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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   [25 January 1841]

12 Upper Gower St


My dear Fox

It is a long time since we have had any communication,— I daresay you will be glad to hear how I am going on, & I wish to hear of Mrs. Fox and yourself.— My strength is gradually, with a good many oscillations, increasing; so that I have been able to work an hour or two several days in the week— I have at last to my great joy sent the last page of M.S. of the Bird Part to the printer.—1 I am forced to live, however, very quietly and am able to see scarcely anybody & cannot even talk long with my nearest relations. I was at one time in despair & expected to pass my whole life as a miserable useless valetudinarian but I have now better hopes of myself— You see I treat you, like a very old good friend, as you have always been to me, & write at great length about my own poor carcase.

As for news of any kind, I am not in the way to give any to any body— We have the pleasure, at present, of a visit from Susan, who is in a very flourishing state of health, which for a Darwin is something wonderful.—but I will say nothing more about health, & as a consequence I must say nothing more about any of my Family— I will just add that Emma expects to be confined in March2 —a period I most devoutly wish over— Our little boy is a noble fat little fellow & my Father has christened him Sir Tunberry Clumsy.—3

Pray let me hear soon how you are all going on.— I hope this very severe winter has not much affected Mrs. Fox and that your lungs have stood it pretty well.— My dear old friend you have much to support.

Yours affectionly | Ch. Darwin

PS. | If you attend at all to Nat. Hist—I send you this P.S. as a memento, that I continue to collect all kinds of facts, about “Varieties & Species” for my some-day work to be so entitled—the smallest contributions, thankfully accepted—descriptions of offspring of all crosses between all domestic birds & animals dogs, cats &c &c very valuable— Dont forget, if your half-bred African Cat should die, that I should be very much obliged, for its carcase sent up in little hamper for skeleton.— it or any cross-bred pidgeon, fowl, duck, &c &c will be more acceptable than the finest haunch of Venison or the finest turtle.— Perhaps all this will only bothers you— So I will add no more, except, should you ever have opportunity when in Derbyshire, do enquire for me, from some person you told me of whether offspring of male muscovy & female common duck, resembles offspring of female muscovy & male common— How many hybrid eggs are produced.—

P.S. | I enclose a Pamphlet on Oaths by Hensleigh Wedgwood.—4 Should any fitting occasion happen, would you object to ask Sir. P. Egerton to look over it.— Hensleigh is very anxious for as many M.P: as possible, to consider the subject.—5


The final number of Birds was published in March 1841.
Anne Elizabeth Darwin was born on 2 March 1841.
Sir Tunbelly Clumsy is a character in two plays: John Vanbrugh’s The relapse (1696) and Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s A trip to Scarborough (1777) (Oxford companion to English literature).
Wedgwood had conscientious objections to oaths he considered unnecessary and had resigned a position as police magistrate rather than administer them (see Correspondence vol. 1, letters from Catherine Darwin, 27 November 1833; from Caroline Darwin, 30 December [1833] – 3 January 1834; letter to W. D. Fox, [11 December 1837], and Emma Darwin (1915) 1: 257–8, 285–6).
Fox then lived in Northwich, Cheshire. Sir Philip de Malpas Grey Egerton, who lived about 10 miles away at Oulton Park, Tarporley, represented south Cheshire in Parliament.


Birds: Pt 3 of The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle. By John Gould. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder and Co. 1839–41.

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

Emma Darwin (1915): Emma Darwin: a century of family letters, 1792–1896. Edited by Henrietta Litchfield. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1915.

Oxford companion to English literature. Compiled and edited by Sir Paul Harvey. 4th ed., revised by Dorothy Eagle. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1967.


Birds has gone to the printer.

Continues "to collect all kinds of facts about ""varieties and species"" " for his "some-day work".

Would be grateful for descriptions of offspring of crossbred domestic animals.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
London, Upper Gower St, 12
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 59)
Physical description
ALS 9pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 586,” accessed on 21 May 2024,

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