Sends MS of Orchids except last chapter. It contains many new and curious facts and conclusions, but he has no idea whether it will sell. If it does not, will hold himself largely responsible.
Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.
My dear Sir
I will send up to you by a servant tomorrow (Monday) the M.S of my Orchid Book, excepting the last Ch. which can be fully completed before I get first proofs.—
For Heavens sake be careful of the M.S. for I have no copy of three of the Chapters.—
Inside parcel you will see letter of Instructions to M
Now I have finished the Orchids, I can say with confidence that the M.S. contains many new & very curious facts & conclusions.— I have done my best to make the facts striking & clear. I think they will interest enthusiasts in Nat. History; but I fear will be too difficult for general public. In short, I know not in the least, whether the Book will sell. If it prove a dead failure, I shall hold myself to a large extent responsible for having tempted you to publish with your eyes shut.— Perhaps there may be enough enthusiasts to prevent a dead failure<.>
My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin
- f1 3442.f1The month is established by the relationship to the letter to W. E. Darwin, 14 February . See also letter to H. W. Bates, 27 February .
- f2 3442.f2Orchids was published on 15 May 1862 (see `Journal' (Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix II)).
- f3 3442.f3William Clowes & Sons was the London printing firm used by John Murray.
- f4 3442.f4CD refers to his planned three-part work on natural selection, of which Origin was an `abstract'. In the summer of 1861, he had interrupted work on Variation, the first part of the projected work, to write Orchids (see Correspondence vol. 9, Appendix II).
- f5 3442.f5Though well-reviewed, Orchids sold slowly (Freeman 1977, p. 112). In first suggesting the book to Murray, CD had used the most tentative of terms, warning that interest in the book was likely to be limited (see Correspondence vol. 9, letters to John Murray, 21 September  and 24 September ).