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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox    [26 February 1829]



My dear Fox

When I arrived here on Tuesday, I found to my great grief & surprise, a letter on my table which I had written to you about a fortnight ago; the stupid porter never took the trouble of getting the letter forwarded: I suppose you have been abusing me for a most ungrateful wretch: but I am sure you will pity me now, as nothing is so vexatious as having written a letter in vain.—

Last Thursday I left Shrewsbury for London & staid there till Tuesday, on which day I came down here by the Times:1 The two first day I spent entirely with Mr. Hope.—& did little else but talk about & look at insects: his collection is most magnificent & he himself is the most generous of Entomologists he has given me about 160 new species, & actually often wanted to give me the rarest insects of which he had only two specimens: He made many civil speeches, & hoped you will call on him some time with me, whenever we should happen to be in London. He greatly compliments our exertions in Entomology & says we have taken a wonderfully great number of good insects On Sunday I spent the day with Holland,2 who lent me a horse to ride in the park with.—

On Monday evening I drank tea with Stephens:3 his cabinet is more magnificent than the most zealous Entomologist could dream of: He appears to be a very goodhumoured pleasant little man.— I am glad to find that neither he nor Mr Hope have much opinion of Mr Jennynys;4 they seem to think him very selfish & illiberal.— Whilst in town, I went to the Royal Institution Linnean society, & Zoological gardens, & many other places where Naturalists are gregarious.— If you had but been with me, I think London would be a very delightful place; as things were it was much pleasanter, than I could have supposed such a dreary wilderness of houses to be.—

I shot whilst in Shrewsbury a Dundiver, (female Goosander as I suppose you know). Shaw has stuffed it, & when I have an opportunity I will send it to Osmaston: There have been shot also 5 Waxen Chatterers, 3 of which Shaw has for sale, would you like to purchase a specimen? I have not yet thanked you for your last very long & agreable letter: It would have been still more agreable had it contained the joyful intelligence, that you were coming up here; my two solitary breakfastes have already made me aware how very very much I shall miss you— How goes on Entomology? You ought to take a vast number of Mycetophagos insects in the Ash Wood

Your new Dyticus is a most extraordinary one: I have ordered a 15£ Cabinet, & when we get the insects all arrayed together; we shall be able to make them much better out. I have taken this Vacation the Diaporis Anea, an insect which only Stephens & Hope posses.—

By Grahams5 decided advice, I do not go in for my little Go.— Hoar left Cambridge for Devonshire this morning. Pulleine goes in for his degree today, in appearance he is in very good spirits, but his manners are quite different, & I think he has not at all recovered his most unfortunate accident.— Wedgwood6 is elected a fellow.— & this is all the news I can scrape together; Cambridge is in statu quo I left it, rain, sleet & cold winds, alternating.

Believe me | My dear old Fox | Most sincerely Yours | C. Darwin

Write soon, for I long to hear what the Bishop says:


The ‘Times’ mail coach left London for Cambridge at 3 p.m. (Cambridge University calendar, 1829).
In the Autobiography, pp. 66–7, CD writes of Leonard Jenyns, ‘At first I disliked him from his somewhat grim and sarcastic expression … but I was completely mistaken and found him very kindhearted, pleasant and with a good stock of humour.’
John Graham, Fellow, later Master, of Christ’s College and CD’s tutor.
Hensleigh Wedgwood had taken his B.A. (8th Wrangler) in 1824. Because he was last in the Classical Tripos, that place became known as the ‘wooden wedge’, corresponding to ‘wooden spoon’, the traditional designation for the last place in the Mathematical Tripos (Alum. Cantab.). He was elected Fellow of Christ’s College in 1829.


Alum. Cantab.: Alumni Cantabrigienses. A biographical list of all known students, graduates and holders of office at the University of Cambridge, from the earliest times to 1900. Compiled by John Venn and J. A. Venn. 10 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1922–54.

Autobiography: The autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809–1882. With original omissions restored. Edited with appendix and notes by Nora Barlow. London: Collins. 1958.


Entomological visits with F. W. Hope and J. F. Stephens in London. News of insects taken and birds shot.

Has been advised by his tutor to defer the "Little Go". Sends news of Cambridge friends.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
Cambridge FE 26 182⁠⟨⁠9⁠⟩⁠
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 9)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 57,” accessed on 15 September 2023,

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