From Charles Darwin to William Kemp   7 April [1843]

Down Bromley | Kent

April 7th.—

Dear Sir

Owing to my change of residence your communication has been slow in arriving here. I am much obliged for it, as it promises to be very wonderful.— I will today send one or two of the seeds to Mr Robert Brown confessedly the first Botanist in Europe) & find out whether he knows them or their family; & I will send the remainder to Professor Lindley with a request to have them planted at the Horticultural Gardens of London & taken care of.— Let me urge on you to watch your plants & if they do not prosper to vary their treatment. I think you do not know whether they inhabited a cold or hot, a wet or dry climate. As any plant dies, I earnestly recommend you to dry it between paper most carefully even if it has only the germinal leaves, & preserve if they flower some in spirits of Wine, & I will get (if you choose) the best botanists to examine them.— Should the Plants turn out known ones, your case no doubt is deserving of record, but shd they turn out unknown species your case would be magnificent.— Dr Daubeny of Oxford is attending to the subject of germination of old seeds, but he unfortunately has just started for Spain.— With respect to your paper for Taylor’s Journal, I will do as you please, but if it were my own, nothing shd induce me to publish it till the seeds had fully grown and had been examined by Botanists with known names.— In present state some of the Public wd say he has been imposed upon by seeds having been placed there, as a joke; and others wd say, no doubt they are some common British Plants. It is well to make every paper to tell with its whole effect at once. If the seeds turn into unknown plants, perhaps you wd prefer your Paper being read before the Geological Society; shd you prefer this, I wd (when the plants have been examined) with pleasure transmit it to the Soc.— In that case the latter part of the Paper, if you will allow me to suggest it, had better be & little simplified:— If you follow my advice, & retain your paper till the plant⁠⟨⁠s⁠⟩⁠ have flowered or have died & have been examined— Could you not in the interval reexamine the situation & try to get more or hunt for shells or bones &c in the gravel.—

I will wait till I hear from you again.— I will inform you if Mr Brown has anything particular to say about the seeds. & on the ultimate fate of those seeds, which I send to the Horticultural Gardens.—

Believe me | Yours very faithfully | C. Darwin

Please cite as “KEMP19,” in Ɛpsilon: The William Kemp Collection accessed on 30 November 2023,