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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Lawson Tait   27 November [1875]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Nov. 27th

My dear Sir

I have looked through the whole of your paper,2 but have not read it very carefully, as I have been unwell & confined to bed, & now a pile of proof is waiting for correction.3 Your paper seems to me, as far as I can judge, a very important contribution to science; & I hope that your chemical observations which must have been extremely difficult will be hereafter confirmed. It seems a great anomaly that two substances with an acid shd be requisite for digestion.4

I will despatch your paper registered tomorrow to the R. Soc.

My dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin

You speak of the several “Varieties” of Nepenthes; are they not commonly ranked as species?

You alluded to some abstract:5 this I have not received & you had better send it direct to R. Soc.—if meant for the Proceeding, or for reading aloud.—


The year is established by the reference to Tait’s paper (see n. 2, below).
CD had agreed to send Tait’s paper on the tropical pitcher-plant, Nepenthes, to the Royal Society of London for possible publication (see letter from Lawson Tait, 25 November [1875]).
CD was correcting proofs for Variation 2d ed. Printing had been delayed by floods affecting William Clowes & Sons (letter from H. E. Darwin to Leonard Darwin, 21 November [1875] (DAR 258: 1648)).
On the two substances, see the letters from Lawson Tait, 6 November [1875] and 16 November [1875] (second letter).


Variation 2d ed.: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1875.


Because CD has been unwell, he has not read RLT’s paper carefully, but it seems an important contribution to science. Hopes RLT’s chemical observations will be confirmed. It seems a great anomaly that two substances with an acid should be requisite for digestion.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Robert Lawson (Lawson) Tait
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 221.5: 30
Physical description
3pp (Photocopy)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10280,” accessed on 18 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 23