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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   14 February 1878

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Feb 14th 1878

My dear Friend

I thank you warmly for your affectionate & most kind letter.1 If we may not call each other friends, I do not know who have a right; though from my unfortunate health & from our mutual distance, we have seen little of each other since those happy days in Cambridge & at Osmaston & elsewhere.—2 I am very sorry to hear about your daughter.3 It is the greatest misery possible. We have had much & now have some anxiety about my son-in-law Litchfield, who was so ill in Switzerland & who had a relapse & last night had another accession of pain.4 I dread organic mischief following from so much & such repeated inflammations. George is in Algiers & is enjoying himself there, but his health is not at all better.5 I grudge his want of health especially, as he has indomitable energy & a constant craving to work.

Frank & I are hard at work on physiological points with respect to plants, & I find it adds greatly to my interest in being able to discuss all subjects with him.—6 William is extremely happy with his wife.7

Farewell my dear old Friend | Yours affectionately | Charles Darwin


CD and Fox were both students at Cambridge in 1828 and had corresponded from that time (Correspondence vol. 1). Osmaston Hall, near Derby, had been the home of the Fox family. CD spent three weeks there in 1828 (see Correspondence vol. 1, letter to W. D. Fox, [October 1828]).
Richard Buckley Litchfield had been taken ill with acute appendicitis in Switzerland in September 1877 (Litchfield 1910, p. 150).
Francis Darwin was assisting CD with work for Movement in plants.
William Erasmus and Sara Darwin were married on 29 November 1877 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Litchfield, Henrietta Emma. 1910. Richard Buckley Litchfield: a memoir written for his friends by his wife. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Movement in plants: The power of movement in plants. By Charles Darwin. Assisted by Francis Darwin. London: John Murray. 1880.


CD and Frank Darwin hard at work on physiology of plants.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11358,” accessed on 24 October 2021,