skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From Francis Darwin   [1–15 March 1873]1

Dear Father

I have sent off the Vichy water, by a piece of inspiration I remembered to have seen Vichy written on a top bill in some docketted ones of G’s2 & found out that way— I see in another part my book says the dose of Fowler’s Soln is [scorpio] 2 to 8 and occasionally 10—3 Moore prescribed some colchicum for Arthur Parslow’s gout4   will you tell him not to go on with it if it seems not to suit him & only to go on for 3 or 4 days anyhow— Moore said he had better go on with the Iodine alone if the colchicum didnt suit— I hope poor old mother is better—5

Yours affec | F Darwin

Shall I be wanted at home next Sunday, if not I go to Pryor’s6


The date range is established by the references to a visit by Norman Moore (see n. 4, below), and to the use of Fowler’s solution (see n. 3, below), and by the fact that the Darwins left Down for London on 15 March 1873 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
Fowler’s solution contains potassium arsenite; it was once prescribed for fevers, neuralgia, chorea, and chronic skin diseases, and as a general stimulant and tonic (see Harley ed. 1876, p. 294). Emma Darwin recorded in her diary, ‘began Arsenic’ on 13 March 1873, and ‘Left off Arsenic’ on 5 April 1873 (DAR 242).
Moore, a friend of Francis’s since they met at Cambridge University, qualified as a medical doctor on 30 January 1873 (Medical Times and Gazette 1 (1873): 156; ODNB). Arthur Parslow was the son of CD’s butler, Joseph Parslow. Moore visited Down on 1 March 1873 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
Emma Darwin had influenza from 26 February 1873 until about 6 March (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242); letter from Emma Darwin to Horace Darwin, [6 March 1873], DAR 258: 573).
Marlborough Robert Pryor had visited Down with Moore on 1 March 1873.


ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.


Has sent Vichy water, discusses prescription. Tell Arthur Parslow not to continue on colchicum for gout if doesn’t suit him. May go to Pryor’s on Sunday.

Letter details

Letter no.
Francis Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Source of text
DAR 274.1: 10
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8714F,” accessed on 10 October 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21