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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. S. Burdon Sanderson   5 May [1874]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

May 5th

My dear Dr. Sanderson

I had such a lot of letters to write that I did not at once thank you for the acid experiments, which will do splendidly to print just as you have sent them.2 I shall be very curious to hear about gluten which I see in Wells Chem. Dict. is a very complex product. It contains something which excites Drosera greatly, but it is not all dissolved like albumen or flesh.—3

I am now trying Dentine & Enamel; as far as I can yet provisionally see the secretion does not touch the Enamel, but decalcifies the dentine without dissolving the fibrous tissue; but I shall know more in a week’s time, when the leaves have done all that they can.4

I suppose that Drosera will be beaten, & that gastric juice will dissolve the decalcified fibrous tissue of bone.—5

I find that Drosera can do little with Fibrin; but when I have written out all my notes, & see what I actually know, I will apply for your, to me, invaluable aid

Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to J. S. Burdon Sanderson, 14 May 1874.
See the letter from J. S. Burdon Sanderson, 30 March [1874]. The experiments appear in Insectivorous plants, pp. 89–91.
CD refers to Watts’ dictionary of chemistry (Watts 1872–4, 2: 873). CD’s annotated copy (see Marginalia 1: 195–6) consists of the first three volumes of the second edition (Watts 1872–4), volumes four and five of an 1871 reprint of the first edition (Watts 1863–8), and a supplement to the first edition dated 1872 (Darwin Library–Down). See also Insectivorous plants, pp. 117–20.
For details of CD’s experiments, see Insectivorous plants, pp. 106–10.
See Insectivorous plants, pp. 105–6.


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

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

Watts, Henry. 1863–8. A dictionary of chemistry and the allied branches of other sciences. 5 vols. London: Longman, Green, & Co.

Watts, Henry. 1872–4. A dictionary of chemistry and the allied branches of other sciences. 2d edition. 5 vols. London: Longman, Green, & Co.


Thanks for the acid digestion experiments, which can be printed as they are. CD trying Drosera on dentine and enamel.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9441,” accessed on 23 September 2021,

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