skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   [16 November 1859]

Wells Terrace | Ilkley, Otley | Yorkshire


My dear Fox.

I daresay you would like to hear about me, & I want to hear about you. Did you go to Malvern, & how is the place in your head?— I doubt whether Dr Smith would have suited you: they all say he is very careful in bad illness; but he constantly gives me impression, as if he cared very much for the Fee & very little for the patient.—1 I like the place very much, & the children have enjoyed it much & it has done my wife good; it did Etty good at first, but she has gone back again.— I have had a series of calamities; first a sprained ancle, & then badly swollen whole leg & face; much rash & a frightful sucession of Boils—4 or 5 at once. I have felt quite ill—& have little faith in this “unique crisis” as the Doctor calls it, doing me much good.2 I cannot now walk a step from bad boil on knee. We have been here above 6 week, & I feel worse than when I came; so that I am not in cheerful frame of mind.

So poor old Sir Francis is gone: I never saw him but once, on our to me memorable & pleasant visit to Sydnope.3 The Cromptons are here, & they know well all of you, & are, as they say, connected with you.— Poor Mr Crompton who has just lost his wife, is here, & the old Lady who seems very nice: I have not seen the invalid daughter.4 I find that Mr. Rhoades Darwin lives about 10 miles off, near Arthington Stn. at a very nice place—5 I shd. like to call there, but shall not have strength or spirits. We shall stay about a fortnight longer here; & possibly though not probably I may stay a week or so still longer in Establishment; but it will depend on how I feel.—

You will probably have received, or will very soon receive my weariful book on Species. I naturally believe it mainly includes the truth, but you will not at all agree with me.— Dr. Hooker, whom I consider one of best judges in Europe, is complete convert, & he thinks Lyell is likewise.6 Certainly, judging from Lyells letters to me on subject, he is deeply staggered.—

Farewell. If the spirit moves you let me have a line | Yours affectionately | C. Darwin


Edmund Smith was the proprietor of the Ilkley Wells hydropathic establishment.
CD had suffered his ‘crisis’ at the end of October. See letters to Charles Lyell, 25 October [1859], and to J. D. Hooker, [27 October or 3 November 1859].
Francis Sacheverel Darwin died on 6 November 1859 (Darwin pedigree). CD refers to the occasion when he and Fox visited F. S. Darwin at Sydnope Hall, Derbyshire. See letter to W. D. Fox, 31 January [1858], and Correspondence vol. 1, letter to W. D. Fox [1 April 1830].
CD may be referring to John Gilbert Crompton of the Flower Lilies, Windley, Derbyshire. His wife, Millicent Ursula Crompton, had died on 4 October 1859 (Gentleman’s Magazine n.s. 7, 2 (1859): 544).
Francis Rhodes, who took the surname Darwin in 1850 under the terms of the will of his brother-in-law Robert Alvey Darwin, lived at Creskeld Hall, Poole, Yorkshire (Darwin pedigree). Arthington is a village east of Otley.


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.]


News of his health and the water-cure establishment.

[Origin] "my weariful book on Species" has been sent to WDF, who will not agree with it. Hooker is a convert, and Lyell is "staggered".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 124)
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2533,” accessed on 4 October 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7