skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   [3 November 1829]



My dear Fox

I am ashamed at not having written to you before, & more especially as Aiken gave me some very important messages to you, about Cocks & Hens,1 no less than ten days ago: Imprimis, there are two hatches: no mother: price of larger 3s each & of the lesser chickens 2"6. He is afraid you will think them very dear, but could not get them cheaper.—

I am sure you will be very sorry to hear, that my Father has been very ill, but is now I hope steadily but slowly getting better: The cause of his illness is a deep seated Erysipelus in his neck, attended with great deal of Fever. I am afraid he has undergone a great deal of suffering: & that it will be some time before he quite recovers the effect of it. I should have gone down to Shrewsbury, only that his Medical attendants particularly insisted that he should be kept as quiet as possible: My sisters appear to have been terribly alarmed, as I suppose on Wednesday he was in imminent danger.—

Erasmus has been staying here for a few days, & we passed the time very pleasantly chiefly in the Fitzwilliam2 & he would have stayed some time longer, only that he went to London, in order to be in readiness to go down to Shrewsbury if my Father should be worse: None of the Cam: Entomologists have done anything to speak of, but I am going to Bottisham to see Mr. Jenyns cabinet, & I believe he is coming to see mine: Professor Henslows3 parties go on very well. the last was the pleasantest I was ever at:

I have been very idle since I have come up, but have had some good hunting: Rob⁠⟨⁠in⁠⟩⁠son has been riding to th⁠⟨⁠e⁠⟩⁠ ad⁠⟨⁠mir⁠⟩⁠at⁠⟨⁠ion⁠⟩⁠ ⁠⟨⁠of⁠⟩⁠ every body. I think he is the best rid⁠⟨⁠er⁠⟩⁠ I ever saw.—

I am very sorry that you are so undecided as to when you will come up to Cambridge. I do hope it will eventually take place. I shall go down very early in order to see my Father.—& return early in the next Term to read for my little Go.

Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin


Fox was apparently starting to work on animal breeding, which later became an important subject of CD’s correspondence with him.
Richard, 7th Viscount Fitzwilliam, had bequeathed his collection of pictures, books, and illuminated manuscripts to the University, together with £100,000 for a building. The collection, to which other donations were added, was temporarily housed in the old Free School in Free School Lane. The present Fitzwilliam Museum building was begun in 1837.
John Stevens Henslow had been appointed to the Chair of Botany in 1825 (see Winstanley 1940, pp. 39–40), and was by this time one of the most influential professors in the University. As CD’s friend and mentor in natural history, Henslow was the most important influence in CD’s early scientific development.


Winstanley, Denys Arthur. 1940. Early Victorian Cambridge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


CD’s father has been very ill, but is now slowly improving.

Writes of Leonard Jenyns’ cabinet and J. S. Henslow’s parties.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
Cambridge NO 3 1829
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 24)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 74,” accessed on 22 July 2024,

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