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Darwin Correspondence Project

From G. H. Darwin   [after 26 August 1881]1

New University Club, | St. James’s Street, S.W.

Dear Father

Carbonell say they have supplied a large quantity of the same Champ: to other customers & have received no complaint. They advise us to keep it & return it if any more turns out corked. They credit you with 212 bottles2

Yrs | G H Darwin

Surman has gone to Bournth. wh. looks as if Uncle Chas. wd. give him the wages he asks3


The date is established by the reference to Frederic William Surman’s moving to a new job following Erasmus Alvey Darwin’s death (see n. 3, below).
Dry champagne became fashionable as a dinner wine in Britain in the 1880s, and was also considered to be beneficial to health (see Harding 2020, p. 17). Carbonell & Co. were wine merchants at 182 Regent Street, London (Post Office London directory 1882). On 5 August 1881, CD had made a payment of £40 5s. to Carbonell & Co. (CD’s Account books–banking account (Down House MS)). CD probably ran an account with the company and the credit may have been applied to next bill.
Surman had been E. A. Darwin’s butler; he possibly went to work for Charles Langton following Erasmus’s death on 26 August 1881. Langton lived in Christchurch, which adjoins Bournemouth (Census returns of England and Wales 1881 (The National Archives: Public Record Office RG11/1194/120/14)).


Harding, Graham. 2020. The making of modern champagne: how and why the taste for and the taste of champagne changed in nineteenth century Britain. Consumption Markets & Culture 24 (2021): 6–29. DOI: 10.1080/10253866.2020.1713765

Post Office London directory: Post-Office annual directory. … A list of the principal merchants, traders of eminence, &c. in the cities of London and Westminster, the borough of Southwark, and parts adjacent … general and special information relating to the Post Office. Post Office London directory. London: His Majesty’s Postmaster-General [and others]. 1802–1967.


The merchants suggest that CD keep the wine and return it if more is corked.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Howard Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
New University Club
Source of text
DAR 210.2: 93
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 13309,” accessed on 29 March 2023,