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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   14 October [1855]1

Down Bromley Kent

Oct 14th

My dear Fox.

I received this morning the Game Chick, for which very hearty thanks & for all the very great & very disagreeable work in this line, which you have done for me.— I have now quite a grand collection of chicken, & shall be able to ascertain how far the young really do differ proportionally with the old.—2 I did write, immediately after I got your last note, to Mrs. Wilmot3 to thank her. The bones of the old gentleman will soon be cleaned.—

With respect to the old Birds, please observe that I can get excellent game, so that all I want are, first rate, old cocks. diag 1. Dorking

2. Cochin

3. Call Duckramme especially the last.—

I go slowly on accumulating facts;—what I shall do with, remains to be seen.—

I am very sincerely sorry to hear that you have been ill, & that your chest has been the peccant part. How most truly & sincerely do I wish that we did live nearer, or that either or both of us were more locomotive; it would be a very great pleasure indeed to see you here again, & learn wisdom from you of all kinds.—

I really have no news: the only thing we have done for a long time, was to go to Glasgow; but the fatigue was to me more than it was worth & Emma caught a bad cold. On our return we staid a single day at Shrewsbury & enjoyed seeing the old place.— I saw a little of Sir Philip (whom I liked much) & he asked me “why on earth I instigated you to rob his Poultry yard?”4 The meeting was a good one & the Duke of Argyll spoke excellently.—5

I had a letter some 2 months ago from Hore,6 who is settled, an old Batchelor, in Devonshire, & has given up Natural History, as he tells me.—

Farewell, my dear old friend. I do hope when next I hear, that you may be stronger. | Your’s affecty. | C. Darwin

I have now diag Fan-tails



!!! Jacobins !!!




!!! Almond Tumblers !!!



Dated by the relationship to the letter to W. D. Fox, 22 August [1855], in which CD mentioned receiving a Spanish cock from Mr Wilmot.
The variations between the young chickens of various breeds of fowl are discussed in Variation 1: 249–50.
Marianne Wilmot was the widow of Robert Wilmot who had been landlord of Osmaston Hall, the home of Fox’s parents. See letter to W. D. Fox, 22 August [1855], n. 1.
Philip de Malpas Grey-Egerton’s estate at Oulton Park, Cheshire, was close to Fox’s home. Both Egerton and CD were ordinary members of the council of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and had met at the recent meeting in Glasgow.
George Douglas Campbell, Duke of Argyll, president of the British Association, 1854–5. In the president’s address, delivered on 12 September 1855, the Duke emphasised the need for ‘securing for it [science] a better and more acknowledged place in the education of the young’ (Report of the 25th meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science held at Glasgow in September 1855, p. lxxxii).
William Strong Hore was a fellow undergraduate with CD at Cambridge and an entomological enthusiast. See Correspondence vol. 1, letter to W. D. Fox, 12 [June 1828], n. 3.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


CD now has a sufficiently large collection of [skeletons of] chickens to be able to tell how far the young differ proportionally from the old.

He goes on accumulating facts; what he will do with them "remains to be seen".

Attended Glasgow BAAS meeting. "Duke of Argyll spoke excellently" [Rep. BAAS (1855): lxiii–lxxxvi].

Lists his pigeon collection.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 96)
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1766,” accessed on 5 March 2024,

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