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Darwin Correspondence Project

From WD. Fox   11 June [1858]1


June 11

My dear Darwin

I have never thanked you for the loan of Dr Lanes little Book which I liked much, & will return soon.2 I am so glad you have a place of retreat to flee to when you get unbearably unwell, but I think you a very bad Husband & Father to let yourself get into such a state.

I have two little lots of Turkeys ready to try your experiment.3 They have been kept in a room & never seen any thing to alarm them. I hope to tell you the result of the trial at end of this. By way of a little example upon same subject. I hatched some Call Ducks under a hen & they were not wilder than other young Ducks are.

Soon after a wild Duck hatched some eggs (of the same Parents) and I never saw any little wretches so wild from the moment they were out of shell. They were just as real wild ducks young are—as wild as possible—& this before they even were out of the nest, which was in the common Hen house.— Now this must have been caused by the Wild Ducks notes of alarm stimulating their organ of caution. The eggs were the same in both instances. Another sitting under Call-Ducks were quite tame

I have this week been paying a visit to Worsley at Platt.4 He married one of Sir F Darwins daughters, & I there met Mrs Wilmot, Violetta, & Millicent. 5

Did you ever hear the history of our old friend Tiger (at Sydnope when we were there)6 getting loose & biting off a great part of a Sows cheek?— She was in pig, & all her little ones were deficient in one cheek. Mrs Wilmot said she remembered the fact perfectly—& when the pigs were grown up & salted, she could remember Sir Francis shewing the deficient cheek at Table.

I shall probably be in Town next week. If I can get away for a night I will write you word & offer myself possibly abt 5 or 6th. 7

Ever yours W D Fox

CD annotations

crossed pencil
3.0 (of the same Parents)] underl pencil
3.0 instances] quotation marks added, pencil
crossed ink
5.1 Did you] square bracket added before, ink
crossed pencil
Top of letter: ‘Instinct’8 added pencil


Dated by the relationship to the letter to WD. Fox, 27 [June 1858].
Lane 1857. CD had sent Fox a copy earlier in the year. See letter to WD. Fox, 8 May [1858].
Fox intended to frighten the turkey chicks with a paper kite. See letters to WD. Fox,31 January [1858], 22 February [1858], and 28 February [1858].
Charles Carill Worsley resided at Platt Hall, near Manchester in Lancashire.
Mary Jane Darwin, a daughter of Frances Sacheverel Darwin, had married C. C. Worsley in 1840. Fox refers also to her sisters Emma Elizabeth Wilmot, Violetta Harriot Darwin, and Millicent Susan Darwin. The Wilmot family had purchased Osmaston Hall, Fox’s childhood home, from Fox’s parents.
Syndope Hall, near Matlock in Derbyshire, was the seat of F. S. Darwin. See letter to WD. Fox, 31 January [1858] and n. 9.
The final paragraph was added at the top of the first page of the letter and it is not clear whether the letter is complete. Fox presumably means 15 or 16 June. There is no record of a vist by him to Down in Emma Darwin’s diary.
CD’s portfolio of notes marked ‘Instinct’ was used in the preparation of chapter 10 of his species book, ‘Mental powers and instincts of animals’. Although CD completed writing this chapter in March 1858 (see ‘Journal’; Appendix II), he continued to add notes to the portfolio for future consultation.


Discusses instinct in ducks and turkeys.

Reports a case of the inheritance of an acquired characteristic in a pig.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Darwin Fox
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 164: 194
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7815,” accessed on 28 July 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7