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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   15 December [1836]


December 15

My dear Fox

It is now sometime since I wrote to you at Ryde, since that time, I have been living a life of busy enjoyment, but now, at last, I see (at least) a short prospect of quiet tranquillity.

I am at present staying in Henslow’s house,1 (which by the bye, must be new since you were in Cambridge) it is not very large, but very comfortable. Henslow and Mrs Henslow are so kind and affectionate, that I quite feel to them as to my nearest relations. Their comfortable ways of life however do not suit hard work, and, in consequence, tomorrow I migrate into solitary lodgings in Fitz William St. (not far from where Hoare lived). In the mornings I have to arrange my specimens into groups, and to examine all of the geological fragments one by one, which will be a most tedious task, and in the evenings, I shall write. As it is now Christmas vacation I hope to extract a good many solid hours out of each day.— I do not think excepting Henslow, that we have one single friend in common, now at the university.— It appears to me, most strange to stand in the court of Christ, and not to know one undergraduate: It was however some kind of satisfaction to find all the old “gyps”.— John Dowly enquired much after you, as did some others.—

After packing up all my goods on board the Beagle, I went to Maer, where I staid two most uncommonly pleasant days. I found Mr Wedgwood much aged, perhaps more changed, than any other individual. as for poor Aunt Bessy, she is only the wreck of her former self.— With all these changes, and the absence of Mrs Langton, yet the family party was most agreeable.— I returned home with Caroline, and staid at Shrewsbury about a fortnight.— My time was most grievously destroyed by visits to stupid people, who neither cared for me, nor I for them. My father told me, next time I wrote, to remember him most kindly to Mrs Fox and yourself—and to say how very anxious he always is to hear how you are going on.— I do hope, when you write, you will be able to send good accounts. My direction for the next month will be Christ Coll: after that period or a little later, I fear I again shall be compelled to change my place of residence to London.— This will be necessary if Capt Fitz Roy & myself publish any joint stock concern, and indeed it will be necessary for all zoological information.—

To complete my annals; from Shrewsbury I went to London, where I staid a week with my good dear old brother Erasmus, and the day before yesterday arrived here.— Whilst in London I disposed of the most important part of my collections, by giving all the fossil bones to the College of Surgeons.— Casts of them will be distributed, and descriptions published.— They are very curious and valuable: one head belonged to some gnawing animal, but of the size of a Hippopotamus! another to an Ant-Eater of the size of a horse!—

When shall we ever meet. I cannot really spare time at present to go to the Isle of Wight. Already several people have attacked me, for not having sooner commenced.— And it is out of the question your taking the trouble of crossing so many miles of country, and leaving Mrs. Fox. I do not see any earlier prospect than the summer, without some good accidental circumstance should draw you up to town. But pray write to me; though we may not meet, let tell to each other our respective annals. I truly hope your next annals will be good and comfortable ones.—

Good Night. I am alone Henslow and Madam having gone to a Ball which I shirked. | Yours ever most truly | C. D.


CD had arrived in Cambridge on the 13th. That afternoon, Joseph Romilly recorded in his diary, ‘Drank tea with Mrs Henslow to meet Marchesa &c: here also I met Mr Darwin (g.s. of Botc Garden) who is just returned from his travels round the world: he declares that in “terra del fuego” whenever a scarcity occurs (wch is every 5 or 6 years) they kill the old women as the most useless living creatures: in conseq. when a famine begins the old women run away into the woods & many of them perish miserably’ (Romilly 1967, p. 110).


Romilly, Joseph. 1967. Romilly’s Cambridge diary 1832–42. Selected passages from the diary of the Reverend Joseph Romilly, fellow of Trinity College and registrary of the University of Cambridge. Chosen, introduced and annotated by J. P. T. Bury. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Informs WDF of his activities since the Beagle landed.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
Cambridge DE 16 1836
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 50)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 327,” accessed on 25 July 2024,

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