To Leonard Jenyns 10 April 
36 Grt. Marlborough Street
During the last week several of the zoologists of this place have been urging me to consider the possibility of publishing the Zoology of the Beagle’s voyage on some uniform plan. Mr Maclay1 has taken a great deal of interest in the subject, and maintains, that such a publication is very desirable, because it keeps together a series of obsevations made respecting animals inhabiting the same part of the world, and allows any future traveller taking them with him. How far this facility of reference is of any consequence, I am very doubtful; but if such is the case, it would be more satisfactory to myself to see the gleanings of my hands, after having passed through the brains of abler naturalists collected together in one work.—
But such considerations ought not to have much weight.— The whole scheme is at present, merely floating in the air; but I was determined to let you know, as I should much like to know what you think about it, & whether you would object to supply descriptions of the fish to such a work, instead of to transactions.
I apprehend the whole will be impracticable, without government will aid in engraving the plates, and this I fear is a mere chance, only I think I can put in a strong claim, & get myself well backed by the naturalists of this place, who nearly all take a good deal of interest in my collections.— I mean tomorrow to see Mr Yarrell; if he approves, I shall begin and take more active steps; for I hear he is most prudent and most wise.— It is scarcely any use speculating about any plan, but I thought of getting subscriber & publishing the work in parts (as long as funds would last, for I myself will not lose money by it). In such case, whoever had his own part ready on any order, might publish it separately, (and ultimately the parts might be sold separately), so that no one should be delayed by the other;— The plan would resemble on a humbler scale Ruppel Atlas2 or ‘Humboldt Zoologie’,3 where Latreille, Cuvier &c &c wrote different parts.— I myself should have little to do with it; excepting in some orders adding habits & ranges &c. & geographical sketches, and perhaps afterward some descriptions of invertebrate animals.—4
I never should have thought of this plan, if M’Clay had not been so kindly urgent on my taking it into consideration, and now I daresay the egg from the want of a little government hatching will be addled. Bell, Waterhouse, Owen Gould Hope, are also in favour of the scheme.—and will I believe all assist, if it turns out practicable.—5 If you should happen to see Henslow in the course of a few day talk with him on the subject, & tell me what he says.— I would have written to him, only I sent a letter not long since, & do not wish to trouble him with another. Will you be kind enough to write to me pretty soon? as I am very anxious to know what you think.—
I am working at my journal; it gets on slowly, though I am not idle.— I thought Cambridge a bad place from good dinners & other interruptions, but I find London no better, & I fear it may grow worse.— I have a capital friend in Lyell, and see a great deal of him, which is very advantageous to me, in discussing much S. American geology.— I miss a walk in the country very much; this London is a vile smoky place, where a man loses a great part of the best enjoyments of life. But I see no chance of escaping even for a week from this prison, for a long time to come.
I fear it will be some time before we shall meet; for I suppose you will not come up here during the Spring, and I do not think I shall be able to go down to Cambridge. How I should like to have a good walk along the Newmarket road tomorrow, but Oxford Street must do instead. I do hate the streets of London—
Will you tell Henslow to be careful with the edible fungi from T. del Fuego, for I shall want some specimens for Mr Brown, who seems particularly interested about them. Tell Henslow, I think my silicified wood, has unflintified Mr Brown’s heart, for he was very gracious to me, and talked about the Galapagos plants; but before he never would say a word.6 It is just striking twelve oclock, so I will wish you a very good night.—
My dear Jenyns, Yours most truly, C. Darwin.—
Discusses possibility of publishing the zoology of the voyage of the Beagle. Will need help from more able naturalists. Would LJ object to describing the fishes for such a work rather than for scientific journals? Is working on his Beagle journal.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 354,” accessed on 10 December 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-354