skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. D. Fox   12 February [1878]1

Broadlands, | Sandown, I.W.

Feb 12

My dear old Friend

For surely I may call you so, as you and one other, are all left of our friendships at a time when life was glorious.2 It is not bad now tho’ I am nearly 73—and few have been happier than I have. I rejoiced to hear from your Son at Southampton3 that you had all a most happy family party at Christmas— (How I should have liked a peep at you all from behind a curtain).

May you have many happy Christmas’s—and therefore many happy returns of your Birthday.

I saw one day, that you were born in 1809— I am glad to hear you are four years younger than myself— I always thought you were only two.

We were so glad to hear of W Es marriage.4 He is just the man to make a splendid Husband—and seems as happy as possible. You and I have been so happy in our marriages that we can only wonder all do ⁠⟨⁠no⁠⟩⁠t marry. But it is not always that a man can meet with his double.

We have an anxious house this winter in nursing one of my daughters who I believe slept in a damp bed last summer, and has never been well since. We have feared (& still do) consumption—but all the Drs say there is no really consumptive symtoms, but that there is inflammatory action of the air cells, complicated with Asthma.5

A fortnight since, my only comfort in watching her, was that Asthma was the then agent of evil, and so it proved—and ever since she has been improving, but I have more fear than hope of the issue

I have, like all the world, (except I hope you and yours) been laid up with Bronchitis, and have not been out of doors this year. However I am much better, and we are longing for sun and warm air for our dear Invalid.

But why bother you with these troubles— When I sat down I only meant to congratulate you and Mrs Darwin on your Birthday, and wish you all blessings thro the remainder of your life.

Mrs Fox6 joins most heartily with me in these wishes

Ever Dear old Darwin | Yours affectly | W. D. Fox


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to W. D. Fox, 14 February 1878.
Fox probably refers to John Maurice Herbert; other close friends of Fox and CD at Cambridge who were still living included Charles Thomas Whitley and Frederick Watkins.
CD’s son William married Sara Sedgwick on 29 November 1877 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
Theodora Fox died on 5 July 1878 (Darwin pedigree).


Darwin pedigree: Pedigree of the family of Darwin. Compiled by H. Farnham Burke. N.p.: privately printed. 1888. [Reprinted in facsimile in Darwin pedigrees, by Richard Broke Freeman. London: printed for the author. 1984.]


Congratulates CD on his birthday.

WDF has been suffering from bronchitis.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Darwin Fox
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 164: 202
Physical description
ALS 4pp damaged

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11355,” accessed on 16 June 2024,