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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. T. Moggridge   27 August 1873

Down Beckenham

Aug. 27th. 1873

My dear Sir

I thank you for your very interesting letter, and I honour you for your laborious and careful experiments.1 No one knows till he tries how many unexpected obstacles arise in subjecting plants to experiments.

I can think of no suggestions to make; but I may just mention that I had intended to try the effects of touching the dampened seeds with the minutest drop of formic acid at the end of a sharp glass rod, so as to imitate the possible action of the sting of the ant.2 I heartily hope that you may be rewarded by coming to some definite result; but I fail 5 times out of 6 in my own experiments. I have lately been trying some with poor success and suppose that I have done too much, for I have been completely knocked up for some days.3

That is an extremely curious fact which you mention about the old Jewish law.4

With all good wishes, | Your’s very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


Moggridge had reported on the progress of his experiments on the prevention of seed germination in his letter of 22 August 1873.
In his experiments Moggridge had used the vapour of a dilute solution of acid in distilled water (see letter from J. T. Moggridge, 22 August 1873).
Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242) reported for 26 August 1873 that CD was very unwell and had suffered partial memory loss for twelve hours.


Comments on experiments of touching seeds with acid.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Traherne Moggridge
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 146: 380
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9030,” accessed on 26 May 2020,

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