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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox    [15 July 1829]



My dear Fox

Many thanks for your letter, it was very good of you to write so soon, the reason of my writing now is not to fulfill my promise of a long letter, for that is, I am afraid impossible, but to tell you, that, yours & Pulleins birds skins are in my room. Mr. Aiken seemed to be rather troubled with the size of the Boxes, for indeed they quite filled his little room, so I believe he has one box, & I have two, (in one of which is the ring-Owzel), but I am sorry to say the Key is locked up in one of my drawers. But if you were to write to Impey, he could send the boxes (first getting them broken open & packed up by Mr Brett) to Osmaston— I am very sorry I have given so much trouble. But I did not think it fair to leave such Leviathan-like boxes in Mr. Aikens house.— I am also sorry to hear that some of your insects got loose. I thought I had packed them pretty tight:—

It is terrible news to me to hear that you have been idle in the good cause, but I hope soon that your zeal will be renewed. You will see my name in Stephens’ last number.1 I am glad of it if it is merely to spite Mr. Jenyns.— I shall like very much looking over all your insects again, & I think I shall be able to name a great number of the genus Colymbetes: I have a great number of insects at Cambridge for you, & you shall have the duplicates of every thing I take this summer. whenever I take any thing good, you may rely upon it, that you always are uppermost in my mind: I shall not soon forget my first entomological walks with you, & poor little Way: I cannot help often wishing to hear something about him.—

I have some thoughts of going for a week into Wales again this summer: would it be impossible for you to come here & then go on with me. We should do wonders amongst the Carabi.— I told Polo to collect, but I am afraid he will never do much more as an Entomologist he is grown far too idle. You had better try your hand at him, for I despair.— You shall receive before very long, the two Martens, and my Dundiver.—

Recollect what the sum of money is that I am indebted to you, as I do not keep account, but you pretend to do, so put it to the proof, and do not forget.—

I am going to Maer next week in order to Entomolog & shall stay there a week: for the rest of this summer I intend to lead a perfectly idle & wandering life, always taking care to have as little of home & as much of Woodhouse as possible. You see I am much in the same state that you are, with this difference you make good resolutions & never keep them. I never make them, so cannot keep them: It is all very well writing in this manner, but I must read for my little Go. Graham smiled & bowed so very civilly, when he told me that he was one of the six appointed to make the examination stricter, & that they were determined they would make it a very different thing from any previous examination that from all this, I am sure, it will be the very devil to pay amongst all idle men & Entomologists. Erasmus we expect home in a few weeks time; he intends passing next winter in Paris:—

Be sure you order the 2 lists of insects, published by Stephens, one printed on both sides, & the other, only on one. You will find them very useful in many points of view.

Dear old Fox, yours | C. Darwin


It is not clear to which number of Stephens 1827–46 CD refers. The 1 June 1829 number on Haustellata, vol. 2, has an entry (p. 200) ‘Graphiphora plecta“Cambridge”.— C. Darwin, Esq.’ The number dated 15 June 1829 of Mandibulata, vol. 2, Appendix (p. 194) lists 13 species of beetles reported by CD. The report of the moth, if it appeared early in June, would be the first time CD’s name appeared in print, but in the Autobiography, p. 63, where he writes of his delight at first seeing the magic words, “captured by C. Darwin, Esq.”, his memory is of beetle collecting. Unfortunately the ‘magic words’ do not help in making a clear decision about the date or the publication; they do not occur in either list, nor have they been found elsewhere in Illustrations of British entomology. A total of 35 species of insects, 34 of them beetles, are listed as taken by CD. (See also Freeman 1977, pp. 19–20.) Graphiphora plecta is a synonym of Ochropleura plecta, the flame shoulder.


Autobiography: The autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809–1882. With original omissions restored. Edited with appendix and notes by Nora Barlow. London: Collins. 1958.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.


Tells whereabouts of WDF’s remaining Cambridge possessions;

adds he has many insects for him. Can WDF join him for a week in Wales?

CD must read for his "Little Go" as the examination is being made more difficult.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
Shrewsbury JY 16 1829
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 18)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 68,” accessed on 2 October 2023,

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