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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. E. Gray   26 August 1848

Brit. Mus

26 Aug 1848

My Dear Darwin

I am very sorry that any person should have so misunderstood me as you inform me they have done1

When I read the papers at the Zool Society I stated that you were engaged on the anatomy and study of these animals and cited some of the important discoveries you had made and further stated that I brought forward the paper giving the Synonima of the genera and species (my arrangement arrangement of the genera) as the existed in my Mss Catalogue on which I had been working for some time as by so doing I should be able to facilitate your labours

The Paper was solely the Mss of the Catalogue which you saw before you commenced the study of the subject

You requested me to assist you in your work by giving you the Synonima etc.2 and I considered that it would be more satisfactory for you to quote them from a Paper printed in the Proceeding of the Zoological Society than from my Mss. especially as you have the same specimens to examine as those on which I have worked an which are marked with the result of my labours

But as you appear to think I may run counter to you I shall withdraw the Papers as I find they have not yet been sent to the Press I certainly did not believe that they would in any way interfere with you or that you had any desire that I should not publish an abstract of the observation which I had made on this group on which I have devoted many month or rather years, all of which I have more readily [communicated] to any who have enquired about them. I informed you at the time you first spoke to me on the subject what I had done & was doing with them but since that period I have abstained from any further researches, and was merely about to record the observations I had made & can only repeat thought that by so doing I was helping you.

believe me My Dear Darwin | Yours Very Truly

P.S. I find I must let the 2 short papers read in March remain as they are in type and the specimens are figured on the plate of another animal3


Gray had read two short papers describing new species of cirripedes at a meeting of the Zoological Society of London on 14 March 1848 (J. E. Gray 1848a, 1848b). CD was concerned because it seemed that Gray had changed his mind about giving him free rein in describing the class. Some of CD’s friends had apparently warned him that Gray intended to anticipate his work (see letter to J. E. Gray, 29 August [1848]).
See letter to J. E. Gray, [5 or 6 February 1848].
The two papers were printed on a single page (p. 44) of the Proceedings of the Zoological Society for 1848, but Gray may have made some changes in the final text. The specimens are not figured, but the verso of p. 44 has a plate of another animal. No mention of CD’s work is made in the printed papers.


Is sorry that any person has misunderstood his intentions. JEG read his papers on cirripedes at the Zoological Society without intending to interfere with CD’s work; he merely wished to record his old observations, made before CD commenced his study, and thought that by so doing he was helping CD. [See "Description of a new species of Anatifa" and "On Thaliella", Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. (1848): 44.]

Letter details

Letter no.
John Edward Gray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
British Museum
Source of text
Natural History Museum (Zoological reports 1848: 254–5)
Physical description
AdraftS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1196,” accessed on 27 April 2017,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 4