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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Edwin Lankester, Ray Society   27 October [1850]

Down Farnborough Kent

Oct. 27th

My dear Sir

I have looked over my M.S. on the Pedunculated Cirripedes & I find I could get it ready for press in a fortnight. But I cannot see that this would be of any use until the engravings are completed, for I could not correct the press without proof-sheets of the engravings to give references to. I find from enquiry that to have preliminary finished drawings of all the specimens would be a great & absolutely useless expence: a mere outline is required, & all the details can be put in from the specimens themselves.

The first point, as it appears to me, is for the Council to settle how many 8.vo Plates they will give me: I believe from 7 to 10 would be sufficient, but it would take up much time for me to settle positively before hand, as I hardly can tell the exact scale which some of the drawings ought to be done on; & therefore I hope that the Council will give me that much margin, viz 7 to 10 & I will pledge myself not to put one figure in which I do not think very desirable.—1

Secondly, I must know, to what extent the Council wd like the figures coloured; I think about half would be much improved by colour.

Thirdly I wish to know whether the Council will employ Mr G. B. Sowerby Junr to etch the Plates for me; I am very anxious on this head, as he has already made some drawings for me & I see understands the subject.—

Fourthly; I could send, if desired by the Council, a specimen Plate to Mr Sowerby to show him size of Plate & of figures & of the fullness of the Plate, & then Mr S. could send in an estimate of price of Engraving per Plate, or in whatever manner estimates are usually sent in.—2 It will I presume take some little time before these points can be settled by the Council or yourself, & it so happens that it wd be particularly inconvenient to me to commence on this job until I have finished what I have now in hand, which will take-up 3 or 4 weeks; but if the Council will be so good as to authorise me to set Mr Sowerby to work, I will do so before the end of November, & at the same time get my M.S. complete so as to go to press, as soon as ever I get proofs of the Plates from Mr Sowerby.—

I hope you will be so kind as to endeavour to get these preliminary points settled, & let me hear the result.— I am sorry to trouble you with so long a letter, but I did not know how to make it shorter, not being acquainted with the routine of the Ray. Soc:.— I hope, hereafter, not to be so troublesome.—

Pray believe me | My dear Sir | Your’s sincerely | C. Darwin To Dr. Lankester | &c &c.

P.S. | I am not sure whether the Council understands, that by the present division, the Systematic Section will be in two Parts, the first small & the second fully twice as large; and a Third Part not very large on the Anatomy, Habits Range &c.3


Eight plates were approved, of which two were to be in colour, but this decision was later revised at CD’s request for a ninth uncoloured plate in lieu of the coloured plates and a tenth to be paid for by CD himself. The change was approved by the Ray Society (Ray Society Minutes, 7 April 1851, British Museum (Natural History)).
George Brettingham Sowerby Jr was subsequently employed by the society.
The plan for a third part was not carried out. Living Cirripedia was published in two volumes. The systematic description of each species is followed by a summary of its geographical distribution and a section, usually entitled ‘General appearance’, on its anatomy.


MS [of Living Cirripedia, vol. 1] can be ready in two weeks, but CD would like a decision from the Council of the Ray Society on number of plates. Thinks specimen should be sent to G. B. Sowerby Jr for an estimate on price of engraving. Regrets he is not familiar with routine of the Society. Systematic section will be in two parts; the third part will be on anatomy, habits, etc.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Edwin Lankester; Ray Society
Sent from
Source of text
Empire Autograph Auctions (dealers) (29 March 2000)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1364,” accessed on 28 November 2021,

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