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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. E. Gray   [5 or 6 February 1848]1

Down Farnborough Kent


My dear Gray

I received yesterday your note with the good tidings of the great liberality of the Trustees.2 Now if I do not make a tolerably good Monograph, it will be purely my own fault.

Do you think I ought to write to thank the Trustees; if so will you be so very kind as to send me one line to say so: if I do not hear, I shall understand that I had better not write.— Upon second thougths I think I had better write, as it cannot do harm & it is better to be on the too civil side; I will enclose a note to you, to be laid before the Trustees.3

With respect to the specimens, I am not ready for them; for I have lately been going backwards ie finding out points in the Anatomy which require days on days of work. I do not now suppose I shall be ready for the species part for 6 weeks.— I shall commence with the pedunculated division.4 I will, however, see you & consult with you, how much I had better have at first. I fear it will cost you, or some of your subordinates, a good deal of trouble making out the list. I should be extremely glad to have as many names of genera & of species, when such have been anywhere described, affixed, as you can have the kindness & patience to give me. Without your assistance I shd break down with the synomony.5 But I will talk on this head with you, when we meet. I have now the whole of Mr Stutchburys collection & he seems to have named his partly from the B. Museum, which will be of some assistance.

I cannot too strongly express how deeply I have been gratified by your letter to the Trustees. Your conduct has been most generous & handsome, & I shall never forget it—

Pray believe me | Yours most sincerely obliged | C. Darwin


Although the order of this and the letter to J. E. Gray, 5 [or 6] February 1848, is clear, it is not certain whether they were written on 5 or 6 February since this letter is dated Sunday [6 February] and the next is dated 5 February. It is most likely that they were both written on Sunday the 6th, as in this letter ‘Sa’ was altered to read ‘Sunday’ (Manuscript alterations and comments).
CD had asked Gray to seek the permission of the trustees of the British Museum to allow him the use of the Cirripedia collections. See letters to J. E. Gray, [18 December 1847] and 18 December 1847.
See letter to J. E. Gray, 5 [or 6] February 1848. The trustees of the British Museum gave their approval of the loan of the Cirripedia collections at a meeting of 29 January 1848 (see letter to J. E. Gray, 18 December 1847, n. 3, and Gunther 1979, p. 57).
The Lepadidae, described in Living Cirripedia (1851).
‘Synonomy’ is intended. In the preface to Living Cirripedia (1851): x–xi, CD stated his policy on recording synonyms as follows: I have given much fewer synonyms than is usual in conchological works; this partly arises from my conviction that giving references to works, in which there is not any original matter, or in which the Plates are not of a high order of excellence, is absolutely injurious to the progress of natural history, and partly, from the impossibility of feeling certain to which species the short descriptions given in most works are applicable;—thus, to take the commonest species, the Lepas anatifera, I have not found a single description (with the exception of the anatomical description by M. Martin St. Ange) by which this species can be certainly discriminated from the almost equally common Lepas Hillii. I have, however, been fortunate in having been permitted to examine a considerable number of authentically named specimens, (to which I have attached the sign (!) used by botanists,) so that several of my synonyms are certainly correct.


Gunther, A. E. 1979. J. E. Gray, Charles Darwin, and the cirripedes, 1846–1851. Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 34: 53–63.


Discusses loan of cirripede specimens from the British Museum and problems of classification. Encloses a note of thanks to be laid before the Trustees [see 1153].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Edward Gray
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.72)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1155,” accessed on 14 August 2020,

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