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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   17 May [1855]

Down Farnborough Kent

May 17th

My dear Fox.

You will hate the very sight of my handwriting; but after this time I promise I will ask for nothing more, at least for a long time.— As you live on Sandy Soil, have you Lizards at all common? If you have, shd. you think it too ridiculous to offer a reward for me for Lizards eggs to the Boys in your school;—a shilling for every half-dozen, or more if rare, till you get 2 or 3 dozen & send them to me.— If snake’s eggs were brought in mistake it would be very well, for I want such also: & we have neither lizards or snakes about here.—

My object is to see whether such eggs will float on sea-water, & whether they will keep alive thus floating for a month or two in my cellar. I am trying experiments on transportation of all organic beings, that I can; & Lizards are found on every isld. & therefore I am very anxious to see whether their eggs stand sea water. Of course this note need not be answered, without by a strange & favourable chance you can someday answer it with the eggs.1

Your most troublesome friend | C. Darwin


After sending this letter, CD realised that most British lizards are viviparous. See letter to W. D. Fox, 23 May [1855].


Asks WDF to induce schoolboys to collect eggs of lizards and snakes for him. He will see whether they float and stay alive on sea-water.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 91)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1683,” accessed on 10 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5