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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox    [10 April 1829]



My dear Fox

The very day I received your letter, I had given up all hopes of receiving one, & had written to you again at Clifton, in order to receive some account of all your proceedings: I suppose, as you are now at Bath, you will not have the pleasure of receiving it: that will not however be a very serious loss to you: as it contained nothing that might not as well have been left unsaid, excepting the old burthen of all my letters, that I wished to hear what you are doing.—

I have been in such a perfect & absolute state of idleness, that it is enough to paralyze all ones faculties; riding & walking in the morning, gambling at Van John to a most disgusting extent in the evenings, compose the elegant & instructive routine of my life. Lord help me, with this basis, how is it likely that I should be able to write a letter: for six weeks past have I been intending daily to write to my injured brother, & I cannot screw my courage to the sticking point, & so you ought to be much flattered at my writing at all to you. Therefore you must take the intention for the deed, & excuse my abominably stupid scrawls: Markham has not sold Sappho accordingly I have given her to him: There are no letters for you: Pullein wrote to you at Clifton & wants an answer, direct Rev. Dr. Burrows, no 30 Fitzroy Sqr. London where he is going to reside for 6 months in order to read divinity: The only thing that is talked about in Cambridge, is little Go, which has been unusually strict. most men are in the first class, except Woodyeare, but a wonderfull number were called in a second time:

Your friend Mr. Wale, the proctor, was most gloriously hissed, & pelted with mud:1 he was driven so furious that even his own gyp dared not go near him for an hour.—

I shall go up to Town for a few days with old Whitley next week, & I wish I could afford to put your very pleasant scheme into execution. But all my allowance is spent, & 2 Tutors bills may be expected.—in due time.— I think it is probable that you may see Wilmer2 there sometime this Easter Vacation.— Polo has not brought me many insects lately, but the Pieman has brought me a great many, inter alia Chlænius holoriseus.—3 I am sadly in want of somebody to entomologize with. I wish A. Way was here. Holland saw him in Switzerland from whence he was going into Italy. Who do you think walked into my room the other day? Our old Irish friend, dressed most respectably, he said Mr. Wynne’s father had not helped him but that he had got into a very good place at Oxford, & was on his way to Ireland. he said he had written to you, he appeared very grateful & begged me most particularly to express his thanks to you: I do not think we have often spent a small sum of money more usefully:

Chapman tells me that he intends writing to you very soon: I cannot compre- hend your plans. Whose Curacy is it you wish to get?

I am very sorry to hear that Mrs Fox has been unwell, but I most sincerely hope she will soon be recovered

Yours most affectionately | C. Darwin


Alexander Malcolm Wale. ‘In Apr. 1829 he was mobbed by undergraduates who pursued him from the Senate House to the gates of St John’s, hissing and groaning, and though some of the offenders were summoned before the Vice-Chancellor’s Court, the Proctors were not satisfied and sent in their resignations’ (Alum. Cantab.).
Chlaenius holosericeus, a synonym of Chlaenius tristis subsp. tristis, is the black night-runner.


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.


Has been in "a perfect and absolute state of idleness", riding and walking in the morning, gambling at Van John [vingt-et-un] in the evening.

"Little Go" has been unusually strict.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
Cambridge ⁠⟨⁠A⁠⟩⁠P 11 ⁠⟨⁠1829⁠⟩⁠; C 13 AP 13 1829
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 12)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 61,” accessed on 2 October 2023,

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