skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Richard Owen   [24 February 1849]1

Down Farnborough | Kent


My dear Owen

I am very obliged for your note & the C. Hunteri:2 the stupid Carrier forgot to call on Thursday, as I ordered him.— He will come on Monday to the College & he will, also, have to call at the Geolog. Soc, which I mention in case of your having sent the specimens there, expecting my attendance at the Anniversary.—3 I have been prevented by being as usual unwell. I have lost for the last 4 or 5 months at least 45 of my time, & I have resolved to go this early summer & spend two months at Malvern & see whether there is any truth in Gully & the water cure: regular Doctors cannot check my incessant vomiting at all.— It will cause a sad delay in my Barnacle work, but if once half-well I cd do more in 6 months than I now do in two years.—

I am quite delighted to hear how effectually you have done Sulivan’s work; I hope you will be rewarded by some treasures.—4

I had already ordered your book on Limbs:5 on a very small scale I have had some pretty homological work with the Cirripedia & now know certainly what the peduncle & shell is.—6

Yours most sincerely | C. Darwin

I never heard anything so astounding as the Log-Book of your H.M.S. Diddleus.—7


Dated by CD’s reference to having decided to take the water-cure, as in letter to J. S. Bowerbank, 24 February [1849], and by the reference to R. Owen 1849a, see n. 5, below.
Conchoderma hunteri is described in Living Cirripedia (1851): 153–6.
CD was not present at the anniversary meeting of the Geological Society held on 16 February 1849, nor did he attend any council meetings from the end of January to the end of September (Council Minute Books, Geological Society Archives).
Owen apparently lent his support to Bartholomew James Sulivan’s plans to equip a vessel and to collect fossils on the coast of Patagonia (see letter to Richard Owen, 28 April [1850]). Sulivan had returned to the Falkland Islands in a private capacity in 1848 after a short period in England. During his earlier survey of the Falklands he had collected fossils in Patagonia which had been given to the Royal College of Surgeons (see Correspondence vol. 3, letter to Richard Owen, 21 [June 1846]).
R. Owen 1849a, which was published between 13–27 February 1849 (Publishers’ Circular, no. 275, 1 March 1849). CD’s annotated copy is in the Darwin Library–CUL. CD recorded that he finished reading it on 23 March 1850 (DAR 119; Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV).
In his discussion of the homologies of cirripedes in Living Cirripedia (1851): 25–8, CD stated (p. 28): All that we externally see of a Cirripede, whether pedunculated or sessile, is the three anterior segments of the head of a Crustacean, with its anterior end permanently cemented to a surface of attachment, and with its posterior end projecting vertically from it. For CD’s use of homology, see also Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix II.
A pun on the name of H.M.S. Dædalus. The officers and crew of that ship had reported sighting a huge sea monster in October 1848. In November 1848, at the height of public interest in the report, Owen sent a letter to The Times in which, from the drawing published by officers of the ship, he identified the ‘serpent’ as a warm-blooded animal, probably a very large seal. In subsequent months he became the expert to whom the Admiralty sent all reports of sightings of sea-serpents (see R. S. Owen 1894, 1: 323–5, 336).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 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.

Owen, Richard Startin. 1894. The life of Richard Owen … With the scientific portions revised by C. Davies Sherborn; also an essay on Owen’s position in anatomical science by the Right Hon. T. H. Huxley, F.R.S. 2 vols. London: John Murray.


Thanks RO for his note on Conchoderma hunteri [see Living Cirripedia 1: 153].

Has been very unwell; has lost four-fifths of his time. Will go to Malvern to try the water-cure for his vomiting, which regular doctors cannot cure.

Has done some pretty homological work with cirripedes.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Richard Owen
Sent from
Source of text
Archives of the New York Botanical Garden (Charles Finney Cox Collection)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1228,” accessed on 13 September 2023,

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