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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   16 July [1872]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

July 16.

My dear Fox

I am very sorry to hear that your lungs have been a little affected.2 It is indeed a long time since we have met, & I much wish you could have paid us a visit; though, as I grow older I am able to talk with anyone or stand any excitement less & less. It is very odd, for I can work slowly for 3 or 4 hours daily, if nothing disturbs me.— I am now correcting proofs of a small book on the Expression of the Emotions in Man & animals.—

My wife is fairly well; but I cannot say much for my children; two of my sons being now in Germany for health sake.3 Henrietta has no child, & I hope never may; for she is extremely delicate.4 Erasmus is moderately well, & so is Caroline.5 Here is a full bulletin of health!

Many thanks for your kind invitation; but I never feel up to visit anywhere. A Cambridge man, a friend of one of my boys, was visiting here lately, & he is, an ardent collector of Beetles; & old days with you were so vividly recalled by hearing about Panagæus! I wonder whether Albert Way is alive.—6

Farewell my dear old Friend | Yours most sincerely | Ch. Darwin

Pray give my & Mrs. Darwin’s very kind remembrances to Mrs. Fox.—7


The year is established by CD’s reference to the proofs of Expression; he finished correcting them on 22 August 1872 (see ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
The failure of George Howard Darwin’s health in 1872 led him to seek a cure in the spa town of Homburg in Germany that year (F. Darwin 1916, p. xiv). He was probably accompanied by Horace Darwin, although Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242) indicates that they returned home by different routes: an entry on 2 August 1872 reads, ‘Horace from Ireland’, and one on 8 August reads, ‘G. came from Switz’. Horace’s poor health is confirmed by CD’s Account books–cash account (Down House MS); on 29 June 1872 £12 was paid for ‘Horace Darwin for Malvern Water-cure.’
Henrietta Emma Darwin had married Richard Buckley Litchfield on 31 August 1871 (see Correspondence vol. 19, Appendix II).
Erasmus Alvey Darwin had visited Down between 6 and 9 July (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)). CD also refers to Caroline Sarah Wedgwood.
CD often associated Fox and Albert Way, his fellow-students at Cambridge, with the hunt for the beetle Panagaeus crux-major (see Correspondence vol. 1, letters to W. D. Fox, May 1832, [7–11] March 1835, and 15 February 1836; Autobiography, p. 63). The Cambridge man has not been identified.


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

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Darwin, Francis. 1916. Memoir of Sir George Darwin. In Scientific papers, by George Howard Darwin. Vol. 5. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.


Is correcting proofs for Expression.

Family news.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8413,” accessed on 20 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20