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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Robert Fitch   17 March [1850]

Down Farnborough Kent

March 17th

My dear Sir

I write only to say that I have now described all your specimens, & have merely to go over them a second time. I have heard from Mr Sowerby that about half are figured & I shall in a week or 10 days time take up the remainder to be figured.— I think it is since I last wrote to you, that the Palæontographical Society has agreed to publish my monograph on the fossil species.—

Your materials have indeed been of extreme value to me.— I assure you deliberately that the length of time I have detained your specimens has not been caused by idleness.—

I remain with thanks | Yours faithfully | C. Darwin

This scrawl obviously requires no answer.—

P.S. I have opened my note especially to thank you for having sent me so many specimens; had it not been for these, I shd in the species last described by me fallen into some great errors—1 I suppose in this weather you have not been collecting, but if you have lately procured even any fragments & do not grudge the trouble of sending me so very many parcels I have no doubt they wd aid me.— It is certain that many valves remain to be found in chalk of Norwich.—


CD probably refers to his having been saved from making many separate species of Scalpellum because Fitch’s specimens demonstrated that they were only varieties of S. maximum (see Fossil Cirripedia (1851): 26–7). CD stated that he was forced to this conclusion because ‘the forms so blend together with very short intervals, that I cannot specifically separate them.’ Had it not been for the intermediate forms of valves, he said, he would ‘certainly have considered them quite distinct’.


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


Describes progress of cirripede research. Palaeontographical Society will publish monograph [Fossil Cirripedia].

Letter details

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

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1313,” accessed on 17 January 2020,

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