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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   [May 1850]

Down Farnborough Kent


My dear Fox

I am extremely much obliged to you for your very kind interest regarding me & my curative processes.1 I am rather glad to hear that people can be injured by the Water cure; for I have rather feared that I was getting inured to it.— I had, however, heard quite enough to have even prevented me, treating myself blindly without guidance: I report myself regularly to Dr. Gully & receive instructions. My treatment varies every 4 or 6 weeks— About 8 weeks since I left off the Lamp2 for a month: on an average I have had it throughout the last 9 months from 2 to 4 times a week & so with Douche.— For present fortnight I am having Douche daily, which is first time since leaving Malvern. Having gained weight ever since I commenced,3 is a clear sign that I have not overdosed myself.— Dr. Gully has had plenty of experience & with me has always been cautious.— He now rather wants to see me; but I hate the trouble of travelling.

If you are led to converse with your Dr., I shd like to hear his opinion; but I conceive it is simply impossible for anyone to say how much an unknown person can stand; & one must be under the orders of one Doctor. I have lately been very well; but previously I had a somewhat retrograde period of 6 weeks—though even then infinitely better than before I commenced the W. Cure.—

We are all well & flourishing— I am sorry to hear about Chloroform; from what Dr Simpson says I believe in such cases as you mention; the frightened & generally prejudiced doctors do not give enough.—4

I saw a few weeks since Sir P. Egerton5 & he gave me such an account of your Farm, as one of the seven Wonders of the world6 —& delighted I was to hear all he said regarding you & your Farm—

Ever Yours | C. Darwin


See letter to Susan Darwin, [19 March 1849], for a fuller account of James Manby Gully’s hydropathic treatment. On returning to Down from Malvern, CD made arrangements to keep up the treatment by building a small hut containing a douche and a shallow bath. See also letter to W. D. Fox, 4 September [1850], n. 2. CD’s Health Diary (Down House MS) contains a daily record of his treatment for five and a half years, until January 1855.
For Gully’s introduction of the lamp into hydropathic practice, see letter to J. D. Hooker, 28 March 1849, n. 2.
When he began treatment at Malvern (12 March 1849), CD weighed 10 st. 7 lb 12 oz; on 12 May 1850 he weighed 11 st. 13 lb 10 oz (Health Diary). CD took care to be dressed in the same clothes for each weighing.
James Young Simpson pioneered the use of chloroform as an anaesthetic.
Philip de Malpas Grey-Egerton was M.P. for Chester, 1012 miles south-east of Delamere, Fox’s parish.
An allusion to the number and variety of animals Fox had on his farm for breeding purposes. See CD’s reference to Fox’s ‘Noah’s Ark’ in his letter to W. D. Fox, 10 October [1850].


Details of his continuing water-cure regimen.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 76)
Physical description
ALS 7pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1323,” accessed on 4 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 4