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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Robert Fitch   10 January [1850]

Down Farnborough | Kent

Jan 10th

My dear Sir

I write to thank you cordially for your very kind note & specimens. I have had just one look at them & they are incomparably the best specimens which I have as yet seen from any Secondary rock. But I grieve to say that one specimen has arrived broken; it is a large flat valve (scutum) or lower lateral valve. thank Heaven it is only one of the single valves, but a very fine one: it has come off the chalk & about one half is in very small fragments, which I hope to succeed in gumming together: a second has a piece of the chalk broken off, but the valve is not in the least injured. I have seldom been more vexed than on seeing this— I fear you will be always sorry that you sent them me.— I think they wd come back safer within a wooden box.— I can see by a glance that the specimen is a Scalpellum, allied to the S. (Xiphidium of Sowerby & Dixon) quadratum of the Bognor beds, but in some respects more allied to a recent new species which I have called S. rutilum.— I believe it is the Pollicipes maximus of J. Sowerby.—1

Should you object to my having your specimen drawn by Mr J. Sowerby, together with several others?— Will you kindly inform me?. I intend going to London on or about the 20th (but my plans are uncertain on account of my wifes expected Confinement)2 & wd. take it up to London with me, if you grant your permission,—get them drawn, if possible, whilst I remain in London; bring them home & send them to you.—

I will not touch the chalk, & promise take every possible care of your specimens, which I look at as of extreme value; & I trust that there will be no accidents— I have had none as yet, except in the present unfortunate case, though I have had a great many recent & some fossil sent me.

I really cannot tell you how grieved & sorry I have been that your kindness shd thus have been ill rewarded—

Yours sincerely | obliged | C. Darwin


Classified as Scalpellum fossula by CD (Fossil Cirripedia (1851): 24–5). In Fossil Cirripedia (1851): 22, CD distinguished this species from S. quadratum, which had previously been named Xiphidium quadratum by James de Carle Sowerby and Frederick Dixon (Sowerby and Sowerby 1812–46, vol. 7); S. rutilum is discussed on pp. 15, 23. See letter to Robert Fitch, 15 January [1850].
Leonard Darwin was born 15 January 1850.


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

Sowerby, James and Sowerby, James de Carle. 1812–46. The mineral conchology of Great Britain; or, coloured figures and descriptions of those remains of testaceous animals or shells, which have been preserved at various times and depths in the earth. Vols. 1–4 by James Sowerby; vols. 5–7 continued by J. de C. Sowerby. London.


Thanks him for sending fossil cirripede specimens. Unfortunately one was broken in transit. Asks if James de Carle Sowerby may draw specimens.

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. 1290,” accessed on 25 July 2021,

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