skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   [12 March 1837]

[43 Great Marlborough Street]

Sunday Evening

My dear Fox

It is a long time since I wrote to you, from Cambridge, but I was determined to wait till I was fairly settled, which however I can hardly say I am yet, but on Tuesday I go into lodgings, at Nor 36 Grt. Marlborought St. which I have taken for the year.—1 I am at present in my brothers house no 43.— It is very pleasant our being so near neighbours.— My residence at Cambridge was rather longer, than I expected, owing to a job, which I determined to finish there, namely looking over all my geological specimens was finished.— Cambridge yet continues a very pleasant, but not so half so merry a place as before.— To walk through the courts of Christ Coll: and not know an inhabitant of a single room gave one a feeling half melancholy.— The only evil I found in Cambridge, was its being too pleasant;2 there was some agreeable party or another every evening, and one cannot say one is engaged with so much impunity there as in this great city.— It is a sorrowful, but I fear too certain truth, that no place is at all equal, for aiding one in Natural History pursuits, to this odious dirty smokey town, where one can never get a glimpse, at all, that is best worth seeing in nature.—

In your last letter you urge me, to get ready the book. I am now hard at work and give up every thing else for it. Our plan is as follows.— Capt. FitzRoy writes two volumes, out of the materials collected during both the last voyage under Capt. King to T. del Fuego and during our circumnavigation.— I am to have the third volume, in which I intend giving a kind of journal of a naturalist, not following however always the order of time, but rather the order of position.— The habits of animals will occupy a large portion, sketches of the geology, the appearance of the country, and personal details will make the hodge-podge complete.— Afterwards I shall write an account of the geology in detail, and draw up some Zoological papers.— So that I have plenty of work, for the next year or two, and till that is finished I will have no holidays.— Do you recollect telling me, the new ostrich should be called “darwinii”. By an odd chance Mr Gould has actually so named it!—3 We are going to read a paper to the Zoological on Tuesday about it.—4

I hope you will pay London a visit this spring; surely you will be able to find some good excuse, some necessary business, which will oblige you to come up.— I trust MrsFox is pretty well.— My Father often makes enquiries through letters, and I have been ashamed lately, that I have been not been able to send any tidings.— I will not make any excuse about this letter being almost every word about myself, for I want you do the same, indeed, we have been so long separated, that there is not much else to do.— My good dear old brother lives the same life of tranquillity as usual. Going to Shrewsbury he considers a dreadful journey, only to be undertaken once a-year, and as far anything further, as altogether impossible.— He seems very well contented and happy, but for my own part, I would not care for a hundred years of life without a little more excitement. As for the good sisterhood at home, they remain, in statu quo, and long may they so remain.— You cannot imagine how gloriously delightful my first visit was to home. It was worth the banishment. How lucky I have been not to lose one near friend.

Good Bye, Dear Fox. | Yours affectionly, C Darwin


In the ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 2, Appendix II) CD states that he entered his lodgings in Great Marlborough Street, London on the 13th, but that entry was made retrospectively in August 1838 when he started the ‘Journal’; hence it is more likely to be mistaken than ‘Tuesday’ (the 14th).
Francis Darwin, in LL 1: 278–9, adds the following to his excerpt from this letter: A trifling record of my father’s presence in Cambridge occurs in the book kept in Christ’s College combination-room, where fines and bets were recorded, the earlier entries giving a curious impression of the after-dinner frame of mind of the fellows. The bets were not allowed to be made in money, but were, like the fines, paid in wine. The bet which my father made and lost is thus recorded:— Feb. 23, 1837.— Mr. Darwin v. Mr. Baines, that the combination-room measures from the ceiling to the floor more than (x) feet. 1 Bottle paid same day. “N.B. Mr. Darwin may measure at any part of the room he pleases.”
Rhea darwinii (a synonym of R. penata; see Birds, p. 123, Plate 47).
‘Notes upon the Rhea americana’, Collected papers 1: 38–40.


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

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

LL: The life and letters of Charles Darwin, including an autobiographical chapter. Edited by Francis Darwin. 3 vols. London: John Murray. 1887–8.


Finished going over his geological specimens at Cambridge, and is now in London.

Describes his plans for writing the journal, and later the geology and zoology of the Beagle voyage.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
London, Gt Marlborough St, 43
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 51)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 348,” accessed on 5 March 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 2