He is staying on the Isle of Wight because he has been unwell. He is thought to be in danger of contracting consumption, and the climate is beneficial. He is convalescent now, but will spend the winter there.
Offers to forward any natural history stores CD may want.
Ryde. Isle of Wight.
August 29. 1832
My dear Darwin
The sight of your well known hand upon a letter back gave me no little pleasure as I began to doubt whether I should hear from you during your journeyings; it seemed so long since I had done so, I had however heard excellent accounts of you tho` not from you & that was next to it, tho' far from being so pleasurable as hearing of your happiness in your own words.— I wrote a very stupid letter some three months since which you have probably received ere this, & if not you have no loss, as I felt very stupid & owlish when I wrote it & almost repented sending such rubbish so far.— Your letter I got a fortnight since when I was just on the point of leaving home for this Island in consequence of another attack upon my Lungs, which tho' very much slighter than my former one in March, was still bad enough to make a change to Warmer Air desirable. I gained ground surprisingly for a week after leaving home, indeed was nearly well to my feelings, when an imprudent walk on a hot day gave me another attack which has lasted me now a week & will not depart while the very cold weather & rain we now have, last.— I have intended every day commencing this, but not felt equal to it, but trust now I have once begun, to go on with it & send it across the Atlantic tomorrow.— You tell me to give you a particular account of my life &c &c.— You would have a very monotonous description indeed, were I to give you one. Since my last letter I have vibrated between Epperstone & Osmaston, well enough to enjoy myself, but not sufficiently so to do any parochial Duty, or Entomologise, or in fact do any thing but amuse myself.— I shall not therefore inflict upon you the Diary of an Invalid, but sometime before Winter sets in I will write to you again & tell you how I then go on & how the World wags in these parts. I do not at present know where my Winter will be spent. I believe we (ie My Father, Mother & 2 younger sisters with my little niece ) stay here for about 6 weeks when it will depend upon my health whether I return to Osmaston or go somewhere where the Air is milder than Derbyshire to pass the Winter. As far as I understand myself, I have no actual affection of the Lungs but they are in such a delicate & excited state as to be extremely liable to all the Diseases liable to them, without great care &c. And unless I gain more strength & am very careful about them, Consumption would most probably ensue.— At present however I trust I am in a fair way of recovery & mean to leave no caution on my part wanting to ensure it.
September 18.— When I wrote the first page I fully intended sending
this off immediately, but the next day I was so unwell that I could not finish it,
& so continued for some days when finding I was losing strength very fast I
applied to a D
September 28.— Again was I stopped in my progress, and been so
engaged since with one thing or another that I have never resumed my letter tho` every
day resolving I would do so and send it off. I have often wished you were with me in my
little walks here when I have seen Insects that in your infantine days of Entomology you
would have thought much of. I have seen one Colias Hyale, and had I been able to go
after them believe I might have seen all the species of that beautiful Genus in the
Island. Not one capture have I made since I came except a few Coleoptera that have
crossed me, & one Sirex juvenans, tho I every day see something new to
me.— I often think when I see our minute crustacea or mollusca or any insect,
of the gloriously beautiful & curious creatures that are lying in profusion
round you, & fancy you revelling among them, with sky, ocean, Trees, in fact
every thing grand & sublime. You must sometimes almost feel bursting with your
feelings, tho' of course by this time the extreme novelty of Tropical Climes is somewhat
softened down.— I met with a case of South American Insects here some days
since which I was extravagant enough to buy merely because they came from where you are
collecting.— There are among them some magnificent Cerambycidæ,
Geotrupidæ, Cicadæ &c &c but I have at present no book by
which I can make them out. There is also among them the Walking stick Mantis and a huge
Nepa, or nearly allied to it.— From the list you give of the Water Beetles
taken the day you wrote to me, your favorite Family seems to be very
abundant.— I looked anxiously in Stephens for the Cryctocephalus
Darwinii, but it never appeared, nor do I think your name has
ever been mentioned by him since your departure— You will however have your
revenge in this I hope some time, as you will have plenty to tell the Lovers of Natural
History when you return. I quite agree with you in what you say about minute insects not
having been commonly collected abroad—I have very seldom seen any but those
remarkable for size or beauty in any Cabinets.— Stephens is now quite out of
my books. He has kept prevaricating so egregiously about his No
God Bless you & Believe me. Ever yours affectionately & faithfully W D. Fox
- f1 184.f1Anna Maria Bristowe.
- f2 184.f2Of the Wedgwood daughters, only the eldest, Sarah Elizabeth (Elizabeth), and the youngest, Emma, were still unmarried.
- f3 184.f3Apparently a slip for Cryptocephalus. CD must have sent what he thought was a new species for inclusion in Stephens 1827--46.
- f4 184.f4Rennie 1832.
- f5 184.f5The Entomological Magazine, edited by Edward Newman (London 1833--8).
- f6 184.f6The duty on shells and other natural history objects had been lifted in July 1825, `An act to repeal certain duties and customs', 6 Geo 4. c. 104. See Swainson 1822 for an account of the various levies, and Lingwood 1984.
- f7 184.f7In October--December 1832 the British and French cooperated in a blockade to force the Dutch to surrender Antwerp to newly independent Belgium.
- f8 184.f8Jeffry Brock Hall emigrated to Canada and resided at Guelph, Ontario (Alum. Cantab.).