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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Augustus Addison Gould   3 September [1848]

Down Farnborough Kent

Sept 3d.


I trust to what I hear of your character of wishing to assist all Naturalists, to excuse the great liberty I take in addressing you.— I have been employed for nearly two years on an Anatomical & Systematic Monograph on the Cirripedia. It is my intention to describe the animal of every species, which by soaking I am enabled to do even with dry specimens. All the descriptions, without exception, which I have hitherto seen are too imperfect for the identification of species: external forms, proportions & state of surface are nearly valueless as characters. I have excellent materials placed in my hands in the collection of Mr Cuming, Stutchbury, Sowerby, Lyell &c &c, & the Trustees of the British Museum have done me the unusual honour of allowing me to have the public collection at my own house: I mention this merely to show that I am considered here a trustworthy person.— Now the object of this letter is to ask the great and unusual favour of the loan (I paying carriage both ways) of any N. American (or other) collection.1

The species of the United states would be particularly interesting to me, for comparison with Europæan, on account of Geographical range. I am aware that you have described some species,2 & I am most anxious to avoid giving a second name, which I cannot do without seeing specimens of yours & being allowed to disarticulate one or two of each kind.

Say has described a Coronula denticulata from the King-Crab:3 his description does not allow me even to know the genus. & I am particularly anxious to know this form, which I imagine to be a Platylepas, though all the other species are parasitic on Vertebrata.4 This species will perhaps be in some Public collection would it be possible, considering that no monograph has been ever been written on the Cirripedia, to get me the loan of a specimen or the gift of one to be deposited afterwards in the British Museum, to which body I give all my own collection.—

Of course the species inhabiting the coast of the United states near Boston would be most valuable to me in Spirits.—

I cannot offer any sufficient apology for the intrusion of this letter, but must rely solely on your kindness.

With much respect, | I beg to remain | Sir | Your faithful & obliged servant | Charles Darwin To | Dr. Gould | &c &c &c

Since writing the above I have heard from Mr Lyell, who says I may use his name as some introduction to you5


In the preface to Living Cirripedia (1851): vii, CD thanked Gould and Louis Agassiz for having sent him ‘some very interesting specimens’. See also letter to Louis Agassiz, 22 October 1848.
Gould’s Report on the invertebrata of Massachusetts (Gould 1841) is still the definitive text on New England molluscs (DSB). Gould also described the Mollusca and shells from the United States Exploring Expedition (Gould 1852–6), which included Cirripedia.
Thomas Say, a self-taught entomologist and conchologist, described a Coronula dentulata found on the clypeus of Limulus polyphemus in Say 1821, p. 325.
No such species of Balanidae, either of Coronula or of Platylepas, is described in Living Cirripedia (1854).
Charles Lyell had met Gould during one or both of his visits to the United States (K. M. Lyell ed. 1881, 2: 119, 128).


DSB: Dictionary of scientific biography. Edited by Charles Coulston Gillispie and Frederic L. Holmes. 18 vols. including index and supplements. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1970–90.

Gould, Augustus Addison. 1841. Report on the invertebrata of Massachusetts: comprising the mollusca, crustacea, annelida and radiata. Cambridge, Mass.: Folsom, Wells, and Thurston.

Gould, Augustus Addison. 1852–6. Mollusca & shells. Vol. 12 and atlas of United States Exploring Expedition during the years 1838–42. Under the command of Charles Wilkes, U.S.N. Boston: Gould & Lincoln. Philadelphia: C. Sherman & Son.

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.

Say, Thomas. 1821. An account of some of the marine shells of the United States. Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 2: 221–48, 257–76, 302–25.


Describes his research on cirripedes. Asks to borrow specimens. Comments on previous work on the subject.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Augustus Addison Gould
Sent from
5 SP 5 1848
Source of text
Houghton Library, Harvard University (Augustus A. Gould papers, 1831–66 MS Am 1210: 224)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1200,” accessed on 18 January 2022,

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