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Letter 967

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

30 Mar [1846]

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    Discusses publication of his book [South America].


Down Bromley Kent

Monday | March 30th

Dear Sir

I am much obliged for your note & very clear Agreements, one of which I return signed. I am sorry, (though I hardly expected it) that you can not aid me in my Third Part, which I must publish, as well as I can, by commission with you.—

It is provoking that the rules of the trade will not permit you to sell the Geolog. Parts at reduced prices, for of course putting a new title page, as for a new Edition, would do only for such gentlemen as Mr Colburn & Co.— Whatever it costs my third Part shall be sold at not more s 10. d 6.— I must economise in every possible way, for many engravings are wanted for it—

Allow me once again to thank you for the uniformly kind attention which I have on every occasion received from you & believe me dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | C. Darwin

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 967.f1
    This refers to South America, which is the third part of the geology of the Beagle voyage. The publication of Zoology had exhausted the government grant of £1000 (see Correspondence vol. 2, letter to A. Y. Spearman, 9 October 1843, n. 1), causing CD and the publisher to subsidise the later work (see South America, p. iii).
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    f2 967.f2
    Under an agreement signed in 1829, publishers and booksellers were obliged to maintain a uniform retail price for each title. See J. J. Barnes 1964, p. 1.
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    f3 967.f3
    For CD's experience with Henry Colburn see letter to John Murray, 12 April [1845]. Despite CD's reference to this ‘ungentlemanly’ practice, Smith, Elder & Co. went even further than Colburn in 1851, when unsold copies of Coral reefs, Volcanic islands, and South America were then bound as a single volume and reissued with a new title-page at the greatly reduced price of 10s. 6d. (see Freeman 1977, p. 58).
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    f4 967.f4
    CD's Account Book (Down House MS) records a number of payments for illustrations for South America, including those of 15 December 1845 and 5 July, 19 August, and 4 and 18 September 1846, totalling £47 13s. In addition, on 10 August 1847 CD paid a lump sum to Smith, Elder & Co. of £61 8s.; on 27 February 1848 he received £5 8s. 4d. from the same firm.
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