To John Murray 31 March 1
Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.
My dear Sir
After much delay from illness, I have at last made considerable progress in a Book with some such Title as enclosed, & which I hope will go to press this early autumn.2 Hence it is time to think of the woodcuts. I do not want you to pledge yourself even indirectly to publish, until you see M.S.; but will you aid me about the cuts with advice, I being responsible for all outlay.—
1st. I want 29 cuts of bones (I am sorry so many are unattractive), chiefly skulls & 3 & 4 little bones on same cut.3 Now I must have artist here to explain what is to be done; & I shd. much prefer Mr. G. B. Sowerby, as I am accustomed to him.4 The specimens used have to be drawn right on the wood. But what can be done about cost. How can any agreement be made before drawings are made?—
2d. I want 7 cuts of size of Page of Origin, well executed of chief races of Pigeons (& perhaps 3 Heads of Cocks).5 Now Mr. Wells has lately drawn for the Field some of the pigeons excellently:6 he charges 30s for each drawing (as I hear from sub-editor of Field) & the cutting costs a little more for each.7 But my cuts would be a little smaller. Should I ask him to send an estimate for drawings & cutting to you?? or trust to my friend the Sub-Editor.
3d. I have 5 drawings to be exactly copied,8 so that this will be simple job—
4th I shall want 4 or 5 or 6 cuts of plants, & seeds,9 which Mr Fitch of Kew10 could alone do well: & I shd. think he might be trusted not to overcharge.—
Altogether I shd. wish for very nearly 50 cuts; but if you think this too much for Book (I guess about size of Origin) please advise me; for I could reduce the number to about 35.—11
Lastly kindly inform me whether you think size of Origin good size.—
Please remember that I do not at all wish you to pledge yourself to publish.—
My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin
How about Orchis Book?12 I suppose Origin has ceased selling. I shd be very sorry to have now labour of another Edition, but I suppose that will never be wanted.13 I heard yesterday a new French Edit. is wanted14 & this will give me some trouble.—
Of present book I have 7 chapters ready for press & all others very forward, except the last & concluding one.15 Sir C. Lyell read the 1st. Chapt. in M.S. on Dogs, 3 or 4 years ago, & thought favourably, & as it appeared to me certainly too favourably of it.—16
P.S. In the “Dovecote & Aviary by Rev. E. S. Dixon” published by you, there are 2 cuts of wild & Dovecote pigeon, which are well done, & though not necessary, would be very useful for my book, would you have kindness to let me use them, if in your possession?—17
Has made progress [on Variation]. Hopes it will go to press in the autumn. Lists his needs for cuts to be made – altogether 50.
Supposes Origin has ceased selling. Would be sorry to have labour of another edition. A new French edition is wanted.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4801,” accessed on 26 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4801