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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   6 November [1836]

43 Great Marlborough Stt

Novr 6th

My dear Fox,

I have taken a shamefully long time in answering your letter.— But the busiest time of the whole voyage has been tranquillity itself to this last month. After paying Henslow a short but very pleasant visit, I came up to town to wait for the Beagle’s arrival. At last I have removed all my property from on board, & sent the specimens of Natural History to Cambridge, so that I am now a free man.— My London visit has been quite idle, as far as Nat: History goes but has been passed in most exciting dissipation amongst the Dons in science.— All my affairs indeed are most prosperous; I find there are plenty, who will undertake the description of whole tribes of animals, of which I know nothing. So that about this day month, I hope to set to work: tooth and nail at the Geology, which I shall publish by itself.—

I do not know how I shall be able to manage a visit to the Isle of Wight.— My plans are on Thursday to go to Shrewsbury by the way of Maer & Overton staying at each place about a couple of days.— For Shrewsbury I hope to spare ten days, but I foresee, it will be a most uncomfortable visit,—a mere struggle how many people can be visited, to whom I am bound, & indeed, (if time, just at present was not so precious) am most anxious to see.—

I shall return to London for two or three days & then go and reside in Cambridge for some months, & try if I can settle my jolted brains into some kind of order.— Have you during the winter any sort of business, or anything which will tempt you to pay Cambridge a visit.— It is too long a journey in the depth of winter, and I fear for your health, to take for any one motive; though you have offered to come up all the way to London, merely for a flying visit. When I leave Shrewsbury, I will write again, as by that time, I shall know more certainly about the future. At present I am exceedingly doubtful between the merits of London and Cambridge.—

It is quite ridiculous, what an immensely long period it appears to me, since landing at Falmouth. The fact is I have talked and laughed enough for years instead of weeks, so my memory is quite confounded with the noise.—

I am delighted to hear you are turned Geologist. when I pay the Isle of Wight, a visit, which I am determined shall somehow come to pass, you will be capital cicerone to the famous line of dislocation.— I really suppose there are few parts of the world more interesting to a Geologist than your island.—

Amongst the great scientific men, no one has been nearly so friendly & kind, as Lyell.— I have seen him several times, & feel inclined to like him much. You cannot imagine how good-naturedly he entered into all my plans. I speak now only of the London men, for Henslow was just like his former self, & therefore a most cordial and affectionate friend.— When you pay London a visit I shall be very proud to take you to the Geological Society, for be it known, I was proposed to be a F.G.S. last Tuesday. It is, however a great pity that these & the other letters, especially F.R.S. are so very expensive.—

I do not scruple to ask you to write to me in a week’s time in Shrewsbury, for you are a good letter writer, & if people will have such good characters they must pay the penalty.

I wish I had the pleasure of being acquainted with Mrs. Fox, that I might beg to be remembered to her, but I hope the time is not far distant, when I shall be so.—

Pray tell me what relation I am your daughter, for I have been puzzling my brains & can come to no conclusion. When formerly at Cambridge you explained to me my various relations, you little thought the next time you would be genealogist for your own daughter.

Good Bye | Dear Fox Yours C. D.


All his affairs are most prosperous. Has found many who will undertake description of animals; he will work at the geology. Lyell has been most friendly and kind.

CD has been proposed to the Geological Society.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
London, Gt Marlborough St, 43
D N0 7 1〈83〉6
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 49)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 319,” accessed on 20 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 1