skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Osbert Salvin   12 October [1871]

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Oct 12

My dear Mr. Salvin

You have been very very kind. I do assure you that I had not the least intention to cause you so much trouble & to waste so much of your time. When I saw your bundle of observations, I felt as if I had committed theft, arson or murder.—1 Although I can give only a page or so to the subject your notes will be very useful, & will save me from at least one blunder. Is not the structure of the beak of the Shoveller quite beautiful?—2 it filled me with admiration. I have the beak of Malacorhynchus which is nearly as perfect as that of Spatula, but not quite so.—3 You give me plenty of facts for the lower end of the series.— I have got some observations on the habits from Mr Bartlett.4 Let me again cordially thank you.— My comfort is that so careful an examination can hardly fail to come in some day of use to you. Shall I not return your notes in about a month’s time, when my M.S. is printed?5 If you desire it, send me a card to this effect | Believe me | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The shoveller duck is Anas clypeata (now the Northern shoveller; see also letter to Osbert Salvin, 10 September [1871]).
CD refers to Malacorhynchus membranaceus, the pink-eared duck (Malacorhynchus is a monospecific genus). CD knew the shoveller duck as Spatula clypeata.
Abraham Dee Bartlett was superintendent of the Zoological Gardens in London.
CD refers to the manuscript of the sixth edition of Origin; according to his ‘Journal’ (Appendix II), he finished the manuscript on 29 October 1871.


Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.


CD appreciates the great trouble OS has taken in providing a bundle of observations. [See 8001.] They are useful and will save CD from at least one blunder.

The structure of the beak of the shoveller "filled me with admiration".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Osbert Salvin
Sent from
OC 13 71
Source of text
Sybil Rampen (private collection)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8005A,” accessed on 10 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19