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Letter 5380

Murray, John (b) to Darwin, C. R.

28 Jan [1867]

    Summary Add

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    JM will publish [Variation] "coute qui coute", paying CD half the profits.

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    Thinks he can count on 500 purchases of what he calls the "Pièces Justificatives" of the Origin and will print 750 copies.

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    His literary friend found it "difficult of digestion".


Albemarle St

Jany 28

My Dear Sir

Pray put yourself at ease about the publication of your new book. I will publish it for you coute qui coute provided you will be content that I pay you one half the profits of the edition instead of a sum down at first— This I ask because—no doubt there is considerably greater risque in this than in the publication of your former works.—

This work is not intended nor likely to become generally popular but I think after the sale of 6000 of your ``Origins'' I can count upon 500 purchasers of these new volumes—the ``Pièces Justificatives'' on wch that work is founded & I wd propose to print an Edition of 750 copies—in the size type & page of Lyells Principles— like wch it will make 2 volumes 8vo.

I have heard from my literary friend—but have not yet got back the MS.S from him— He certainly finds it difficult of digestion but he is not a man of science so his opinion is not a fair test altogether— Still in the face of it, I venture to submit to you the above proposal.

I am My Dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | John Murray

I hope to return the MS. this week | JM

Charles Darwin Esq

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 5380.f1
    The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to John Murray, 27 January [1867].
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    f2 5380.f2
    For CD's concern regarding whether Murray would publish Variation, see the letter to John Murray, 27 January [1867] and n. 3. Murray had also assured CD he would publish the work in his letter of 9 January [1867].
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    f3 5380.f3
    When Murray published the fourth edition of Origin in 1866, he agreed to pay CD two-thirds of the profits when half of the copies had been sold; for earlier editions of Origin, CD had received that sum on publication (see Correspondence vol. 14, letter from John Murray, 24 February [1866]). On CD's astute management of royalty payments for his books, see Browne 2002, pp. 97, 461. Murray misspelled coûte que coûte (`at all costs').
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    f4 5380.f4
    CD had also expressed concern that Variation might not appeal to the public (see Correspondence vol. 13, Correspondence vol. 14, especially letters to John Murray, 22 February [1866] and 21 and 22 December [1866], and this volume, letter to John Murray, 3 January [1867]).
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    f5 5380.f5
    According to Freeman 1977, pp. 122--3, Murray published 1500 copies of Variation in January 1868, but these sold out in one week, most to booksellers; another 1250 copies (with some changes inserted by CD) were issued in February 1868.
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    f6 5380.f6
    Murray refers to the tenth edition of Charles Lyell's Principles of geology (C. Lyell 1867--8; see letter from John Murray, 2 January [1867]).
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    f7 5380.f7
    Murray refers to John Milton. See letter to John Murray, 27 January [1867] and n. 1.
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