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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   [7–11] March 1835


March 1835

My dear Fox

Our correspondence seems to have died a natural death or rather I will say an unnatural death. I believe I wrote last to you, but it was before I heard the news of your marriage. You have my most sincere congratulations, mixed however with some little envy: I hope you are now stronger in your health; & then I am sure you will be as happy as you well deserve to be. How changed every body & every thing will be by the time I return. You a married clergyman, ave maria, how strange it sounds to my ears. I wonder when I shall see you: If you continue to reside in the Isle of Wight perhaps it will be in Portsmouth. If a dirty little vessel, with her old rigging worn to shreds, comes into harbor September 1836 you may know it is the Beagle. You will find us a respectable set of old Gentlemen, with hardly a coat to our backs. This same returning to dear old England is a glorious prospect; I wish it was rather nearer; but it is sufficient to make up for a thousand vexations. Five years is a sadly too long period to leave ones relations & friends; all common ideas must be lost & one returns a stranger, where one least expects or wishes to be so.— I hope at least it will not happen with you & me.— I think the recollections of the snug breakfasts & pleasant rambles at Cambridge, will make us remember each other. You are one of the indirect causes of my coming on this voyage: by taking me as your dog in the grand chace of Crux Major you made me an Entomologist & introduced me to Henslow. I am very glad I have come on this expedition, but like a Sailor I have learnt to growl at all the details— What I shall ultimately do with myself—Quien Sabe? But it is very un-Sailor-like to think of the Future & so I have done.—

We leave for ever the coasts of America in the beginning of September, our route lies by the Galapagos, Marquesas, Society, Friendly Is, New Zealand (?), to Sydney. I hope, shortly after receiving this you will write to me at the latter place. I have heard nothing about you for a long time; excepting the one grand thing marriage; this certainly is a host in itself, but I should like to hear some more particulars, what doing, where living, & infuturity?— Can you drink to Hopes toast of “Entomologia floreat”. in one of your letters you told me you had been collecting Pselaphidæ. In the damp forests of Chiloe & Chonos Archepelago, I had the satisfaction of taking many small English genera: amongst them Pselaphus, Corticari’s, minute Staphylini, Phalacrus, Atomaria & Anaspis. (Remember the Fungi at Osmaston) &c &c & Elmis beneath a stone in a brook.—

Latterly however I have been paying more attention to Geology even to the neglect of marine Zoology. We are now making a passage from Concepcio⁠⟩⁠n: you will probably have seen in the Newspapers an account of the dreadful earthquake.1 We were at Valdivia at the time; the shock was not quite so strong there, but enough to be very interesting.— The ruins of Concepcion is a most awful spectacle of desolation. There absolutely is not one house standing.— I have thus had the satisfaction in this cruize both of seeing several Volcanoes & feeling their most terrible effects. It is certainly one of the very grandest phenomena to which this globe is subject.—

As soon as the Beagle reaches Valparaiso, I intend going on shore & shall reside there till 1st of June, when the Beagle will pick me up on her road to Guyaquil.— I am at present full of hope to be able to cross the Cordilleras & see the Pampas of Mendoza.— I am very anxious to connect the geology of the low country of Chili with the main range of the Andes.— I will keep this letter open for the chance of receiving one from you.— I should have written before sailing on the last cruize to the South; but I was very ill for 6 weeks & found all labor, even of writing too irksome. Farewell dear Fox. God bless you.— I hope you are both well & happy. | Your affectionate friend. | C. Darwin.—


CD described the earthquake at Concepción in his paper, read before the Geological Society in March 1838, ‘On the connexion of certain volcanic phenomena in South America’ (Collected papers 1: 53–86).


Collected papers: The collected papers of Charles Darwin. Edited by Paul H. Barrett. 2 vols. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1977.


Congratulates WDF on his marriage,

reminisces about Cambridge and early entomology. Now neglects entomology for geology.

Describes Concepción after earthquake.

Hopes to cross Cordilleras before they leave South America in September.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 47)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 270,” accessed on 10 December 2022,

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