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Letter 1445

Darwin, C. R. to Newport, George

24 July [1851]

    Summary Add

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    Asks to borrow an old pair of GN's dissecting scissors so that Weiss & Co. can use it as a model.

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    Health has been poor.

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    Has finished MS on pedunculated cirripedes for Ray Society [Living Cirripedia, vol. 1 (1851)].

Transcription

Down Farnborough | Kent

July 24th

My dear Sir

Your kindness some two or three years ago in showing me your manner of dissecting induces me to believe, that you would be willing to oblige, me, if it be in your power, by lending me one of your old pair scissors sharpened by yourself, & adapted for the finest dissections, in order that I may shame Mess Weiss & Co to endeavour to make me an equally good pair, (but to open with a spring & mounted with one arm long, for I have in vain endeavoured to cut in the wonderful manner I saw you do with one elbow pointed to the sky); for an eminent cutter ought to be able to make as good an article as you: Weiss has made me two pair, but they are very poor articles.

Very shortly after I spent that extremely interesting morning with you, my health quite gave way & for many months I did nothing, since then I have been greatly restored, but have found the excitement of London so injurious, that I have seldom come up; had it not been for this, I shd have ventured to have intruded myself on you again.—

I have at last finished my last page of M.S. on the pedunculated Cirripedia for the Ray Soc: will you tell me,whether you are member, for if you are not, I hope you will let me send you a copy, when published as if some small part of my volume should interest you, & some half dozen other naturalists in Europe of your class, I shd be amply repaid for my long continued & often interrupted labours.—

Pray understand that if you have not an old pair of scissors, which you can spare for a week or fortnight, on no account whatever think of sending them: in case you can, they would not be too heavy, (well protected) for the Post.—

I hope you will forgive me for asking this favour, & believe me | My dear Sir | Your's sincerely | C. Darwin

P.S. I ask in fact for another naturalist, as well as myself, namely John Lubbock, the eldest son of Sir John, my neighbour, who has taken a passion for dissecting & whom I have often told of your skill & your scissors,—alas, I fear the skill has more to do with success, than the scissors.—

I hope that your health is good: it was not quite so, when I saw you.—

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 1445.f1
    George Newport was a prominent entomologist and renowned for his microscopical researches and great dexterity in dissection (DNB).
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    f2 1445.f2
    John Weiss and Son, surgical instrument makers, 62 Strand, London (Post Office London directory 1851).
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    f3 1445.f3
    There is no record of CD's visit to Newport for advice on dissection techniques, but it probably took place during the early summer of 1848, before CD's health began to fail (see n. 4, below). Newport resided at 55 Cambridge Street, near Hyde Park, London.
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    f4 1445.f4
    CD's health began to fail in July 1848, and he spent 10 March to 30 June 1849 at James Manby Gully's hydropathic establishment in Malvern. He did not recommence work on the Cirripedia until 13 July 1849 (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix I).
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    f5 1445.f5
    Newport was a member of the Ray Society, but it appears that he asked CD to donate a copy of Living Cirripedia (1851) to the Linnean Society library (see letter to George Newport, 12 August [1851]).
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    f6 1445.f6
    John Lubbock had been encouraged by CD to pursue his scientific interests, and, according to Lubbock, CD had ‘induced my father to give me a microscope, he let me do drawings for some of his books, and I greatly enjoyed my talks and walks with him. My first scientific original work was on some of his collections’ (Hutchinson 1914, 1: 23). In 1853, Lubbock published a description of a new species of Crustacea from CD's collection. He named it Labidocera darwinii (ibid., 1: 33).
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