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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. D. Fox   21 February [1871]1

Broadlands | Sandown | I. Wight

Feb 21

My dear Darwin

I have to thank you much for “the Descent of Man”.2 I have often wondered when it would come out, and need not tell you how anxious I was to see it. That its perusal will give me intense pleasure I have no doubt—tho’ very probably I may not agree with you wholly. I have been too much engaged since Sunday, when I received your Book, to be able to throw myself into it, and luxuriate in it; I have only roamed a little thro’ it, somewhat with the feeling of a Miser gloating over his treasure without enjoying it. I hope very shortly to be able to give it my full attention, and anticipate no little pleasure from doing so.

How I wish we were within a moderate distance of each other, so that we might sometimes meet.

If I am in Town, as is probable in April, if not sooner, I shall certainly try to run down to Down—if only for an hour, if you are at home at the time.3

How old we get!— and yet it seems but the other day when we spent those glorious times together at Cambridge.

I have always hoped that as you grew older, you might possibly much improve in health, but I fear you cannot confirm my hopes, tho’ by this time I trust you have quite got rid of the miseries attending your fall from horseback, and I hope that misfortune did not make you give up that exercise.

I was much shocked to see Frank Parkers death in the paper.4 He seemed as likely to live as most men, unless he met with an accident on horseback, when his great weight would tell against him.

We have been here since Novr, and all had excellent health. I have been very busy in making a large garden out of the most wretched field I ever had to deal with. By means of sea Sand and a Profusion of Sewage Manure I have succeeded beyond my expectation, & we have already an abundance of most things.

I suppose we shall migrate Northwards in April, unless we cd let our house for six months, when 〈w〉e should leave at once; but this is not likely.5 My Wife6 desires her kindest regards to Mrs Darwin. I wish she would write me a line saying how you are and also how Mrs Wedgewood7 is.

Ever Dear Darwin | Yours affecly | W. D Fox


The year is established by the reference to Descent, which was published on 24 February 1871 (Freeman 1977).
Fox’s name appears on CD’s presentation list for Descent (Appendix IV).
Town: i.e. London. There is no record of Fox’s visiting CD in 1871.
Francis Parker, CD’s nephew, died 17 January 1871; he was 41 years old (The Times, 20 January 1871, p. 1).
Fox spent the winters on the Isle of Wight but still kept his house, Delamere Rectory, Northwich, Cheshire (see Correspondence vol. 18, letter from W. D. Fox, 15 February [1870]).
Ellen Sophia Fox.
Caroline Sarah Wedgwood, CD’s sister.


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

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.


Thanks CD for copy of Descent.

Notes the death of Frank Parker [CD’s nephew].

Letter details

Letter no.
William Darwin Fox
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 164: 193
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7505,” accessed on 19 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19