Letter 10093

Lane Fox, A. M. to Lubbock, E. F.

25 July [1875]

Summary

Recounts the removal and regrowth of her son’s extra digit; her grandfather showed the same condition.

Transcription

Uplands | Guildford

July 25th.

Dear Lady Lubbock

I trust I have been trained to take sufficient interest in allscientific investigations, not to think any question impertinentor unwarrantable the answer to which can in any way further thatobject. Indeed I felt very much inclined to write to Mr. Darwinof my own accord when reading his interesting book on theDescent of Man when it first appeared on the subject.f2 I am sorryhowever to say the Surgeon who performed the operation on myeldest son (Dr Trench Staff surgeon at Malta) has been deadseveral years but I will try as far as I can to make up for themore accurate & technical details he no doubt cd. have given.f3The extra digit or thumb was amputated by congelation in March/56when my son was 4 months old. The excrescence was simply cartilagegrowing a little above the joint with a perfect nail as in thedrawing I enclose which my son has just made of his hand as itwas & is now with the regrowth which is entirely covered withnail quite loose from the bone—f4 I don’t know whether Mr.Darwin heard that the inheritance was from my grandfather— F. J. late Ld. Stanley of Alderley who died at 84 in 1850f5   his hadbeen amputated I believe when he was about 4 years old & theregrowth was much larger & more clumsy than that on my son’shand— no other instances in the family are known but therewas a curious legend in the family of a miller who was to be bornwith 3 thumbs who wd. hold a king’s horse up to his knees inblood. My grandfather had a mill & 3 thumbs there the similitudeends!—

I don’t know whether Sir John has been favoured with an accountof Col. Fox & Cos. latest exploits at Cissbury or whether he wasable to assist at the discovery of the skeleton of which I wasinformed by the Sergeant who had to go & unearth him—with an orderthat he was to go & command a Brigade at WimbledonQQQQ yesterday.f6 He hadto leave his interesting investigations & went up to London wherehe by some means of which I am ignorant found himself relievedfrom the duty & rushed back to his skeleton far more congenial to histastes.

Will you kindly forward my letter & sketch to Mr. Darwin & tellhim I shall be most happy to answer any other questions in mypower, tho’ I think I have given all the particulars I can

With kind regards to Sir John | believe me | Yrs very truly |Alice Lane Fox

DAR 164: 170

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