To T. H. Huxley 11 April 1
Down, Farnborough, Kent.
My dear Sir
I heard you say that you were at work at the Ascidiæ.2 I have some 12–15 specimens in Spirits; I hope in fairish condition. It is very likely that you may have more than you want, but should you like my specimens they are completely at your service. It will give me some trouble to get them out of several large bottles, but it would give me real pleasure should you wish to have and examine them, but please do not say you should like them for mere form-sake. The colours are noted in some instances.
I procured a compound Ascidian (Boltenia?) at the Falklands3 (now I believe preserved in spirits) like a strawberry on a long foot-stalk; in this there were ova in all states which seemed to pass as they became mature out of what I considered the ovarium, into two gut-formed bags in each individual; and here they could be traced passing into larva, first with a long tail, (having transverse septa) coiled round the head or body, and then free, and causing the larva to be locomotive. In the same compound individual all the eggs and larvæ were in the same state; and when most matured, the animals were so shrunk, that the whole seemed formed of the gut-formed bags with the larvæ. In another genus (now dried) from T. del Fuego, there were also tailed larvæ.4 My descriptions were only such as an ignorant school-boy might make. Doubtless you have Müller’s “Uber die Larven … Echinodermen, Viute Abhand:, 1852,5 Müller sent me a copy which is really wasted on me, and would be at the service of anyone who would value it.6
You spoke as if you had had an intention to review my Cirripedia: it is very indelicate in me to say so, but it would give me great pleasure to see my work reviewed by any one so capable as you of praising anything which might deserve praise, and criticising the errors which no doubt it contains. My chief reason for wishing it, is, otherwise I do not believe any foreigner will ever hear of its existence. It has been published a year, and no notice has been taken of it by any zoologist,7 except briefly by Dana.8 Upon my honour I never did such a thing before as suggest (not that I have exactly suggested this time) a review to any human being. But having done so, I may mention that in my own opinion, the Limulus-like larva in 1st stage;—the mouthless pupa;—especially the method of cement with its modifications;—the senses;—& homologies & sexual peculiarities,—are the most curious points,—but I daresay I greatly exaggerate their curiosity, for I have become a man of one idea,—cirripedes morning & night.—9
I am perfectly aware that with every wish on your part it may easily happen, that you could not spare time for old work,10 you having so much valuable new work.
Forgive the length & egotistical character of this note, & believe me | very truly your’s | Charles Darwin
Offers to send Ascidia specimens of Beagle voyage. Describes some of them.
Hopes THH will review his book [Living Cirripedia, vol. 1] which has been published for a year with no notice taken of it except briefly by Dana.
Discusses Limulus-like larva. "I have become a man of one idea.– cirripedes morning & night."
- Letter no.
- Charles Robert Darwin
- Thomas Henry Huxley
- Sent from
- Source of text
- Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine Archives (Huxley 5: 13)
- Physical description
- C 3pp2pp