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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Charles Lyell   15 February [1853]

Down Farnborough Kent

Feby. 15th.

My dear Lyell

I am uncommonly obliged to you for thinking of sending me so valuable a present as Agassiz, but the great man honoured me with a copy, so I will return yours with very many thanks by the Carrier.—1

I am very glad to have Adams’ pamphlets; I had heard of him: I have not read them, but he appears as heteredox as myself.2

With many thanks | Ever yours | C. Darwin

I have just finished dissecting a curious cirripede, which is female & has successive corps of males attached to her: I found one with 12 males so fixed to her! These males I suspect are the most negative creatures in the world; they have no mouth, no stomach, no thorax, no limbs, no abdomen, they consist wholly of the male reproductive organs in an envelope.3


Agassiz 1850 (see Correspondence vol. 4, letter to Louis Agassiz, 15 June [1850]). Agassiz’s presentation copy of Lake Superior, with CD’s notes pinned in back of the volume, is in the Darwin Library–CUL. CD recorded having read it between 16 August 1850 and early November 1850 (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, 119: 22a). Lyell had returned from a visit to the United States of America just before Christmas 1852.
Adams 1851a, 1851b, and 1852. The copies mentioned in the letter are in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL with a note on the cover of each ‘from C. Lyell’. Adams 1851a is heavily annotated by CD. Charles Baker Adams argued that there was no aboriginal ‘constitutional peculiarity of character’ in varieties of Mollusca (Adams 1852, p. 193). CD cited Adams in Natural selection, p. 139, concerning the geographical range of varieties discussed in Adams’s study of terrestrial Mollusca.
Alcippe lampas (see Living Cirripedia (1854): 562).


Adams, Charles Baker. 1852. Hints on the geographical distribution of animals, with special reference to the Mollusca. Reprinted from Adams, Charles Baker. [1849–52]. Contributions to conchology. London and New York.

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.

Natural selection: Charles Darwin’s Natural selection: being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. Edited by R. C. Stauffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975.


Returns Lake Superior [1850], which he already has received from Agassiz. Thanks for pamphlets by C. B. Adams [on Mollusca, Contrib. Conchol. 10 (1851): 189–206; 11 (1852): 207–15].

Describes his dissection of an unusual cirripede [Alcippe lampas] with 12 males attached [see Living Cirripedia 2: 556, 558].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.103)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1502,” accessed on 8 June 2023,

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