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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. D. Fox   22 July [1878]1

Broadlands | Sandown | I. Wight

July 22

My dear Darwin

I am deeply obliged to you for so kindly writing to me upon our very sad loss.2 She was a very dear and good child, and very much beloved by us.

But all this ought to do away our sorrow— I cannot say it does so. Your handwriting is so exactly as of old, that I cannot help hoping you are in tolerable health.

I have been looking over many of your old, old letters of late. They have recalled days, seldom long out of memory—

I always love to dwell upon Shrewsbury in those times. Your good Father hangs up in my little study—reminding me of his great kindnesses to me; and at the same time of ⁠⟨⁠Ca⁠⟩⁠roline who made the likeness— of Susan full of goodness &c.3 Those were gold letter days indeed.

We have both had many happy days since—but they want the joyousness—the overflowingness of youth, and youths friendship.

Some six weeks since I attended the Funeral of my oldest Naturalist Friend Hewitson.4 I knew him when we were both very young, & afterwards we were intimate friends thro a very chequered life on his part. He spent much of his time, and the Income of a large fortune, upon his favorite pursuit—Lepidopte⁠⟨⁠ra.⁠⟩⁠ Having lost his wife5 & without family he could afford to keep Naturalists in Africa and South America—and for very many years has published a beautiful work which he drew and coloured all the plates for at a loss of 30£ per month.6

He has left a splendid collection to the British Museum.7 I shall miss him very much.

Owing to our childs long illness, we have not yet made the acquaintance of your daughter at Basset.8 I hope we shall now do so, and get them to pay us a visit. He kindly wrote to me lately. Mrs Fox9 sends her kindest regards to Mrs Darwin— Excuse this stupid ⁠⟨⁠note⁠⟩⁠

⁠⟨⁠Yours⁠⟩⁠ always | W. D. Fox


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to W. D. Fox, 10 July 1878.
CD had sent condolences on the death of Fox’s daughter Theodora (letter to W. D. Fox, 10 July 1878).
Robert Waring Darwin, Caroline Sarah Darwin, and Susan Elizabeth Darwin all lived at The Mount, Shrewsbury, during the time that CD and Fox were students.
William Chapman Hewitson died on 28 May 1878 and was buried at Walton-on-Thames (ODNB).
At the time of his death, Hewitson had not quite finished the ninth and final part of his work Illustrations of diurnal Lepidoptera; it was completed by Robert Henry Fernando Rippon and William Forsell Kirby (Hewitson 1862–78, 1: [vii]).
A catalogue of this bequest was published by Kirby (Kirby 1879).
CD’s daughter-in-law Sara, who was married to William Erasmus Darwin, lived in Bassett, Hampshire. Fox’s daughter Theodora had been ill since the summer of 1877 (see letter from W. D. Fox, 12 February [1878]).


Hewitson, William Chapman. 1862–78. Illustrations of diurnal Lepidoptera. 2 vols. London: John van Voorst.

Kirby, William Forsell. 1879. Catalogue of the collection of diurnal Lepidoptera formed by the late William Chapman Hewitson, of Oatlands, Walton-on-Thames; and bequeathed by him to the British Museum. London: John van Voorst.

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.


Thanks CD for his condolences. Reminisces about their youth.

On the death of his naturalist friend, W. C. Hewitson.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Darwin Fox
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 164: 203
Physical description
ALS 4pp damaged

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11625,” accessed on 7 June 2023,