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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. D. Fox   18 [November 1870]1

Broadlands | Sandown | I. Wight


My dear Darwin

The sight of your hand writing did me much good. It would have greatly rejoiced me to have been able to run down to Down for a day, as Mrs Darwin kindly asked me to do, but I am obliged to be careful at this time of year, for fear of being laid up, and I felt I ought not to delay getting to Winter Quarters.2 As you ask me how I am, I am glad to say much better than I have been for some months, & quite hope to be able to get about thro the winter. I was very ill a few months ago, and hardly thought I should get over it.

I get very stiff and old in my feelings of body, and childish in my mind I think. I do not think I was ever more young in mind— in fact I have a very enjoyable existence, & I know few I wd exchange with. There now.

I wish you could give yourself a little rest, but I know you cannot. In cælo quies, in terra nulla.3 I hear sad tales about your Book about to come forth.4 I suppose you are about to prove man is a descendant from Monkeys &c &c Well, Well!— I shall much enjoy reading it. I have given up that point now. The three main points of difference to my mind—were that Men drink, smoke & thrash their wives—& Beasts do not.

But alas my faith is overthrown entirely. The Lady Monkey from the Andamans—drinks & smokes like a Christian; & evidently the Gentleman wd thrash, if not kill the Lady, if he had an opportunity.5

I always look at Books as I do Newspapers. I am not bound to tye my mind to that of the writer. There are points in your unrivaled Book “The Origin of Species”—which I do not come up to— but with these few expressions omitted, I go with it completely. I do not think even you will persuade me that my ancestors ever were Apes— but we shall see.

I have no religious scruples about any of these matters. I see my own way clearly thro them— —but I see many points I cannot get over, which prevent my going “the whole Hog” with you.

In a few years—if not sooner—we shall know a great deal more than we do now.— We are sadly cribbed here, and ones mind feels the impossibility of grasping what one longs to do. Well, well! (as a friend of mine always says in a difficulty) let us do our best, & hope for better things. I must run over & see you some day. Why not you & Mrs Darwin run over here, when you have finished your Book— you can study my little Apes & Apesses—

Kindest regards to Mrs Darwin & thanks for her note—

Always yours Affecly | W D Fox


The month and year are established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to W. D. Fox, 15 November [1870].
See letter to W. D. Fox, 15 November [1870]. Fox’s summer home was Delamere Rectory in Cheshire.
In caelo quies, in terra nulla: in heaven there is peace, on earth, none (Latin).
Fox refers to Descent.
A female ‘Andaman monkey’ was presented to the Zoological Society of London in July 1869. She was described in Land and Water, 24 July 1870, p. 57, by Abraham Dee Bartlett, the superintendent of the Zoological Gardens, who thought she represented a new species, which he proposed to call Macacus andamanensis. In April 1870 a letter was received from the Andaman Islands pointing out that there were no monkeys indigenous to the Andaman Islands, and that the few that existed there had been brought from Burma (Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (1870): 220). In June 1870, Bartlett secured a male ‘Andaman monkey’ for the society; it was identified by Edward Blyth as identical with a species that he had named Inuus leoninus (now Macaca leonina, the northern pigtail macaque). The female, ‘Andaman Jenny’, had become well-known to visitors to the Zoological Gardens for smoking and performing other tricks. (Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (1870): 663–4.) The male is illustrated in the plate in Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (1870): facing p. 664. The macaque in the background is presumably Andaman Jenny.


Has heard "sad tales" about CD’s forthcoming book [Descent]; does not think even CD can persuade him his ancestors were apes.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Darwin Fox
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 164: 192
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7376,” accessed on 22 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18