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Darwin Correspondence Project

To William Benjamin Carpenter   [January? 1847]1

Down Farnborough | Kent


My dear Sir

I was truly sorry to break my engagement, but I was in bed on Tuesday & Wednesday & have been very unwell all this week.—

I am most anxious to profit by your advice: could you spare me an hour or hour & half on next, Wednesday, or Thursday or Friday Evening: I wd come up on purpose & wd next morning order a microscope— Your note has finally determined me to get one as soon as possible,2 & I groan to think over the 3 or 4 months.

I wd. start from West End a few minutes after 5 & I suppose I shd arrive at your house, a little before 7 oclock. If you cannot see me on the 3 mentioned days, wd you kindly appoint the next earliest in the ensuing week.—

Will you send me a line by General Post on Monday.—

Yours truly obliged | C. Darwin

P.S. | If you chance to know that you will be at home two evenings perhaps you will give me the liberty of the choice; though I assure you, nothing but incapacity shall prevent my coming up on the first appointed day.

P.S. 2d. If you are engaged on Wednesday, Thursday & Friday, perhaps I shd be well enough on Tuesday, & I wd. then try & answer your note in person.


The date is conjectured from an entry of 29 April 1847 in CD’s Account Book (Down House MS) recording £34 2s. paid to Smith and Beck, the scientific instrument makers. Allowing the ‘3 or 4 months’ mentioned in the letter for delivery, the order was probably placed early in 1847. CD attended a Geological Society council meeting on Wednesday, 6 January (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix I), but no expenses for other trips to London were noted in his Account Book until April.
CD purchased two microscopes for use in dissecting cirripedes, the compound microscope mentioned in the present letter and a single-lens dissecting microscope, purchased in 1848 (see letter to Richard Owen, [26 March 1848], n. 2).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 28 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.


Arranges to meet with WBC to get his advice about buying a microscope.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Benjamin Carpenter
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.55)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1050,” accessed on 5 July 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 4