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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. E. Gray   29 August [1848]

Down Farnborough Kent

August 29th

My dear Gray

I thank you for your letter. Although I have nothing to add to what passed in our last interview, it may, perhaps, be satisfactory to you to have it in writing. To those who expressed their opinion to me, that you intended to anticipate my work,1 I stated that I had undertaken the task at your suggestion, as is most strictly true, for the idea had never before crossed my head;—that I had at first refused your most liberal offer of putting the entire subject into my hands;—and that when I changed my mind, I had met the most cordial assistance in my application to the Trustees. (This I have mentioned to several other people, and shall feel bound to state it publickly.)2 I, also, distinctly stated that you had freely communicated to me information of all kinds on the Cirripedia, and that, as you had been employed for many years on these animals, you had a perfect right to anticipate me, though I was unwilling to believe it, as I owed on this subject so much to you.— I had resolved not to mention to you these communications (the first of which I received some months since) but now when coming to the determination of the species, I felt anxious to know what you intended doing, and I think you will admit that it was natural that I should wish that what little of novelty there yet remained in the subject, should be the reward of my work, which I assure you has been to my utmost every day.— I certainly should not have dreamed of undergoing the labour of making out all the close species, if I had supposed that the most striking, & therefore most interesting & easy forms, were to be described before me; and this, I hope, you will consider a sufficient apology for my having spoken to you on this subject.— You are perfectly correct in stating that I had urged you to give me the synomony (which I hope now to be able to make out to the extent which appears to me necessary)3 and I remember, before I thought of undertaking all the species, that I asked you to name such species, as I might dissect.— I shall certainly communicate the substance of your very liberal letter & the assurances that you are far from wishing to anticipate me, to the four persons above alluded to.— I sincerely hope that you will not connect with me any disagreeable impressions on this subject, and that it will be forgotten, for I assure you, that I shall not forget the tenour of your letter to the Trustees on my behalf.—4

Pray believe me | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin To | J. E. Gray Esqr.


CD’s correspondence provides no information on the identity of these persons.
See the preface to Living Cirripedia (1851): v.
CD was more sparing in citing synonyms of Cirripedia than was usual taxonomical practice. For his reasons see letter to J. E. Gray, [5 or 6 February 1848], n. 5.
See letter to J. E. Gray, 18 December 1847, n. 3. The incident ended with unchanged relations between CD and Gray, and the British Museum continued to supply specimens (Gunther 1979, p. 60).


Gunther, A. E. 1979. J. E. Gray, Charles Darwin, and the cirripedes, 1846–1851. Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 34: 53–63.

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.


It had been suggested to CD that JEG intended to anticipate some of his work on the Cirripedia. CD doubted this because JEG had suggested that CD commence the work and has assisted throughout; however, CD sought assurances regarding JEG’s intentions as he wished that "what little novelty there yet remained in the subject, should be the reward of my work". CD apologises for having spoken to JEG on the subject and will communicate JEG’s assurances to those who had expressed their opinions regarding JEG’s intentions.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Edward Gray
Sent from
Source of text
Natural History Museum, Library and Archives (Archives DF ZOO/205/7/256-257)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1197,” accessed on 27 October 2021,

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