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Darwin Correspondence Project

To George Newport   24 July [1851]

Down Farnborough | Kent

July 24th.

My dear Sir

Your kindness some two or three years ago in showing me your manner of dissecting1 induces me to believe, that you would be willing to oblige, me, if it be in your power, by lending me one of your old pair scissors sharpened by yourself, & adapted for the finest dissections, in order that I may shame Mess. Weiss & Co2 to endeavour to make me an equally good pair, (but to open with a spring & mounted with one arm long, for I have in vain endeavoured to cut in the wonderful manner I saw you do with one elbow pointed to the sky); for an eminent cutter ought to be able to make as good an article as you: Weiss has made me two pair, but they are very poor articles.

Very shortly after I spent that extremely interesting morning with you,3 my health quite gave way & for many months I did nothing, since then I have been greatly restored, but have found the excitement of London so injurious, that I have seldom come up;4 had it not been for this, I shd. have ventured to have intruded myself on you again.—

I have at last finished my last page of M.S. on the pedunculated Cirripedia for the Ray Soc: will you tell me,whether you are member,5 for if you are not, I hope you will let me send you a copy, when published as if some small part of my volume should interest you, & some half dozen other naturalists in Europe of your class, I shd. be amply repaid for my long continued & often interrupted labours.—

Pray understand that if you have not an old pair of scissors, which you can spare for a week or fortnight, on no account whatever think of sending them: in case you can, they would not be too heavy, (well protected) for the Post.—

I hope you will forgive me for asking this favour, & believe me | My dear Sir | Your’s sincerely | C. Darwin

P.S. I ask in fact for another naturalist, as well as myself, namely John Lubbock,6 the eldest son of Sir John, my neighbour, who has taken a passion for dissecting & whom I have often told of your skill & your scissors,—alas, I fear the skill has more to do with success, than the scissors.—

I hope that your health is good: it was not quite so, when I saw you.—


George Newport was a prominent entomologist and renowned for his microscopical researches and great dexterity in dissection (DNB).
John Weiss and Son, surgical instrument makers, 62 Strand, London (Post Office London directory 1851).
There is no record of CD’s visit to Newport for advice on dissection techniques, but it probably took place during the early summer of 1848, before CD’s health began to fail (see n. 4, below). Newport resided at 55 Cambridge Street, near Hyde Park, London.
CD’s health began to fail in July 1848, and he spent 10 March to 30 June 1849 at James Manby Gully’s hydropathic establishment in Malvern. He did not recommence work on the Cirripedia until 13 July 1849 (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix I).
Newport was a member of the Ray Society, but it appears that he asked CD to donate a copy of Living Cirripedia (1851) to the Linnean Society library (see letter to George Newport, 12 August [1851]).
John Lubbock had been encouraged by CD to pursue his scientific interests, and, according to Lubbock, CD had ‘induced my father to give me a microscope, he let me do drawings for some of his books, and I greatly enjoyed my talks and walks with him. My first scientific original work was on some of his collections’ (Hutchinson 1914, 1: 23). In 1853, Lubbock published a description of a new species of Crustacea from CD’s collection. He named it Labidocera darwinii (ibid., 1: 33).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

Hutchinson, Horace Gordon. 1914. Life of Sir John Lubbock, Lord Avebury. 2 vols. London: Macmillan.

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.

Post Office London directory: Post-Office annual directory. … A list of the principal merchants, traders of eminence, &c. in the cities of London and Westminster, the borough of Southwark, and parts adjacent … general and special information relating to the Post Office. Post Office London directory. London: His Majesty’s Postmaster-General [and others]. 1802–1967.


Asks to borrow an old pair of GN’s dissecting scissors so that Weiss & Co. can use it as a model.

Health has been poor.

Has finished MS on pedunculated cirripedes for Ray Society [Living Cirripedia, vol. 1 (1851)].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Newport
Sent from
Source of text
Linnean Society of London
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1445,” accessed on 18 January 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5