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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox    [19 August 1828]


Tuesday Evening

My dear old Fox

How very unfortunate it was that our letters crossed on the road, more especially as mine contained such very severe remarks. I should indeed be most ungrateful, if after reading your letter, I did not repent of them. To give the devil his due, I must say you are, (excepting always punctuality) a perfect pattern for a correspondent. You answer so distinctly & satisfactorily all one’s question’s. You see I am already beginning to harp on Entomology.— But before that I must thank you for your most kind invitation to Osmaston1 for the Music Meeting. I shall be extremely happy to come, my only difficulty at present is how to get there as on the 7th I shall be in remote part of Staffordshire. Talking of that, upon my soul it is only about a fortnight to the first. And then if there is bliss on earth that is it.—2

I suppose the Music Meeting will be very glorious as this will be my first, but I must say I expect much greater pleasure in seeing you, & all your beasts, & last, but not least all the insects.— I suppose I had better bring my gun as I hope we shall have one or two shots together.—

Looking over some insects the other day I found one of my quondam-Nebris, & eheu eheu I believe it turns out to be a (Nosodendrum of Lam:) as what I thought were the Palpi, I now believe to be very short thick Antennæ. Your description however agrees pretty well.— I have taken both varieties of the Pine destroyer.— Since I wrote, have taken a dirty-purple coloured Cicindela, with squarish white markings, is it Sylvatica? Also, a most splendid Elater not Buprestis, by Marsham3 I make it out clearly to be the Cyaneus, but he gives no references, from which I infer it v⁠⟨⁠ery r⁠⟩⁠are. Elytra & thorax metallic purple blu⁠⟨⁠e,⁠⟩⁠ abdomen greenish blue, legs yellow, taken at a great altitude.—

I hope, if you can, that you will answer this letter directly, as on the 27th. I leave for Shrewsbury, direct Post Office Barmouth: Look over my former letters, & answer my Entomolo: questions. It is quite absurd how interested I am getting about the science.— The great black Carabus, considerably bigger than Violaceus which I mentioned in former letter was taken at great altitude.—

I am going to mention a few insects, which are very doubtful.— 2 most beautiful insects, Cryptocephalus sericeus, & Lebia Cyanocephalus, a Cara- bidæ.— allso, a Bembidion, (Littorale). 3 sorts of dung beettles like the Vaccæ.— a beautiful, square built Donacia, &c &c &c &c. I mean to take all my insects to Cambridge, & then you will see all these wonders.—

Give me some instructions about keeping Crysalises, as I possess some of ditto.— I have got so much to say & so much to see at Osmaston that it will be God’s Mercy if I go away alive. nevertheless I much hope for the experiment to be tried A part of your letter has given me a Panic, you say you do not know when you shall return to Cambridge I most sincerely hope it only means at what time in October I should be quite lost without my good old Entomological Tutor.—

I have been abusing you for unpunctuality when I forget you might apply the argumentum ad hominem. The reason I delayed answering is that I have been on an expedition for a few days. For you must know that I am become a “Brother of the Angle” under the superintendence of Mr Slaney4 (MP. for our town of Shrewsbury), who pronounces me a very flourishing Pupil.—

Do write soon, & believe me, dear Fox | Yours most sincerely | Chas Darwin

I need not tell you to mention to your Father how very much obliged I am for his kind invitation, & how happy I shall be to accept it.—

Perhaps you had better direct to Shrewsbury as there is hardly time to receive a letter before the 27th.


Osmaston Hall, near Derby, was the Fox family home.
A reference to the start of the shooting season (see LL 1: 167).
Marsham 1802. Volume one is in Darwin Library–CUL.


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

Marsham, Thomas. 1802. Coleoptera britannica, sistens insecta Coleoptera britanniae indigena. Vol. 1. London.


Accepts invitation to a Music Meeting at Osmaston, Derbyshire.

Entomological news and queries.

Has taken up angling.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
Barmouth 223
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 4)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 46,” accessed on 1 June 2023,

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