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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Henri Milne-Edwards   1 September [1848]

Down Farnborough Kent

Sept. 1st.

Dear Sir

Your kind manner to me at Oxford1 induces me to think that you will perhaps excuse the liberty of addressing you, & asking your aid if it be in your power to grant it.— I have been employed for nearly two years on an Anatomical & Systematic Monograph on the Cirripedia. I have excellent materials in several great private collections (Mr Cumings &c) & in that of the British Museum placed at my disposal. I intend describing the animal of every species, which by soaking I can do with dryed specimens & I thus hope to put the classification & determination of the species on a somewhat solid basis. At present, as the shells have alone been described & that very imperfectly, I find it impossible to recognise any species, not even the British with any certainty.

Can you aid me in obtaining the loan for me of any specimens?2 Would it be possible for me to have for examination a single specimen of some of the species figured in the Voyage of the Astrolabe3 I am most anxious for the genus Alepas, as it is the only genus, which I have not dissected carefully.

The following species would be of the greatest use to me, but I fear I am asking what is impossible, & you may think me presumptuous in doing so.— If you cannot aid me, pray do not trouble yourself to answer this letter.

Alepas fasciculatus of Lesson4 —– parasita of Quoy & Gaimard —– tubulosa (do) (a distinct genus? of which I have a species from

W. Indies5 Anatifa elongata Q. & G. (especially) —–- pelagica do —–- sessilis do —–- tricolor do —–- spinosa do (especially) (Pollcipes) —–- truncata (a Lithotrya) (especially) —–- sulcata

I have found a good deal new in the Anatomy, & I hope & think that you will approve of my work. Permit me to say how invaluably useful I have found your work on the Crustacea.—6

Some months since I wrote to you about a crustacean parasite on the Balanus,7 but I presume you did not care about it.—

I hope that you will forgive my writing this letter to you, & I beg to remain dear Sir, with much & sincere respect | Yours faithfully | C. Darwin


Both CD and Milne-Edwards had attended the British Association meeting in Oxford in June 1847 (R. S. Owen 1894, 1: 299).
In Living Cirripedia (1851): viii, CD thanked Milne-Edwards for lending him specimens which he ‘should not otherwise have seen’. Milne-Edwards was in charge of the collection of Crustacea at the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, and was the author of a monograph on this class (Milne-Edwards 1834–40).
The work referred to is the Zoologie of the voyage of the Astrolabe (Quoy and Gaimard 1830–3). Jean René Constant Quoy and Joseph Paul Gaimard were naturalists with the survey of Oceania, 1826–9, under the command of Jules Sébastien César Dumont d’Urville.
René-Primevère Lesson, who had been the medical officer on board the Coquille, 1822–5.
In Living Cirripedia (1851): 169, the description of Alepas tubulosa makes no mention of a distinct genus, nor of a specimen from the West Indies. CD described it only from a plate in Quoy and Gaimard 1830–3 and stated: ‘Animal unknown.’
Milne-Edwards 1834–40. CD recorded reading ‘M. Edwards Geogr. Distr. of Crustacea’, the last chapter of volume three, on 30 January 1847 (DAR 119; Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV). Living Cirripedia (1854) is dedicated to Milne-Edwards in acknowledgment of CD’s ‘continued obligation to the “Histoire naturelle des Crustacés” and to the other memoirs and works on natural history published by this illustrious naturalist.’
CD had offered Milne-Edwards specimens of a parasitic crustacean he had found on Balanus (see letter to Henri Milne-Edwards, 18 November [1847]).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 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.

Living Cirripedia (1854): A monograph of the sub-class Cirripedia, with figures of all the species. The Balanidæ (or sessile cirripedes); the Verrucidæ, etc. By Charles Darwin. London: Ray Society. 1854.

Milne-Edwards, Henri. 1834–40. Histoire naturelle des crustacés, comprenant l’anatomie, la physiologie et la classification de ces animaux. 4 vols. Paris: Librairie encyclopédique de Roret.

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.


Describes his cirripede work. Asks whether HM-E can arrange for him to borrowspecimens, especially of species described in Dumont d’Urville, Voyage of"Astrolabe" [1830–2]. Lists species that interesthim.

Compliments HM-E on his Crustacés [1834–40].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Henri Milne-Edwards
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.76)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1199,” accessed on 17 September 2021,

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