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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox    [15 March 1829]


My dear Fox

I am afraid if you judge from the time I take in answering your letters you will think I am not very impatient to receive them. Your last letter however was at no time more acceptable to me, as our correspondence, through the Porters stupidity had nearly come to an untimely end;—

I am much grieved to find how likely it is my prophecy will be verified, & am still more so to hear the cause. I hope however by this time that Mrs. Bristoe1 is quite recovered.— I am glad to hear that you are reading divinity: I should like to know what books you are reading, & your opinions about them; you need not be afraid of preaching to me prematurely.—

J. Price is reading very hard on the same subject, & seems to find it no ordinary labour.— I suppose you have heard by this time both from Holden & Pulleine: the latter, as you will perceive is half mad with joy: I saw him the next morning & he literally could not sit still in any posture for five minutes together.— I am anxious to hear how you like Clifton, & what you are doing there? I suppose your unsettled life will prevent you doing much of anything, & amongst the rest of Entomology: I had such a dose of “the Science” in London; that I have hardly recovered from it even to this time: this sort of scientific seediness after a nights debauch joined with Mss. Polo & Habours2 idleness, has, at present, entirely put a stop to my Entomological proceedings: I am leading a quiet every-day sort of a life; a little of Gibbons history in the morning & a good deal of Van. John,3 in the evening this with an occasional ride with Simcox4 & constitutional with Whitley, makes up the regular routine of my days.—

I see good deal both of Herbert & Whitley, & the more I see of them, increases every day the respect I have for their excellent understandings & dispositions. They have been giving some very gay parties—nearly sixty men there both evenings.— You ask me about the money? I know no more than the man in the moon what the sum is, indeed, I had entirely forgotten all about it till I received your letter. I thought I had occasionally heard you mention the regularity with which you keep your accounts. I must confess, their utility is most striking.—

I have paid Clayton5 for the memorable Swan. After all it was hardly kept long enough: it was pretty good, but tasted like neither flesh nor fowl, but something half way, like Venison with Wild Duck— Have you heard anything more of the old sinner the incumbent, not that I exactly understand how his not paying for dilapidation influences you, as if I understood right, you were to live in a farm house situated some miles from any other human habitation. I hope you will write soon, & give me an account of all your “outgoings” & “incomings”.—

Give my most kind respects to Mrs. Fox & the rest of your family & believe me my dear old Fox, yours most sincerely | C. Darwin

Recollect: that Deo Volente whether your Parsonage boast of a roof or not I shall pay you a visit this summer. *S 2

Sunday Evening


Mary Ann Bristowe, Fox’s older sister.
Messrs Polo and Harbours sold specimens of insects to undergraduate entomologists (see letters to W. D. Fox, 1 April [1829] and [10 April 1829]). Polo was a apparently a nickname. In an anecdote about his father, George Darwin says: ‘Amongst his Cambridge expeditions I remember his speaking of going down to the fens … with a sporting sort of guide who went by the name of Marco Polo, because he carried a leaping pole with a flat board fastened at the bottom for leaping the ditches’ (DAR 112 (ser. 2): 17). ]
A corruption of ‘vingt-et-un’, the popular card game.
No Simcox is listed in Alum. Cantab. or in the Cambridge University calendar. Possibly a familiar name for George Simpson (see letters to W. D. Fox, [18 May 1829], ‘Simpson’, [3 January 1830], ‘old Simpcox’).
Robert Clayton, Cambridge fishmonger and wild-fowl dealer.


Alum. Cantab.: Alumni Cantabrigienses. A biographical list of all known students, graduates and holders of office at the University of Cambridge, from the earliest times to 1900. Compiled by John Venn and J. A. Venn. 10 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1922–54.

Cambridge University calendar: The Cambridge University calendar. Cambridge: W. Page [and others]. 1796–1950.


His routine days at Cambridge.

Entomology stopped for the present.

His reading, gambling, and parties. News of Cambridge friends.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
Cambridge 1829; C 17 MR 17 1829
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 10)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 59,” accessed on 4 June 2023,

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