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Darwin Correspondence Project

From WDFox   25 October [1872]1

Broadlands | Sandown | I. Wight

Oct 25

My dear Darwin

I am always glad of an excuse to ask how you and yours are, but the present one is one that will amuse you.

A very nice old Lady here will have it that you and Mrs Darwin are at the present time in an unknown part of America somewhere by the Yellow River.2 That Mrs Darwin was the only lady except a Mrs Blackmore (I think) who unfortunately died just when the Expedition had got too far for her husband to return without having his throat cut, so he wisely buried his poor wife & went on his way.

Can you unravel this 〈ve〉ry cock & Bull story. It is so long since I have heard of you, that I cannot deny the truth of the above acct—and can only say, that I believe you are safe at Down.3

We are in our Winter Quarters, much enjoying the delicious healthy air of this place—I believe the very healthiest in England—and I have every reason at present to speak well of it, as I came here three weeks since a regular Invalid—& tho’ not yet strong, am in a most comfortable state of health whereas I was the reverse4   I shall rejoice if you can give a good account of your own health & that of Mrs Darwin & your family.

What an age it is since we have met. I should so much enjoy seeing you again. It is above a Quarter of a Century since I & my wife were at Down.5

I wish you & Mrs Darwin wd now repay the visit by coming to us. With our united kindest regards to Mrs Darwin | Believe me my dear old Darwin | Ever yours | W. Darwin Fox


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to WDFox, 29 October [1872].
There are seven rivers in the United States called Yellow River; four of them are in Wisconsin, the other three in Alabama and Florida, Georgia, and Indiana (Columbia gazetteer of the world).
CD’s last known letter to Fox was that of 16 July 1872.
Sandown is a seaside town on the south-east coast of the Isle of Wight. Fox lived in Northwich, Cheshire, where he was vicar of Delamere until his retirement in 1873. From 1873, Sandown was his permanent home.
According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), Fox visited Down on 2 November 1849, but there is no mention of his wife, Ellen Sophia Fox, having accompanied him.


Columbia gazetteer of the world: The Columbia gazetteer of the world. Edited by Saul B. Cohen. 3 vols. New York: Columbia University Press. 1998.


Has not seen CD for about 25 years. Has heard an absurd story that CD and Emma are exploring an unknown part of America.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Darwin Fox
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 164: 196
Physical description
4pp damaged

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8577,” accessed on 23 July 2021,

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