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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   13 November [1858]

Down Bromley Kent

Nov. 13th

My dear Fox

Hooker & Henslow both applied to me to suggest as many names of persons as possible to whom to send the circular about Mr Ralfs; & I gave yours amongst many others.1 From all that I have heard from Hooker I believe the case to be one deserving of aid; but with the many claims which you must have on you, I, if in your place, would not give without perfectly convenient.—

I have not much news to tell you about myself; I am working slowly & steadily at my Abstract & making progress & hope to print in the Spring. My stomach has been bad enough, & I have lately spent a very pleasant week at Moor Park, & Hydropathy & idleness did me wonderful good & I walked one day 412 miles,—a quite Herculean feat for me!2

William, my son, is now at Christ Coll. in the rooms above yours. My old Gyp. Impey was astounded to hear that he was my son & very simply asked “why has he been long married?” What pleasant hours, those were when I used to come & drink coffee with you daily! I am reminded of old days by my third Boy having just begun collecting Beetles, & he caught the other day Brachinus crepitans of immotal Whittlesea-mere memory.— My blood boiled with old ardour, when he caught a Licinus,—a prize unknown to me.3

You say nothing about yourself, so I hope that you are pretty well. I had heard of your Mother’s severe illness.4 My children are tolerably well for them, & this as much as I can ever say.

Farewell my dear Fox. I often think what a good man you were to come down & see me at Moor Park.5 Farewell | Yours most sincerely | C. Darwin

Henslow is coming here for a couple of nights on the 25th.—6

If you have ever opportunity do not forget about parentage of Dun Horses. Did you ever see Donkey with double shoulder stripe? I would give some guineas to see one.— Look at any Donkey which you may meet.—

Also, did you ever see black Grey-hound (of any sub-breed) with tan feet, & a tan-coloured spot over inner corner of each eye; I want such case, & such must exist because theory tells me it ought!7

Adios my dear old friend


CD stayed at Moor Park hydropathic establishment from 25 October to 1 November 1858 (‘Journal’; Appendix II).
CD and Fox made a memorable entomological excursion to Whittlesea Mere during their undergraduate years (see Correspondence vol. 1). Francis Darwin later recalled his and CD’s delight at this discovery: ‘I have a vivid recollection of the pleasure of turning out my bottle of dead beetles for my father to name, and the excitement, in which he fully shared, when any of them proved to be uncommon ones.’ (LL 2: 140).
Ann Fox died in 1859 (Darwin pedigree).
In Variation 1: 28, CD stated on this point: One fact, however, with respect to the colouring of domestic dogs, I at one time hoped might have thrown some light on their origin; and it is worth giving, as showing how colouring follows laws, even in so anciently and thoroughly domesticated an animal as the dog. Black dogs with tan-coloured feet, whatever breed they may belong to, almost invariably have a tan-coloured spot on the upper and inner corners of each eye, and their lips are generally thus coloured.


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

Darwin pedigree: Pedigree of the family of Darwin. Compiled by H. Farnham Burke. N.p.: privately printed. 1888. [Reprinted in facsimile in Darwin pedigrees, by Richard Broke Freeman. London: printed for the author. 1984.]

LL: The life and letters of Charles Darwin, including an autobiographical chapter. Edited by Francis Darwin. 3 vols. London: John Murray. 1887–8.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Has suggested WDF’s name to Hooker and Henslow, who are sending a circular for aid to John Ralfs.

Is working steadily at his abstract, hopes to publish in spring.

Asks if WDF has seen a donkey with double shoulder stripe; also, has he seen a black greyhound with tan feet and a tan spot over each eye? "Such must exist because theory tells me it ought!"

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 119)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2360,” accessed on 27 October 2021,

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