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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Edwin Lankester, Ray Society   19 March [1853]

Down Farnborough Kent

March 19th.—

My dear Sir

I am very sorry to say that it is impossible that I can be ready so soon as you seem to expect. I never before heard that you expected my volume by any particular time in the year, & the vast delay after my last volume was printed off, did not make me suppose that you were very particular as to exact time. I certainly expected (& perhaps stated so, though I cannot remember that I did) that I shd be ready early in the current year; but my work has taken me far longer than I expected, & I have lost time by frequent unwellness; but I can truly say that I have not been idle for a day.1

Twenty Plates & the corresponding M.S. are all ready, but I find I must give at my own cost at least half-a-dozen more plates,2 & these are not yet even drawn. I have also at least 6 weeks more dissection to do.3 Before going to press, I must have a few weeks rest, & I do not think I shall be able to send you my M.S. till the beginning of August:4 but I will & can make no other pledge, except that I will work every day without exception, on which I can.— I am heartily sorry if I have deranged the plans of the Ray Socy; but no exertion of mine could have prevented it. I always thought if my volume was printed in 1853, it wd. suffice.—

Will you be so good as soon to inform me whether you will authorise Mr Sowerby to have 3 of the Plates struck off on account of their being coloured: you allowed me 2 coloured plates, & I am having 1 all coloured & 2 half Plates; & this Mr. S. tells me will cost only a few shillings extra.—5

Secondly, I find I cannot do without a few woodcuts:6 will you authorise my having them? & may Mr. Sowerby get them executed, as he will have to make the drawings on the wood. Be so kind as to let me have an answer to these queries.—

Pray believe me | Very truly yours | Charles Darwin

Your letter reached me only this morning the 19th.—7 I must again say how sorry I am if I have caused much inconvenience to your admirable Society.


See letter to Edwin Lankester, 30 July [1851], in which CD stated that the manuscript of the second volume of Living Cirripedia (1854) would be ready by the end of 1852, and letter to W. D. Fox, 24 [October 1852], for CD’s later expectation that he would complete the work by the summer of 1853.
Living Cirripedia (1854) contains thirty plates.
CD was working on Verruca, Alcippe, Cryptophialus, and Proteolepas.
The manuscript, which came to nine hundred pages, was not ready until January 1854.
Three partly coloured plates were included in the published volume.
Woodcuts were required for seven figures illustrating ‘the nomenclature of the shell of a sessile cirripede’ (Living Cirripedia (1854): inset opposite p. 3) and for eleven figures illustrating the structure of the shell of the family Balanidae (pp. 36–50).
Lankester’s letter has not been located.


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.


Objects to early deadline for submitting manuscript [of Living Cirripedia 2 (1854)]. Discusses illustrations by G. B. Sowerby [Jr].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Edwin Lankester; Ray Society
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.104)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1507,” accessed on 28 November 2021,

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