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Darwin Correspondence Project

From S. L. Lovén   [14 January 1876]1



I have done myself the honour of sending you by post a paper on the Echinoidea, which I beg you to accept as a feeble token of my profound veneration.2 It is written in french, as yet the best way of making any books / things readable3 known to Naturalists in general.

It seemed to me that there existed not a little in our knowledge confusion of the different parts of the exoseleton of the Echinodermata,4 and that it might be of some use to examine more closely into their structure and modes of combination. In so doing to the best of my powers, I was lead to look upon some among / of them from points of view different from the generally accepted, to trace certain relations of homology, not remarked / recognised before. It was however very soon obvious that, whatever I may have succeeded to bring to / into new light, it is very little if compared to what remains to be done before it may be allowed to speculate on the origin of the different types, which seems to be lost in the darkness of pre-cambrian times. On this question I have therefore not entered. I should be very glad if I were permitted to believe that you would bestow some moments of your precious time on looking to my memoir, which, some bad french excepted, will I hope be at least more easy reading than the english translation which appeared two years ago in the Annals and Magazine5

I remain |Dear Sir | Yours most truly


CD refers to the date of this letter in his reply (see letter to S. L. Lovén, 28 January 1876).
CD’s copy of Lovén’s seminal study of the phylogeny and taxonomy of the Echinoidea (the class of heart urchins, sand dollars, and sea urchins; Lovén 1872a) is in the Darwin Library–Down; it is inscribed by the author (Marginalia 1: 506).
Where there are alternative phrasings written one above the other in the draft both have been transcribed; they are indicated in the transcription by a forward slash.
The phylum of sea lilies, starfish, brittle stars, sea cucumbers, and sea urchins.
The original version of Lovén’s paper on the Echinoidea was read at the Royal Academy of Sciences of Sweden on 12 May 1869 and 14 June 1871, but published only in abstract (see Lovén 1872a, p. 3, n. 1). Lovén supplied a copy of the paper to William Sweetland Dallas, who made the English translation published in Annals and Magazine of Natural History (Lovén 1872b; see p. 285). The version of the paper sent to CD in 1876 (Lovén 1872a) incorporated several new observations and a number of plates.


Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.


Has sent his paper on Echinoidea [see 10373] as a token of his veneration. He tried to address the confusion in knowledge about the different parts of the exoskeleton of the Echinodermata by tracing certain relations of homology not previously noticed. Much more work is required.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10357A,” accessed on 17 April 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24