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Darwin Correspondence Project

To James Dwight Dana   9 September [1851]1

Down Farnboro’ Kent

Sept. 9th.

My dear Sir

You will possibly have been surprised at my not having sooner thanked you for your very kind & valuable letter of the 18th of February2 (proh pudor!) & for the Acasta-like Balanus3 which did not arrive for some time after your letter. But I expected to have had three or four months ago a copy of my Fossil Lepadidæ to send you, but I have been much delayed in receiving these copies, & only got them a few days ago.4 And now, I am correcting the proof-sheets of my volumeon the recent Lepadidæ,5 so that I will wait for a month or two, till I have a copyof this to send with the other to you, & to a few other kind American correspondents.—6

Your Acasta looks a very curious species & I almost think new Genus, but I have not as yet examined it, for I make most snail-like progress in whatever I do. I should think more thought passed through your head, & words from your pen, in one day, than in ten through mine.— My weak health is partly my excuse.—

In the Spring I saw Abich,7 who has just returned from the Caucasus, where he has been studying inter alia the extinct volcanos; & he told Sir C. Lyell, that there were many points he was never able to understand, until reading your admirable Chapters on the Sandwich Islands.—8

I sincerely hope that you are well, & that your mutifarious & valuable labours are all progressing successfully.—

Dear Sir | Your’s sincerely | C. Darwin


Dated 1852 by the Sterling Library, Yale University. However, the reference in the letter to CD receiving copies of Fossil Cirripedia (1851) ‘a few days ago’ indicates that the year must be 1851. This is further confirmed by CD’s statement that he was correcting proofs of Living Cirripedia (1851): he did this work between 18 August and 12 November 1851 (‘Journal’; Correspondence vol. 5, Appendix I).
The letter has not been found.
In his discussion of Acasta, a sub-genus of the Balanidae, CD stressed the difficulty of distinguishing some of its species from those of Balanus. He apparently decided later that Dana’s specimen was a true Acasta. In his description of Acasta sporillus, Living Cirripedia (1854): 319–20, CD stated: ‘I am indebted to Mr. Dana, the distinguished naturalist of the United States Antarctic Expedition, for two specimens of this interesting species,’ and he used Dana’s manuscript name sporillus (p. 319).
See letter from John Gwyn Jeffreys, 7 September 1851.
Living Cirripedia (1851). See n. 1, above.
CD presented copies of Fossil Cirripedia (1851) and Living Cirripedia (1851) to Dana, Augustus Addison Gould, and Louis Agassiz in the United States (MS attached to CD’s copy of Living Cirripedia (1854), Cambridge University Library).
Otto Hermann Wilhelm Abich, professor of mineralogy at Dorpat University.
Dana 1849. See Correspondence vol. 4, letters to Charles Lyell, 4 December [1849] and [7? December 1849], and letter to J. D. Dana, 5 December [1849], for CD’s comments on Dana’s geological researches.


Thanks him for letter and Balanus specimen.

Acasta is curious; may be a new genus.

Is sending copy [of Fossil Cirripedia 1]. Correcting proofs [of Living Cirripedia 1].

Mentions comment by Hermann Abich on JDD’s chapters on the Sandwich Islands [in Geology (1849)].

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1453,” accessed on 27 April 2017,

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