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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   6 [September 1831]

17 Spring Gardens London

Tuesday 6th.—

My dear Fox

When you read this you will understand why I have not answered your letter earlier.— I returned from a geological trip with Prof: Sedgwick in N Wales on Monday 29th of August.— I found your letter there, & with a joint one from Henslow & Peacock of Trinity, offering me the place of Naturalist in a vessel fitted for going round the world.— This I at first, (owing to my Father not liking it I refused) but my Uncle, Mr. Wedgwood, took every thing in such a different point of view, that we returned to Shrewsbury on 1st of September, & convinced my Father.— On 2d started for Cam: then again from a discouraging letter from my captain I again gave it up. But yesterday every thing was smoother.—& I think it most probable I shall go: but it is not certain, so do not mention it to any body.— I have had a most tremendous hard week of it.— Cap Fitzroy seems every thing I could wish: the most serious objections are the time (3 years), & the smallness of the vessel. Fitzroy is determined to get over the latter for me.— Our route is Madeira, Canary, Rio de Janeiro, 18 month in S America chiefly S. extremity, we shall see every principle city in it.—then through South sea islands, Australia, India, Home.— Of course nothing is quite certain. we sail on 10th October.— of course I will write to you again.—

Your letter gave me great pleasure.— You cannot imagine how much your former letter annoyed & hurt me.—1 But thank heaven, I firmly believe that it was my own entire fault in so interpreting your letter.— I lost a friend the other day, & I doubt whether the moral death, (as I then wickedly supposed) of our friendship did not grieve me as much as the real & sudden death of poor Ramsay.— We have known each other too long to need I trust any more explanations.— But I will mention just one thing; that on my death bed, I think I could say I never uttered one insincere (which at the time I did not fully feel) expression about my regard for you— One thing more.— The sending immediately the insects on my honor was an unfortunate coincidence, I forgot how you naturally would take them.— When you look at them now, I hope no unkindly feelings will rise in your mind.—& that you will believe that you have always had in me a sincere & I will add, an obliged friend. The very many pleasant minutes that we spent together in Cambridge rose like departed spirits in judgement against me: May we have many more such, will be one of my last wishes in leaving England.—

God bless you dear old Fox May you always be happy.— | Yours truly | Chas Darwin

I have left your letter behind so do not know whether I direct right


Received offer of post as naturalist in the Beagle in the same mail as WDF’s last letter. Outlines details of prospective voyage. Not certain, but thinks he probably will go.

Expresses pleasure that all is well with their friendship, which he prizes.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
London, Spring Gardens, 17
C.H 6 SE 1831 X
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 43)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 120,” accessed on 26 September 2022,

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