skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   [9 July 1831]



My dear Fox

I arrived at this stupid place about three weeks ago, but have had no quiet time for writing till now.— I am staying here, on exactly the same principle, that a person chooses to remain in the Kings bench.— Talking of poverty puts me in mind to give you a scolding: in your answer to my letter containing the reasons I could not come to Epperstone, you say you do not wonder at my not choosing to to come to so stupid a place. now treating the thing logically, 1st you must have know what you call stupid, is just what I like, & 2nd you might have know, that if I could, I would most assuredly have come if it were merely for the pleasure of seeing you you have no excuse, & are (as we say in Spanish) un grandisimo bribon.—1

I hope your prints arrived safe. I was in a perfect whirlwind of dust & confusion, when I sent them off, else I should have written with the box.— The Canary scheme goes on very prosperously. I am working like a tiger for it, at present Spanish & Geology,2 the former I find as intensely stupid, as the latter most interesting. I am trying to make a map of Shrops: but dont find it so easy as I expected.—

How goes on Entomology with you? you are in a capital situation, that is if Sherwood forest is at all like the New forest.— Hope & Eyton did wonders the⁠⟨⁠re⁠⟩⁠ (I did not go propter pecuniam). Your imagination cannot fancy the number of red elater, melasis, Cerambycidous insects, without end.— I am just beginning Diptera.— L. Jenyns started me, what an excellent naturalist he is. I have seen a good deal of him lately, & the more I see the more I like him.— I feel just the same way towards another man, whom I used formerly to dislike, that is Ramsay of Jesus,3 who is the most likely person (I dont know whether I told you before) to be my companion to the Canaries.— How much do you know of the particulars of our plans?

Shall you be at Epperstone in the Autumn, & if you are, would be convenient, if I could manage to pay you a visit—answer this sincerely.— Cannot you pay me a visit at Shrewsbury, is it impossible?

This letter is all about myself. Do thou likewise, good Bye | dear old Fox. C. Darwin


A great rascal.
CD’s ‘Journal’ (see Correspondence vol. 1, Appendix I), which he started to keep in 1838, has this retrospective entry for 1831: ‘In the Spring Henslow persuaded me to think of Geology & introduced me to Sedgwick.’ John Maurice Rodwell, writing about CD and their Cambridge days together, remembered talking over Sedgwick’s lectures and CD saying: ‘It strikes me that all our knowledge about the structure of our Earth is very much like what an old hen wd know of the hundred-acre field in a corner of which she is scratching’. Later, speaking of Sedgwick’s speculation about the probable antiquity of the world, CD exclaimed, ‘What a capital hand is Sedgewick for drawing large cheques upon the Bank of Time!’ (J. M. Rodwell to Francis Darwin, 8 July 1882, in DAR 112: 94v.).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 28 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.


Poverty keeps him at Shrewsbury.

The Canary scheme still goes, CD is studying Spanish and geology.

Jenyns has started CD on Diptera.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
Shrewsbury JY 10 18⁠⟨⁠3⁠⟩⁠1
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 41)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 101,” accessed on 16 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 1