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Letter 7376

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

18 [Nov 1870]


Has heard “sad tales” about CD’s forthcoming book [Descent]; does not think even CD can persuade him his ancestors were apes.


Broadlands | Sandown | I. Wight


My dear Darwin

The sight of your hand writing did me much good. It would havegreatly rejoiced me to have been able to run down to Down for a day,as Mrs Darwin kindly asked me to do, but I am obliged to becareful at this time of year, for fear of being laid up, and I feltI ought not to delay getting to Winter Quarters.f2 As you ask me howI am, I am glad to say much better than I have been for some months,& quite hope to be able to get about thro the winter. I was very illa few months ago, and hardly thought I should get over it.

I get very stiff and old in my feelings of body, and childish in mymind I think.I do not think I was ever more young in mind— in fact I havea very enjoyable existence, & I know few I wd exchange with. There now.

I wish you could give yourself a little rest, but I know you cannot.In cælo quies, in terra nulla.f3 I hear sad tales about your Book aboutto come forth.f4 I suppose you are about to prove man is a descendantfrom Monkeys &c &c Well, Well!— I shall much enjoy reading it.I have given up that point now. The three main points of differenceto my mind—were that Men drink, smoke & thrash their wives—&Beasts do not.

But alas my faith is overthrown entirely. The Lady Monkey from theAndamans—drinks & smokes like a Christian; & evidently the Gentlemanwd thrash, if not kill the Lady, if he had an opportunity.f5

I always look at Books as I do Newspapers. I am not bound totye my mind to that of the writer. There are points in your unrivaledBook “The Origin of Species”—which I do not come up to—but with these few expressions omitted, I go with it completely. I donot think even you will persuade me that my ancestors ever were Apes—but we shall see.

I have no religious scruples about any of these matters. I seemy own way clearly thro them— —but I see many points I cannot get over,which prevent my going “the whole Hog” with you.

In a few years—if not sooner—we shall know a great dealmore than we do now.— We are sadly cribbed here, and ones mind feelsthe impossibility of grasping what one longs to do. Well, well!(as a friend of mine always says in a difficulty) let us do ourbest, & hope for better things. I must run over & see you some day.Why not you & Mrs Darwin run over here, when you have finishedyour Book— you can study my little Apes & Apesses—

Kindest regards to Mrs Darwin & thanks for her note—

Always yours Affecly | W D Fox

DAR 164: 192



The month and year are established by the relationship between thisletter and the letter to W. D. Fox, 15 November [1870].
See letter to W. D. Fox, 15 November [1870]. Fox’s summer home wasDelamere Rectory in Cheshire.
In caelo quies, in terra nulla: in heaven there is peace, onearth, none (Latin).
Fox refers to Descent.
A female ‘Andaman monkey’ was presented to the Zoological Societyof London in July 1869. She was described in Land and Water, 24 July1870, p. 57, by Abraham Dee Bartlett, the superintendent of theZoological Gardens, who thought she represented a new species, whichhe proposed to call Macacus andamanensis. In April 1870 a letter wasreceived from the Andaman Islands pointing out that there were nomonkeys indigenous to the Andaman Islands, and that the few thatexisted there had been brought from Burma (Proceedings of theZoological Society of London (1870): 220). In June 1870, Bartlettsecured a male ‘Andaman monkey’ for the society; it was identified byEdward Blyth as identical with a species that he had named Inuusleoninus (now Macaca leonina, the northern pigtail macaque). The female, ‘Andaman Jenny’,had become well-known to visitors to the Zoological Gardens forsmoking and performing other tricks. (Proceedings of the ZoologicalSociety of London (1870): 663–4.) The male is illustrated in theplate in Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (1870):facing p. 664. The macaque in the background is presumably Andaman Jenny.
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