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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Leonard Jenyns   3 December [1837]

36 Grt. Marlbro’ St.—

December 3d

My dear Jenyns

I have been for some time intending to write to you, but I have been partly too idle and partly too busy.— Henslow tells me he hears a groan occasionally escape from you, when you mention my fishes; I ought to feel very thoroughly ashamed at this, but I am so very glad that you have undertaken to do what you can, that I am hardly able to pity even your groans.— I would sooner all the fish had rotted, than Mr Gray1 described them & with his exception, if you had not taken pity on them, they most surely would have remained for many a long year unlooked at and unnamed.— I understand, that you have made up your mind that some of the fish are undescribed.— If D’Orbigny’s Voyage2 is not in Public Library,3 you ought to urge Mr Lodge4 to get it; as it is most important work & will certainly contain some of my fish, at least some from the Patagonian coast. The Coquille’s Voyage5 possibly may contain some from the Falkland Islds.— Henslow will deliver to you a portfolio of coloured drawings of fish, made for Capt. FitzRoy by the artists on board the Beagle.6

The locality of each is mentioned, it is just possible that where only one of a marked genus occurs at a place you might be able to identify it, in which case we might have a coloured drawings.—

I will have any or all the fish you think new lithographed.— You need not be in any hurry about the fish (without you want to finish it & say you have done all you can do) as the fish will be published last of the vertebrate animals.—

I will of course send you a copy of the firs⁠⟨⁠t⁠⟩⁠ number, when it appears in January:7 it will contain nothing but the description of Toxodon.—

I hear you have had a pony for some time, but that most unfortunately it has turned lame. I wish with all my heart I could see any near prospect of paying Cambridge & you a visit, but you would be surprised to know how many minutiæ this Govermt work has entailed on me.— There will be no comfort in such undertakings, without a law is passed to empower naturalists every now and then to hang an artist for an example.—

Believe me, my dear Jenyns | Most truly Yours | Chas. Darwin.—


CD may have heard that John Edward Gray, then Assistant Zoological Keeper at the British Museum, was causing long delay in the publication of The zoology of Captain Beechey’s voyage (Beechey 1839). In the introduction to that work, Beechey complains bitterly about Gray’s slowness in finishing the descriptions of specimens.
Orbigny 1835–47. The zoological volume (vol. 5), containing descriptions of fish, was not published until 1847.
The Cambridge University Library. In the old universities, ‘public’ was used in the sense of ‘Belonging to … the whole university (as distinguished from the colleges or other constituents)’ (OED).
These drawings have not been located. The fish specimens, originally presented to the Cambridge Philosophical Society, are now in the University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge.
Zoology Part I, No. 1 was Fossil Mammalia by Richard Owen. It appeared in February 1838.


Beechey, Frederick William. 1839. The zoology of Captain Beechey’s voyage; compiled from the collections and notes made by Captain Beechey, the officers and naturalist of the expedition, during a voyage to the Pacific and Behring’s Straits performed in His Majesty’s Ship Blossom … in the years 1825, 26, 27, and 28. London.

Duperrey, Louis Isidore. 1825–30. Voyage autour du monde, exécuté par ordre du Roi, sur la corvette de Sa Majesté, La Coquille, pendant les années 1822, 1823, 1824 et 1825. 7 vols. Paris: Arthus Bertrand.

Fossil Mammalia: Pt 1 of The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle … during the years 1831 to 1836. By Richard Owen. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder and Co. 1839–43.

OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.

Orbigny, Alcide Charles Victor Dessalines d’. 1835–47. Voyage dans l’Amérique Méridionale (le Brésil, la République orientale de l’Uruguay, la République Argentine, la Patagonie, la République du Chili, la République de Bolivia, la République du Pérou), exécuté pendant les années 1826 … 1833. 6 vols. in 7 and 4 atlases. Paris and Strasbourg: Pitois-Levrault et Cie, P. Bertrand.

Zoology: The zoology of the voyage of HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. 5 pts. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1838–43.


CD is glad LJ is describing the fishes [for Zoology]; would not have permitted J. E. Gray to describe them. New species will be lithographed.

Suggests books; offers coloured drawings made by artist on Beagle voyage.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Leonard Jenyns/Leonard Blomefield
Sent from
London, Gt Marlborough St, 36
Source of text
Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 391,” accessed on 21 July 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 2