To Hugh Edwin Strickland 29 January 
Down Farnborough Kent
My dear Strickland
I have altered & added to your list & an awfully long one it is.—1 if anything is inserted which shd not be, you can strike out. There is one reference, as you will see by appended note, about which I know nothing, & have not the work to refer to.— I have arranged references, according to subject: there are some which I shd not have thought worth inserting, which I have marked.—
What a labour you have undertaken; I do honour your devoted zeal in the good cause of Natural Science.—2 Do you happen to have a spare copy of the Nomenclature rules published in Brit. Assoc. Trans;3 if you have & wd give it me, I shd be truly obliged, for I grudge buying volume for it.— I have found the rules very useful; it is quite a comfort to have something to rest on in the turbulent ocean of nomenclature, (& am accordingly grateful to you) though I find it very difficult to obey always.— Here is a case, (& I think it shd have been noticed in rules). Coronula, Cineras & Otion are names adopted by Cuvier, Lamarck, Owen & almost every well-known writers, but I find that all 3 names were anticipated by a German:4 now I believe if I were to follow strict rule of priority more harm wd be done than good & more especially as I feel sure the newly fished up names wd not be adopted.— I have almost made up my mind to reject rule of priority in this case: would you grudge the trouble to send me your opinion.—5
I have been led of late to reflect much on the subject of naming & I have come to a fixed opinion that the plan of the first describer’s name being appended for perpetuity to species has been the greatest curse to natural History.— Some months since I wrote out the enclosed badly drawn up paper,6 thinking that perhaps I wd agitate the subject, but the fit has passed & I do not suppose I ever shall: I send it you for the chance of your caring to see my notions. I have been surprised to find in conversation that several naturalists were of nearly my way of thinking. I feel sure as long as species-mongers have their vanity tickled by seeing their own names appended to a species, because they first miserably described it, in two or three lines, we shall have the same vast amount of bad work as at present, & which is enough to dishearten any man who is willing to work out any branch with care & time. I find every genus of cirripedia has half a dozen names & not one careful description of any one species in any one genus.— I do not believe that this wd have been the case, if each man knew that the memory of his own name depended on his doing his work well, & not upon merely appending a name with a few wretched lines indicating only a few prominent external characters.— But I will not weary you with any longer tirade— Read my paper or not just as you like & return it, whenever you please.
Your’s most sincerely, C. Darwin
Has altered and added to HES’s list [compiled for Bibliographia zoologiæ et geologiæ, edited by Louis Agassiz and enlarged by HES, (1848–54)].
On zoological nomenclature CD cites a case in which he believes more harm than good would be done by following the rule of priority. Thinks the rule of the first describer’s name being attached in perpetuity to a species has been the greatest curse to natural history. Every genus of cirripedes has a half-dozen names and not one careful description.
Sends a paper he once wrote [missing] on the subject [of zoological nomenclature].
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1215,” accessed on 29 March 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-1215