nor indeed is it well adopted


Senior Member
While Charles Darwin was writing a monograph about barnacles, he was frustrated by the chaos in nomenclature, that the same species might be given several names, without accurate description, and the principle of adding the name of the the first describer of a species to its specific name, even if he hadn't described it scientifically. Thus, he wrote to Hugh Strickland, who was a supporter for the priority law, telling him about his plans for his barnacles monograph, saying:

With respect to adopting my own notions in my Cirripedia book, I should not like to do so without I found others approved & in some public way—nor indeed is it well adopted, as I can never recognise a species without I have the original specimen, which fortunately I have in many cases in Brit. Museum.— Thus far I mean to adopt my notion, as never putting mihi or Darwin after my own species & in Anatomical text giving no author’s names at all, as the systematic Part will serve for those who want to know History of species as far as I can imperfectly work it out.—

Mu question is about the part of the sentence in bold: nor indeed is it well adopted.
What did he mean, bearing in mind that it was transcribed in other version "nor indeed is it well adapted"?
so, which makes more sense?
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't have an answer, but I can make some observations, which may be better than nothing at all.

    I have no idea what Darwin meant. Neither word obviously fits, that I can see, and I cannot work out what Darwin was trying to introduce with this little digression about recognising a species. There is also a problem with the pronoun "it". What can "it", a singular noun, refer to? "Adopting my own notions in my Cirripedia book" is possible, but I cannot work out any meaning that uses this phrase. There may be a meaning if "it" refers to "my own notions", but this, of course, is plural.

    There are two pointers I think, but they point in opposite directions. The adjective "well" is commonly used with "adapted" but sounds rather out of place with "adopted". However, Darwin's English differs quite a lot from ours in the twenty-first century, and I would not suggest you draw very much from this.

    The second pointer is Darwin's professed reluctance to adopting his own notions in his book, and he could be saying that his notions are, in fact, not particularly suitable for the book's purpose. This, I think is the more likely reading, but it relies on "it" being "my own notions".