29 May 1878).
See letter to Francis Darwin, [11 May 1878] and n. 6. CD had described the visit to his son and daughter-in-law, William Erasmus and Sara Darwin, as prosperous.
Bernard Darwin was Francis’s son; Mary Anne Westwood was Bernard’s nurse. Baby has not been identified.
Elizabeth Darwin. The letters have not been found.
CD recorded a payment of £60 under the heading ‘Advanced to Frank’ on 13 May 1878 in his Account books–cash accounts (Down House MS).
CD had asked for the first part of Julius Sachs’s paper ‘Ueber das Wachsthum der Haupt- und Nebenwurzeln’ (On the growth of primary and adventitious roots, Sachs 1873–4; see letter to Francis Darwin, [11 May 1878] and n. 4).
Fortnightly Review and Nineteenth Century.


Jevons, William Stanley. 1878. On the movement of microscopic particles suspended in liquid. Quarterly Journal of Science n.s. 8: 167–86.

Sachs, Julius. 1873–4. Ueber das Wachsthum der Haupt- und Nebenwurzeln. Arbeiten des Botanischen Instituts in Würzburg 1 (1871–4): 385–474, 584–634.


Thanks for sending Nature; plans to leave on 22 May; anecdote about Bernard.

Letter details

Letter no.
Francis Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 274.1: 47
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11504F,” accessed on 16 June 2024,