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Darwin Correspondence Project

To H. E. Strickland   10 February [1849]

Down Farnborough Kent

Feb. 10th

My dear Strickland

I have again to thank you cordially for your letter. Your remarks shall fructify to some extent & I will try to be more faithful to rigid virtue & priority1 —but as for calling Balanus Lepas (which I did not think of) I cannot do it, my pen won’t write it— it is impossible.—2 I have great hopes some of my difficulties will disappear owing to wrong dates in Agassiz,3 & to my having to turn several genera into one for I have as yet gone in but few cases to original sources.—

With respect to adopting my own notions in my Cirripedia book, I shd not like to do so without I found others approved & in some public way—nor indeed is it well adopted, as I can never recognise a species without I have the original specimen, which fortunately I have in many cases in Brit. Museum.— Thus far I mean to adopt my notion, as never putting mihi or Darwin after my own species & in Anatomical text giving no author’s names at all, as the systematic Part will serve for those who want to know History of species as far as I can imperfectly work it out.—

I have had a note from W. Thompson this morning & he tells me Ogleby4 has some scheme identical almost with mine: I feel pretty sure there is a growing & general aversion, to the appendage of author’s name, except in cases where necessary.— Now at this moment I have seen specimens ticketed with a specific name & no reference: such are hopelessly inconvenient, but I declare I wd. rather (as saving time) have a reference to some second systematic work, than to the original author, for I have cases of this, which hardly help me at all, for I know not where to look amongst endless periodical foreign papers.— On the other hand one can get hold of most systematic works, & so follow up scent & a species does not long lie buried exclusively in a paper.—

I thank you sincerely for your very kind offer of occasionally assisting me with your opinion, & I will not trespass much.— I have a case, but about which I am almost sure & so to save you writing, if I conclude rightly, pray do not answer, & I shall understand silence as assent.—

Olfers in 1814 made Lepas aurita Linn into the genus Conchoderma:5 [Oken?]6 in 1815 gave name Branta to Lepas aurita & vittata & by so doing he alters essentially Olfers generic definition.— Oken was right (as it turns out) & Lepas aurita & vittata must form together one genus. (I leave out of question a multitude of subsequent synonyms) Now I suppose I must retain Conchoderma of Olfers: I cannot make out a precise rule in Brit. Assoc. Report for this: when a genus is cut into two I see that old name is retained for part & altered to it; so I suppose definition may be enlarged to receive another species; though the cases are somewhat different.—

I shd have had no doubt, if Lepas aurita & vittata had been made into two genera, for then when run together the oldest of the two wd have been retained.— Certainly to put Conchoderma Olfers is not quite correct when applied to the two species, for such was not Olfers’ definition & opinion. If I do not hear, I shall retain Conchoderma for the two species.—7

Yours gratefully | C. Darwin

P.S.— Will you by silence give consent to the following?—

Linnæus gives no type to his genus Lepas though L. balanus comes first.— Several oldish authors have used Lepas, exclusively for the pedunculate division, & the name has been given to the family & compounded in sub-generic names.— Now this shows that old authors attached the name Lepas more particularly to the Pedunculate division.— Now if I were to use Lepas for Anatifera; I shd get rid of difficulty of 2d Edit of Hill & of difficulty of Anatifera vel Anatifa.8

Linnæus generic description is equally applicable to Anatifera & Balanus, though latter stands first, must this mere precedence rigorously outweigh the apparent opinion of many old naturalists? As for using Lepas in place of Balanus, I cannot. Everyone will understand by Lepas Anatifera—so that convenience wd. be wonderfully thus suited.—

If I do not hear, I shall understand I have your consent.—


CD was generally able to adhere to the British Association rule of priority. For an exceptional case of departure from the rule see Living Cirripedia (1851): 293–4, where CD gave priority to William Elford Leach’s name for Pollicipes on the ground that it had been universally adopted.
Agassiz 1842–6 and Agassiz 1848.
Probably William Ogilby, Irish barrister and zoologist.
Olfers 1818, pp. 177–8. See letter to H. E. Strickland, 29 January [1849], n. 5.
Lorenz Oken’s name was inserted in pencil by Francis Darwin, who has made other editorial comments on this and other CD manuscripts in the Strickland collection. The intended reference is to Oken 1813–25, 3(i): 362.


Agassiz, Louis. 1842–6. Nomenclator zoologicus, continens nomina systematica generum animalium tam viventium quam fossilium, secundum ordinem alphabeticum disposita adjectis auctoribus, libris, in quibus reperiunter, etc. Soloduri.

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.

Oken, Lorenz. 1813–25. Lehrbuch der Naturgeschichte. 3 vols. in 5. Leipzig and Jena.

Olfers, Ignaz Franz Werner Maria von. 1818. Ueber die Linneischen Gattungen Chiton und Lepas. Gesellschaft naturforschender Freunde zu Berlin. Magazin für die neuesten Entdeckungen in der gesammten Naturkunde 8: 163–78.


HES’s letter will fructify to some extent: CD will try to be more faithful to rigid virtue and priority. Would not adopt his own notion in cirripede book without prior approval by others. Will not append "Darwin" to any of his species. Feels sure many others share his aversion.

Asks HES’s opinion on retention of generic name Conchoderma.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Hugh Edwin Strickland
Sent from
Source of text
Museum of Zoology Archives, University of Cambridge (Strickland Papers)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1225,” accessed on 22 September 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 4