To W. D. Fox 24 [October 1852]
Down Farnborough Kent
My dear Fox
I received your long & most welcome letter this morning, & will answer it this evening as I shall be very busy with an Artist drawing Cirripedia1 & much overworked for the next fortnight. But first you deserve to be well abused, & pray consider yourself well abused, for thinking or writing that I could for one minute be bored by any amount of detail about yourself & belongings. It is just what I like hearing: believe me that I often think of old days spent with you, & sometimes can hardly believe what a jolly careless individual one was in those old days. A bright autumn Evening often brings to mind some shooting excursions from Osmaston.2 I do indeed regret that we live so far off each other, & that I am so little locomotive: I have been unusually well of late, (no Water Cure)3 but I do not find that I can stand any change hardly better than formerly. All excitement & fatigue brings on such dreadful flatulence; that in fact I can go nowhere. The other day I went to London & back, & the fatigue, though so trifling brough on my bad form of vomiting. I grieve to hear that your chest has been ailing; & most sincerely do I hope that it is only the muscles: how frequently the voice fails with the Clergy. I can well understand your reluctance to break up your large & happy party & go a broad; but your life is very valuable, so you ought to be very cautious in good time.
You ask about all of us, now 5 Boys (oh the professions, oh the gold, & oh the French,—these three oh’s all rank as dreadful bugbears)4 & two girls: Emma has been very neglectful of late & we have not had a child for more than one whole year.5 She is, thank God, right well, & so are all the chicks; but another & the worst of my bugbears, is heredetary weakness. All my sisters are well, except Mrs Parker,6 who is much out of health; & so is Erasmus at his poor average: he has lately moved into Q. Anne St. I had heard of the intended marriage of your sister Frances: I believe I have seen her since, but my memory takes me back some 25 years, when she was lying down; I remember well the delightful expression of her countenance: I most sincerely wish her all happiness.7 Tenby by all accounts is a delightful place.—8
I see I have not answered half your Queries: we like very well all that we have seen & heard of Rugby, & have never repented of sending him9 there: I feel sure schools have greatly improved since our days; but I hate schools & the whole system of breaking through the affections of the family by separating the boys so early in life, but I see no help & dare not run the risk of a youth being exposed to the temptations of the world, without having undergone the milder ordeal of a great school.—
I see you even ask after our Pears: we have had lots of Beurre d’Alenbery, Winter Nelis, Marie Louise, Passe Colmar & Ne Plus Meuris but all off the wall: the standard dwarfs have borne a few, but I have no room for more trees, so their names wd be useless to me. You really must make a holiday & pay us a visit sometime: nowhere could you be more heartily welcome.—
I am at work on the second vol. of the Cirripedia, of which creatures I am wonderfully tired: I hate a Barnacle as no man ever did before, not even a Sailor in a slow-sailing ship. My first vol. is out: the only part worth looking at is on the sexes of Ibla & Scalpellum; I hope by next summer to have done with my tedious work.10
Farewell,—do come whenever you can possibly manage it. I cannot but hope that the Carbuncle may possibly do you good: I have heard of all sorts of weaknesses disappearing after a carbuncle: I suppose the pain is dreadful. I agree most entirely, what a blessed discovery is Chloroform: when one thinks of one’s children, it makes quite a little difference in ones happiness. The other day I had 5 grinders (two by the Elevator) out at a sitting under this wonderful substance, & felt hardly anything.11
My dear old Friend | Yours very affectionately | Charles Darwin
News of his health; has been well of late, but cannot stand excitement. Hereditary weakness is another of his bugbears.
At work on cirripedes – "I hate a Barnacle as no man ever did before."
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1489,” accessed on 25 October 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-1489