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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Albany Hancock   8 June [1851]

Down Farnborough Kent

June 8th

Dear Sir

I am going to beg you to endeavour to procure me a very great favour from Mr Alder—namely the loan of the volume, or of the Plate of Lovèn’s Alepas squalicola, of which he most kindly sent me an outline tracing.1 Steenstrup sent me one specimen,2 which I dissected, after comparing it externally with the drawings, & now I am most anxious for Mr G. B. Sowerby to copy two of the figures for my vol. for the Ray Soc. for which the Plates are now engraving.—3 I do not know whether there is a copy in the Brit. Mus. & if there be, it would be very troublesome to obtain permission to have a copy made, & such wd not be so accurate, as if Mr Sowerby could have the Plate at his own house.— I have charged him in case Mr Alder would confer this favour on me, to take the greatest care of it, to acknowledge its receipt, & to pay its return carriage, & not keep it long. Mr S. address is 29. Albert St. New Camden Town London.

Now that I am in the way of begging favours, I will ask conditionally another: you once sent me a spirited sketch of an Ibla from Australia:4 have you more than one or two specimens: I have the greatest wish to possess the very base of the peduncle still attached to whatever it adheres, especially if the surface be smooth: it is too long a story to tell why, but hereafter if you look at my monograph you will admit the importance of the point.5

Pray forgive my giving you all this trouble. I see that you continue always hard at work. I have lately been reading with great interest your Papers in the Annals on the Bryozoa.—6

Believe me | Your’s sincerely | C. Darwin

P.S. Will you forgive my sending so untidy a note,7 but writing the above reminded me that some time since I purchased 4 specimens8 which until this minute I unaccountably have forgotten—but I see all are attached to a most rugged surface, if yours happens to be attached to anything smooth & you could spare the base of the peduncle, still attached, I shd be very much obliged.—


Joshua Alder, who had, through Hancock, informed CD about Sven Lovén’s paper (Lovén 1844) on a new species of the Cirripedia that he named Alepas squalicola (see Correspondence vol. 4, letter to Albany Hancock, 29 September [1849]).
Johannes Japetus Smith Streenstrup. See Correspondence vol. 4, letter to J. J. S. Steenstrup, 25 January [1850].
George Brettingham Sowerby Jr’s copies from Lovén 1844 are figs. 1 and 2 of Plate IV in Living Cirripedia (1851), with explanations given on pp. 380–1.
Ibla quadrivalvis. The description gives Hancock as the source of a specimen from ‘New South Wales, attached to a mass of the Galeolaria decumbens’ (Living Cirripedia (1851): 204).
There is no clue in the discussion of Ibla in Living Cirripedia (1851) as to why CD was interested in the surface of attachment. One possibility is that because Ibla resembled the boring genus Lithotrya in having part of its body within the peduncle, CD wanted to examine closely its means of attachment (see Living Cirripedia (1851): 181, 336–48). CD and Hancock had previously corresponded concerning the boring powers of Lithotrya (see Correspondence vol. 4, letters to Albany Hancock, 29 September [1849] and n. 3, [29–30 October 1849], 25 December [1849], and [26 January – March 1850]).
In the original letter, after the paragraph ending ‘the importance of the point’, CD had written and then deleted a request for permission to ‘soak & open a specimen to look at one other very curious point, in this most curious genus’ (see Manuscript alterations and comments).
The four specimens that made the request unnecessary had been purchased from G. B. Sowerby Jr (Living Cirripedia (1851): 207). The ‘curious point’ refers to CD’s earlier discovery of males complemental to hermaphrodites in Ibla quadrivalvis and true males and females in I. cumingii (see Correspondence vol. 4, letters to J. D. Hooker, 10 May 1848, and to Louis Agassiz, 22 October 1848). CD discussed the complemental males of Ibla in Living Cirripedia (1851): 207–14.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Hancock, Albany. 1850. On the anatomy of the freshwater Bryozoa, with descriptions of three new species. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 2d ser. 5: 173–204.

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.

Lovén, Sven. 1844. Ny art af Cirripedia [Alepas squalicola]. Öfversigt af Kongelige VetenskapsAkademiens Foärhandlingar 1: 192–4.


Asks whether he can borrow from Joshua Alder an article [Sven Ludvig Lovén, "Ny art af Cirripedia Alepas squalicola", Ofers. Kongl. Vetensk. Acad. Förh. 1 (1844): 192–4] in order to have the plate copied. Asks to borrow additional specimen of Ibla.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Albany Hancock
Sent from
Source of text
Archives of the New York Botanical Garden (Charles Finney Cox Collection)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1433,” accessed on 27 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5