skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To William Kemp   [9 November 1843]1

Down. Bromley Kent


Dear Sir

Allow me to express my respect at the pleasant tone of your last letter, after what would have been to me, in your case a considerable mortification.2

Since writing to you, I have been reflecting on Prof. Lindleys opinion on the seed, before it was planted—& I think after all, a pretty good case may be made out, fairly stating every circumstance3

With your permission I will draw up a short statement with as little theory as possible & will send it you for your approval.4

Would you please return me Mr Babington’s letter,5 that I may quote it.— I suppose you did not actually mark the spot, where you sowed each seed in the pot—but I presume you knew very nearly where each seed lay.—6

In Haste, | Yours faithfully | C. Darwin

P.S. | You will perceive, whe⁠⟨⁠n⁠⟩⁠ you view my abstract of your several documents how Prof. Lindleys opinion on the seeds is valuable evidence.


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letters from William Kemp of 4 November 1843 and 10 November 1843 (Correspondence vol. 2). The first Thursday after 4 November 1843 was 9 November.
See Correspondence vol. 2, letter from William Kemp, 4 November 1843.
John Lindley originally had written that the seeds would prove to be common varieties of Polygonum and Chenopodium (see Correspondence, vol. 2, letter from John Lindley, [after 8 April 1843]).
CD had advised against publication concerning Kemp’s seeds; see this volume, Supplement, letter to William Kemp, 1 November [1843]. The short statement was published as Kemp 1844; see Correspondence vol. 2, Appendix VI.
CD refers to Charles Cardale Babington. In his letter to William Kemp of 1 November [1843] (this volume, Supplement), CD had enclosed the letter from C. C. Babington, 26 October 1843 (Correspondence vol. 2).
As all the plants were common in garden soil, CD thought it necessary to be able to prove that each plant had in fact grown from one of the seeds Kemp had found buried in a sand pit (see this volume, supplement, letter to William Kemp, 1 November [1843]).


Kemp, William. 1844. An account of some seeds buried in a sand-pit which germinated. By Mr William Kemp of Galashiels, in a letter to Charles Darwin, Esq. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 13: 89–91.


CD has been reflecting on John Lindley’s and C. C. Babington’s comments.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Kemp
Sent from
Source of text
Cambridge University Library (MS Add. 10252/20) (gift of Ruth Cramond and David Cramond)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 711F,” accessed on 24 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18 (Supplement)