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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   28 February [1858]

Down Bromley Kent

Feb. 28th

My dear Fox

I return you with thanks your nephew’s letter: he has forgotten to mention one most important element, viz whether the eggs floated;1 if you have any communication with him I particularly wish you wd. ask this question, & tell him to open eggs, as you suggest, if he tries the experiment again. If the eggs do not float or are killed by salt-water it is marvellous how Lizards get on every oceanic island.—

Westwoods Butterflies of Grt Britain 1855, is a beautifully illustrated thin large 8vo. & I am almost certain costs 15s; but I cannot find out positively.2 Stainton has published vol 1. 12 mo. 1857. of his Manual of British Butterflies & moths;3 this 1st vol. includes Butterflies & “stout-bodied Moths”— it is illustrated with many uncoloured woodcuts, & I believe is very good.—it is very cheap, I think only 4s, certainly not more than 7s/.—

Very many thanks about Turkeys;4 I shall be delighted if you can succeed in trying the experiment this summer with the young Turkeys; but how on earth will you get a Kite—you speak as if everybody had a live Kite. Oh, perhaps you mean a paper Kite! Thanks, also, for fact about Terriers— Jesse has a very parallel fact about his own Family of Terriers, which grinned & protruded feet when ca-ressed.— I shall try & quote your fact, but, as I before said, I am over facted.—5

I have lately some facts given to me by you years ago, about birds carrying away egg-shells very useful, as illustrating small instincts.—6

GoodBye my dear Fox— | Yours most truly | C. Darwin


CD had asked Fox to write to his nephew in Jamaica to see whether he would collect the eggs of lizards and snakes and find out whether they floated and survived in sea-water. See Correspondence vol. 6, letter to W. D. Fox, 20 October [1856].
Stainton 1857–9.
CD cited Fox on the inheritance of the behavioural traits of his Skye terrier in Natural selection, pp. 480–1 n. 2. CD also referred to Jesse 1835, p. 149.
CD described Fox’s observations in Natural selection, p. 522 n. 2.


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

Jesse, Edward. 1835. Gleanings in natural history. Third and last series. London: John Murray. [vols. 5,7]

Natural selection: Charles Darwin’s Natural selection: being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. Edited by R. C. Stauffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975.

Westwood, John Obadiah. 1855. The butterflies of Great Britain, with their transformations delineated and described. London.


WDF’s nephew has forgotten to mention the most important element, whether the lizards’ eggs floated and stayed alive on sea-water.

Thanks for facts about turkeys and terrier [see Natural selection, p. 481 n.].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 112)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2229,” accessed on 24 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7