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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. E. Darwin   13 January [1881]1

Basset, | Southampton.

Jan 13th

My dear Father,

I am getting one of these London Brigade Portable Fire Engines price £3.10 cover 7s/6d— Fan spread is 7s/6d— I should think it would be well worth the expense to have one ar two at Down.2 With several men on the premises who could keep filling it with water, I think it would be a considerable safe guard.

I do not want the advertisements again. It is now set in very cold, & we are looking for skating. I think, if it not absurd for one with no pretensions, I should like to join the Geological Society.3 What steps should I take?

I am very anxious to hear what L. Stephens says.4

I will look at the acacias soon—5

Your affect son | W. E. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to Leslie Stephen, 11 January 1881 (see n. 4, below).
The ‘London Brigade’ fire-pump, a portable hand-operated device, was sold by Merryweather and Sons, Greenwich Road, London.
CD had been a member of the Geological Society of London since 1836 and had served as secretary from 1838 to 1841 (Freeman 1978).
CD had asked William to examine worm burrows for the petioles of Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust or false acacia; see Correspondence vol. 28, letter to W. E. Darwin, 23 [November 1880], and Earthworms, pp. 81–2).


Earthworms: The formation of vegetable mould through the action of worms: with observations on their habits. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1881.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1978. Charles Darwin: a companion. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.


He is buying a portable fire engine, and suggests one is purchased for Down. Wishes to join the Geological Society of London. Is eager to hear Leslie Stephen’s opinion.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Erasmus Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
Cornford Family Papers (DAR 275: 86)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 13010F,” accessed on 13 September 2023,