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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Robert Fitch   [28 January 1850]1

Down Farnborough | Kent

Monday Evening

My dear Sir

All your specimens arrived quite safely. I have had to thank you so often, that I fear you will think it a mere form, when I say I do so most sincerely.— I am in truth ashamed to think how much trouble you have had & how much expence in postage I have put you to & I wish you would permit me to return the Stamps. Your last lot have interested me, though not containing anything new, yet there is one specimen far more valuable to me than a new species, convincing me that the conclusion at which I arrived viz that P. maximus & sulcatus2 of Sowerby are only varieties, is correct. My work grows on me; by the same morning Post two new species from Mr Morris arrived;3 yet I have certainly broken the neck of the job— Of specimens in a state fit to be recognized described & named, your collection contains. diag I Scalpellum maximum of S. Sowerby4

.—— var. sulcatum .

var. solidulum

with many valves I. Scalpellum fossula. nov. spec III Pollicipes productus nov. spec.5 IV. Pollicipes fallax. nov. spec. V.—— striatus nov. spec.ramme

So your collection has added 4 new species to my Monograph.; & removed much difficulty regarding S. maximum & its vars.— I have been much interested by hearing that your collection is fruit of 20 years, which I will allude to in my work.—6

I am sorry to hear of your ill-health;—I know full-well what that is—

Yours sincerely | C. Darwin


Dated from the relationship to letters to Robert Fitch, 15 January [1850] and [23 January 1850].
Pollicipes maximus and Pollicipes sulcatus (Fossil Cirripedia (1851): 26, 34). See also letter to J. J. S. Steenstrup, 3 April [1850], in which CD stated that James de Carle Sowerby’s Pollicipes maximus was a Scalpellum.
CD cited drawings and descriptions of John Morris’s Pollicipes concinnus and Pollicipes planulatus (a synonym of Loriolepas planulatus) (Fossil Cirripedia (1851): 50, 78–9).
A slip for J. Sowerby, i.e., James de Carle Sowerby. For the work done by J. de C. Sowerby in the Mineral conchology (Sowerby and Sowerby 1812–49), see Cleevely 1974, pp. 445–6.
CD later changed the name of this species to Pollicipes angelini, after Nils Peter Angelin. See letter to J. J. S. Steenstrup, 1 September 1850. Angelin had found a single scutum, which he gave to J. J. S. Steenstrup (Fossil Cirripedia (1851): 6, 57). See also Trenn 1974, p. 481 n. 91.


Cleevely, Ronald. J. 1974. The Sowerbys, the Mineral conchology, and their fossil collection. Journal of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History 6: 418–81.

Fossil Cirripedia (1851): A monograph on the fossil Lepadidæ, or, pedunculated cirripedes of Great Britain. By Charles Darwin. London: Palaeontographical Society. 1851.

Trenn, Thaddeus J. 1974. Charles Darwin, fossil cirripedes, and Robert Fitch: presenting sixteen hitherto unpublished Darwin letters of 1849 to 1851. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 118: 471–91.


Thanks him for cirripede specimens. Discusses RF’s collection.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Robert Fitch
Sent from
Source of text
Norwich Castle
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1298,” accessed on 29 May 2023,

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