Describes his research on cirripedes. Asks to borrow specimens. Comments on previous work on the subject.
Down Farnborough Kent
I trust to what I hear of your character of wishing to assist all Naturalists, to
excuse the great liberty I take in addressing you.— I have been employed for
nearly two years on an Anatomical & Systematic Monograph on the Cirripedia. It
is my intention to describe the animal of every species, which by soaking I am enabled
to do even with dry specimens. All the descriptions, without exception, which I have
hitherto seen are too imperfect for the identification of species: external forms,
proportions & state of surface are nearly valueless as characters. I have
excellent materials placed in my hands in the collection of M
The species of the United states would be particularly interesting to me, for comparison with Europæan, on account of Geographical range. I am aware that you have described some species, & I am most anxious to avoid giving a second name, which I cannot do without seeing specimens of yours & being allowed to disarticulate one or two of each kind.
Say has described a Coronula denticulata from the King-Crab: his description does not allow me even to know the genus. & I am particularly anxious to know this form, which I imagine to be a Platylepas, though all the other species are parasitic on Vertebrata. This species will perhaps be in some Public collection would it be possible, considering that no monograph has been ever been written on the Cirripedia, to get me the loan of a specimen or the gift of one to be deposited afterwards in the British Museum, to which body I give all my own collection.—
Of course the species inhabiting the coast of the United states near Boston would be most valuable to me in Spirits.—
I cannot offer any sufficient apology for the intrusion of this letter, but must rely solely on your kindness.
With much respect, | I beg to remain | Sir | Your
faithful & obliged servant | Charles Darwin
To | D
Since writing the above I have heard from M
- f1 1200.f1In the preface to Living Cirripedia (1851): vii, CD thanked Gould and Louis Agassiz for having sent him ‘some very interesting specimens’. See also letter to Louis Agassiz, 22 October 1848.
- f2 1200.f2Gould's Report on the invertebrata of Massachusetts (Gould 1841) is still the definitive text on New England molluscs (DSB). Gould also described the Mollusca and shells from the United States Exploring Expedition (Gould 1852–6), which included Cirripedia.
- f3 1200.f3Thomas Say, a self-taught entomologist and conchologist, described a Coronula dentulata found on the clypeus of Limulus polyphemus in Say 1821, p. 325.
- f4 1200.f4No such species of Balanidae, either of Coronula or of Platylepas, is described in Living Cirripedia (1854).
- f5 1200.f5Charles Lyell had met Gould during one or both of his visits to the United States (K. M. Lyell ed. 1881, 2: 119, 128).