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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   21 February [1873]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Feb. 21st

My dear Hooker

You have given me exactly the information which I wanted.

Geniuses jump. I have just procured Formic acid, to try whether its vapour or minute drops will delay germination of fresh seeds; trying others at same time for comparison.—2 But I shall not be able to try them till middle of April, as my despotic wife insists on taking House in London for a month from the middle of March.—3 I am sorry to hear of your Influenza.—

Farewell | Ever yours | C. Darwin

I am glad to hear of the Primer— it is not at all, I think, a folly— Do you know Asa Gray’s childs book on the function of plants—or some such Title.— It is very good in giving an interest to the subject.—4

By the way can you lend me the Jany. Nor of the London Journal of Botany, for an article on insect agency in Fertilisation.—5


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. D. Hooker, 20 February 1873.
CD and Hooker were both intrigued by John Traherne Moggridge’s observation that seeds stored in ant nests did not germinate (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 20 February 1873 and n. 3).
CD and Emma Darwin stayed at 16 Montague Street, London, from 15 March until 10 April 1873 (see ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 20 February 1873 and n. 4. CD refers to Botany for young people part II: how plants behave (A. Gray 1872a).
Francis Buchanan White’s article focused on moths as agents of fertilisation (F. B. White 1873).


White, Francis Buchanan. 1873. The influence of insect-agency on the distribution of plants. Journal of Botany, British and Foreign n.s. 2: 11–13.


Will see whether formic acid delays germination of fresh seeds.

Thinks primer not at all a folly. Refers JDH to Asa Gray’s "child’s book" [see 8363].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 94: 259–60
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8779,” accessed on 10 December 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21