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Letter 629a

Darwin, C. R. to Smith, Elder & Co.

[17 May 1842]


Gives instructions for sending out copies of Coral reefs to various journals. Discusses the complimentary copies which have already been sent out.




Dear Sir

In case may message was not intelligible, I write to say that my last note expressed exactly what I wanted.

Will you, therefore, send copies to the Athenaeum, Edinburgh Review, Jameson’s Phil. Journ. & Taylor’s Phil. Journ. — You can write from the author on the first page if you please. I did not give the names of those to whom I have sent the other copies, because I thought it did not signify. They are either people who had materially aided me or foreigners, who I thought by noticing the work, would aid its sale. The four copies sent from private friendship you say you have charged to my private account, which is all right—so 21 copies (instead of 20 as originally proposed, the change caused by the addition of Silliman) have been sent gratuitously,—and this is exactly as I always intended, & as was allowed for in the estimate

I am sorry you have had all this trouble.— I hope you will distribute the copies soon.— I took two copies for societies in Paris to Bailliere & he seemed inclined to send some on his own account:—possibly this might be worth looking to.— I leave Town tomorrow morning—

Yours very faithfully | C. Darwin

The copy for Dr Allan of Forres in Scotland might be sent to Edinburgh & then forwarded (if there be any difficulty on this head) by coach, he paying the carriage.

Christie’s (dealers) (7 December 1988); Gerard A. J. Stodolski (dealer) (April 2014)



The date is inferred from the discussion of the distribution of one of CD’s works. The reference to ‘Dr. Allan of Forres’ indicates that this was Coral reefs (see n. 4, below). Coral reefs was published in May 1842. CD left London for Maer on 18 May and returned on 18 July (see Correspondence vol. 2, Appendix II).
The Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal was edited by Robert Jameson and David Brewster. The London, Edinburgh and Dublin Philosophical Magazine was edited by Richard Taylor. According to CD’s list of presentation copies for Coral reefs (DAR 69 A: 108), the Scotsman was also to receive a review copy.
‘Sillimans Journal’ appears on CD’s list of presentation copies for Coral reefs (DAR 69 A: 108), but no review of Coral reefs was published in the American Journal of Science and Arts, edited by Benjamin Silliman.
According to CD’s list of presentation copies, dated ‘May 10/1842/’ (DAR 69 A: 108), ten copies were sent to friends and geologists, five to ‘Public Libraries’ (that is, to university libraries and the British Museum), and three to scientific societies, in addition to the journals named in the letter. The total number of copies sent, according to the list, was ‘25 copies some of which to my account’. CD’s personal copy of Coral reefs is in the University Library, Cambridge.
Hippolyte Baillière was a bookseller and publisher in London who specialised in French medical and scientific works; CD sent copies of Coral reefs to the French Geological society and CHECK PRESENTATON LIST ((DAR 69 A: 108).
CD had received information from James Brands Allan on coral formations in the Indian Ocean via John Grant Malcolmson (see Correspondence vol. 2, letters from J. G. Malcolmson, 7 October 1839 and 30 November 1839). CD cited Allan’s account in Coral reefs, pp. 185–6.
This transcription has been made from the full text on the website of Gerard A. J. Stodolski, Inc. (dealer) and augmented by partial images on that site and by a facsimile reproduction of the final paragraph and valediction (not the post-script) in the Christie’s catalogue, 7 December 1988, p. 122.
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