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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. V. Carus   23 March 1876

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

March 23. 76

My dear Sir

I am not surprised at your puzzle over the passage which ought to have been made clearer.1 Every reef consists in large part of agglutinated fragments & coral sand; and when I spoke of the vertical thickness of the reef I included the basis supposed to be formed of such matter, which if the reef were upheaved would be distinguished with difficulty from the upper part. You might make the sentence clear by adding after the word reef “including the basal part formed of agglutinated fragments & coral sand together with some of the more delicate deep-water corals”2

Dr Allen is a misprint for Allan at p 683

My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


This clause was added to the German translation of Coral reefs 2d ed. (Carus trans. 1876a, p. 52). It was not added to Coral reefs 3d ed.
The reference is to James Brands Allan; this correction was made to Coral reefs 3d ed., p. 68, and to the German translation of the second edition (Carus trans. 1876a, p. 50).


Coral reefs 2d ed.: The structure and distribution of coral reefs. By Charles Darwin. Revised edition. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1874.

Coral reefs 3d ed.: The structure and distribution of coral reefs, with an appendix by Prof. T. G. Bonney. By Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1889.


Clarifies a passage [in Coral reefs, 2d ed. (1874)], which JVC had questioned.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10426,” accessed on 25 September 2020,

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