skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. T. Moggridge   12 June [1874]1

Down Beckenham

June 12th.

My dear Sir

It is very good of you to write me so interesting a letter, for I have so many to write that I never can make a fitting return. It has pleased me much to hear of M. Duval-Jouve, some of whose writings I have read, and had formed a high opinion of him, but did not know that he was an evolutionist. I suppose I shall receive, the Almond-Peach stones tomorrow or hereafter. I am delighted to hear of your great success with the trap-door spiders.2

Possibly I may have to tell you something about seeds being affected by very weak acids, to which I have been led by a very different course from the ants; but I do not know yet whether my experiments will not turn out to be complete failures.3

Pray believe me | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

Your drawings always make me bitterly envious.4 If I could draw such sketches I would have them framed and glazed.


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. T. Moggridge, 11 June 1874.
See letter from J. T. Moggridge, 11 June 1874, and especially nn. 1, 5 and 6. For a complete list of Joseph Duval-Jouve’s publications, see Flahault 1884, pp. 176–82; there are two papers by Duval-Jouve in the Darwin Library–CUL that predate this letter (Duval-Jouve 1865 and 1870).
Moggridge had carried out experiments to test the effect of formic acid on seeds in order to explain why seeds collected by ants did not germinate (letter from J. T. Moggridge, 7 March 1874, nn. 3 and 6). CD was investigating how the acid secretions of insectivorous plants were stimulated, and their role in the absorption of nutrients from organic matter (see letter to Asa Gray, 3 June [1874] and n. 8), but he also demonstrated that exposing seeds to the secretions of Drosera (sundew) inhibited germination (Insectivorous plants, pp. 127–8).
See letter from J. T. Moggridge, 11 June 1874. For another example of his artistic work, see the pencil and watercolour drawings of orchids sent to CD in 1864 (see Correspondence vol. 12, letter to J. T. Moggridge, 19 June [1864], and plates facing pp. 248–9; the originals are in DAR 70: 85–8).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Duval-Jouve, Joseph. 1865. Variations parallèles des types congénères. Bulletin de la Société botanique de France, 12: 196–211.

Flahault, Charles. 1884. Notice biographique sur M. Duval-Jouve. [Read 18 April 1884.] Bulletin de la Société botanique de France 2d ser. 6: 167–82.

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


Did not know Duval-Jouve was an evolutionist.

Delighted at JTM’s success with spiders.

On JTM’s experiments with acids on seeds.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Traherne Moggridge
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 146: 382
Physical description
C 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9490,” accessed on 22 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22