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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   [1 April 1830]



My dear Fox

I should have answered your letter sooner than this, only that for the few last days I have been very busy in taking sundry long walks: The information your letter contained about Erasmus, settled my plans & I immediately made up my mind to remain here during the whole vacation. And I have since heard from Mr. Hope, who is staying at Southend, that he should not return to London for some weeks, so that there is not a single inducement for me to leave Cambridge: Here then I shall patiently vegetate living in the hope of soon seeing you:

If it had but been possible for you to have come up here during this Vacation, how very snug & quiet we should have been, but in another respect, vid: Entomology, it is better as it is, as this cold & rainy weather has driven all the beetles back to their homes.—

Do continue steadily to try to start for Cambridge, before the end of this month, for if you have many more delays, all the time will slip by. Let me hear from you some little time before you come; And I most fervently hope that time is near.— but there is no use in hoping, as I am sure, if you find it possible, we shall meet before the end of the month.—

I suppose you do not know much more of your plans for the summer, than youdo of those for the spring. Mr. Bristow told Erasmus that you intended going to the Sea side with your sisters: Is this quite fixed? & where is the place?—

Mrs. Field does not appear to be any great hurry for her money. she says she never received any from Graham.— I think I told you the amount of the bill.—

I want to know did you receive with your birds the ring Owzel?— Mr. Stephens has been very ill with a fever, which is the reason that he has not been publishing lately. I have sent up all my Nitidulæ &c for him to examine.— I find I get on very slowly with my cabinet, & shall be very glad of your assistance. I have only yet got to the Amaræ.1

Barker,2 whom we met at Sir Francis3 is come up as Fellow Commoner4 to Downing. is his Mother alive? for he talked one day as if Derbyshire was no longer a home to him.— I have been seeing a good deal lately of Prof: Henslow; I took a long walk with him the other day: I like him most exceedingly, he is so very goodnatured & agreeable.—

This letter is strange rag-tag & bob tail affair, & a poor return for your agreeable ones, but with it go my best wishes for you my dear Fox & believe me | Yrs. most sincerely | C. Darwin


CD was using Stephens 1829, Mandibulata, vol. 1, in cataloguing his specimens (see letter to W. D. Fox, [9 May 1830], n. 4). In his copy, which is preserved at the Cambridge University Library, there are notes opposite each species in his collection, with the locations where they were taken. Occasionally names appear, e.g., ‘Hope’, ‘Waterhouse’, ‘Bought of Weaver 1829’.
Thomas Alfred Barker.
Francis Sacheverel Darwin. Francis Galton mentions him as ‘originally a physician, but for many years living in a then secluded part of Derbyshire, surrounded by animal oddities; half-wild pigs ran about the woods, tamed snakes frequented the house, and the like’ (Galton 1874, p. 47).
Fellow Commoners (aristocrats and other ‘men of family’) were the first of three ranks in which students were matriculated, the others being Pensioners (ordinary paying students) and Sizars, who received aid for which they had to perform services, often of a menial nature (Cambridge University calendar, 1831).


Cambridge University calendar: The Cambridge University calendar. Cambridge: W. Page [and others]. 1796–1950.

Galton, Francis. 1874. English men of science: their nature and nurture. London: Macmillan and Co.

Stephens, James Francis. 1829a. A systematic catalogue of British insects: being an attempt to arrange all the hitherto discovered indigenous insects in accordance with their natural affinities. London: Baldwin and Cradock.


CD will remain in Cambridge during the whole vacation.

J. F. Stephens has been ill; hence no recent publications.

Has seen a good deal of J. S. Henslow.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
Cambridge AP 5 1830
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 28)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 79,” accessed on 17 May 2021,

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