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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   22 February [1857]1

Down Bromley Kent

Feb. 22d.

My dear Fox

I am much obliged for your various enclosures, viz (1st) about yourself, & most heartily glad I am that Dr. Gully has done you some good.—2

Emma desires to be most kindly remembered to Mrs. Fox & we are very glad that she & the little girl are both well.—3

I hope that your nephew may succeed in finding some lizard eggs;4 for it seems that he will try his best to ascertain the point in question.— By the way I have just had Helix Pomatia quite healthy after 20 days submersion in salt-water.—

Thanks about Pea case: it is a very great puzzle to me; for if I could trust to my observations on Bees, I cannot see how they can avoid being crossed; but the evidence certainly preponderates on your side, & most heavily in case of Sweet Peas.—5 I suppose the Queen Pea flowered at same time with adjoining Peas: are you sure of this?

With respect to Clapham School: I think favourably of it: the Boys are not so exclusively kept to Classics: arithmetic is made much of: all are taught drawing, & some modern languages.—6 I was rather frightened by having heard that it was rather a rough school; but young Herschel did not agree to this;7 & Georgy is rather a soft Boy & I cannot find out that he has anything to complain of, though of a very home-sick, disposition. I will at any time answer any queries in detail: I do not know, but could find out, whether Clergymen’s sons are charged less.—

My wife agrees very heartily with your preachment against overwork, & wishes to go to Malvern; but I doubt: yet I suppose I shall take a little holiday sometime; perhaps to Tenby: though how I can leave all my experiments, I know not.—8

I am got most deeply interested in my subject; though I wish I could set less value on the bauble fame, either present or posthumous, than I do, but not, I think, to any extreme degree; yet, if I know myself, I would work just as hard, though with less gusto, if I knew that my Book wd be published for ever anonymously

Farewell, my dear Fox | Ever yours | C. Darwin


Dated by the reference to the birth of Fox’s daughter (see n. 3, below).
James Manby Gully ran a hydropathic establishment in Malvern. For CD’s and Fox’s previous correspondence about Gully and hydropathy, see Correspondence vol. 4.
Ellen Sophia Fox had given birth to a daughter, Edith Darwin Fox, on 13 February 1857 (Darwin pedigree).
See letter to W. D. Fox, 20 October [1856]. CD had first requested Fox’s assistance in helping him procure lizard eggs in 1855 (Correspondence vol. 5, letters to W. D. Fox, 17 May [1855] and 23 May [1855]). CD wished to see whether they could withstand prolonged exposure to salt water to help explain the pattern of dispersal of lizards.
Of all the Leguminosae, the sweetpea (Lathyrus odoratus) presented CD with the greatest challenge to his hypothesis that all organic beings must occasionally cross-fertilise. See Natural selection, p. 70, for a discussion of the evidence for and against the possibility of cross-fertilisation in sweetpeas.
George Howard Darwin was attending Clapham Grammar School. See J. R. Moore 1977.
Alexander Stewart Herschel, son of John Frederick William Herschel, was also at Clapham Grammar School.
CD eventually went to Moor Park, a hydropathic establishment in Surrey, from 22 April until 6 May. CD and Emma’s daughter, Anne Elizabeth Darwin, had died at Gully’s hydropathic establishment in Malvern in 1851 (see Correspondence vol. 5).


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

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.]

Moore, James Richard. 1977. On the education of Darwin’s sons: the correspondence between Charles Darwin and the Reverend G. V. Reed, 1857–1864. Notes and Records of the Royal Society 32 (1977–8): 51–70.

Natural selection: Charles Darwin’s Natural selection: being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. Edited by R. C. Stauffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975.


Helix pomatia is quite healthy after 20 days’ submersion in salt water.

On peas, the evidence is on WDF’s side, but CD cannot see how they can avoid being crossed.

He is working hard, wishes he "could set less value on the bauble fame"; would work as hard, but with less gusto, if he knew his book would be published forever anonymously.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 101–2)
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2057,” accessed on 5 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 6