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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   [9 May 1830]



My dear Fox

I am very sorry to find that all our plans are likely to vanish into air.— It is most unfortunate your being obliged to go with your Father & Mother to Cheltenham, for the weather is so fine, the beetles so numerous, our zeal so ardent that the Science would have received a benefit never to be forgotten.— But it is a shame to talk about would have taken place: let us think of the future.—

I am very much obliged for your invitation to Osmaston, but I do not see how it is possible for me to accept it My brother has returned from Shrewsbury to London, & I have agreeed to pay him a visit, which if I do not do, I shall not see him again for a good while.— And after that I really must proceed to “ ‘sweet home’ ”.— for my unfortunate relations have been bereaved of my presence, for eight long Months.— But I have a plan which will remove a good many dif- ficulties.— Why, in the name of providence, not pay me a visit in Salop??? You know how glad we all shall be to see you.— You can start early from Derby, so through Lichfield to Birmingham, & then per the Wonder1 to Shrews- bury, where at 11 oclock the same night you will arrive safe & sound, & make me glad by your sight.— What plan can be more easy or natural? It is too unreasonable even to Hope, that you will come to Cambridge for so short a time as four days, so that I shall not see till we meet at Shrewsbury. If you are half as eager as I am for that occurrence, you will not make any sort of excuse.— As soon as you return to Derby go to Mr Hey,2 & find the habitat Odontomyia & Dromius & promised specimens.—

My plans for the summer are totally undecided.— write soon be sure do not say no to Shrewsbury scheme else I will never forgive you.— till then, My dear old Fox | Yours very sincerely | C. D.

Wilmer has left Cambridge, & begged to be most kindly remembered to you.— he has sent to Baker for you a Falcon out of Norfolk.— I have got your prints.— Chapman send Ditto.—he is going abroad.— I took the other day Elater sanguineus. What do think of that? I have 19 species in genus Amara.—

I have seen a good deal of Henslow lately & the more I see of him the more I like him I have some thoughts of reading divinity with him the summer after next.3 Adieu

As far as to the Bembididæ, this in toto 339 species,4 out of which I have 208 of them— What do you think of that?


The London, Birmingham, Shrewsbury mail coach.
The Rev. Samuel Hey of Derbyshire, mentioned in Stephens 1827–46, Mandibulata 3: 373 as having rediscovered the rare Chrysomela cerealis and as having directed ‘his friend and neighbour Mr. Fox to the locality’.
If John Maurice Herbert’s memory was accurate, CD’s plan to take orders represented a change in his religious convictions. Earlier, at about the time of the reading tour at Barmouth (letter to W. D. Fox, 12 [June 1828]), according to Herbert, CD had serious doubts about this career. Herbert remembered ‘an earnest conversation’ he had with CD ‘about going into Holy Orders; & I remember his asking me with reference to the question put by the Bishop in the Ordination service: “Do you trust that you are inwardly moved by the Holy Spirit &c” whether I could answer in the affirmative; & on my saying “I could not”, he said, “neither can I, & therefore I can not take orders.” ’ (Letter of reminiscences to Francis Darwin, 2 June 1882, DAR 112 (ser. 2): 63–4).
The number 339 corresponds to the number listed in Stephens 1829, 1: 36, after which the descriptions of the family Bembidiidae begin.


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.


Very sorry WDF was obliged to go to Cheltenham with his parents instead of coming to Cambridge, for the weather is fine, the beetles numerous. Adds news of friends and facts about his collection of insects.

Thinks of reading divinity with Henslow the summer after next.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
C ⁠⟨⁠1⁠⟩⁠0 MY 10 1830
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 29)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 80,” accessed on 24 January 2022,

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