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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox1   12 [June 1828]

Friday 12th2

My dear Fox

I am dying by inches, from not having any body to talk to about insects:—my only reason for writing, is to remove a heavy weight from my mind, so now you must understand, what you will perceive before you come to the end of this; that I am writing merely for my own pleasure & not your’s.— I have been very idle since I left Cambridge in every possible way & amongst the rest in Entomology. I have however captured a few insects, about which I am much interested: My sister has made rough drawings of three of them: I. fig: is I am nearly sure, the same insect as H⁠⟨⁠oa⁠⟩⁠r,3 of Queens took in a Willow tree, & which Garland4 did not know. I took [it] under the bark of a rail, was very active, striking looking insect, took 3 specimens   I think this is an admirable prize

II. fig: is an extremely common insect; of the family of scarabidæ. Do you know it’s name?—

III. fig: A most beautiful Leptura (?) very like the Quadrifasciata, only the body is of the same size thoughout.— I tell you all these particulars, as I am anxious to know something about these little g⁠⟨⁠  ⁠⟩⁠s.— I was not fully aware of your extreme value before I left Cambridge. I am constantly saying “I do wish Fox was here”.— And I again say, I hope you will come & pay me visit before the summer is over— My Father desired me to say, that he should be at anytime most happy to see you.—

I have taken 3 species of Coccinellæ, one, the same as Hoar took in the Fens, which you said was rare, & another with 7 white! marks on each elytron.— I will mention, as I believe you are interested about it, that I have seen the Cocc: bipunctata (or dispar) 4 or 5 in actu coitus with a black one with 4 red marks (I believe most of the black ones you have got have ⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠ marks, & hence I suppose a different species) also, which is very singular, I have frequently seen two of the bipunctata’s in actu.— I Have taken Clivina Collaris, fig ⁠⟨⁠3⁠⟩⁠ Plate III of Stephens;5 also a beautiful copper-coloured Elater (with Antennæ pectin⁠⟨⁠ate⁠⟩⁠ diagram like this. Do you want any of the Byrrhus Pillula? I can get any number.—

My dear Fox I must again beg your pardon for sending such a very selfish stupid letter: but remember I am your pupil, so you must forgive me.— I hope you will write to me soon, & tell me every thing you have been doing, & more particularly how you are in health, as to your eyes, & body.— How was poor little Fan: how was No 16!? what do you intend doing this summer? in short write me a good long letter about yourself & all other insects: My plans remain the same as formerly. I am going to Barmouth6 for two months.— If you have not written to my brother, write to him before the 22d. & direct, Poste Restante, Munich I hope you will be able to send me a better account of Miss Fox, when you write; tell me whether you intend going to Tenby?

I should not send this very shamefully stupid letter, only I am very anxious to get some crumbs of information about yourself & the insects.

Believe me my dear Fox | Yours most sincerely | Charles Darwin


of a fine bluish black colour, but is not so broad as made in this drawing rather lighter coloured & more metallic the legs are left out.— this is a very good representation
diagram diagram diagram

I. fig is more like a Pyrochroa or a very narrow Blaps than any thing I can compare it to.—

I.I. fig: be sure to give me the name of this insect


CD’s second cousin and his ‘entomological tutor’ during CD’s first year at Cambridge. Fox’s mother, Ann, was the daughter of Dr Erasmus Darwin’s brother, William Alvey Darwin.
Friday was the 13th.
The middle letters of the name are obliterated by a blot. It is likely that CD wrote ‘Hoar’ (see below in letter), but he probably refers to William Strong Hore, who was an undergraduate at Queens’ College 1826–30. Letters to W. D. Fox, [7 January 1829] and [25–9 January 1829] give support to this possibility. In both, CD asks to be remembered to ‘Hore’.
Stephens 1827–46. Clivina collaris is listed in Mandibulata 1: 40, plate iii, fig. 3.
On Cardigan Bay, Gwynedd, North Wales. CD spent the summer on a reading tour with some undergraduate friends and George Ash Butterton, of St John’s College, a private tutor in mathematics (see LL 1: 166, which quotes a letter of reminiscences from John Maurice Herbert to Francis Darwin, now in DAR 112).


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

Stephens, James Francis. 1828–46. Illustrations of British entomology; or, a synopsis of indigenous insects: containing their generic and specific distinctions. 11 vols. and supplement. London: Baldwin and Cradock.


Account of insects he has collected, with figures drawn by sister.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
Shrewsbury JU 13 1828 153
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 1)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 42,” accessed on 17 September 2023,

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