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Darwin Correspondence Project

To James Orton   7 October [1869]1

Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.

Oct. 7th

My dear Sir

I received your note & the Horse’s tooth about 10 days ago.

Although I have never had any quarrell with Prof. Owen, he has used such language about me that I can hold no communication with him.2 The best which I could do for you under these circumstances was to send the specimen to Prof. Huxley, who is quite as able & a more careful observer than Prof. Owen.—3 He writes to me that he will do his best, but he has not much confidence in the case of the Horse in identification from a single tooth.4 Unfortunately he is so incessantly engaged that he has not yet written to me again: but as soon as I hear, I will at once write to you.— You do not ask for the return of the tooth, so I have provisionally deposited in the Museum, where it will be a valuable addition.—5 Your own palæontologist Prof. Leidy6 wd. be as good a judge about the Horses skull (which is a treasure) & teeth as anyone in Europe.—

I am glad to hear that your work will be published this autumn,7 & I beg leave to remain | My dear Sir | Yours faithfully | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from James Orton, 8 September 1869.
See letter from James Orton, 8 September 1869 and n. 2. For more on the relationship between CD and Richard Owen, see, for example, Correspondence vol. 8, letter to Asa Gray, 25 April 1860.
CD asked Thomas Henry Huxley to examine the horse tooth in his letter of 21 September [1869].
CD refers to the British Museum.
Joseph Leidy.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Orton, James. 1870. The Andes and the Amazon; or, across the continent of South America. New York: Harper.


Has forwarded the horse’s tooth, sent by JO, to Huxley, who may be able to identify it.

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. 6925,” accessed on 20 June 2021,

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