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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Leonard Jenyns   14 October [1839]

12 Upper Gower St

Octob 14th.—

Dear Jenyns.

You must be surprised at not having heard from me before, but owing to a succession of headachs I have been prevented until to day seeing Yarrell.— I think he has hit upon the right artist, namely W. Hawkins,1 who engraved the fish for Richardsons volume—2 I have written to him to call on me to talk over terms, &c. Richardson’s plates are done on Zinc, but it seems now generally considered that stone is preferable;3 I shall hold further consultations & let you know the result.— I am delighted to hear that you are so forward; & although you are pleased to say there will be some mistakes in your part, I only wish with all my heart the other parts may turn out half so secure.— I have a few questions which I wish to ask; you speak of “two sheets or pp. 32 as being synonymous, whereas the latter is double of the former. I presume the latter is the accurate number If your MS. is bulky, we can put some part in small type— the size of the number you propose strikes me as small but of such points we can hereafter settle.

You say there are about 37 new species of Acanth. & according to this proportion there would be about 21 in the other orders.4 Now do you think it very desirable that all these should be engraved? I find money has gone rather quicker than I anticipated. I must therefore be a little stingy, although, as I am fully convinced, as before said, that your part will be most valuable, you may rely on it, I have no wish to carry my stinginess to any great extent.—

You guess there will be 6 or 7 number each with 5 or 6 plates, giving about 36 plates,5 & therefore I presume you imagine about every other plate will contain two fishes.— I ask these questions, which I know you cannot answer, except most vaguely, that I may be able to come to some definite terms with the artist.— Will you also tell me to how great a degree you would like the artist to come & lodge at Cambridge.— Richardson formerly had him in same manner at Chatham.— Mr Hawkins first draws a careful outline, which the Describer inspects & approves & then he puts this on stone & fills up details from the fish itself,—so that he might have a dozen outlines ready for your inspection, at one of your visits from Swaffham6 to Cambridge & afterwards complete them & then you inspect them at a second visit. I know not, however, yet whether he will go there— Now this leads to important question, how many fish have you in hand, which you could give him at once (or when?) to work on, & by the time he had completed them should you have any more.?— You will see, that it would hardly be worth while to send him to Cambridge to work with his stones &c without he could do a good batch there.—

I will now answer your questions as far as lies in my power.— (1) I can offer no opinion on probable identity of fish in Rio-Negro & S. Cruz as I know nothing of ranges of fish, but there is a great space on Patagonian coast without any rivers.— 2. I found the fish (947) at Santa Cruz high up lying dead on the bank, & I also found the little fish 952 numerous in streamlets entering the river high up.— I presume these are different. 3. I know no such isld as Goree7 near Porto Praya; there is Guritti near Maldonado in La Plata; by reference to the number I shall be able to tell certainly. 4. The Banc Aiguilles I am almost certain is the same with Lagulhas off the C. of Good Hope. 5. Fish 354 came from Lat 37o 26’ S. on East coast of Patagonia, (south of the Plata) 6. Oualan is one of the Caroline Archipel. in the North Pacific. (7) Fish (1331) came from the river of Matavai in Otaheite 8. I might easily have confounded ventral & anal fins— — I think I have expressed myself clearly, but I am writing like life to race the post.— Excuse me paying the postage of this as it is a business letter.— I was very sorry I was unable to meet you at Yarrells, but I was too unwell that day to go out—

Ever Yours | Chas. Darwin

P.S. Will you write pretty soon


Richardson 1829–37, Part 3. The first leaf of CD’s copy at CUL has: ‘To Charles Darwin Esqr. with Dr Richardson’s kind regards— Aug. 14. 1837.’ The volume is not annotated. The first two volumes have CD’s page reference notes pinned in the back.
All but two of the plates in Zoology were lithographs.
The final number of Acanthopterygii species described was 82, of which 41 were new. In the other four orders, 34 new species were identified out of a total of 55 species described (Fish, pp. vi–vii).
Fish was completed, in four numbers, in April 1842, with a total of 29 plates.
Swaffham Bulbeck, Jenyns’ parish near Newmarket.
Goree is an island off the coast of Senegal, West Africa (see letter to Leonard Jenyns, 17 October [1839]).


Fish: Pt IV of The zoology of the voyage of HMS Beagle. By Leonard Jenyns. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London. 1840–2. [Vols. 2,3,4,9]

Richardson, John. 1829–37. Fauna Boreali-Americana; or, the zoology of the northern parts of British America. Assisted by William Swainson and William Kirby. 4 vols. London and Norwich: John Murray; Richard Bentley; J. Fletcher.

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.


Informs LJ that Yarrell has recommended B. W. Hawkins to do the plates [for Fish]. Discusses arrangements to be made, number of plates, etc. Answers LJ’s questions about several specimens.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Leonard Jenyns/Leonard Blomefield
Sent from
London, Upper Gower St, 12
Source of text
Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 538,” accessed on 16 September 2023,

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