Letter icon
Letter 419

Darwin, C. R. to Fox, W. D.

[15 June 1838]

    Summary Add

  • +

    Has not been well.

  • +

    Plans a geological trip to Glen Roy in Scotland.

  • +

    Thanks WDF for remembering the crossing of animals, CD's "prime hobby". "I really think some day I shall be able to do something on that most intricate subject species and varieties."


36 Grt. Marlbro'

My dear Fox

I have been in great trepidation for the last fortnight at the thoughts of receiving a letter from you: for the fossils only came to my house three days since. The casts were to have come yesterday, but have not yet. I do not doubt, however, I shall have them directly.— My chief object in writing now is to tell you than in a week, or 10 days, or at most a fortnight I leave London for about five weeks, so that if you want the fossils & casts sent anywhere you must let me know at once, or leave them till the beginning of August, when I shall be back here.— Owen was annoyed at having been the cause of the delay: but in fact he is worked out of life & soul. He has sent me a letter to forward to you, which I have not done, thinking I would wait, till I heard, whether you chose to have the fossils sent to you; or what plan was decided on.—

Although I was in great fears at seeing your handwriting until I had the fossils safe & sound, yet I have at the same time been wishing very much to hear how Delamere gets on.— You must give up an hour of one of your solitary evenings, (for I suppose Mrs Fox has not yet joined you) & give me long account, of place & people.

I have not been very well of late, which has suddenly determined me to leave London earlier than I had anticipated. I go by the steam-packet to Edinburgh.—take a solitary walk on Salisbury crags & call up old thoughts of former times then go on to Glasgow & the great valley of Inverness,—near which I intend stopping a week to geologise the parallel roads of Glen Roy, —thence to Shrewsbury, Maer for one day, & London for smoke, ill health & hard work.—

Catherine came back yesterday from Paris, where she has been staying with party of Wedgwoods for a month— She stays a week in London & then returns <to> Shrewsbury.—

I am going today to dine at the great Herschel dinner, which you probably will have seen announced in the Papers.— it will, I am afraid be stupid but I trust Sir J. will give us some account, of his discoveries.—

My journal will not be out until the Autumn, I am crawling on with the geology,—but the Zoological parts murder much of my time.—

I am delighted to hear, you are such a good man, as not to have forgotten my questions about the crossing of animals. It is my prime hobby & I really think some day, I shall be able to do something on that most intricate subject species & varieties.

Good Bye my dear old Fox— make a noble return to this excessively stupid letter, & tell me all the &cc of Delamere. Yours most Sincerely | Chas. Darwin

36 Gt Marlbro' St

    Footnotes Add

  • +
    f1 419.f1
    Fox had collected some fossil bones from freshwater beds on the Isle of Wight that were described by Richard Owen (see letter to W. D. Fox, [11 December 1837], n. 1).
  • +
    f2 419.f2
    Fox had become Rector of Delamere, Cheshire, in 1838.
  • +
    f3 419.f3
    See Autobiography, p. 53, for CD's unflattering recollection of Professor Robert Jameson's field lecture on the Salisbury Crags. CD's notes of the visit of 1838 are in DAR 5 (ser. 2): 33–8.
  • +
    f4 419.f4
    The parallel ‘roads’ or terraces on the slopes of Glen Roy were a geological puzzle of the time. CD, having seen apparently similar phenomena in South America, set out on 23 June 1838 to investigate them.
  • +
    f5 419.f5
    Sir John Frederick William Herschel, having just returned from South Africa, was much fêted for his astronomical discoveries. At Victoria's coronation (28 June 1838) he was made baronet.
  • +
    f6 419.f6
    CD refers to numbers of the Zoology for which he wrote notes. For Fossil Mammalia he contributed a geological introduction on where the fossils were found, for Mammalia and Birds the notes describe habits and ranges of the species.
Maximized view Print letter