2318. December 23, 1871.
8vo, 2 pp., 25 lines in ink written on rectos only; first sheet with printed letterhead "Down, Beckenham, Kent." With original stamped and postmarked envelope. Letter and envelope both in fine condition and fully legible. Custom quarter leather portfolio case with inset portrait.
§ A short but characteristic letter to the naturalist Henry Lee confirming the identification of specimens of Lepas anatifera, the pelagic gooseneck barnacle. A nice glimpse of Darwin's daily working correspondence and of his generosity in assisting in the enquiries of fellow naturalists, even as he was hard at work correcting proof-sheets for the 6th edition of the Origin of Species.
"...I have now looked at both lots of specimens, & I think both are the variable L. anatifera.— I have disarticulated the right-hand scutal valve in both & the umbonal teeth are plain in both. This with position of the carina suffices, though the latter ought to be disarticulated and cleaned. But I have hardly any doubt that both are L. anatifera..."
Henry Lee was the director at the Brighton aquarium. The year before this letter was written he was a founder of the Croydon Microscopical and Natural History Club. Five letters from Darwin to Lee have so far been traced: Lee providing Darwin with his observations on the distribution of the sexes in trout populations and Darwin assisting Lee with the identification of barnacle specimens.
University of Cambridge Darwin Correspondence Project, Letter No. 8118B. Item #122661