To W. D. Fox 23 May 1833
Maldonado. | Rio Plata.
May 23d. 1833
My dear Fox
Upon our return from a cruize amongst the islands of Tierra del Fuego,—I received your two letters dated at the wide of interval of August & January.—1 I am very much obliged to you for writing; your letters never fail to throw me into a pleasant reverie of past times & this is one of the highest pleasures I now enjoy.— I find the loss of society a great one.— there is nothing on board the Beagle which can call to mind our evenings in Cambridge.— There is indeed a difference between one of your Coffee parties, with Whitmore &c &c & an evening spent in the gun-room.— But it will be all the same in fifty years, as a boy says, who is going to be well flogged, & thus I have brought myself not to care much for anything which does not interfere with Natural Hist.—
This summers cruize has not been a very profitable one; excepting some little in Geology.— I wish you would begin, like myself, to be a smatterer in this latter branch.— she will soon be the favourite mistress & one easy to be wooed.— I hope for better luck, when the happy day arrive of doubling the Horn & steering for warmer climes.—
This whole East side is totally devoid of all picturesque beauty; & the coast not being rocky & there being no forests, it is bad for the greater part of Zoology.— We are passing this winter in this vicinity; when we shall say farewell to the R. Plata, I know not: I trust that next summer will complete the whole of this part of S. America.— The voyage is an immense one; how different from the first proposed two years.— it is, as you say, a serious evil, so much time spent in wandering.— I often conjecture, what will become of me; my wishes certainly would make me a country clergyman.— You expect sadly more than I shall ever do in Nat: Hist:— I am only a sort of Jackall, a lions provider; but I wish I was sure there were lions enough.— Now this morning I have collected a host of minute beetles; who, I should like to know, in England is both capable & willing to describe them?— You ask me about Ornithology; my labours in it are very simple.— I have taught, my servant to shoot & skin birds, & I give him money.— I have only taken one bird, which has much interested me: I daresay it is as common as a cock sparrow, but it appears to me as if all the Orders had said, “let us go snacks2 in making a specimen”.— I collect reptiles, small quadrupeds, & fishes industriously, especially the first: The invertebrate marine animals, are however my delight; amongst them I have examined some, almost disagreeably new; for I can find no analogy between them & any described families.— Amongst the Crustaceæ I have taken many new & curious genera: The pleasure of working with the Microscope ranks second to geology.— I strongly advice you instanter to buy from Bancks in Bond Stt. a simple microscope, such as the Mr Browne recommends.—& then make out insects scientifically by which I mean separate, examine & describe the trophi: it is very easy & exceedingly interesting; I speak from experience, not in insects, but in most minute Crustaceæ.
I am very glad to hear in your last letter, that your health, after such struggles, is at last so much better, & that you are actually collecting the dear little beetles.— Your domestic arrangements at Ryde, sounded exquisitely 〈com〉fortable: it makes me envious to fancy them. I have told you nothing about our cruize to the South: because (you will say a very odd reason) I have too much to tell.— We had plenty of very severe gales of wind; one beating match of 3 weeks off the Horn; when it often blew so hard, you could scarcely look at it.— We shipped a sea—which spoiled all my paper for drying plants: oh the miseries of a real gale of wind! In Tierra del I first saw bona? fide savages; & they are as savage as the most curious person would desire.— A wild man is indeed a miserable animal, but one well worth seeing.—
Will you write again? I make a poor return: but indeed letter writing is not my fort: if you were but in hail, I would talk you deaf on the spot.— Once more I must thank you for your most kind letters.— I assure you I well know how to value & cordially be grateful for your friendship. Believe me, my dear old Fox | Yours affectionately, Chas Darwin
Remember me most kindly to Mr & Mrs Fox & to every one at Osmaston.— Tell Miss A. Maria I will remember her out of mere spite, because she wont me.— Direct to Valparyso, pro futuro.— I have collected in this place about 70 species of birds & 19 Mammalia: Your question: what I did in Ornithology? has done me good: I have watched the manners of the whole set:—3
He misses society. "I often conjecture what will become of me; my wishes certainly would make me a country clergyman. – You expect sadly more than I shall ever do in Nat. Hist: I am only a sort of Jackall, a lions provider; but I wish I was sure there were lions enough."
Has collected a host of minute beetles, some reptiles, small quadrupeds, and fishes. Invertebrate marine animals are his delight. The pleasure of working with microscope ranks second only to geology.
- experiment, scientific observation
- positive attitude/assessment
- specimens / samples
- theory (including philosophy)
- type and morphology
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 207,” accessed on 25 September 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-207