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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Michael Foster   26 June [1871]

6. Queen Anne St. W.

June 26

My dear Sir

I shall have real pleasure in seeing you whenever you are inclined to walk over.1 We lunch at 112 on week days, & at 114 on Sundays— There is Coffee & Tea at 414 every day; so you will know when you can get some refreshment after your long walk—

If our Horses have not been out, I can send you part of the way back—

We return home on Friday or Saturday & shall be at Down I hope for a fortnight, possibly longer, & then I am going away for a month’s rest.—2

Can you tell me where I could buy a few grains of Curare poison or Ourari?3 I want some extremely for some experiments on plants, i.e. if, as I suppose, it is soluble in water or vegetable acids.—

Can you tell me anything about strength, i.e. relatively to acetate of strychnine: I mean if I find 1 gr of acetate of strychnine to 1. oz of water strong enough for my purpose, wd. 1 gr. of curare probably be strong enough.—4 I ask to save waste. Could I buy it in Paris, if I cannot in London.— Huxley5 could not aid me & suggested that you could.—

Forgive me thus troubling you. | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


CD returned home on 30 June 1871. He spent most of August 1871 at Haredene in Albury, Surrey (see ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
Curare and ourari are alternative names for the paralysing poison derived from Strychnos toxifera.
CD studied the effects of weak solutions of curare and strychnine acetate (a salt of strychine, soluble in water) on leaves of Drosera rotundifolia for his work on Insectivorous plants (see ibid., pp. 199–200; 204–5).


Insectivorous plants. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.


Invites MF to visit.

Asks where he can obtain curare for plant experiment.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Michael Foster
Sent from
London, Queen Anne St, 6
JU 26 71
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.400)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7832,” accessed on 8 February 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19