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Darwin Correspondence Project

From E. A. Darwin   8 December 1822


Dear Bobby.

I should not have written till I had received an answer about my going to fetch the girls, only I received a message, to acknowledge immediately the receipt of the drafts.—

You give me a very good account of the Lab:, it is quite wonderful how perverse the glass house people are, for I particularly told them to make the test tubes round at the bottom & they must need’s grind them flat. If the cow is not utterly consumed the next milking, it would be a very good thing to buy as many of the large green, stoppered, bottles, as possible, & have them all filled with distilled water, & then I shall not be obliged to persuade you quite so often to run down to Blunt for some water.

Professor Cummings shewed us some of the most beautiful crystall’s you can imagine, in fact they were artificial diamonds. The way he made them was, by putting a few drops of Sulphuret of Carbon at the bottom of a well stopped bottle, & the liquid, being the most volatile of any, crystallized against the sides of the vessel. They were far more brilliant than any diamonds I ever saw, but if air was admitted they melted away.—

I shall not bring you any minerals down this time as they would stand a very good chance of being knocked about, rather more than their constitution can bear.— I will bring you some wavellite,1 & uranite & likewise a petrifaction from a well near here, as I have bought them already.—

What I shall buy in London will be principally stop cocks, & jars with stop cocks, for that is what we are principally deficient in, & we shall then be able to get over the ground rather quicker in our gas experiments.— The lab will look very insignificant after all the grand things I see here.— I hope you practise making gases, and have learnt to manage the argand Lamp,2 quite beautifully.— In lecture the other day, 3 or 4 men got perfectly tipsy with the nitrous oxide or laughing gas, (that one made from nitrate of ammonia) and made themselves utterly ridiculous. they all recovered in about a minute—one man said he felt just as if he could fly, & when he was drinking the gas, he began to jump, & twiddle his fingers, & make a kind of half laughing & screaming noise, & ye Professor gave a good tug, before he would let the bladder be taken out of his mouth.—

Tell Susan3 I will bring the book down. I have nothing more to say of news or nonsense. | I remain yours affectionately | E. Darwin. *S 2

Dec. 8th. 1822.


Hydrous phosphate of aluminium, named after Dr William Wavel, its discoverer.
A lamp invented c. 1782 by Aimé Argand.
Susan Elizabeth Darwin, CD’s sister.


Suggestions for laboratory equipment. Will buy some mineral specimens. Describes experiments he has seen.

Letter details

Letter no.
Erasmus Alvey Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 204: 4
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4,” accessed on 8 February 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 1