To John Murray 3 January 
Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.
My dear Sir
I cannot tell you how sorry I am to hear of the enormous size of my Book.1 I fear it can never pay. But I cannot shorten it now; nor indeed, if I had foreseen its length, do I see which parts ought to have been omitted.
If you are afraid to publish it, say so at once I beg you, & I will consider your note as cancelled. If you think fit get anyone whose judgment you rely on, to look over some of the more legible chapters; viz the Introduction & on Dogs & on Plants; the latter chapters being in my opinion the dullest in the book.2 There is a Hypothetical & curious Chapter called Pangenesis which is legible, & about which I have no idea what the instructed public will think; but to my own mind it has been a considerable advance in knowledge—3 The list of Chapters, & the inspection of a few, here & there, wd give a good judge a fair idea of the whole Book. Pray do not publish blindly, as it would vex me all my life if I led you to heavy loss. I am extremely much vexed at the size; but I believe the work has some value, though of course I am no fair judge.—
You must settle all about type & size according to your own judgment; but I will only say that I think, & hear on all sides incessant complaint of the fashion which is growing of publishing intolerably heavy volumes:—4
I have written my concluding Chapter; whether that on Man, shall appear, shall depend on size of book, on time & on my own strength.5
My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin
Sorry about enormous size of Variation MS, but cannot shorten it now. If JM is afraid to publish, CD will consider agreement cancelled. Suggests he ask someone with judgment to read the MS. Has written concluding chapter on man. Whether it will be included depends on size of volume.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5346,” accessed on 20 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-5346