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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Edward Frankland   2 December [1878]1

Down, Beckenham, Kent. | (☞Railway Station | Orpington S.E.R.)

Dec 2d

My dear Professor Frankland

Very many thanks for the Blue Book.2 I had no idea what a large present you intended to make me, & Good Heavens the amount of work which it includes!

When you kindly send the pure water, please address it simply “C. Darwin Orpington Stn. S.E.Ry.”3 We have sent for Wenham ice & are going on with the experiments. I much enjoyed my talk with you4

Yours very sincerely Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to Edward Frankland, 22 November [1878].
Government and other official reports were informally known as blue books, as most of them had blue covers; in this case, Frankland evidently sent a report to the Local Government Board on the purity of London water. Frankland had been responsible for reporting on water quality of London until 1871, when the post of water examiner was created under the Metropolis Act (see Hamlin 1990, pp. 193–201).
The South Eastern Railway ran a service from Charing Cross station to Orpington, the nearest station to Down House.
Wenham ice, known for its purity, was exported by the Wenham Lake Ice Company of Massachusetts, which had an office in the Strand, London (Wynter 1867, pp. 243–53). The water was for experiments on the exudation of alkaline matter from leaves (Correspondence vol. 27, letter to Edward Frankland, 4 January [1879]. CD visited Frankland on 25 or 26 November 1878 (letter to Edward Frankland, 22 November [1878]).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Hamlin, Christopher. 1990. A science of impurity: water analysis in nineteenth century Britain. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Wynter, Andrew. 1867. Our social bees; or, pictures of town & country life, and other papers. 9th edition. London: Robert Hardwicke.


Thanks for the Blue Book [Report to the Local Government Board on the water supplied to London].

Gives instructions for sending the pure water.

Has sent for the Wenham ice.

Enjoyed his talk with EF.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Edward Frankland
Sent from
Source of text
The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester (Frankland Collection 2230)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11768A,” accessed on 25 February 2021,