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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Albany Hancock   29 January [1853]

Down Farnborough Kent

Jan. 29th.—

My dear Sir

I write in a hurry to catch to days post to beg a favour & to apologise. For the former first: I have been deeply interested by Alcippe, though I have not added much to your excellent description,1 excepting perhaps on the homologies as compared with other cirripedes of the several parts.2 I am almost driven mad by its generative system,3 & I write to ask whether you have any dry shells with Alcippe you cd. send me, as I think I could get some considerable good from them: I am most anxious to examine many specimens taken at different times of year:4 I shd be most grateful if you could send me such by Post, allowing me to pay postage if heavy.

Wd. it be possible to employ for me any fishermen to get the shells now?? though specimens taken later than those you sent me, would perhaps be most useful to me: but any now wd be of greatest interest to me. My surmises are too vague & too long to tell in this note, & perhaps all a blunder, but I am dreadfully perplexed.

Now for apologies,—can you forgive me when I tell you that I have cut up all the specimens you lent me? I fear I have been unreasonable, but I have trusted to the extreme kindness you have shown me in all your correspondence. Will you forgive me?

Yours very truly | In Haste | C. Darwin

Alcippe has no relation to my burrowing S. American little cirripede.5


A. Hancock 1849.
CD was apparently beginning to suspect that Alcippe, like Ibla and Scalpellum, was not hermaphrodite. He found no external male organs in his specimens and also discovered that each had minute parasites attached to them. See Living Cirripedia (1854): 555.
Arthrobalanus (Cryptophialus minutus). CD had long believed that Alcippe and Arthrobalanus were allied owing to the similarity in the number and position of their cirri and in their habits (see Collected papers 1: 250 and Correspondence vol. 4, letter to Albany Hancock, [21 September 1849]). Because of this belief he had deferred examining Alcippe until he was finished with the common cirripedes. For a discussion of their differences, see Living Cirripedia (1854): 563–6.


Collected papers: The collected papers of Charles Darwin. Edited by Paul H. Barrett. 2 vols. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1977.

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

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.


Discusses Alcippe. Asks to borrow specimens. Would like to hire fishermen to collect specimens.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Albany Hancock
Sent from
Source of text
Archives of the New York Botanical Garden (Charles Finney Cox Collection)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1498,” accessed on 8 June 2023,

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