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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Francis Darwin   [after 27 May 1881]1


My dear F.

All your corrections in Ch. III. very good & almost all accepted. Thank Heavens that is done.— I send Nature.—2

Caution the man who is going to try Drosera about giving very little animal matter; remind him that naturally the plant gets only what it can get by osmosis through the chitinous skin of insects.—3 I believe hard white of egg is very innocent food. Especially tell him that Van Tieghem objects to your experiments, because you ought to have another set of plants with same sized bits of meat strewed on the ground.4 This seems to me hair-splitting. Van T. seems to hate the whole subject of insectivorous plants.—

I enjoyed surprisingly Richters music— it was wonderful & I wish that you had been here.5 There is something very pleasing in him.—

Yours affect | C. Darwin

Dubba came & listened, sitting on Ettys lap & gaped tremendously.6

(Ch. IV. just arrived.)7


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to Francis Darwin, 27 May 1881.
CD and Francis were correcting proof-sheets of Earthworms. Francis was working in the laboratory of Anton de Bary in Straßburg (Strasbourg). CD sent a recent issue of Nature.
Francis mentioned that one of the apprentices in the laboratory had been able to germinate plants of Drosera (sundew) and was planning to experiment on the effects of feeding or starving plants (see letter from Francis Darwin, 23 [May 1881] and nn. 7 and 8).
Philippe van Tieghem had made the criticism in his Traité de botanique (Treatise on botany; Tieghem 1884, p. 208).
CD had mentioned that the musician Hans Richter was paying a visit to Down in his letter to Francis of 27 May 1881. In a description of the visit, Richter noted that CD had told him that Francis played the bassoon (Richter 1882, p. 498).
CD had sent Francis the proof-sheets of the fourth chapter of Earthworms on 23 May 1881 (letter to Francis Darwin, 22–3 May 1881).


Earthworms: The formation of vegetable mould through the action of worms: with observations on their habits. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1881.

Richter, Hans. 1882. Hanns Richter bei Darwin. Signale für die musikalische Welt 4: 497–9.

Tieghem, Philippe van. 1884. Traité de botanique. Paris: F. Savy.


Thanks FD for corrections [for Earthworms].

Discusses experiments on absorption in Drosera.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Francis Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 211: 78
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 13181,” accessed on 21 July 2024,