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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. S. Bowerbank   [January–August 1848]1

Down Farnborough Kent


My dear Sir

I received your note yesterday & the Box from the Geological2 this morning. I thank you cordially for your real kindness in making me so valuable a present. The Acasta’s or sponge Balani3 are extraordinarily fine ones & I shall now be able to make well out the structure of the shell in that genus, which I was wishing to do & was regretting some time since, that I had only the little British Species.4

But the prize in the set in an old shabby looking Balanus, which I feel almost sure will turn out quite a new genus & a very interesting one, as throwing light on some other genera.5

Should you receive any sponges in Spirits, pray do not forget how valuable a large Acasta in the wet state would be to me.

Thank you for telling me about the Barnacle at the Coll. of Surgeons,6 but unfortunately I am not in the least acquainted with Mr Quecket:7 do you know him well, & if so, would you object to mention my intention of making a monograph of the Cirripedia: anything from N. Zealand has a good chance of being interesting.8

With many thanks | Your’s very sincerely | C. Darwin J. S. Bowerbank.


The conjectured date is based on CD’s reference to his intention of making a monograph of the Cirripedia, a decision which was first mentioned in letter to J. E. Gray, 18 December 1847. The letter also precedes letter to John Thomas Quekett, 7 September [1848].
The Geological Society of London. CD and Bowerbank were both members of the council during 1848.
In Living Cirripedia (1854): 307 n., CD thanked Bowerbank for making available specimens of Acasta he found embedded in ‘his immense collection of sponges from all parts of the world’. See also letter to J. S. Bowerbank, 24 February [1849].
CD recorded working on Acasta and Clisia during March 1847 (‘Journal’; Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix I).
CD identified this organism as one of two species of the new genus Pachylasma, P. aurantiacum. In a note, CD thanked Bowerbank ‘for this unique and interesting species’ (Living Cirripedia (1854): 481 n.). Pachylasma was of interest for exhibiting characters of both of the two sub-families of the Balanidae, the Balaninae and the Chthamalinae. CD placed the genus within the latter group, but noted its transitional nature in a passage reminiscent of William Sharp Macleay’s views: ‘If the genera of the Chthamalinæ were ranged in a circle, Pachylasma would be the point of contact with the Balaninæ.’ (ibid., p. 477).
Possibly a specimen of Pentalasmis vitrea (CD’s Lepas fascicularis,a synonym of Dosima fascicularis), in the Royal College of Surgeons (1830, pt IV, p. 73), which CD described in Living Cirripedia (1851): 98.
John Thomas Quekett, assistant conservator of the Hunterian Museum, Royal College of Surgeons, and secretary of the Microscopical Society, of which Bowerbank was a member (see letter to J. T. Quekett, 7 September [1848]).
The area of the South Pacific including New Zealand in the east, Sumatra in the west, Australia in the south, and the Philippines in the North, ‘though including two distinct Cirripedial regions, is small compared with the surface of the globe, yet includes a greater number of species, especially of peculiar species, than the whole rest of the known world.’ (Living Cirripedia (1854): 159–60).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Living Cirripedia (1851): A monograph of the sub-class Cirripedia, with figures of all the species. The Lepadidæ; or, pedunculated cirripedes. By Charles Darwin. London: Ray Society. 1851.

Living Cirripedia (1854): A monograph of the sub-class Cirripedia, with figures of all the species. The Balanidæ (or sessile cirripedes); the Verrucidæ, etc. By Charles Darwin. London: Ray Society. 1854.


Thanks him for Balanus specimens. Comments on his findings. A large Acasta in the wet state would be valuable. Asks JSB to mention his work to J. T. Quekett at the College of Surgeons.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
James Scott Bowerbank
Sent from
Source of text
John Hay Library, Brown University (Albert E. Lownes Manuscript Collection)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1045,” accessed on 4 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 4