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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   30 November [1864]

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Nov— 30th.

My dear old Friend.—

I was glad to see your hand-writing.—1 The Copley being open to all sciences & all the world is reckoned a great honour,2 but excepting from several kind letters, such things make little difference to me. It shows, however, that Natural Selection is making some progress in this country & that pleases me. The subject, however, is safe in foreign lands

I am glad you are all well; but I never heard anything so awful as your sixteenth child!3 We are all fairly well, except my youngest Boy who is too invalidish for school,4 which is a great pity for he is about the cleverest of the lot.— As for myself, I fear I have reached my sticking point— I am very weak & continually knocked up, but able most days, to do from 2 to 3 hours work, & all my Doctors tell me this is good for me; & whether or no, it is the only thing which makes life endurable to me.—5 I am slowly crawling on in my vol. on “Variation under Domestication”6 occasionally recreating myself with a little Botanical work.—

Whenever you come to London, do be sure, if you can spare time, come here for a bit, for though I can see but little of anyone, I shd. very much enjoy shaking hands with you, my old & true friend. | Yours affecly | C. Darwin


CD was awarded the Copley Medal at the 3 November meeting of the Council of the Royal Society of London (Royal Society, Council minutes). The rules governing the award of the medal are described in Record of the Royal Society of London, pp. 112–13. See also Appendix IV.
Horace Darwin had been in poor health since 1862 (see Correspondence vols. 10 and 11, and this volume, letter to J. D. Hooker, [27 January 1864]).
See letter from W. D. Fox, 28 November [1864] and n. 3. CD had been treated by William Jenner since March. Between November 1863 and February 1864 he had consulted William Brinton. In his letter to J. D. Hooker, [13 November 1863] (Correspondence vol. 11), CD wrote ‘Dr. Brinton tells me that a little head-work not bad’.
CD resumed work on Variation in September 1864 (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 13 September [1864] and n. 17). He had not worked on the manuscript since July 1863 (see Correspondence vol. 11, Appendix II). Variation was published in 1868.


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

Record of the Royal Society of London: The record of the Royal Society of London for the promotion of natural knowledge. 4th edition. London: Royal Society. 1940.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


The Copley Medal is considered a great honour, but such things make little difference to CD, except for the several kind letters he received. It shows that natural selection is making some progress.

His health is poor.

Work is crawling on Variation;

occasional botany recreative.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
DE 1 64
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 145)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4685,” accessed on 2 March 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12