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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Robert Patterson   6 April [1854]


Ap. 6th. [1854]1


A sharp attack of unwellness2 has prevented my answering sooner your note of the 28th. ulto— Mr. Thompson sent me all his M.S. on Cirripeda & the whole of his collection, which filled a good sized box.3 I remember not long before his death returning all the M.S. & I feel almost sure I remember packing up all the specimens. I have looked in every likely place and can find none of his; but it is just possible that amongst the numbers sent me from various quarters, his may be overlooked. In the middle of summer or early autumn I intend returning every specimen which I have borrowed & shall then without fail discover whether I have any of your poor friends yet here.4 And in that case will communicate with you.—5 But I very strongly think that collection was returned. This instant my memory flashes across me that he, at my request, returned me one specimen for further examination (and which one I must somewhere have) but this demonstrates that the main collection had previously been returned to him.

Pray forgive this long note & believe me Dear Sir | Yours sincerely | C. DARWIN


The date as given in Praeger 1935, p. 713.
CD recorded in his Health diary (Down House MS) that on 30 March he felt ‘Very Poorly much vomiting Bad Boil’. He did not recover until 5 April.
William Thompson had died in 1852. CD had described cirripede specimens borrowed from him in Living Cirripedia (1851) and had noted that he ‘sent me the finest collection of British species, and their varieties, which I have seen, together with many very valuable MS. observations’ (ibid., pp. vi–vii). Patterson was the executor of Thompson’s natural history collection.
In his ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 5, Appendix I), CD recorded on 9 September 1854: ‘Finished packing up all my cirripedes.’
See letter to Robert Patterson, 21 August [1854]. Praeger 1935, p. 711, gives a transcription of a letter from Patterson to his wife Mary, dated 2 May 1854, in which Patterson described ‘some pleasant chat with Charles Darwin’ at a meeting of the Linnean Society of that date.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 28 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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.

Praeger, William E. 1935. Six unpublished letters of Charles Darwin. Papers of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters 20: 711–5. [Vols. 4,5,8]


He has returned William Thompson’s MSS and, he believes, all his specimens of Cirripedia.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Robert Patterson
Sent from
Source of text
Praeger 1935, p. 713

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1565,” accessed on 22 May 2022,

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