skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Adolf Wilhelm Hermann Kolbe   5 May [1847]1

Down Farnborough | Kent

May 5th

Dear Sir

With this note, I send the parcel for Prof Bunsen, which you said you would be so good as to take to him.2 It has turned out rather larger than I anticipated, but I thought it best to send a pretty good suite of specimens.—3 I can hardly express how sorry I was to hear, upon my return home, that you had had the great trouble of coming here. I only hope that you had some other call to this neighbourhood.— I most sincerely regret that I was not at home to have had the pleasure of receiving you.—

Pray believe me | Yours very faithfully | C. Darwin To | Dr. H. Kolbe.


The date is based on Kolbe’s return to Germany in the spring of 1847 and on Robert Wilhelm Eberhard Bunsen’s known interest in volcanic rocks at this time. See nn. 2 and 3, below and letter to Ernst Dieffenbach, 9 February [1847].
Kolbe, a former student of Bunsen, had been working in London at the School of Mines under Lyon Playfair (DSB).
Volcanic specimens collected by CD on the Galápagos and Cape Verde Islands. After an expedition to Iceland and a visit to the recently erupted volcano Hekla, Bunsen wrote several articles on Icelandic volcanic phenomena in 1847 and 1848. Later he published articles on the effects of gases in the formation of volcanic rock, based in part on his analysis of some of CD’s specimens. See Bunsen 1851, pp. 223–4, and especially Bunsen 1853, a French translation of Bunsen 1851, which includes an explicit acknowledgment of CD’s specimens (p. 290).


Bunsen, Robert Wilhelm Eberhard. 1851. Ueber die Processe der vulkanischen Gesteinsbildungen Islands. Annalen der Physik und Chemie 3d ser. 83: 197–272.

Bunsen, Robert Wilhelm Eberhard. 1853. Recherches sur la formation des roches volcaniques en Islande. Annales de Chimie et de Physique 3d ser. 38: 215–300.

DSB: Dictionary of scientific biography. Edited by Charles Coulston Gillispie and Frederic L. Holmes. 18 vols. including index and supplements. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1970–90.


Sends parcel of specimens for R. W. Bunsen.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Adolf Wilhelm Hermann Kolbe
Sent from
Source of text
Herzog-August-Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel (Briefsammlung Viewig 346, 346a)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1569,” accessed on 28 November 2021,

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