From E. A. Darwin 5 [March 1823]
My dear Charles.
I beg many apologies for not writing sooner, but I have ye same excuse as you had. I am very glad to hear that all the glass & earthenware apparatus has arrived safe, & return my thanks for ye payment of ye Extra Money. You say you are very full. I should recommend ye first two or three shillings there are to spare in ye Lab, to have a shelf put up either in ye place over ye retort shelf or else under it; or both. The 10£ which Poor Miss Congreve has left & of which we are to be the trustees, will come in very nicely for an Air Pump or some such thing. As far as I can make out you are not carrying on any experiments in ye Lab. I will recommend you a few which will employ you some time, & will not be expensive. To obtain pure alumina from Alum, & pure Silex from Rock Crystal, & likewise to obtain pure metals from ye Metal of Commerce, such as Copper, Lead, Tin, &c &c, or any which you find easy. Have you my “Ure’s” Dict1 in ye Lab?— If it is there (& if not it is lost), that & Brande2 will be ye best books for particular directions. You could try also to obtain ye silver in a sixpence free from ye Copper. While I remember, & if it is not too late, get a red Cabbage3 dried by Blunt, cut into strips, & then put into green bottles, (such as ye lime was in) & well sealed up. I hope there are good many Evaporating Dishes come, for I forget how many we ordered. The shape of ye Crucibles I like very much, & more especially their having covers is a very great improvement upon ye old ones. How does ye old fireplace get on. I have formed a plan when that is quite done for, it is to have a little stove (ye same shape as that in ye Servant hall) with a moveable top so as to have a sand bath or a kettle or any thing else to fit on ye top. They have oil gas, & they condense into vessels to carry about. A curious looking liquid seperates from ye condensed gas. It resembles Naptha in appearance, & is rather volatile, it burns with a great light & smoke. It smells worse than ye most rancid oil you can conceve. Professor Henslow (on Mineralogy) has twice shewn us ye experiment of ye test of Arsenic by burning it with a blow pipe but I was so far off, that I neither time smelled ye garlic odour which they describe He has 16 guineas worth in one set of wooden crystals, besides many others. The Lectures are very entertaining, & this is his first course so that he will have improved by ye time you come up.4
Give my Love to Massie, & say I hope his hand is better. Ask W Downes5 to write a few arguments, if he has time— | I remain yours affectionately | E Darwin
P.S. The first page of your letter was very well written so I give you a
More suggestions for the laboratory, including some experiments.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5,” accessed on 27 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-5