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To William Darwin Fox   3 January [1856]

Summary

Thanks WDF for his help and reports on progress in "the Cock and Hen line of business". Has written to every quarter of the world for skins of poultry and pigeons.

As for seeds, Hooker and Bentham obstinately refuse to believe they can live even a few years in the ground.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Darwin Fox
Date:  3 Jan [1856]
Classmark:  Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 86)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1815

From W. D. Fox   29 August – 28 September 1832

Summary

He is staying on the Isle of Wight because he has been unwell. He is thought to be in danger of contracting consumption, and the climate is beneficial. He is convalescent now, but will spend the winter there.

Offers to forward any natural history stores CD may want.

Author:  William Darwin Fox
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  29 Aug & 28 Sept 1832
Classmark:  DAR 204: 107
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-184

To W. D. Fox   15 March [1856]

Summary

Believes WDF’s case of mongrel Scotch deerhound is very valuable for him.

Mentions his work on pigeons and chickens.

Fears sometimes he will break down: "My subject gets bigger and bigger".

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Darwin Fox
Date:  15 Mar [1856]
Classmark:  Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 97)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1843

To W. D. Fox   4 June [1856]

Summary

Thanks WDF for specimen of Dorking cock.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Darwin Fox
Date:  4 June [1856]
Classmark:  American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.130)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1887

To W. D. Fox   [12–3] November 1832

Summary

Sketches the Beagle’s travels – Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, cruise to the south and return – and what the future holds. Writes with nostalgia of England and says he sees no end to the voyage.

He enjoys and has been lucky principally in geology and among pelagic animals; has found remains of large extinct animals.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Darwin Fox
Date:  [12–13] Nov 1832
Classmark:  Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 46a)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-189

To W. D. Fox   8 [June 1856]

Summary

The responses to his queries on domestic variations are coming in from all over; believes he will make an interesting collection. At present concerned with rabbits and ducks.

Has told Lyell of his views on species and CL urges CD to publish a preliminary essay. Has begun to work on it, with fear and trembling at its inadequacies.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Darwin Fox
Date:  8 [June 1856]
Classmark:  University of British Columbia Library, Rare Books and Special Collections (Pearce/Darwin Fox collection RBSC-ARC-1721-1-10)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1895

To W. D. Fox   14 June [1856]

Summary

Does not intend to work systematically on cats. Their origin is in doubt and they have been crossed too many ways.

It would be valuable to know whether half-bred ducks are fertile inter se or with a third breed. Is investigating this with pigeons.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Darwin Fox
Date:  14 June [1856]
Classmark:  Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 98)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1901

To W. D. Fox   3 October [1856]

Summary

Finds his grief over his daughter Anne’s death still strong.

Is following Lyell’s advice about publishing his species doctrine. It is not to be a sketch, however, but as perfect as his 19 years of work will allow. His work on pigeons has been invaluable on many points. "No subject gives me so much trouble as means of dispersal of terrestrial production in the oceanic islands."

Finds "most remarkable differences" in skeletons of rabbits.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Darwin Fox
Date:  3 Oct [1856]
Classmark:  Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 100)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1967

From W. D. Fox   23 January 1833

Summary

His health has improved but he continues "a good deal of an invalid" and is uncertain what the future holds for him.

His interest in entomology and ornithology continues; he has been studying the gulls on the Isle of Wight.

Author:  William Darwin Fox
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  23 Jan 1833
Classmark:  DAR 204: 121
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-197

To W. D. Fox   20 October [1856]

Summary

Has taken birds with seeds in crops to Zoological Society and fed them to eagles and owls. Pellets with seeds in perfect condition were "thrown up" in 18 and 16 hours, showing an effective means of distribution.

Asks WDF to write to his nephew in Jamaica to try experiments with floating lizards’ and snakes’ eggs in sea-water, to see if they survive.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Darwin Fox
Date:  20 Oct [1856]
Classmark:  Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 99)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1978

To W. D. Fox   8 February [1857]

Summary

Birth of his sixth son [C. W. Darwin]. It is dreadful "to think of all the sendings to school and the professions afterwards".

CD is not well but has not the courage for water-cure again; trying mineral acids.

Working hard on the book [Natural selection]; is overwhelmed with riches in facts and interested in way facts fall into groups.

To his surprise [Helix pomatia] has withstood 14 days in salt water.

Pigeons’ skins come in from all parts of the world.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Darwin Fox
Date:  8 Feb [1857]
Classmark:  Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 110)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2049

To W. D. Fox   22 February [1857]

Summary

Helix pomatia is quite healthy after 20 days’ submersion in salt water.

On peas, the evidence is on WDF’s side, but CD cannot see how they can avoid being crossed.

He is working hard, wishes he "could set less value on the bauble fame"; would work as hard, but with less gusto, if he knew his book would be published forever anonymously.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Darwin Fox
Date:  22 Feb [1857]
Classmark:  Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 101–2)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2057

To W. D. Fox   23 May 1833

Summary

He misses society. "I often conjecture what will become of me; my wishes certainly would make me a country clergyman. – You expect sadly more than I shall ever do in Nat. Hist: I am only a sort of Jackall, a lions provider; but I wish I was sure there were lions enough."

Has collected a host of minute beetles, some reptiles, small quadrupeds, and fishes. Invertebrate marine animals are his delight. The pleasure of working with microscope ranks second only to geology.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Darwin Fox
Date:  23 May 1833
Classmark:  Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 46b)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-207

To W. D. Fox   [30 April 1857]

Summary

His impressions of the hydropathic establishment and E. W. Lane. Is convinced the only thing for "chronic cases" is the water-cure.

Asks if WDF knows of any breed of pig that originated or was modified by a cross with a Chinese or Neapolitan pig, and whether the crossbreed bred true.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Darwin Fox
Date:  [30 Apr 1857]
Classmark:  Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 103)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2085

To W. D. Fox   30 October [1857]

Summary

Has come to think his brains were not made for thinking – he immediately feels better when at Moor Park.

News of his family.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Darwin Fox
Date:  30 Oct [1857]
Classmark:  Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 104)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2161

To W. D. Fox   17 December [1857]

Summary

Thanks WDF for his letter about a rabbit breed that he thinks is the Himalaya. He is particularly glad to hear of it because it breeds so true.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Darwin Fox
Date:  17 Dec [1857]
Classmark:  Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 105)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2187

To William Darwin Fox   14 January [1858]

Summary

Asks to borrow W. C. Hewitson’s book [British oology, 2 vols. (1831–44)].

CD is searching for reliable information on slight variations in the degree of perfection of nests of the same species of birds.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Darwin Fox
Date:  14 Jan [1858]
Classmark:  Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 108)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2202

To W. D. Fox   31 January [1858]

Summary

Thanks WDF for information on blackbirds’ nests [see Natural selection, p. 505].

Problem of choosing from among the load of curious facts for chapter on "Instinct" [Natural selection, ch. 10; Origin, ch. 7] perplexes him.

Asks about behaviour of chicks in danger and whether crossed animals are wilder than either parent.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Darwin Fox
Date:  31 Jan [1858]
Classmark:  Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 109)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2208

To W. D. Fox   22 February [1858]

Summary

Thanks for Hewitson [British oology].

Has found more variability in birds’ nests than he expected.

Interested in WDF’s note about turkey terrified by a frog [see Natural selection, p. 488 n.].

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Darwin Fox
Date:  22 Feb [1858]
Classmark:  Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 111)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2219

To W. D. Fox   28 February [1858]

Summary

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.].

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Darwin Fox
Date:  28 Feb [1858]
Classmark:  Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 112)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2229
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