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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Lindley   8 [April 1843]

Down Bromley | Kent

Saturday 8th.


I take the liberty, at the suggestion of Dr. Royle,1 of forwarding to you a few seeds, which have been found under very singular circumstances. They have been sent to me by Mr. W. Kemp of Galashiels (a partially educated) man, of whose acuteness & accuracy of observation: from several communications on geological subjects, I have a very high opinion.2 He found them in a layer under about 25 feet thickness of white sand, which seems to have been deposited on the margin of an anciently existing lake. These seeds are not known to the provincial Botanists of the district. He states that some of them germinated in eight days after being planted, & are now alive. Knowing the interest you took in some Raspberry seeds, mentioned, I remember, in one of your works,3 I hope you will not think me troublesome in asking you to have these seeds carefully planted & in begging you so far to oblige me as to take the trouble to inform me of the result

Dr. Daubeny4 has started for Spain, otherwise I wd have sent him some.— Mr Kemp is anxious to publish an account of his discovery himself, so perhaps you will be so kind as to communicate the result to me & not through any periodical.5 The chance, though appearing so improbable, of recovering a plant lost to any country if not to the world, appears to me so very interesting, that I hope you will think it worth while to have these seeds planted & not returned to me.

Believe me with great respect | Yours faithfully | C. Darwin To | Professor Lindley &c &c &c


John Forbes Royle.
William Kemp had published two articles on the geology of Scotland (Kemp 1841 and 1843). See also letter to Charles Lyell, [19 February 1840], n. 1. No letters from Kemp to CD earlier than October 1843 have been found. For CD’s letters to Kemp, see Correspondence vol. 18, Supplement.
Lindley (1840, p. 185) tells of raspberry plants he raised from seeds found in Dorsetshire in a coffin that was estimated to be sixteen or seventeen hundred years old.
Charles Giles Bridle Daubeny, who, with Lindley, was a member of a British Association committee to test the vitality of seeds over long periods of time (see letter from J. S. Henslow, 2 November 1840).
See Correspondence vol. 2, Appendix VI for the published results of this investigation.


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

Kemp, William. 1841. On the supposed moraines of ancient glaciers in Scotland. London, Edinburgh and Dublin Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science 3d ser. 18: 337-43.


CD sends seeds found by W. Kemp of Galashiels with explanation and request that they be planted and a report sent to him, so that Kemp may publish his discovery if results are interesting.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Lindley
Sent from
Source of text
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: Lindley, John letters, A–K: 189–90
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 668,” accessed on 28 February 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 2