Henry Salt Archive

Henry Salt (1853-1939) was the author of the Life of Henry David Thoreau, Animals Rights and A Plea for Vegetarianism which inspired Gandhi for follow a vegetarian diet.

The Heart-Beat of Plants

The Times, March 19, 1926

Some 30 years ago Mr. W. B. Tegetmeier read a paper before the Shelley Society in which he remarked on the fidelity with which Shelley's nature-poems reflected the scientific knowledge of his time. Reading your reference to the recent discovery of a heart-beat in Plants, I am reminded of Shelley's fragmentary but very beautiful poem, "The Zucca," written in 1822, in which he describes how he rescued and restored to life a half-frozen gourd, until it began again to put forth leaves and tendrils:—

"And every impulse sent to every part
'The unbeheld pulsations of its heart."

Was this a poetical anticipation of a scientific discovery, or an echo of something that Shelley had read more than a century ago?

Henry S. Salt
19, Highdown Road, Brighton