skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   24 June [1858]

Down Bromley Kent

June 24th

My dear Fox

Will you read the enclosed & return it me soon— All those, whom I have asked think that Dr L. is probably innocent.—1 Mr Thom’s (a very sensible nice young man) evidence;2 the admitted coldness of Dr. Lane’s letters,—3 the absence of all corroborative evidence—& more than all the unparalleled fact of a woman detailing her own adultery, which seems to me more improbable than inventing a story prompted by extreme sensuality or hallucination,—altogether make me think Dr. Lane innocent & that it is a most cruel case.—4 I fear it will ruin him. I never heard a sensual expression from him.—

I am writing this under much hurry, (but I will not miss a post) as poor dear Etty has been most seriously ill with an attack very like Diptheria; but thank God after much suffering is recovering; but last night our Baby commenced with Fever of some kind.5

Yours affectionately | C. Darwin


Edward Wickstead Lane, the proprietor of Moor Park hydropathic establishment, had been cited as co-respondent in a divorce case brought by Mr Henry Robinson of Reading against his wife. Mrs Robinson kept a diary of her supposed adultery with Lane during a visit to Moor Park in 1845 which was presented as evidence: the case hinged on whether Mrs Robinson had imagined the whole affair. CD probably refers to the long reports given in The Times, 15 June 1858, pp. 11–12; 16 June 1858,p. 11; and 17 June 1858, p. 11. The judge’s summing up was reported, along with some sensational extracts from the diary, in The Times, 22 June 1858, p. 11.
Mr Thom had been called as a witness in the trial. In her diary, Mrs Robinson had also claimed to have had an ‘escapade’ with Thom at Moor Park. According to The Times, 17 June 1858, p. 11, Thom denied any liaison with Mrs Robinson.
Lane had written to Mrs Robinson about her health on several occasions after the alleged adultery.
The suit was abandoned after it was shown that Lane could not act both as witness and accused (see The Times, 5 July 1858, p. 11).
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 23 [June 1858]. Emma Darwin’s diary records that on 23 June 1858 Charles Waring Darwin was taken ill.


Gives his opinion of the charges against E. W. Lane.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 114)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2293,” accessed on 27 September 2021,

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