To W. D. Fox 7 March 
Down Farnborough Kent
My dear Fox.
It is indeed an age since we have had any communication, & very glad I was to receive your note. Our long silence occurred to me a few weeks since, & I had then thought of writing but was idle. I congratulate & condole with you on your tenth child;1 but please to observe when I have a 10th, send only condolences to me. We have now seven children, all well Thank God, as well as their mother; of these 7, five are Boys; & my Father used to say that it was certain, that a Boy gave as much trouble as three girls, so that bonâ fide we have 17 children.
It makes me sick whenever I think of professions; all seem hopelessly bad, & as yet I cannot see a ray of light.— I should very much like to talk over this (By the way my three Bug-bears are Californian & Australian Gold, beggaring me by making my money on mortgage worth nothing2 —The French coming by the Westerham & Sevenoaks roads, & therefore enclosing Down3 —and thirdly Professions for my Boys.) & I shd like to talk about Education, on which you ask me what we are doing. No one can more truly despise the old stereotyped stupid classical education than I do, but yet I have not had courage to break through the trammels. After many doubts we have just sent our eldest Boy to Rugby, where for his age he has been very well placed. By the way, I may mention for chance of hereafter your wishing for such a thing for any friends, that Mr Wharton Vicar of Mitcham, appear to us a really excellent preparatory tutor or small school keeper.—4 I honour, admire & envy you for educating your Boys at home.5 What on earth shall you do with your Boys?
Towards the end of this month, we go to see Willy at Rugby, & thence for 5 or 6 days to Susan at Shrewsbury;6 I then return home to look after the Babies; & Emma goes to the F. Wedgwoods of Etruria for a week.7 Very many thanks for your most kind & large invitation to Delamere;8 but I fear we can hardly compass it. I dread going anywhere, on account of my stomach so easily failing under any excitement. I rarely even now go to London; not that I am at all worse, perhaps rather better & lead a very comfortable life with my 3 hours of daily work, but it is the life of a hermit. My nights are always bad, & that stops my becoming vigorous.— You ask about water cure: I take at intervals of 2 or 3 month, 5 or 6 weeks of moderately severe treatment, & always with good effect.9
Do you come here, I pray & beg whenever you can find time: you cannot tell how much pleasure it would give me & Emma.
I have finished 1st vol. for Ray Soc. of Pedunculated cirripedes, which, as I think you are a member, you will soon get. Read what I describe on sexes of Ibla & Scalpellum.— I am now at work on the Sessile cirripedes, & am wonderfully tired of my job: a man to be a systematic naturalist ought to work at least 8 hours per day.— You saw through me, when you said that I must have wished to have seen effects of Holmfirth Debacle,10 for I was saying a week ago to Emma, that had I been, as I was in old days, I would have been certainly off that hour—
You ask after Erasmus; he is much as usual, & constantly more or less 〈unw〉ell. Susan is much better, & very flourishing & happy. Catherine is at Rome & has enjoyed it in a degree that is quite astonishing to my old dry bones.—
And now I think I have told you enough & more than enough about the house of Darwin; so my dear old Friend Farewell. What pleasant times we had in drinking Coffee in your rooms at Christ Coll. And think of the glories of Crux Major.11 Ah in those days there were no professions for sons, no ill-health to fear for them, no Californian gold—no French invasions. How paramount the future is to the present, when one is surrounded by children. My dread is hereditary ill-health. Even death is better for them.
My dear Fox your sincere friend | C. Darwin.
Remember do if you ever can, come here.
You can at any time send Athenæum Newspaper addressed to me at the Athenæum Club, Pall Mall which is my House of call for Parcels of all kinds—
P.S. Susan has lately been working in a way, which I think truly heroic about the scandalous violation of the act against children climbing chimneys.12 We have set up a little Society in Shrewsbury to prosecute those who break the Law.13 It is all Susan’s doing. She has had very nice letters from Ld Shaftesbury & the D. of Sutherland, but the brutal Shropshire Squires are as hard as stone to move. The act out of London seems most commonly violated. It makes one shudder to fancy one of one’s own children at 7 years old being forced up a chimney—to say nothing of the consequent loathsome disease, & ulcerlated limbs, & utter moral degradation.14 If you think strongly on this subject, do make some enquiries— add to your many good works—this other one, & try to stir up the magistrates. There are several people making a stir in different parts of England on this subject.— It is not very likely that you would wish for such but I could send you some essays & information if you so liked, either for yourself or to give away.—
Emma desires me to give her very kind remembrances to Mrs Fox, in which I beg to join.—
Congratulates and "condoles" with WDF on a tenth child.
On education, he has not had courage to break away from "the old stereotyped stupid classical education"; has sent William to Rugby.
The first Ray Society volume [Living Cirripedia] is finished.
Has joined in a society to prosecute violators of the act against use of children in climbing chimneys.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1476,” accessed on 21 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-1476