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Darwin Correspondence Project

From William Jenner to [William Walmisley Baxter?]1   [after 7 May 1864?]2

regulating the dose according to effect— Two or three grains of Sod. exsic. rubbed up with the podophylin sometimes makes it act more kindly—

I would continue the colch & taraxicum—3 If it depresses add a little ammonia to each dose—

Yours very truly | Wm. Jenner.

P.S. I direct this to you at Mr Darwin because I think Mr & Mrs D. will be glad to see that an answer to Mrs. D’s letter has arrived4

I hope I understood Mrs Darwin correctly that my answer to her questions were to be addressed to you—

Pray offer my kindest comps. to the patient & to Mrs. Darwin

P.S. 2— | I find I have omitted to answer one question viz as to increasing fluid. I would not at present. 5


Baxter ran a chemist’s shop and ‘stamp office’ in High Street, Bromley, Kent (Post Office directory of the six home counties 1862), and regularly supplied medicines to the Darwins (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 10, letter to W. W. Baxter, 26 January [1862]). Another possible recipient is the Shrewsbury chemist Blunt and Salter (see letter from E. A. Darwin, [after 31 March 1864?] and n. 3).
The date is conjectured from the relationship between this letter and the letter from E. A. Darwin   7 May [1864]; it seems probable that Emma Darwin would have consulted Jenner about the effects of podophyllin following Erasmus Alvey Darwin’s information that it might be unwise for CD to take such a strong purgative. Jenner prescribed podophyllin following his first visit to CD on 20 March 1864 (see letter from E. A. Darwin to Emma Darwin, 30 [March 1864?] and n. 4). See also n. 3, below.
According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), CD started taking podophyllin and colchicum on 24 March 1864. For information on the course of treatment prescribed by Jenner, see letter to J. D. Hooker, 13 April [1864] and n. 6. Sodae carbonas exsiccata, or dried sodium carbonate, was an alkaline salt often prescribed as a treatment for acid dyspepsia (Royle and Headland 1865, pp. 97 and 100). Taraxacum was a preparation made from the fresh roots of the common dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, was used as a mild tonic, laxative, and diuretic (Beasley 1865, pp. 501–3, and Royle and Headland 1865, pp. 502–3).
The letter from Emma Darwin to Jenner has not been found.
Jenner had advised CD to limit his intake of fluids (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 13 April [1864] and n. 6).


Beasley, Henry. 1865. The book of prescriptions, containing more than 3000 prescriptions, collected from the practice of the most eminent physicians and surgeons, English and foreign. 3d edition. London: John Churchill and Sons.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 26 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Post Office directory of the six home counties: Post Office directory of the six home counties, viz., Essex, Herts, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex. London: W. Kelly & Co. 1845–78.


Prescribes "Sod. exsic." with the podophyllin for CD.

Letter details

Letter no.
William (Sir William Jenner) Jenner
William Walmisley Baxter
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 168: 47
Physical description
2pp inc

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4488,” accessed on 18 November 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12