Letter 30 To Hugh Strickland

(30/1. The first paragraph of this letter is published in the "Life and Letters," I., page 372, as part of a series of letters to Strickland, beginning at page 365, where a biographical note by Professor Newton is also given. Professor Newton wrote: "In 1841 he brought the subject of Natural History Nomenclature before the British Association, and prepared the code of rules for Zoological Nomenclature, now known by his name--the principles of which are very generally accepted." Mr. Darwin's reasons against appending the describer's name to that of the species are given in "Life and Letters," page 366. The present letter is of interest as giving additional details in regard to Darwin's difficulties.)

Down, February 10th [1849].

I have again to thank you cordially for your letter. Your remarks shall fructify to some extent, and I will try to be more faithful to rigid virtue and priority; 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. I have great hopes some of my difficulties will disappear, owing to wrong dates in Agassiz and to my having to run 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 should not like to do so without I found others approved, and in some public way; nor indeed is it well adapted, as I can never recognise a species without I have the original specimen, which fortunately I have in many cases in the British Museum. Thus far I mean to adopt my notion, in never putting mihi or Darwin after my own species, and in the anatomical text giving no authors' names at all, as the systematic part will serve for those who want to know the history of the species as far as I can imperfectly work it out.

I have had a note from W. Thompson (30/2. Mr. Thompson is described in the preface to the Lepadidae as "the distinguished Natural Historian of Ireland.") this morning, and he tells me Ogleby 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 and no reference--such are hopelessly inconvenient; but I declare I would 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 and so follow up the scent, and 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, and I will not trespass much. I have a case, but [it is one] about which I am almost sure; and so to save you writing, if I conclude rightly, pray do not answer, and I shall understand silence as assent.

Olfers in 1814 made Lepas aurita Linn. into the genus Conchoderma; [Oken] in 1815 gave the name Branta to Lepas aurita and vittata, and by so doing he alters essentially Olfers' generic definition. Oken was right (as it turns out), and Lepas aurita and vittata must form together one genus. (30/3. In the "Monograph on the Cirripedia" (Lepadidae) the names used are Conchoderma aurita and virgata.) (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 the "British Association Report" for this. When a genus is cut into two I see that the old name is retained for part and altered to it; so I suppose the definition may be enlarged to receive another species--though the cases are somewhat different. I should have had no doubt if Lepas aurita and vittata had been made into two genera, for then when run together the oldest of the two would have been retained. Certainly to put Conchoderma Olfers is not quite correct when applied to the two species, for such was not Olfers' definition and opinion. If I do not hear, I shall retain Conchoderma for the two species...

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

Linnaeus gives no type to his genus Lepas, though L. balanus comes first. Several oldish authors have used Lepas exclusively for the pedunculate division, and the name has been given to the family and 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 (30/4. Anatifera and Anatifa were used as generic names for what Linnaeus and Darwin called Lepas anatifera.) I should get rid of the difficulty of the second edition of Hill and of the difficulty of Anatifera vel Anatifa. Linnaeus's generic description is equally applicable to Anatifera and Balanus, though the latter stands first. Must the mere precedence rigorously outweigh the apparent opinion of many old naturalists? As for using Lepas in place of Balanus, I cannot. Every one will understand what is meant by Lepas Anatifera, so that convenience would be wonderfully thus suited. If I do not hear, I shall understand I have your consent.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment