Letter from Erasmus Darwin to James Watt, 1795/04/02

2 April 1795

Darwin writes to Watt about his continuing experiments with the use of gases in medicine. Darwin mentions William Reynolds of Coalbrookdale, one of the Shropshire Ironmasters.


Derby Apr. 2-95

Dear Mr Watt,

I was sorry my other engagements would not me to pass a few hours with you last week, when I was at Birmingham – but so the fates ordain’d. – I am now at length about to try oxygene mix’d with atmospheric air in a case of anasarca of the lungs, which has thrice been relieved by foxglove; and am about to construct some silk or linnen bags according to your directions – and am in difficulty how soon to procure Exeter manganese; and trouble you with this long history to ask, if you could send me half a score pounds, till I can get it from Exeter? If you have not any to spare, I think to write to Mr Reynolds of the bank near Colebrook dale, if that be a proper direction.

If you have any japan’d air-holders ready made I should be glad of one, as I think it a convenient machine to measure airs with – or indeed to breathe them from – as by fixing a large bladder with a breathing pipe by adding water into the machine, quart after quart, the quantity breathed might be easily ascertain’d thus.

I can get one made here but not japan’d.

It would give me great pleasure to hear, that yourself and Mrs. Watt are well. – I am printing my second Vol. of Zoonomia, which I will not forget to send you, but do not insist on your reading it – adieu your affect. friend

E Darwin

Mrs Darwin joins in true respects to Mrs Watt and yourself.

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Image creators: Dr Darwin, Erasmus (Creator)
Image courtesy of: Birmingham Archives
Donor ref: JWP/4/65/21