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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   [9 December 1842]

Down near Bromley | Kent


My dear Fox

It is a long time since we have had any communication. They forwarded to me from Shrewsbury your note of enquiry about all of us.— I by this heard of your return & I have since quite lately heard of your travelling with my cousin Eliza Wedgwood in the Railway, accompanied by your two very pretty little girls. I was very glad to hear, that you were looking pretty well— you will hardly believe yourself how very bad you looked when I last saw you in Gower St. What a great tour you have taken; I hope you have enjoyed it to a certain extent; under other circumstances, I should think travelling wd just suit your activity of mind & body— I should like to hear a little more of your proceedings & what struck you most.— I always feel more inclination for Switzerland, than any other part.— It is very hard that I should never have, as Erasmus says I never have been, abroad. We like our new purchase of this place very well: it is not perfection, but there will always be drawbacks about every place. It is very retired, indeed I do not think I ever walked in so retired a country, hardly excepting those great grass fields on the road to Whittlesea meer, from the Inn, in which we slept one famous night.— our house lies high on the chalk—is good, largish & was cheap.— there is one fine view, but the country is rather dreary & what is worse very slippery from the thin bed of clay, which every where overlies the chalk.— Our removal has answered very well; our two little souls are better & happier1 —which likewise applies to me & to my good old wife.— I wonder when will you come & see us— if ever you are in town & can possibly spare a few days I charge you to let us know & you can be here in about 2 hours from London Bridge.—

I attend the councils at the Geolog. Soc. (where by the way we have lately had a fracas, about Charlsworth the late Editor of the Journal of Nat Hist.—who was rejected as candidate for poor Lonsdale’s place (who has retired from ill-health) on account of ill-temper and consequently Mr Charlsworth got a special meeting up to call us of the council over the coals—but he burnt his own fingers—for the meeting of a hundred & odd members, with not one dissentient voice—voted the council “their grateful thanks”. I hope by going up to town for a night every fortnight or 3 weeks to keep up my communication with scientific men, & my own Zeal, & so not to turn into complete Kentish Hog—

I am now preparing a very thin volume or pamphlet on the volcanic islands visited by the Beagle— it forms a second Part to the First on coral Reefs, now published.—

You will have heard in what a lamentable state of health, Emma’s father is sunk into. It is melancholy what a changed house Maer is; within a few years there was always a large party there, full of intelligence & activity, & now all are scattered, except Elizabeth Wedgwood, & both Mr & Mrs Wedgwood are bed-ridden & enfeebled in mind & body. My Father keeps pretty well; but his powers of movement fail him.—

I trust Mr & Mrs. Fox are well & all your family.— if any of your sisters are staying with you pray remember me to them, & believe me my dear Fox | Most truly yours | C. Darwin


Their third child, Mary Eleanor Darwin had died on 16 October 1842.


CD likes Down House, describes countryside.

Tells of Edward Charlesworth fracas at Geological Society.

Is at work on Volcanic islands.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 64)
Physical description
ALS 7pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 654,” accessed on 9 June 2023,

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