To W. J. Broderip 19 January 
My dear Broderip
I have been out of town,1 otherwise I should have answered your note immediately. With respect to the shells in spirits, if Owen thinks there is any chance, within a period not very distant of having some leisure, & would bestow a small portion of it on the shells, it would be a great pity not to wait.— But this need not interfere with the commencement of engraving those shells which you might think worth being done, & when this was finished in the course of two or three month, might we not then see how time went with Owen?2
I hope my short paper on Mould will appear before very long in the Transactions.3 Moles undoubtedly, as you suggest, must throw up to the surface, much of the soil, & in the course of time a whole field might be turned over, but the effect produced, I apprehend, would be very different: the fine particles would not be then carefully separated from the coarse, which gives the peculiar character to the layer of mould, which underlies the turf, & still less would the Moles leave the powdered lime untouched, & heap over it a thick layer of fine earth.—
It would, perhaps, have been better if I had noticed the action of these little quadrupeds, & in some countries of ants likewise.—
With many thanks for your kind expressions towards me, believe me, my dear Broderip, | Most truly yours | Chas. Darwin 12 Upper Gower Strt
Hopes Richard Owen will have time to do CD’s shells in spirits.
Doubts WJB’s suggestion that moles may play a part in formation of mould.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 488,” accessed on 26 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-488