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Darwin Correspondence Project

To William Benjamin Carpenter 25 December [1844]1

Down | near Bromley | Kent

Dear Sir

I am exceedingly obliged to you for your very clear account of the structure of the Pampas specimen & its difference from the modern calcareous bed of Coquimbo in Chile.—2 With your permission I shd. much like to publish, in a note your remarks.3 I am not surprised at the result you find, for remains from shells are most rare in this great deposit. Had not the close external resemblance in the little embedded [pseudo]-fragments led me to think it possible, I shd not have thought the presence of organic structure, sufficiently probable to have troubled you with my request. The case, however, appears to me a valuable one, as showing how admirably your microscopical researches reveal the different origin of rocks, to the external eye very similar.

If you think it worth while to keep the specimens, as an illustration of this, pray be so kind as to accept them. If you think the appearance of spicula is sufficiently clear to allow Mr Bowerbank to come to some tolerably certain conclusion on their nature, I shd be particularly obliged if you would send the cut specimens to him; but if you think, he wd only be able to make a guess, I wd rather not trouble him.4

Pray accept my best thanks for the truly obliging manner in which you have assisted me. Will you not allow me to repay you by post order for having the specimens cut, & carry on the amount, even though it be small, to assist some one else?

Believe me dear Sir. Yours | very sincerely & obliged | C. Darwin

Dec. 25th.—


Dated by the relationship to the letter to W. B. Carpenter, [11 or 18 December 1844], and the letter from W. B. Carpenter, 21 December 1844 (Correspondence vol. 3).
CD had asked Carpenter to examine the specimens mentioned for organic remains (see Correspondence vol. 3, letter to W. B. Carpenter, [11 or 18 December 1844]). Carpenter reported his findings in his letter of 21 December 1844.
CD published Carpenter’s observations in South America, pp. 76–7.
Carpenter did show the specimens to James Scott Bowerbank, a specialist on sponges (see Correspondence vol. 3, letter from W. B. Carpenter, 5 May 1845).


Is obliged for the account of the structure of the Pampas specimen and its difference from specimens of the modern calcareous bed of Coquimbo in Chile. If he thinks that J. S. Bowerbank can make out the nature of the specimens, they should be shown to him.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Benjamin Carpenter
Sent from
Source of text
Frederick Goldschlager
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 803A,” accessed on 23 October 2017,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7 (Supplement)