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Darwin Correspondence Project

To James Orton   23 January [1869]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Jan 23rd.

Dear Sir

Owing to your letter of January the 4th. being addressed to London I received it only yesterday. I assure you that I am greatly pleased at the honour which you intend to confer on me by dedicating your new work to me.2 You seem to have had a most interesting expedition, & I am very glad that you intend to publish a general account of the results.3

Your discovery of marine shells high up the Amazons possesses extreme interest, not only in itself, but as one more most striking instance how rash it is to assert that any deposit is not a marine formation because it does not contain fossils. Agassiz will not at all approve of this discovery; & if I am not mistaken marine shells have also been found in the large island at the mouth of the river. As for myself I never believed for a moment in Agassiz’s idea of the origin of the Amazonian formation.4

I shall be very curious to read a full account of the wingless grebe-like bird which you have discovered, & of the great deposit of bones; but I fear of the latter you will not have been able to bring away many specimens.5

With my very sincere thanks for the intended honour & for your kind letter, I remain | Dear Sir, | yours very faithfully | Charles Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from James Orton, 4 January 1869.
See letter from James Orton, 4 January 1869 and n. 6. CD refers to Louis Agassiz.


Thanks JO for intending to dedicate his The Andes and the Amazon to him.

The discovery of marine shells high up the Amazons CD finds extremely interesting.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
James Orton
Sent from
Source of text
University of Oklahoma Libraries History of Science Collections
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6570,” accessed on 24 June 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17