« PreviousContinue »
overworked for the next fortnight. But first you deserve to be well abused and pray consider yourself well abused-for thinking or writing that I could for one minute be bored by any amount of detail about yourself and belongings. It is just what I like hearing; believe me that I often think of old days spent with you, and sometimes can hardly believe what a jolly careless individual one was in those old days. A bright autumn evening often brings to mind some shooting excursion from Osmaston. I do indeed regret that we live so far off each other, and that I am so little locomotive. I have been unusually well of late (no water-cure), but I do not find that I can stand any change better than formerly. . . The other day I went to London and back, and the fatigue, though so trifling, brought on my bad form of vomiting. I grieve to hear that your chest has been ailing, and most sincerely do I hope that it is only the muscles; how frequently the voice fails with the clergy. I can well understand your reluctance to break up your large and happy party and go abroad; but your life is very valuable, so you ought to be very cautious in good time. You ask about all of us, now five boys (oh! the professions; oh! the gold; and oh! the French-these three oh's all rank as dreadful bugbears) and two girls . . . but another and the worst of my bugbears is hereditary weakness. All my sisters are well except Mrs. Parker, who is much out of health; and so is Erasmus at his poor average: he has lately moved into Queen Anne Street. I had heard of the intended marriage of your sister Frances. I believe I have seen her since, but my memory takes me back some twenty-five years, when she was lying down. I remember well the delightful expression of her countenance. I most sincerely wish her all happiness.
I see I have not answered half your queries. We like very well all that we have seen and heard of Rugby, and have never repented of sending [W.] there. I feel sure schools have greatly improved since our days; but I hate schools and
*To the Rev. J. Hughes.
the whole system of breaking through the affections of the family by separating the boys so early in life; but I see no help, and dare not run the risk of a youth being exposed to the temptations of the world without having undergone the milder ordeal of a great school.
I see you even ask after our pears. We have lots of Beurrées d'Aremberg, Winter Nelis, Marie Louise, and "Ne plus Ultra," but all off the wall; the standard dwarfs have borne a few, but I have no room for more trees, so their names would be useless to me. You really must make a holiday and pay us a visit sometime; nowhere could you be more heartily welcome. I am at work at the second volume of the Cirripedia, of which creatures I am wonderfully tired. I hate a Barnacle as no man ever did before, not even a sailor in a slow-sailing ship. My first volume is out; the only part worth looking at is on the sexes of Ibla and Scalpellum. I hope by next summer to have done with my tedious work. Farewell,-do come whenever you can possibly manage it.
I cannot but hope that the carbuncle may possibly do good I have heard of all sorts of weaknesses disappearing after a carbuncle. I suppose the pain is dreadful. I agree most entirely, what a blessed discovery is chloroform. When one thinks of one's children, it makes quite a little difference in one's happiness. The other day I had five grinders (two by the elevator) out at a sitting under this wonderful substance, and felt hardly anything.
My dear old friend, yours very affectionately,
C. Darwin to W. D. Fox.
Down, January 29th .
MY DEAR FOX,-Your last account some months ago was so little satisfactory that I have often been thinking of you, and should be really obliged if you would give me a few lines, and tell me how your voice and chest are. I most sincerely hope that your report will be good. . . . Our second lad has
a strong mechanical turn, and we think of making him an engineer. I shall try and find out for him some less classical school, perhaps Bruce Castle. I certainly should like to see more diversity in education than there is in any ordinary. school-no exercising of the observing or reasoning faculties, no general knowledge acquired-I must think it a wretched system. On the other hand, a boy who has learnt to stick at Latin and conquer its difficulties, ought to be able to stick at any labour. I should always be glad to hear anything about schools or education from you. I am at my old, never-ending subject, but trust I shall really go to press in a few months with my second volume on Cirripedes. I have been much pleased by finding some odd facts in my first volume believed by Owen and a few others, whose good opinion I regard as final. . . . Do write pretty soon, and tell me all you can about yourself and family; and I trust your report of yourself may be much better than your last.
. . . I have been very little in London of late, and have not seen Lyell since his return from America; how lucky he was to exhume with his own hand parts of three skeletons of reptiles out of the Carboniferous strata, and out of the inside of a fossil tree, which had been hollow within.
Farewell, my dear Fox, yours affectionately,
C. Darwin to W. D. Fox.
13 Sea Houses, Eastbourne,
MY DEAR FOX,-Here we are in a state of profound idleness, which to me is a luxury; and we should all, I believe, have been in a state of high enjoyment, had it not been for the detestable cold gales and much rain, which always gives much ennui to children away from their homes. I received your letter of 13th June, when working like a slave with Mr. Sowerby at drawing for my second volume, and so put off answering it till when I knew I should be at leisure.
extremely glad to get your letter. I had intended a couple of months ago sending you a savage or supplicating jobation to know how you were, when I met Sir P. Egerton, who told me you were well, and, as usual, expressed his admiration of your doings, especially your farming, and the number of animals, including children, which you kept on your land. Eleven children, ave Maria! it is a serious look-out for you. Indeed, I look at my five boys as something awful, and hate the very thoughts of professions, &c. If one could insure moderate health for them it would not signify so much, for I cannot but hope, with the enormous emigration, professions will somewhat improve. But my bugbear is hereditary weakness. I particularly like to hear all that you can say about education, and you deserve to be scolded for saying "you did not mean to torment me with a long yarn." You ask about Rugby. I like it very well, on the same principle as my neighbour, Sir J. Lubbock, likes Eton, viz., that it is not worse than any other school; the expense, with all &c., &c., including some clothes, travelling expenses, &c., is from £110 to £120 per annum. I do not think schools are so wicked as they were, and far more industrious. The boys, I think, live too secluded in their separate studies; and I doubt whether they will get so much knowledge of character as boys used to do; and this, in my opinion, is the one good of public schools over small schools. I should think the only superiority of a small school over home was forced regularity in their work, which your boys perhaps get at your home, but which I do not believe my boys would get at my home. Otherwise, it is quite lamentable sending boys so early in life from their home. . . To return to schools. My main objection to them, as places of education, is the enormous proportion of time spent over classics. I fancy (though perhaps it is only fancy) that I can perceive the ill and contracting effect on my eldest boy's mind, in checking interest in anything in which reasoning and observation come into play. Mere memory seems to be worked. I shall certainly look out for some school with more diversified studies for my younger boys. I was talking
lately to the Dean of Hereford, who takes most strongly this view; and he tells me that there is a school at Hereford commencing on this plan; and that Dr. Kennedy at Shrewsbury is going to begin vigorously to modify that school. . . .
I am extremely glad to hear that you approved of my cirripedial volume. I have spent an almost ridiculous amount of labour on the subject, and certainly would never have undertaken it had I foreseen what a job it was. I hope to have finished by the end of the year. Do write again before a very long time; it is a real pleasure to me to hear from you. Farewell, with my wife's kindest remembrances to yourself and Mrs. Fox.
My dear old friend, yours affectionately,
C. Darwin to W. D. Fox.
Down, August 10th .
MY DEAR FOX, I thank you sincerely for writing to me so soon after your most heavy misfortune. Your letter affected me so much. We both most truly sympathise with you and Mrs. Fox. We too lost, as you may remember, not so very long ago, a most dear child, of whom I can hardly yet bear to think tranquilly; yet, as you must know from your own most painful experience, time softens and deadens, in a manner truly wonderful, one's feelings and regrets. At first it is indeed bitter. I can only hope that your health and that of poor Mrs. Fox may be preserved, and that time may do its work softly, and bring you all together, once again, as the happy family, which, as I can well believe, you so lately formed.
My dear Fox, your affectionate friend,
[The following letter refers to the Royal Society's Medal, which was awarded to him in November, 1853:1