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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Dana   27 September [1853]

Down Bromley Kent

Sept. 27th.—

My dear Sir

Pray forgive my troubling you: but my neighbour Mr J. Lubbock has got your work on Crustacea (as yet without the Plates) & has lent it me for a fortnight to look over;1 and I have experienced such great interest in many parts & have found it so suggestive towards my own Cirripedial work, that I cannot resist expressing my thanks & admiration. The Geographical discussion struck me as eminently good.2 The size of the work, & the necessary labour bestowed on it, is really surprising: why, if you had done nothing else whatever, it would have been a magnum opus for life.

Forgive my presuming to estimate your labours, but when I think that this work has followed your Corals & your Geology,3 I am really lost in astonishment at what you have done in mere labour. And then, besides the labour, so much originality in all three works! I only hope that your health has withstood such labour; it frightens me to think of it.—

You will have seen my friend & neighbour, Mr Lubbock has been working a little on the lower Crustacea:4 he is a remarkably nice young man, only a little above 18 years old:—if you can ever give him a little encouragement it would really be a good service, for he has great zeal, & for so young, I shd. hope, has done well; & if he can resist his future career of great wealth, business & rank, may do good work in Natural History.

I hope myself to go to press in a month’s time with my last vol. on the Cirripedia: I have got 30 Plates engraved, & shall be very glad to have finished it.—5

Pray do not think for one moment of answering this for there is nothing to answer in it: but excuse my troubling you & believe me with the highest respect. | Yours sincerely | C. Darwin


Dana 1852–3; the Atlas did not appear until 1855. See letter to J. D. Dana, 25 November [1852], in which CD stated his intention to borrow John Lubbock’s copy. In his reading notebook (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, 128: 6), CD recorded on 20 September 1853 having completed ‘Dana’s Crustacea’.
The last section of part two of Dana 1852–3 is entitled ‘On the geographical distribution of Crustacea’. This was also printed as a separate volume in 1853. Unknown to CD, Dana had already sent him a copy of this work (Dana 1853), which arrived in Down by 10 October (letter to JD. Dana, 10 October [1853]). This copy of Dana 1853, annotated by CD, is in the Darwin Library–CUL.
Dana prepared three reports for the United States Exploring Expedition, 1838–42: Zoophytes (1848), which included corals; Geology (1849), including his observations on the formation of coral reefs and islands; and the monograph on Crustacea (1852–3).
John Lubbock published a series of papers in 1853 on new genera and sub-genera of the Calanidae (see letter to JD. Dana, 25 November [1852], n. 10).
CD refers to Living Cirripedia (1854), which contains thirty plates. Proofs were not ready until February 1854 (‘Journal’; Correspondence vol. 5, Appendix I). CD was also preparing Fossil Cirripedia (1854).


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

Fossil Cirripedia (1854): A monograph of the fossil Balanidæ and Verrucidæ of Great Britain. By Charles Darwin. London: Palaeontographical Society. 1854.

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.


Admires JDD’s work on Crustacea, corals, and geology.

Commends young John Lubbock to his attention. Hopes JDD can give him encouragement; if he can resist his "great wealth, business, and rank, he may do good work in Natural History".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
James Dwight Dana
Sent from
Source of text
Yale University Library: Manuscripts and Archives (Dana Family Papers (MS 164) Series 1, Box 2, folder 43)
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1533,” accessed on 4 October 2023,

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