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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. W. Baxter   5 September [1873]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Sept 5th.

Dear Sir

On reflection, I think that Chlorides, instead of Nitrates of the various metals (when such are soluble) wd. be better for my purpose.— But it is perhaps too late, & nitrates wd. do very well, & are necessary in the case of silver.2

Dear Sir | yours faithfully | Ch. Darwin

Please send me some time a bottle of “Oxley’s Essence of Ginger.”.—3

P.S. When you have the 4 acids ready please send them, as I shd be glad to try them before the metallic salts; & you can send me these latter in two lots, if you require long to prepare them. | C. D.


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to W. W. Baxter, 4 September 1873.
See letter to W. W. Baxter, 4 September 1873. Silver nitrate was necessary because silver chloride is insoluble. CD was experimenting on the effects of different substances on Drosera (sundew) and was evidently worried that a leaf’s reaction to a nitrate might simply be because of the nitrogen content. See Insectivorous plants, p. 79.
Oxley’s concentrated essence of ginger was widely used for dyspepsia and flatulent colic (Graves 1834, p. 33). CD mixed it with tincture of cayenne in brandy (see letter to G. H. Darwin, 22 January 1873 and n. 4).


Graves, George, 1834. Hortus medicus, or, figures and descriptions of the more important plants used in medicine, or possessed of poisonous qualities: with their medical properties, chemical analysis, &c. &c. Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black.

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


Orders salts of various metals; thinks chlorides (where soluble) would be better than nitrates.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Walmisley Baxter
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.431)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9043,” accessed on 18 January 2022,

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