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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Edward Forbes   [1 May – 5 June 1851]1

Down Farnboro. Kent.


My dear Forbes

I have read with much interest, Mr Bate’s paper & admired his beautiful & excellent drawings—2 I am sorry to say that Mr. Bates is not at all aware (as he suggests himself) how much has been published on the Cirripedia— I presume he would consider that the Chief Point in his paper is the fact that the metamorphosis commences under a quite different form (viz a six-legged little crustacean) compared with the last form described by V. Thompson;3 it must no doubt have been a great satisfaction to him having made out this important fact independently But Burmeister in his Beitrage zur an Rankenfüsse has published figures (poor) & detailed description of the whole series of similar changes in the larva of Anatifa4

And Goodsir in the Edin New. Phil. Journal. has done the same thing for Balanus—5 Goodsir’s figures of the first & second (not the last) stages are closely similar, but not identical with those of Mr Bates.— Mr B. does not seem aware of V. Thompson’s second Paper in Royal Soc Transt. on the first (N.B. V. Thompson did not even conjecture there were two stages) stage of the larva of Anatifa;6 for he gives a copy of Thompsons figure copied by Profr. Harvey of Dublin (not Captn!) in his sea side book.—7 I will give some other authorities not known to Mr Bates, who speaks of the mature Cirripedes not having eyes, which shows he has not heard of Profr. Leidy’s discovery8 which I have repeatedly verified having found optic nerve & ganglion &c.— Kölliker has figured the spermatozoa of Cirripedia,9 but as far as I have seen Mr Bates figures seem more accurate, than Kölliker, & yet I hardly like to distrust on such a subject such an observer.10

When Mr Bates speaks of the pulp (an inappropriate name I think) in the tubes of shell of Balanus being isolated, I conceive he is mistaken, as he would see if he read Dr. Coldstream’s paper in Encycp. of Anatomy—11 But the most valuable & extensive paper unknown to Mr Bates is by Martin St Ange read 16 years ago to the Acad: Sc: Paris, with excellent figures;12 if Mr Bates had read this he would have seen that his figure Tab. V. is very erroneous; I can assure him I have repeatedly verified St Ange’s observations; Mr B. makes the two so called testes (really vesiculæ seminales, the testes being quite distinct) debouch at the anus! & the alimentary canal debouch at the end of the probosciformed male organ or penis! My unpublished observations are of course of no authority but I see many points very different from Mr Bates, & it would be unfriendly not to caution him that his description of the female parts of generation are very far, as I believe from the truth.—13 Indeed St Ange would show this in two leading points & St Ange has been confirmed by Rudolph Wagner14 and Lovèn15 in parts of his description—

I do not know whether Mr Bates will think my advice uncalled for,16 but I would recommend him to publish only his observations on the larva out of Justice sake, alluding to Burmeister, &, Goodsir’s previous discovery of the great fact of the complex metamorphosis of the Cirripedia— Perhaps he had better look at Goodsir’s figures (Edin: New. Phil. Journal. July 1843) & see how near his are, & allude to points of difference, some of which I consider of very considerable interest I will add that letters of reference to each corresponding part would make his figures plainer in Tab I.— If I might venture to beg a favour it would be, when Mr Bates paper is published, if he would give me (supposing he has such) two or three specimens of the larva in the 2nd & 3rd stage as figured in Tab I. I should like to see rather a fuller description of the curious point on the basal segments of the legs, which Goodsir imperfectly figures—17 Would Mr Bates permit me in my introduction to my systematic volume to be published this autumn in which I shall give an abstract of my anatomical observations, to allude to his drawings of the early stages of the larva?18 One word more, would it not be advisable for Mr Bates to give some measurements of the embryo figured 18–19, for they must be excessively minute—19 The fact of the 21 segments being reckonable is exceedingly curious— Forgive this long letter, but I did not like to say simply—that parts of Mr Bates work had been forestalled without going into details—

Believe me dear Forbes with sincere thanks for your kind expressions about our bitter loss.20

Yours most truly. | C. Darwin.


The date range is established by the reference to CD’s ‘bitter loss’ (see n. 20, below) and the letter of 13 June to Charles Spence Bate. The first Thursday after CD’s return from Malvern was 1 May, and 5 June is the last possible Thursday on which he could have written to Forbes and had a reply from Bate by 13 June.
CD’s reference is to the manuscript of Bate’s paper, which was published in October 1851 (Bate 1851). Bate described the two larval stages of five species of Lepadidae. CD cited Bate’s paper in the section on metamorphosis in Living Cirripedia (1851): 8–28. The copyist frequently spelled the name ‘Bates’. Whether it was so spelled in CD’s original is not known.
John Vaughan Thompson, who, through his observation of the metamorphosis of crustacea-like larvae into barnacles, was the first to point out that the Cirripedia were allied to the Crustacea (Thompson 1830 and 1835). Thompson identified two distinct larval forms and thought one was the larva of pedunculated cirripedes and the other the larva of sessile cirripedes. In fact both forms, now referred to as nauplius and cyprid stages, are common to all cirripedes.
Burmeister 1834, the full title of which is Beiträge zur Naturgeschichte der Rankenfüsser (Cirripedia). Hermann Burmeister described what he took to be four developmental stages in the larvae of Lepadidae. CD’s annotated copy of Burmeister 1834 is in the Darwin library–CUL.
Goodsir 1843.
Thompson 1835.
Harvey 1849.
Leidy 1848.
Koelliker 1843.
CD’s own description of the spermatozoa of Balanidae differed slightly from that given in Koelliker 1843 and Bate 1851 (see Living Cirripedia (1854): 98–9).
Coldstream 1836.
Martin-Saint-Ange 1835. In Living Cirripedia (1851): viii–ix, CD gave the date as 1834, the date it was read.
For a discussion of CD’s interpretation of the female generative system, see Crisp 1983.
Wagner 1834.
Lovèn 1844.
Bate in large measure followed CD’s advice and concluded his paper with an expression of ‘thanks to Mr. Darwin, but for whose kindness I should have been guilty of publishing more than a single error.’ (Bate 1851, p. 331).
CD referred to Bate’s description of the spiny projections at the base of the legs of cirripede larvae in Living Cirripedia (1851): 11.
The permission was granted (see letter to C. S. Bate, 13 June [1851]). CD referred to Bate 1851 in the preface to Living Cirripedia (1851): ix, as a ‘valuable Paper’ and discussed his work further on pp. 9–16. CD reproduced figures from it in Living Cirripedia (1854): Plate XXIX, fig. 7.
See letter to C. S. Bate, 13 June [1851], in which CD suggested that Bate purchase a micrometer to fit into the eye-piece of his microscope.
The death of Anne Darwin, 23 April 1851.


Comments on MS by C. S. Bate. Bate not aware of other work on Cirripedia; cites Bate’s errors. Would Bate allow CD to use his drawings in Living Cirripedia? [See Living Cirripedia 1: 9–16.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Edward Forbes
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 144: 131
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1214,” accessed on 26 June 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5