This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
About the end of March, 1856, some one had given this out as an important discovery, to promote vegetation of seeds. It consisted simply in steeping the seeds in glycerine. Being in the way of receiving seeds from various foreign parts, with which I had often great trouble and innumerable failures, having found all recommended appliances useless, a correspondent of the Gardener's Chronicle says: "I set myself with avidity to try this new agent. Just then I had received a packet of seeds from the Andes, containing a very rare Gentiana from the snow limit. Of all things, few are more obdurate than Gentian seeds. These, I was assured, were quite fresh and newly collected when dispatched, being some seven weeks before they reached me. I divided a portion of the Gentian seeds into two; steeped the one-half in glycerine, and sowed them in one-half of a small pot, divided from the other by a partition; the other half of the seeds I sowed plain in the other half of the same pot. These sowings were done on the 3d April, 1856. In about two months or so, the seeds sown plain began to vegetate, and I had about twelve or fourteen up in the course of the summer. Of the seeds steeped in glyce-rine, the first and only one yet vegetated appeared only yesterday in the seed leaf.
But in the hope of its efficiency, in an evil hour I steeped many other seeds in glycerine, especially seeds of the Sida piohinehensis, and none of these have I yet observed to stir. My experience, therefore, of glyoerine is, that it is not only of no use to promote vegetation, but that it is a positive hindrance to, if not a preventive of, that operation." - Isaac Anderson, near Edinburgh.