skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. B. Carpenter   2 January [1845]


Jan 2—18441

Dear Sir

I ought to have written to you, ere this, in answer to your last note; but was unwilling to do so, until I should have subjected the specimens to another careful investigation, under a higher power. This I have been prevented from doing until last night; and the result is such, as to make me wish to make a further examination of the Pampas tufa, before expressing a decided opinion respecting it.— As to its non-identity with the Chilian tufa, I am equally clear as before; but I have detected in it some additional traces of distinct organic forms, which do not correspond with anything I have elsewhere seen. My impression is, that they are remains of Spongeous bodies. As you have been good enough to allow me to “work my wicked will” with the specimens, I shall make a thorough examination of them, and I hope to be able to arrive at some definite conclusions.2

I can quite relieve your scruples about the expense of preparing the sections, by telling you that they are made by a boy who acts as a servant in my small establishment, and the share of whose time devoted to these objects is amply covered by the grant of the Association;3 under the purposes of which I consider that the examination of your specimens most legitimately comes. I am hoping to induce the Government to take up the subject in connection with the Geological department of the Ordnance Survey; and shall be very glad of your good word, if you have an opportunity of speaking it.

I am, Dr Sir | yours very truly | W B Carpenter


An error for 1845. This letter clearly follows the letter from W. B. Carpenter, 21 December 1844.
See letter from W. B. Carpenter, 5 May 1845, for Carpenter’s more detailed report on the comparison.
Carpenter had received a grant from the British Association for research on the microscopic structures of fossil and recent shells (Report of the 14th meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science held at York in 1844, p. xxiv).


Says tuff collected by CD in Pampas and Chile contains organic remains. Wants to examine specimens further and hopes for Government support in doing so.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Benjamin Carpenter
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 39: 31–2
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 813,” accessed on 7 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 3